Out With The Old — A Gospel Sermon
What is the Gospel? Why is it important? How should we respond to its message?
It’s hard to overstate the importance of these questions. In a very real sense, true success is impossible apart from knowing the right answers to each one.
Last week, I was blessed with an opportunity to speak during chapel at a Dallas-area homeless shelter. I shared an overview of my personal testimony and explored the biblical answers to these all-important questions. The audio recording of my sermon, as well as the transcript, are included below.
Let’s pray once again. Father, we are so thankful that at Calvary, mercy was great and grace was free. And Lord, we thank You for the pardon that You multiply to all those who put their faith in You. And I pray that You would just bless our time here together tonight. Lord, would You allow Your Word to be spoken clearly, and would You allow Your name to be exalted. We pray this in Jesus’ name.
As Daniel said, my name is Dakota, and my wife and I live in Mesquite, Texas, so just down the road from here. But I’m actually not a Texas native. In fact, I lived in Missouri up until just a little over a year ago, and so by a show of hands, has anyone ever been to Missouri in the room? A few people.
I’m from the St. Louis area; at least that’s where I lived from the time I was about fourteen. But for those of you who have not been to Missouri, so everyone who didn’t raise their hand, I thought it might be helpful for me to tell you a couple of must-know facts about Missouri.
The first thing that you ought to know is that traffic in Missouri is a whole lot different than it is here in Dallas. Okay, so in Dallas we talk about traffic, you can imagine the brake lights on 635, the road rage, the fender benders, everyone being late — that’s what traffic means in Dallas. Now in Missouri, we have traffic, but that just means that a tractor is busted down on the highway and you’ve got about ten people trying to get around him.
The second thing you ought to know about Missouri is that our state motto is “the show-me state.” Did anybody know that? “The show-me state.” That’s what we print on all of our license plates that go out, and so inevitably, when people learn that our motto is “the show-me state,” they want to ask, “Show me what? What are we supposed to show you?” And my answer to that as a former Missourian is simple: fried chicken.
On a more serious note, I did grow up in Missouri, and I mentioned I lived in St. Louis for a while. But prior to that, I actually lived in a very small town in southern Missouri called Summersville. Now I won’t ask if you’ve ever been there, let alone even heard of it, because it’s hardly on the map. It’s one of those really small towns where everybody knows everybody. And when I say small, I mean like 500 people.
This is a really small town, a really poor town, but for 14 years of my life, it was my town. In fact, my dad was the mayor of this town for a few years. But you could definitely say at the age of 14 years old, my life took a pretty sharp turn for the worse when my dad had an affair with a girl who was not a whole lot older than I was at the time. So you can imagine, this sent shockwaves through my family and made things really, really hard for a while. And it got a lot harder when we got the paper that said my dad was filing for divorce. And so in about a week’s time, my mom, myself, and my sister packed everything that we could into a U-Haul, and we moved to St. Louis and stayed in my grandma’s basement. And in fact, that’s where I lived up until a little over a year ago.
But I just remember at the age of 14 really coming to a breaking point of sorts. I mean, when you lose your dad, your town, and all your friends in one week, it causes you to think about things. And I was just — I was broken, and I remember, again at the age of 14, kneeling at my bedside with tears coming down my face, just begging God to come into my life, to save me, to forgive my sins, and be a father, because I sure didn’t have one. And He did that, and so that’s how I was saved.
And I want to be clear, though, about this one thing that I think is important. When I got saved, everything did not magically get better. So after I prayed this prayer, I did not get a phone call from my dad who said, “Man, I’m really sorry. Would you all come back home? I want to make things right.” In fact, I don’t think I’ve heard from my dad one time since I prayed that prayer. The friends who had let me down so dramatically never came back into the picture and were there for me. In fact, in the days that followed that prayer, I remember a lot of friends that I made actually letting me down again.
So things did not become easy all of a sudden, but what I learned is simply this: it really doesn’t matter what’s going wrong in your life if you’re right with God. Can I say that again? It doesn’t matter what’s going wrong in your life if you’re right with God.
But I want to talk a little bit about what I mean when I say I got saved. That’s kind of a religious term that you hear a lot of guys use. They say you need to get saved, you need to be born again, but I don’t want to take for granted that we all understand what that means. So let’s talk about it for a minute.
