DATE: 20 May, 2001 AM PLACE: BBC
Introduction (James 1:22-25)
A. There are many examples in the Bible of people who got right up to heaven’s gate, and then turned back
1. King Agrippa – almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian
2. Herod – loved to hear John the Baptist, but didn’t get saved
3. Do you remember the young rich man who asked Jesus, what he had to do to inherit eternal life? And when Jesus said sell everything, and then come follow Him, he went away very sad!
B. Christians in this room however, are somewhat in the same boat. So near to being what God wants them to be, but they just don’t seem to arrive
1. Oh yes, they will arrive in heaven, by faith in God’s grace on Calvary
2. But they will be ashamed of missing the abundant life Jesus has for them
Message – So Near (Mark 12:28-34)
A. The Burning Question (Mk 12:28)
1. Everybody has their question
a. Sadducees were always questioning people’s belief in resurrection
b. The Pharisees and the Sadducees were constantly arguing
c. But understand:
1) Questions are good
2) Without questions, nothing is learned
3) Christ never tired of answering questions. Those that sincerely desire to be instructed concerning their duty, Christ will guide in developing right conclusions, and will teach his way.
2. A lone scribe steps forward with his question
a. A scribe was
1) A copier – had the job of hand-copying the Bible – therefore knew every word
2) A very learned man in reading, writing, and accuracy
3) A teacher of the Bible, and of higher education
4) Also known as rabbis – were very important in society
b. He had a belief, but wanted to check it out
c. Wanted also to see if Christ really was right
d. Put Him to the test – that is GOOD to do!
3. Asks probably the most important question an unbeliever can ask
a. What is the greatest commandment?
b. What is the FIRST one of all the commandments?
c. What command should we focus on, to help us follow God?
d. Foundational commandment that will help us obey?
B. The Bible’s Answer (Mk 12:29-31)
1. Jesus does not give His opinion
a. There were loads of opinions about which commandment was the most important
b. Lots of religious doctors, and lawyers loved to debate this
c. People thought Jesus could give His opinion
d. Jesus instead just goes right to the Scriptures (not the traditions, or to the majority view), and quotes a powerful passage
e. Something neat here – the answer is obvious – no debate
2. The answer (Deut 6:4,5) – Oh that we had months to dwell on this!
a. To love God
1) With all your heart – this is FIRST
a) Without love from the heart for God, there can be NO salvation
b) Our love must be all consuming – not a dabble
2) With all your soul – your emotions
a) Your love for God MUST temper your feelings
b) It must dominate your will
c) That’s why early Christians made such an impact on this world
3) With all your mind
a) Love for God is a CHOICE
b) It makes complete sense (1Jn 4:19)
c) Some folks LOVE learning – a Christian LOVES expanding his mind with the knowledge of God – not just head knowledge though)
4) With all your strength
a) If your life is not active in this love then it is empty]
b) James says if your faith has no works, it is dead
c) QUESTION: Where does YOUR strength end up?
(i) Only expended on the job?
(ii) Only on yourself?
(iii) No time for Christ?
(iv) No time for the lost? Soul-winning?
(v) No time for church? Sunday nights?
5) Notice, Jesus makes sure the commandment is not impersonal, but shows it is directed right at the scribe!
6) It was not just THE commandment, but it was God’s commandment for that man!
b. AND - To love your neighbour
1) Bible answers therefore will always cover more than you expect
a) The scribe was only expecting ONE commandment
b) God however didn’t write commandments like we expect
c) There actually are TWO commandments
d) The second isn’t even found in Deut – had to study to find it in Leviticus 19:18)
2) Christ says as much as you love God, you are also to love your neighbour
a) Impossible! True
b) But not impossible if you love God supremely
C. The Bare Essentials (Mk 12:32-34) – the Christian life requires these things
1. The authority of the Law of God in your life – commandments!
a. No one can get to Christ without an understanding of the rightness of God, and His law
b. This lawless society is disintegrating fast
c. This pulpit will always be used to promote the authority of God’s word
2. The Oneness of God
a. People have a zillion concepts of God today
b. Just one God – just one Being to have to face at death
c. Just one Lord to serve – hallelujah!
3. Love for God is supreme
a. Again, without an all consuming love for God, there is no salvation
b. We are not talking about LOVE by itself
1) Theme of the sixties – nineties
2) Everybody has tried LOVE
3) But, it is when our love is directed towards our Creator that we begin to obey God’s commandments
c. ILLUS: Vincent Brown got all upset on the radio discussing hell, and pastor Fulton was on the discussion panel – Vincent basically yelled at Richard, “You mean God is going to send me to hell, just because I don’t love him?” Richard said, “YEP! All the ceremonies in the world can’t make up for our lack of love for God. It’s the first and greatest commandment. And without it, none of the other commandments matter. If you can’t love God supremely, you evidently already love something else – yourself. Therefore you are lost!” AMEN!
d. Do you know what Jesus said? If you love me, keep my commandments(1 Jn 14:15)
4. Discretion counts – not being…
a. Easily swayed – simple minded
b. Unmoveable either – stubbornness
c. But rather, careful, thoughtful (Isa 1:18)
d. This man was not just repeating what Jesus had said like catechism
e. This man had done some reflecting, and already agreed with the truth
D. The Barriers to Salvation and Growth (Mk 12:34)
a. Here is a scribe AGREEING with Jesus! Can’t let anybody see that!
b. Pride keeps 99% of all people out of heaven – too proud to crumble, and say that God was right all along
2. Being Put-Out (being hassled). He needed to ask maybe just 1 or 2 more questions, and he would have been IN the kingdom
a. Like Job 25:4
b. Like Acts 16:31
a. Fear of admitting that Jesus just was always right – a Jewish no, no!
b. Fear of letting Jesus get all the attention and glory
1) Jesus showed that he could answer any question
2) Jesus showed he could answer ANY need – this man’s need
c. Fear of being forced to commit himself to Christ – become His disciple (Jn 9:26-28)
4. Lack of a single volunteer – someone who would break rank, and join Christ
a. EX: of my salvation, because of a teenage girl who everyone thought was a Christian, but because she finally broke down and got saved, a bunch of us who were ALL living a lie, also got saved. If it weren’t for her stepping out and being honest, I would be in hell today!
b. If just one more person had asked one more question, loads of more people would have gotten saved!
c. But when people hold back, they actually are blocking others from getting saved!
A. No man is safe, until saved – all the way in the kingdom of God
B. No barrier is too high to keep you from getting saved
C. The things that hinder people from getting saved, are the same things that hinder Christians from growing
a. Too proud to be known as a Christian – not catholic, protestant
b. Too worried about family’s reaction to you making JESUS first
c. Too worried about being seen with a bunch of other Christians
2. Being put-out
a. Bible reading takes time
b. Bible study takes lots of effort
c. Soul-winning takes courage
d. Real love takes TIME and EFFORT
e. Without these you will not grow
a. Fear of what agreeing with the Bible will cost you
b. Fear of having to commit yourself to Jesus – PRAISE GOD
4. Lack of volunteers
a. People need people, who will respond
b. We are a lot like sheep – need to see someone else going ahead