Social Distancing (Red Letters #17)

erik-mclean-tQ5QE587veU-unsplash

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Matthew 7:21-29 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. 28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: 29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Christianity Is Very Social

In the midst of this Covid-19 pandemic we are being encouraged to “practice social distancing”. Humans are social creatures, and Christians are even more so. I know few Christians who do not appreciate a warm handshake, a pat on the back, or a hug with “I love you” attached. The Christian faith is all about love, not distance.

In these Pandemic times we should practice “social distancing” with one another – but NOT WITH GOD.

No one should ever stray far from the Lord. How’s your relationship with Jesus? Does Jesus know you. Or is He “socially distant” from you because of your heart? Will Jesus say when He sees you, “Enter in My good and faithful servant”, or will He say “I never knew you. Depart from Me, you worker of iniquity!”

The Old Covenant and the Law put a “social distance” between God and man. This was not because of God, but because of man. Moses, the arbitrator of the Law, loved the Lord. Yet God gave the Law through Moses.

John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

Moses was not saved by the Law that God gave him. Moses was saved by G-R-A-C-E. The Scripture says …

Exodus 33:17 … the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.

Moses found G-R-A-C-E in God’s sight. He loved God, and God knew Moses by name. Moses and God were not socially distant. Why? Because Moses practiced repentance and FAITH in GOD. Not so the children of Israel. When Moses went up on the Mountain to receive the Law from God, God told Moses …

Exodus 19:12-13 And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: 13 There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount.

Why did God do this? Well let me ask you,

Why are We being told to practice “Social Distancing”?
Because of a deadly virus called Covid-19.
But there is a deadlier thing among humanity,
a thing God did not want to get too close to. It is called SIN.

Moses, saved by Grace, was not socially distant from God. God called him, saying

Moses, My son Moses, My servant Moses – come!”

But the unrepentant Israelite, the murmurer, the complainer, the wallower in sin, the contaminated, to those God told Moses “Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish.” (Exodus 19:21). Not all would perish. Just “many”. No one is allowed in the presence of the Almighty unless they know Him.

Sadly, the people did not seek Grace from God. Fearfully they told Moses,

Exodus 20:19-20 … Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. 20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

Israel is a picture of the Church goer, the religious person who knows the rituals, knows the rites, knows perhaps even the Bible, but does not know the Lord.

Israel is like so many who go to Church weekly, faithfully. They know OF the Lord, but need a priest or a Moses to stand in the gap, representing and praying for the people. The Law came by Moses because the people rejected the Grace of God and practiced by default social distancing from God. This is what fascinated people about Jesus when He came teaching. The Bible says:

Matthew 7:28-29 … the people were astonished at his doctrine: 29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

The “scribes” were the copiers of the Old Testament Scripture. From copying the Word of God down day after day and year after year, the Scribes had memorized vast amounts of the Scripture. They knew their Bible. They knew what the Bible said. But the Scribes did not know the Author of the Bible. Jesus Christ, on the other hand, spoke as one having authority (ἐξουσία exousía, [pronounced ex-oo-see’-ah]). Jesus spoke as if He were acquainted with the Author of the Book. In fact, Jesus spoke as if He were the Author of the Book. Each time Jesus said,

But I say unto you”

He was saying, “This is what you may have been taught – but here’s the TRUTH”. Moses knew God, and was a recipient of Grace. But Jesus Christ IS GOD, and is the Giver of Grace. God is now among us, and He is Jesus!

Are You “Saying” Jesus “Is” Lord,
Or “Receiving” Jesus “As” Lord?

The reason that God gave the Law was to show Israel that they were sinners in need of a Savior. The reason that God sent His Son Jesus to this earth was to show us that God WANTS US TO BE CLOSE TO HIM. We cannot, however, receive Jesus as just another rabbi or just another teacher. Jesus Christ is God Incarnate, God become Man.

And Jesus IS LORD. He is ESPECIALLY LORD of His people.

The Scripture declares that Jesus …

Philippians 2:8-11 8 … being found in fashion as a man, {Jesus} humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus IS Lord. The Apostles preached “Jesus is Lord”:

Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same JESUS, whom ye have crucified, BOTH LORD AND CHRIST.

Jesus Christ is both Lord and Christ (Messiah, Savior). He is the means by which we receive Grace. God gave the Law to Israel through Moses (a man saved by Grace) so that they could understand their need for Grace. The Law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith (Galatians 3:21-26).

We all need the Grace and Truth of Jesus Christ. We need to know Him. Do you know Him? Jesus said:

John 6:40 … this is the will of {God the Father} that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Jesus is BOTH LORD AND CHRIST (Messiah/ Savior)! Is this in your hearts, or just in your mouths? You are saved by faith in Christ the Lord, and Jesus willingly and lovingly will save any who come to Him. Jesus promised:

Luke 19:10 … {I} the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Do you know Him?