When I say I got saved, I basically just mean that I responded to the Gospel by putting my faith in Jesus Christ. It sounds simple, and thankfully it is simple. I responded to the Gospel by putting my faith in Jesus Christ, which leads me to another question: what is the Gospel?
What is the Gospel? Well, by its definition, Gospel means “good news.” Now, in our everyday conversations, if someone comes up and says, “I’ve got good news,” in the back of our mind we expect there may also be bad news, right? It’s the same with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is good news, but first we probably ought to talk about the bad news.
Before we get into that, I wanted to share a real quick story with you from about a year ago.
Rental Car Problems
My wife and I were newly married. We were on our honeymoon in Miami, Florida, and it had been a pretty full day of sightseeing, and the last thing on our agenda for the day was to go see the Miami Marlins play. Not that I’m a Marlins fan; I just wanted to go to the ballpark and see a baseball game.
On our way there, I look in the rearview mirror of my car, the rental car that we’re in, and I see a policeman with his lights on, which makes me nervous. I’ve never been stopped before. I thought maybe he was just trying to get around me, but I pulled over and he pulled in behind me, and he walks up to the car, and the first thing he asks me is, “Sir, are you driving a rental car?”
I had no idea how he was aware of this, but I said, “Well, yeah it’s a rental car,” and he says, “Can I see the paperwork on it?” So I pulled it out of the glove box and gave it to him, and after looking at that for a minute or two, he says, “You know, the reason I stopped you is that your license plates aren’t registered. They don’t show up in our system at all. These plates are no good, so you need to take care of that because some other officer is going to find you parked on the street and impound this car. This is a problem you need to take care of pretty quickly.”
But I want to ask this question: hypothetically speaking, what do you think I would have done if all the officer did was come up to the car and say, “The reason I stopped you today, sir, is because you need to get a different car.” I probably would have been respectful and said, “Okay, well I appreciate that. Can we go on to the ballgame?” But I wouldn’t have taken his advice very seriously, would I? Because it doesn’t make sense to me. Why do I need to get a new car? I don’t see anything wrong with the car that I’m in? But what he did was tell me about the bad news. He said, “I’m stopping you for this reason: the car is not registered,” — which caused me to listen a little bit carefully when he was telling me what I need to do next.
All Have Sinned
So what’s the bad news for us in this room? Scripture tells us about it in Romans chapter three. It says that “all have sinned,” and what? They came “short of the glory of God.” What are the consequences of that falling short? Paul tells us again a few chapters later in Romans six. He says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
So the bad news for us is that we’ve fallen short of God’s glory, and there are certain consequences, and they amount to a whole lot more than a slap on the wrist. We’re not talking about a speeding ticket here, or having our car impounded. We’re talking about spiritual death that is eternal and miserable. And so Paul’s telling us this is the bad news.
By contrast, Scripture doesn’t just tell us that we’re bad. It tells us that God is actually perfect. He’s good and righteous in all of His ways. In 1 Samuel chapter two, it says this: “No one is holy like the Lord, for there is none besides You, neither is there any rock like our God.” And then in Mark chapter ten — some of you may remember this — Jesus said, “No one is good but one, that is, God.” So we fall short of the glory of God, but His glory is beyond our ability to comprehend. He is perfect. He’s holy, and there is no unrighteousness with Him.
God Created Us
The next thing we need to know about God is that He created us. He created every one of us. In Genesis 1, one of the first things we read about God doing is deciding to make us. He said, “Let us make man in our image.” Of course, we read on to see that it didn’t take long for mankind to plunge itself into sin by disobeying God and taking the forbidden fruit, but nonetheless, God made us in His image. In fact, Ecclesiastes tells us that God made man upright, but we sought out many devices. In other words, we chose not to stay that way. God made us upright, and so our sin is our fault, not His.
A Deeper Problem
The next thing I want to draw your attention to is that we not only have fallen short at a point in time, but we, at our very core, are just sinful people. It’s not that we occasionally make bad choices, but in our heart of hearts, we are desperately wicked. Proverbs says that the heart of man is “desperately wicked; who can know it?” Or in other words, who can wrap their minds around it?
Jesus said in Mark chapter 7, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” So again, it’s not like we just occasionally make bad choices, but our heart is wicked.
