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God Left You A Message, Pass It On!



"Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as those, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, handed them down to us, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in orderly sequence, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty about the things you have been taught."
Good Morning my beloved,  
We welcome you to worship in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are so grateful that you could be here with us today. I pray that you have enjoyed our study of the Gospel of Mark, which as we mentioned last time ended with verse 8, although many translations include verses 9 through 20, they are not a part of the original text manuscripts. While I believe they are no less inspired, as your pastor I was compelled, in staying true to the original text, to conclude our study of Mark where it ends and just move forward with our study of Luke's Gospel and give a brief rational explanation for not including the additional verses in our study of Mark. I believe that Mark ended his Gospel exactly the way the Holy Spirit intended, to leave the reader in astonishment and  wonder, in awe of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, which I am convinced should be anyone's response to such an important supernatural event. I hasten to say, it is the most authenticated, indisputably the greatest event in history by which you and I are saved, giving us all who believe, the promised hope of eternal life.
In Luke 6:46, Jesus posed the very important question, "Now why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?"
Scripture emphatically states that no one is a Christian, no is saved, no one is forgiven of his sin unless he confesses with his mouth Jesus as Lord, and believes in his heart that God raised Him from the dead. That confession of the lordship of Christ is essential to what it means to be a Christian, a reality that shouldn't be refuted. Yet, there is a rising trend among myriads of modern contemporary Christians, a trend that is undermining the Christian faith at its core, that one can be a true Christian without ever being expect to surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ. I hasten to say, that is a ridiculous notion that is not supported in the Gospel presentation according to Jesus. In fact, Christ Himself demands it, out of a genuine love for Him. In John 8:31, "If you abide in My word, then you are truly My disciples." Then, later in John 14:15, He said "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." 

In Matthew 16, He said "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." Yet, there is still a tremendous amount of confusion about the Gospel that Jesus proclaimed and what He taught on this subject. Never in my wildest dreams, did I ever envision myself  having to defend the Lordship of Christ against what I perceive to be a direct assault, a blatant attack, on the sovereignty and lordship of Christ to the professed people of God. To put it mildly, I am shocked that anybody who admits their need to accept Christ, to receive Him as Savior, and refuse to even acknowledge Him the Lord of their life, living in defiance of God’s Word, a decision that will ultimately seal their eternal fate. Jesus made it clear, if you’re not willing to deny yourself, following Him at all costs, even to the point of death, you can’t be His disciple. 
The word Savior appears 24 times in the New Testament, while the word Lord appears 622 times, yet many churches and Christians believe it is inappropriate to discuss the Lordship of Christ because it makes people uncomfortable, who believe it is inappropriate to confront a flawed theology a view that advocates a salvation that claims a person is saved whether or not there’s genuine evidence of a transformation in life of that individual, that is inconsistent with what Jesus Himself taught in Matthew 7, when He said, "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit," and in John 3, "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." Then, in John 8, when He said "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. And the slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed." In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus said "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is narrow and the way is constricted that leads to life, and there are few who find it."
Over and over the call, the invitation or decision as modern evangelism calls it today, to follow Jesus was a command that demands submissive obedience, embracing God’s righteousness, and turning away from sin, and He often taught that the cost of following Him is high and at the same time He warned those who might be tempted to take salvation lightly. He openly confronted and rebuked outwardly religious hypocrites whose lives were devoid of true righteousness, calling them "blind guides," and "whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness."
The modern doctrine of salvation promises eternal life to anyone who simply fills out a card and prays a prayer, believing that Jesus died for their sin, it requires no confession or repentance of sin, thereby no commitment to deal with your own wretched sinfulness and abandon your sin, resulting in no change in one's sinful lifestyle, living in the same sin God delivered them, with no willingness to submit their life to Him in obedience. In short, the Gospel presentation being espoused today is a corrupted, devoid of everything Jesus Himself taught, deficient of true saving faith and I fear for the millions of deceived people who now fill the pews in these apostate churches on the broad road trying to accommodate sinners, who have fallen prey to the shallow teaching of "justification without sanctification," who will be devastated to discover they are among those unregenerate professing believers who call Him Lord, but He would be turn away, declaring to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness." 

Matthew 11:12, "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force." He's talking about those who haven't accepted the terms of the salvation He offers, who don't want to make a commitment, who don’t want to surrender in obedience to His Lordship, who don't want to give up anything, that trying to force their way into the kingdom on their own terms. It will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.