Christianity is a personal relationship with
the personal and ever present Biblical God.

Jesus Christ came so that we might have a day to day relationship with Almighty God. The Prophet said:

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Jesus Christ is the virgin born God-Man Who left Heaven to be with us.

Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, GOD WITH US. (quoting Isaiah 7:14)

This is Who Jesus is. He is not just a Rabbi, or a well studied Prophet. Jesus Christ is God the Son. The Father says of the Son:

Hebrews 1:5-10 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? 6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. … 8 But UNTO THE SON {GOD THE FATHER} SAITH, THY THRONE, O GOD, IS FOR EVER AND EVER: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. 9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. 10 And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:

Jesus was with the Father in the beginning creating all things. John said:

John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

Do you know Him? Do you know my Jesus? Oh, I hope you do. Jesus has a name above every name. The Angels of God worship Him. He is, with Father and Spirit, blessed Elohiym, creator of all things. If you do not know Him, let today be the day you call upon Jesus. Call upon Him as Lord, Lord, seeking the salvation that only comes upon a person by Grace. This salvation is freely given to all who will receive Christ.

It Is Not WHAT We Do But WHO We Love

Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Have you received Jesus Christ as BOTH Lord and Savior?
We receive Jesus as Savior because we are not able to save ourselves.
We receive Jesus as Lord because He rules His people.

Titus 3:3-7 For we ourselves also were {once} foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Receive Christ as Savior, Follow Christ as Lord

You cannot have one without the other. The faith of Christ is not a buffet where we pick and choose: “I like this salvation thing, for God promises me Heaven through Christ. But I hate this Lordship thing. I want to be Lord of my own life, so I’ll turn up my nose at that.” What does Jesus say?

Matthew 7:22-23 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I NEVER KNEW YOU: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

There are moral and good people that do good deeds on this earth. There are preachers and Bible teachers and deacons and Sunday School teachers who do good works. There are people who have visited hospitals and nursing homes. There are those who have cooked food for the bereaved and suffering, and many who have fed or clothed the homeless. “In Christ’s name they did many wonderful works”. They are memorialized in pictures on hospital walls. And yet Jesus says to them:

I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity

The good work done apart from a relationship with Christ is of no eternal value. These people – like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day – were doing good with hands that had no knowledge of Jesus. The word translated “knew” here is the Greek γινώσκω ginṓskō, {pronounced ghin-oce’-ko}, which means “to know by experience”.

If you KNOW Jesus and are not socially distant from Him, you will be imitators of God. Jesus chastised the religious of His day, saying:

Matthew 23:23 23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

It was good that the Pharisees and scribes were tithing – Jesus said they ought to have done that. But Jesus said that these same Pharisees omitted the weightier matters of the Law:

Judgment
Mercy
Faith

The Law of God promised Judgment upon all for sin. But God in His mercy reached out in Christ, and offered Grace to all who would receive Him by faith. The Pharisees and scribes lived their lives pleasing themselves, not the Lord. Beloved, if you are a born again believer in Christ, you will serve the Lord Jesus in Christlike love. You will do the things He says to do. Christ is the Head of the Church and the Savior of the Body (Ephesians 5:23). We are not dominated by fear or by sin.

I have decided to follow Jesus. Have you?

The Saved Are Stable Because They Obey The Savior

Matthew 7:24-25 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

Tragedy and trial comes to all of us.

Beloved, unbelievers will die from Covid-19.
Believers may die from Covid-19.

The young and old will suffer from Covid-19.

The Scripture truthfully says:

Job 5:7 … man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.

Regardless as to trials, Jesus promised to be with those whom He loves. You who love Him will live your lives cherishing His red lettered words. When the trials come you will be buffeted, but destroyed. Why? Because the life founded on the Rock that is God is a life that cannot be upended.

But to those who hear but do not receive Jesus as both Lord and Savior, what is the promise unto them? Jesus said:

Matthew 7:26-27 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

A father helped his children build a beautiful sandcastle on the beach. They got mostly done, but the children grew tired and the day long. Daddy helped the children back to the car, and they all headed back to the motel, promises of “We’ll come back tomorrow” ringing in the kids ears. The next day the family returned to the same beautiful beach. But to the children’s dismay the sandcastle they worked so hard on was gone. The tide came in and took it all away.

If you are building your lives on the words of Christ, then nothing will upend your life. Storms will come. Covid-19 will grab headlines. People will panic, and buy out the grocery stores. But you will remain. Why? Because Christ Jesus is our Rock. The tides of time and trials will not wipe out the life built on Christ. Let us commit to knowing Him by faith, and to be faithful followers of Him in love. May God bless your lives with His Word and His empowering Spirit. Amen! Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
This entry was posted in Sermon Series "Red Letters", Sermons Preached and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.