One verse that often convicts me is in Luke 6. It says, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things. And an evil man,” by contrast, it says, “out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Which really convicts me, for this reason: that means that whenever I lose my temper and I say something that I shouldn’t say, it’s not just a slip of the tongue. Scripture says that’s a matter of the heart. Our heart is desperately wicked. Romans 3:10 says, “There is none righteous, no not one.” This is a universal problem that humanity faces.
I hate to tell you this, but it gets a lot worse.
The Justice of God
God is just. Nahum 1:3 says, “The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and He will not at all acquit the wicked.” In other words, He will not let sin go unpunished. Deuteronomy 32:4 says, “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.”
I think sometimes we struggle to reconcile in our minds the goodness of God, the love of God, with the justice of God — like God could somehow not be both at one time. Because a lot of people say, “I know I sin. I live the life that I want to live, but I don’t think God’s gonna send me to hell because isn’t He love? How could God send anyone to hell?”
But just imagine if you would, I want to give you a few seconds to think of the person who you are closest to, the person that you love probably more than anyone else on earth. And imagine that person, tomorrow morning on Thanksgiving, is assaulted in some horrible way by a crook, beaten and left for dead. But they catch the guy and he stands in court before the judge who says, “Listen, sir, I’ve heard all the evidence, and it’s pretty clear-cut, you’ve done this horrible thing.” And then the judge responds to that by saying, “You know, there’s no doubt that you’ve done this. But I’m in a good mood today. For the most part you’ve had a pretty clean record. I’m gonna let you off, because I’m good.”
We’d be pretty upset about that, wouldn’t we? Because good judges don’t let bad guys go unpunished. Good judges punish sin. They don’t let people off the hook. And God has appointed today, it says in Acts, in which “He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man Whom He has ordained.” That’s referring to Jesus Christ. It goes on to say, “He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” But the point of this verse, in the first half anyway, is that God has put a date on the calendar in which He will hold all of us to account.
So let’s review. First of all, we know that God is good, that we’re not, we’re sinful, that God is just, and therefore He will judge. But here’s where the good news starts:
The Mercy of God
God is merciful. It says in Psalm 86:15, “You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in mercy and truth.” So God is good. He’s just. He’ll punish sinners, but this is telling us He really doesn’t want us to be punished. He doesn’t want us to be separated from Him forever. In fact in 2 Peter 3, you’ve probably heard this verse, it says, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise as some men count slackness, but He is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” So God wants us to be saved, in other words.
The Provision of God
So what did God do about this? He made a way for us to be saved. It says in Romans 5:8 that God demonstrated His love for us “in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” That’s a pretty big deal, isn’t it? That passage talks about how we don’t even die for our friends many times on earth. We don’t take bullets for people very often, and the people who do end up in the news as a hero because that’s not how we naturally respond. And if someone’s taking a bullet, it’s usually for their wife or for a person of great authority, like you’d take a bullet for the president or something. But Scripture is telling us that Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God, Who had never done anything wrong, Who was seated in heaven in all of its glory, actually decided to “take a bullet” for us.
Why would anyone do that, let alone the Son of God? It says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” That’s why He did it. God so loved you “that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.” That is the solution to our problem. That’s the good news.
In Romans chapter ten, Paul says this: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says,” catch this part, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
I was sharing with you all just a minute ago about people who have let me down in life. My dad is at the top of the list, and a lot of my friends are on that list too. They’ve let me down. When Paul says, “He who believes on the Son will not be put to shame,” that’s basically him saying Jesus will not let you down. If you put your faith in Christ for salvation, I could be very sure and say you won’t regret it, my friend. This is not something you’re going to try experimentally and then realize that, man, Jesus really wasn’t the solution to my sin after all. No, He saves to the uttermost those who put their faith in Him.
The Exclusivity of Christ
The next thing I want to share just briefly is that Jesus is more than a way to heaven. He is the way to heaven. He is the only way to the Father. He said so Himself in John 14:6. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me.” And then in Acts 4:12 it says, “There is salvation in no other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.”
You know, some people think that sounds pretty unfair. Like, how could God say you’ve got to be a Christian, you’ve got to put your faith in Jesus, and if you do anything else, you’re going to hell? That doesn’t sound very fair, some people think.