In Matthew 13:45-46, Jesus said "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it." I do not believe there’s any question or confusion about what Jesus is teaching, if you want the salvation the He offers, if you want to possess eternal life, if you want to enter into His Kingdom, you must be willing to give up everything and acknowledge that He is in charge of your life, refusing to set any limit to the claims which He may make on your life.
One of the basic realities of salvation and being born again is that it transforms the life of a sinner walking according to the world, breaking the pattern of habitual sin in our lives, making our lifestyle different, therefore, demanding new choices to align with that transformation. As possessors of that new nature we no longer give into sin and temptation, we rise above sin, rise above the evil age, by contrast, there’s a tremendous difference between the old way of life and the new way of life.
Jesus preached repentance which leads to the forgiveness of sins, turning from sin to God for salvation. Therefore, repentance is synonymous with salvation. Those who have truly repented of sin never return to the practice of it. If you come to Christ saying, “I want You to be my Savior, and I want You to give me forgiveness, but there’s some sins, some relationships I want to hold onto," you need to understand, you cancel out salvation.
In Matthew 21:28-32, Jesus describes two kinds of people. One who pretends to be obedient, but is actually rebellious in his heart, and one who begin as rebellious, but repents. Which one are you?
Isaiah 55:7, "Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to Yahweh, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon."
Let us pray
Heavenly Father,
Father, thank You for Your Word, we are compelled by its power, its clarity and its consistency. Lord, I pray that You would do what only You can do, work in the hearts of anyone who rejects the Truth, even the things You’ve prompted me to say in straightforward way by the power of the Holy Spirit, convicting them of what is sinful, so they would understand what it means to have a true relationship with You and give them the grace to establish godly priorities consistent with the new birth and live in a way that glorifies You. Father, forgive us, as we often become so focused on our needs and wants, we overlook the needs of others and forget to keep Your commands as we ought. May You be gracious toward us and help us to be a faithful, covenant-keeping people, who live to honor You and never want to violate our commitment to follow our blessed Savior, so that we are found confirmed of genuine conversion, a true disciple as He explained its meaning, even in trials and persecution. All this we ask and pray in Christ's precious name.
Today's Message: God Left You A Message, Pass It On!
Open your Bibles with me, if you would and turn to the Gospel of Luke, the most thorough and  comprehensive historical narrative of the four Gospels, consisting of twenty-four chapters, making in the longest of all the Gospels. As we begin our study of Luke's Gospel, beautifully inspired by the Holy Spirit following the life of Jesus, its impact and its power of God's plan to save sinners through the coming of His Son, Jesus Christ are without equal. It is fascinating to me that it's not only historical, but it's actually a true story, a story that has changed the lives of untold millions of people. In verses 1 through 4, Luke gives a prologue, a bit of an explanation, in which he discusses the sources having investigated everything carefully and thoroughly with the intellectual community in mind, a people of culture, before he begins his Gospel in verse 5, as we shall see. Both Luke and Paul were highly educated, unlike their unsophisticated Galilean associates, which may help to explain why the two quickly became close companions, often traveling together, with whom he remained loyal to, even as he penned his final words to Timothy. Luke, our beloved physician, using more medical terms than Hippocrates, the father of medicine, refutes the ridiculous notion that the Gospel is just for unlearned, weak minded people as many skeptics often boast.
I invite you to follow along with me as I read verses 1 through 4 to set the text in our minds, I pray that you will listen for the voice of our Lord with open ears and a hearing heart. Luke 1:1-4.
"Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as those, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, handed them down to us, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in orderly sequence, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty about the things you have been taught." 
Let's look at verse 1, "Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us." Luke, understanding there were many opponents, many detractors of the Gospel, is telling us there were many confirmed sources, as any good historian would, who he doesn't name, who had written down their experiences with Jesus' and His teaching, gathered together to record what God accomplished through Christ in us by way of salvation. Notice, being a very humble man, Luke he never refers to himself, he never mentions his name or identifies himself as a doctor, a theologian or a historian. He is perfectly content with being unknown. I believe this was an effort on his part to establish the literary character, and historical worth of his work, he was concerned about including those who were at the very highest levels of intellect and education or some combination of the two, given much of the New Testament was primarily written for the church by common people. Luke was very concerned about the fact salvation is for everybody, and he understands that includes all people, in all nations and every class of society.
Verse 2, "Just as those, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, handed them down to us." Here, he's affirming the reliability and accuracy of his sources, these are first-hand sources, eyewitnesses, who became servants, proclaimers of the word, insuring he's made every effort to take all necessary precautions to ensure what he is going to write is being accurately documented. Surely he conferred with Mary, with Matthew, who he knew well, and Mark, who received first-hand eye-witness records from Peter who had passed the information to him and with Paul, who he traveled with on several missionary journey's, as well as other disciples he would have met. In other words, he is very careful to note, in one long sentence, these aren't his own musings, in an effort to concoct a particular narrative or invent a story, these are authoritative, truthful eyewitness accounts from those who were there, as well as historical facts, in other words, from all the sources that were available. 
Verse 3, "It seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in orderly sequence, most excellent Theophilus." Luke never claims to be an eye witness, but since he had the opportunity to speak to those who had first-hand eye-witness experiences, and their associates, since he gathered all of this information together, it seemed like the right thing for me to do, "having investigated everything carefully from the beginning." not only has he done extensive research, he's authenticated all the sources, verifying all the details and checking the facts, he now has perfect understanding of everything from the very beginning of the gospel,  he is compelled to write it out  in orderly sequence, accurately, precisely and exactly as God wanted it to be recorded. He's saying he didn't just copy everything down from Matthew, Mark and the other things that had been written and put it all together, repeating the same information. It is safe to say, this was a supernatural selection by the Holy Spirit, to supernaturally and historically present Jesus Christ as the perfect, divine God-Man, God manifest in the flesh and Savior of the world. Though Luke's procedure and technique were different than that of the other Gospel writers, all four synoptic Gospels unmistakably come to the same conclusion, under the superintending and direction of the Holy Spirit. 