There’s a preacher that I listen to, and he was asked that same question: how could a loving God send people to hell just because they don’t know Jesus? I thought his response was pretty good. He said, “I have no choice but to affirm that Jesus is the only Savior because He’s the only one qualified to save.” Does that make sense? In other words, he has to say that Jesus is the only Savior because He’s the only one Who paid the price for our sins. Jesus lived a perfect life. He never sinned at all, and so the death that He experienced on the cross was not a debt that He owed. The wages of sin is death, but Christ committed no sin, and so His death is able to atone for our sin. So we need to place our faith in Him for salvation.
Now, what does that mean? What does it mean to place your faith in Jesus Christ? I thought of this illustration. I see a lot of you in the room sitting in chairs. But what I didn’t see is anyone testing the chair before they sat down to make sure that it’s sturdy enough. You know that it’s not going to just fall apart when you sit on it. We understand that chairs can hold us up, and so we sit in them without any thought about whether we’re gonna fall to the ground. We put our faith in that chair to hold us up, and that’s a pretty good picture, I think, of what it means to put our faith in Christ. We just rest our souls on Him and know that He is able to support its weight.
The Need for Repentance
I wanted to touch just briefly on another thing that I think is important, and that’s repentance. I think it’s important because Jesus did. In Luke 13:5, He said these words: “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” That sounds like a pretty strong language, doesn’t it? So if Jesus is telling us we’ve got to do something or perish, we better understand what that other thing is He’s talking about. And so repentance, if I could summarize it this way, is to confess and forsake sin. Proverbs 28 talks about that. It says, “He who covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them shall find mercy.” That’s what repentance is, and that’s part of placing your faith in Christ: you confess your sins and you forsake them.
But I do want to be very clear. Scripture teaches that we are saved exclusively by grace through faith. In other words, repentance, it’s important, but it doesn’t save you. Getting your act together and stopping whatever addictions that you may struggle with doesn’t save you. Grace saves you, but part of placing our faith in Christ is repenting of the sins that are in our life.
Getting Rid of the Old Car
Remember I told you about the rental car? I know I didn’t finish the story, but I’ll do that now. The next morning, I woke up very early, before my wife, before breakfast was served in the hotel lobby, and I drove pretty quickly to the airport to trade out this rental car. I told the manager all about it. I said, “I’ve been told this car isn’t legal. I’ve got to get a different car.” So they took care of it. They gave me a different car. They didn’t seem to be too concerned about the one that I was in, but that wasn’t my problem. I just wanted to get in a car that was registered. I wanted to be in a safe car. I was on my honeymoon! I didn’t want to be pulled over again and told the car was going to the impound lot. I wanted to be in a car that was properly registered. So, the proper response to the police officer’s warning was to get rid of the old car.
But I had a choice. I didn’t have to listen to him. I could have just said, “Oh, that’s kind of an inconvenience. That wasn’t on our schedule, to go get a different rental car. I think I’ll just keep driving this one and hope nothing bad happens.” But that would have been a pretty big risk, right? I don’t want to get pulled over or come back and find the car with a boot on the tire. And so I got out of the car that wasn’t registered, and I got into one that was.
And I think that choice really is one that we face in a much bigger way here tonight. What are we going to do to the warning of Scripture that says, “the wages of sin is death?” Are we just going to keep driving that car and hope nothing bad happens? Well, Scripture says it will. Something bad will happen. “The wages of sin is death.” Not “sometimes is death,” or “maybe will be death,” but “the wages of sin is death.” And so, we have a choice. What car are we going to drive into eternity, if I could put it that way? Are we going to stay in the car we’re in? Or are we going to put our faith in Jesus Christ and let him bring us home?
The Parable of the Sower
Of course, there are quite a few ways that we could respond to the Gospel. I wanted to talk a little bit about some of those. If you have your Bible, would you turn with me to Mark chapter four? This is the Parable of the Sower. It’s a pretty popular parable, one that is recorded in both Matthew, Mark and Luke. So three times in God’s Word we find this parable, so we can understand that it’s pretty important.
Let’s look at Mark chapter four, and we’ll begin reading here in verse three. This is Jesus speaking.
“Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”
When I lived in St. Louis, we had a garden we would put out every year. I say “we,” but it was really my mom’s project. She would do that every year. She would plant things like corn and green beans, and I think once or twice she tried watermelon (that didn’t work out too well). All kinds of stuff she would put in this garden. And from year to year, the results would vary. Some years it would be a really bumper crop of green beans, and we would have all the green beans we wanted. Other times, the green beans just did not produce at all, and the corn was really the good producer.
But we would always trust that the seed was good. We never really blamed the lack of production on the seed. We never said, “Man that corn seed we bought must not have been very good.” We knew that it was something else that kept it from growing. It was that the rain didn’t fall at the right time, or maybe we didn’t diligently pull the weeds out of the garden, but we always knew the seed was good. And Jesus is talking to us here about seed that was sown in a lot of different settings — four to be exact.
First of all, He talks about the seed that was sown by the wayside. That’s not a word we use a lot anymore, but it’s basically a roadside. So imagine someone who’s sowing, that’s their job, they just sow seed all day. And as they do that, they happen to sow some on the side of 75, the Interstate. It’s not going to grow very well, is it? But some seed was there, but Jesus says that some seed fell by the wayside, but those birds came and devoured it right up.
He talks also about the stony ground. Now what’s a little bit misleading about this seed is that it actually springs up really quickly. It looks like we’ve got signs of life! This is good news; it’s growing! But because the ground was stony, it says that there was really no root there. So the moment that things got hot, the moment the sun was up, that seed was scorched.
Thorny Ground & Good Ground
He also talks about the thorny ground. And again, it looks good, right? The seed’s growing! But so are the thorns, and the thorns choke out the seed.
Finally, Jesus tells us about the good ground. And what happened with the good ground? The seed finds a good place. It’s able to put down some roots, draw up some moisture, and it grows. It grows really well, and it bears a really great crop, sometimes thirtyfold, sometimes sixty, and sometimes a hundredfold.
The Wayside Explained
So what does this mean? What’s Jesus talking about? Is He just a big fan of agriculture and He’s telling us this for entertainment? No, He’s actually telling us about the different ways that we can respond to the Gospel. Let’s look at verse fifteen. He actually explains it for us. He says, “These are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.” So the birds that snatched up the seed actually represent Satan, who many times comes and snatches up the Word that is sown in our hearts.
I grew up in a home where we went to church quite a bit, and so church camp was something I was pretty familiar with. And I know that every year when I go to church camp, I can expect to hear some really powerful messages. And I remember very vividly sitting in my seat, hearing the preacher say something that I just thought was so convicting. I mean, it was really making me uncomfortable, but I was saying, “Man, I’ve got to change this. I’ve got to do that different. God’s Word is really speaking to me, and I need to get my act together.” But then after the service was over, I’d walk outside, and I’d get some soda and a burger, and I’d chat with my friends, and I would forget all of it. It wouldn’t stick with me.
I think that’s a pretty good example of what Jesus is talking about here. The seed was sown. It was good seed. It could have grown, but someone let the birds have access to this seed.
So what’s that look like tonight? We’ve heard the Gospel, but I think there’s a danger that we’re gonna walk out of here in a few minutes, maybe enjoy some food, and then forget about all this. We can’t let that happen, guys.
Stony Ground Explained
Jesus talks about the stony ground. He explains what that means in verse sixteen. He says, “These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.”
So Jesus tells us about this seed. It grows really fast at first, but it doesn’t last because the sun scorches it. And Jesus says that sun that scorches the seed is really a picture of the persecution and the tribulation that Christians can expect to encounter. And I’m just going to point this out: we ought to expect it. We ought to expect persecution, because Jesus told us about it. He said, “If they hate Me,” — they hated him enough to kill him, right? — “if they hate Me, they will also hate you.”
Paul wrote in 2 Timothy that “all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” And so we shouldn’t allow the sun beating on our head, so to speak, to be a surprise to us, because that’s just part of the package. If you choose to follow Christ, you can expect persecution to accompany that.
I know some of you were here a couple of months ago when I shared this example, but think about a parachute. Why do you put a parachute on? So that you can survive jumping out of an airplane. You don’t put it on because it looks like it’s a really great accessory for your fashion. You put it on because you want to survive. You don’t put it on because it looks comfortable. If you put it on because you wanted to be comfortable, you probably wouldn’t wear it for long, because you would find out pretty quickly that it’s not all that comfortable.