If you'll notice, he didn't use all of it and there are a lot of details that are recorded in Luke's Gospel that are omitted in Matthew, Mark and John. What information he couldn't gather from all his sources, what he didn't know, the Holy Spirit gave to him supernaturally and blended it all together. And, if Luke had not accurately recorded them precisely without error, we wouldn't have the six or seven other miracles Jesus performed, the nineteen additional matchless parables that He taught, particularly the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan, likewise with many significant events in the life of Jesus that are not found anywhere else! In fact, nearly half of the material recorded in his Gospel, is unique. It is Luke alone that gives us the four songs connected to the birth of Jesus. By the way, we don't know anything about Theophilus or how Luke would have known him, but given the fact Luke refers to him as "most excellent," he may have been somebody who is in a position of importance, such as a Roman official, who was introduced to the church's teachings, which he appears not to have been clear enough about to believe the Gospel. Whatever the case, he obviously needed further clarification, which Luke is happy to provide to bring him to faith.
Peter tells  us to "Always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and fear." I believe that's a problem in the church today because many Christians don't know the Jesus of the Bible, they don't know enough about the Gospel themselves to give an account to those who are desperately in need of the true message of salvation, before it’s too late. We're called to be salt and light, and Jesus said if salt becomes tasteless, if our witness and influence becomes stained by the sin in our lives, it's no longer believable, it is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out to be trampled under foot by men. Even though most of them don't recognize it, our world is more immoral than it’s ever been, it's slowly rotting like a decomposing corpse from the inside out. It's our responsibility to infiltrate the world with our influence of godliness, and righteousness, and holiness. You can never stop the influence of sin in the world politically, no matter how many laws you make, they're not even obeying the laws we have now. Salt works in combination with light, salt only slows the corruption process, while light shines in the darkness on the outside. We shine the light by telling people about Christ, that's how lives are transformed, but we cannot do that if our lives aren't what they ought to be.

That brings us to verse 4, "So that you may know the certainty about the things you have been taught." What a tremendous statement, though Luke is directing it at Theophilus, because he wanted him to know the Truth that he'd been taught was trustworthy and reliable. Since that time, millions more have read it and have come to salvation. It's amazing what God can do through just a few people, isn't it? God continues to use the exact same Gospel today for the salvation of millions more people all over the world. Our responsibility is to proclaim the Gospel, to spread the message of salvation to the ends of the earth,  but in order for it to be believable it’s got to be supported by a righteous life. I pray that God will use this message to that end even today, redeeming  millions more lost souls in desperate need of a Savior.

May it be so..

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,

And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,

And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name


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