So when you put on a parachute, we need to understand its purpose. And when we put our faith in Christ, we need to understand that we’re doing that for one primary reason, and that is to avoid an eternity separated from God in hell. We’re putting our faith in Christ so that He can save our souls and put our feet on the rock. We’re not doing it so we can become popular among our friends. We’re doing it because eternity is at stake.
And so that is how I think we can avoid being stony ground. We understand from the get-go what we’re getting ourselves into, if I could put it that way. We understand the persecution’s coming, but we say, “That’s okay, because I am saved through the blood of Christ, and that’s worth it.”
Thorny Ground Explained
Next, Jesus tells us about the thorny ground. He says, “Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” In other words, these are people who don’t have their priorities straight. And I got to say, I struggle with misprioritizing things just about every day. But we can’t let other things crowd God out of our lives. Why? Because Jesus says that we gain nothing if we gain the whole world, but lose our souls.
So as we prioritize the Gospel and Jesus Christ, and we think, “Where should He fit?” I would say, He doesn’t “fit.” He stays at the top! You don’t find room for Christ; you put Him at the very top of your life, and you prioritize Him above all else.
Good Ground Explained
Jesus also tells us about the good ground. He says, “These are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”
There’s one thing that all four soils have in common. You know what that is? They all got seed. Jesus says as He’s explaining these to us that they all heard the Word. So again, it’s not a problem with the seed. It’s a problem, three-quarter of the time, with the soil and how we respond to the Gospel.
Our greatest need tonight, — I know in a room of this size we have a lot of needs — but our greatest need is one that we all have in common. What is that need? It’s a need for grace from God, and He gives us that grace in the person of Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 2 says this: “And you hath He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air,” that’s the devil, “the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience.” It goes on to say, though, in verse 4 that “God, Who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead and sins hath made us alive together in Christ.”
That’s what salvation looks like. It looks like the love of God and the grace of God coming into your life, taking all of the junk and sin that is there, and turning it all around — taking a barren field and turning it into a field that’s bearing fruit.
We read about the good soil, but really, a good garden is not one that’s just all tilled up. It’s one that’s got seed in it, one that’s really bearing fruit abundantly. And that’s what we need to do. We need to let the Word of God come into our life, take root, and bear fruit.
In view of all these things, we have a responsibility, don’t we? We’re at a crossroads. We can do one of two things: we can ignore the Gospel; we can be the wayside soil; we can be the stony soil. Or, we can put our faith in Christ, and let His Word sink deep into our hearts, take root and bear fruit.
Build on the Rock
Before we close tonight, I wanted to look if we could at Matthew chapter seven. Jesus says in verse 24, “Whoever hears these sayings of mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Now that’s something as Texans we’re all pretty familiar with. We know how important good foundation is, because in Texas, it’s a rare thing sometimes.
It says in verse 25, “the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
Let me point out something that always catches my attention here. Do you notice that the guy on the rock had to deal with storms, too? The guy built on the rock, and so his house was sturdy, but that sturdiness was tested you might say. He had to deal with storms and with trials just like the guy who built on the sand. So the difference wasn’t what kind of circumstances do these guys have to deal with in life; the difference was, one was built on the rock and could stand the storm. The other guy didn’t have a chance. Could I be so bold as to say that without Christ, we don’t have a chance. We don’t have a chance at salvation apart from the salvation that Christ offers.
The difference is that those who built on the rock could stand the storm. So let’s tonight guys, as we hear the truth of God’s Word and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, let’s respond to it by placing our faith in Him.
We’re gonna close here with a word of prayer, but I want to say that right after we pray here tonight, I want to invite anybody who would like to come up for prayer — maybe this is to place your faith in Christ, maybe this is just because you’ve got some stuff going on that you’d like us to pray with you about — feel free to do that. But let’s go ahead and pray first and give God thanks for His Word.
Father, we do thank you for Your Word that is given, it says, “by inspiration of God.” God, we thank You that You have made a way for salvation, that you have given us a Book that tells us all about that way. And I pray tonight, Lord, for those who do know You, that you would strengthen us. Allow us to be like that seed that was sown on the good ground, that we will bring forth fruit in abundance. But Lord, I pray especially tonight for those who don’t know you — Lord, that You would not let that soil of our hearts be thorny, or stony, or barren, but Lord, that we would realize what’s at stake, and that we would respond to the good news by placing our faith in Your Son, Jesus Christ. It’s in His name we pray. Amen.