“And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes [the Zealot], and Judas, the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot [Ish Kiriot, Hebrew: ‘Man from Kiriot’], which also was the traitor. And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people went out of all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases; and they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went out virtue out of him, and healed them all. And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye. For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: he is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.”
“And if you have a child in here who begins to fuss and carry on, fussing children are like New Year’s resolutions, they should be carried out. [laughter] So, we’re here to study God’s Word. If they’re too young to appreciate the Word of God, that’s why we have the Sunday school program set up the way it is, so if you’ll just be sensitive, evidently some of you thought this was a Concert, it’s a Bible study, so if there’s some fussing and distraction, please, be sensitive. Luke chapter 6, ‘Father we settle our hearts as we continue. Lord we see that, around us Lord, in the earth this evening, all over the world, the things that you said would be happening surround us. And Lord we look for your soon return, and Father it is evident in so many ways, that your [Jesus’] return could be at any moment. Lord we pray that you work in our hearts, work in my heart, Father, that we would live with a sense of urgency, Lord that we would take opportunity Lord, whenever there’s an open door to share the mystery of Christ. And Lord, as we continue this evening, we pray that you would open our hearts to your Word, and your Word to our hearts. Lord invest in us, Lord you said that we should be Light, that we’re the Light of the world and the Salt of the earth. Lord, we know that light is not heard, that it’s seen, and salt is not heard, it’s tasted. Lord, do that in us, Lord produce in us what we are unable to produce in and of ourselves. Continue to form your Son in our hearts, Father we pray in Jesus name, amen.’
Jesus Chooses the 12 Apostles
Chapter 6, we are at verse 12, it says “And it came to pass in those days, that he went into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” Very significant, particularly considering what he does next. “And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom he also named apostles;” Which probably he had hundreds of disciples. “Apostles,” those who would be “sent out.” Judas, by the way, being one. “Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor. And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases; and they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all” (verses 12-19). Power was just going forth from him at this point in time. And notice, Dr. Luke says “and healed them all.” So you have to get the picture of what’s going on here, there are multitudes following Jesus, from Judea, from Decapolis, from Tyre and Sidon. Some scholars feel at times there were 20,000 to 50,000 people following, figuring there were over 200 cities in Galilee that had a population of over 10,000 [per city], that’s millions of people just in Galilee [district], let alone Decapolis and Judea and Tyre and Sidon. And they’re following Jesus, because there’s such, at this point, such a demonstration of power, that as people are just touching him as he’s going by, all of them are being healed, demons are being cast out. And in the crowd that’s following him, there are Pharisees and Sadducees that normally didn’t get along, there are Romans, that the Pharisees and Sadducees normally didn’t want anything to do with, there are Gentiles from Tyre and Sidon that the Jews wouldn’t normally touch or rub up against. There are lepers in this crowd. Within the crowd of people that’s drawn together by the demonstration of God’s Kingdom and the power that’s going forth, Jesus has broken down all of the boundaries of all of the cultural differences, all of the social differences between people. Now I look around this room, and I think he does the same thing today. He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. But at this point, there’s such a demonstration of power that people are overawed, they’re amazed at what’s going on. Now Jesus, in the middle of this, spends a night in prayer, and he prays all night, evidently, saying, ‘Father, who should I choose? Hundred of disciples are around me.’ And then probably when the Father told him who to choose, he prayed some more. ‘I want you to choose Peter.’ ‘Well Father, Peter, Peter’s gonna deny me three times, he’s going to walk around people crowing like a rooster behind him, he’s gonna take everybody fishing when they should be preaching, he’s gonna start a problem at Antioch, cause a division in the Church, and chop people’s ears off.’ ‘James and John, Father, James and John, they’re going to want to call down fire from heaven and destroy the people you wanted me to preach to, just call them the sons of thunder, gives them a nickname.’ Simon Zelotes, a zealot, they were called Daggermen, because they hated the Romans so much, they would sneak up behind them in a crowd and stick daggers in their backs [like the French Resistance against German soldiers in France during WWII]. ‘This is just the kind of disciple I’d pick [laughter]. Stick him with Matthew the tax gatherer, that’s like putting oil and water together in the same crew [more like oil and gasoline].’ And Judas Iscariot [Hebrew: Ish Kiriot, man of Kiriot], all of them are Galileans except Judas, he’s the only one from Judea. Now the amazing thing is as we look at them is this, they’re all common men. John is probably about 15 or 16 years old. Listen to that, you guys, that are here, 15, 16, 17. John is probably 15, 16 years old. Many thought Peter was the oldest. They’re all just common people, and Jesus is calling them in a era where all around them, people are being healed, the dead are being raised, demons are being cast out, lepers are being cleansed, there’s this incredible demonstration of power now. Now how would you feel, because they’re all common people. What about if he came through here this evening, and he chose you, ‘I want you, you’re going to be one of ‘a-postles’, not the ‘b-postles’, you’re gonna be one of the ‘a-postles’, and I’m going to send you out.’ And you’re seeing this demonstration of power, and you’re hearing him preach about the Kingdom, the Kingdom that was coming. How would you feel? [Comment: Peter, Andrew, James and John and Judas brother of James were all common fishermen, probably all working together for Zebedee. Fishermen are a rough and tumble type of people. Any question about that, watch that movie The Perfect Storm, they’re probably like those rough and tumble fishermen on the Andrea Gail. Jesus chose five of these fishermen to be his apostles.] Well I know how I would feel. I would think, I would think ‘There must be another Joe Focht here somewhere, because I know he picked the wrong one. And if he only knew what I was like, if he doesn’t make mistakes, I don’t know how this has happened.’ Of course, I feel the same way about Peter. ‘And how do I get to be part of this Kingdom? And I see all this power demonstrated, what does it have to do with me? And Lord as I watch your life, I know that you’re holy. How do I relate to all of this?’ Well, he settles down and begins to tell them about those who enter into the Kingdom of God.
Traits of those who are actively entering the Kingdom of God
And he’s speaking and says to his disciples, to those who he had chosen, to the crowds, as he settles them down he says this, “And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake” (verses 20-22). Now, as we enter into this, listen, we have to, the context is I think broadened for us in Matthew where it says “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” There’s nowhere in the Bible where it says it’s blessed to be poor. And there’s nowhere in the world where it says it’s a blessing to be poor. And there’s nowhere in the world that says the poor get into heaven and the rich go to hell. So he’s not just talking about those that are physically poor. Matthew says “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their’s is the kingdom of heaven.” And then he says ‘blessed are those who hunger.’ It is not a blessing to be hungry. Matthew again broadens it, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” ‘Blessed are those who weep’, if you’re weeping tonight you know it’s not a blessing. Matthew says “Blessed are those who mourn”, because those are the ones who are going to be comforted.
Why Jesus doesn’t heal everybody the way he did when he was on earth
And in the middle of this incredible scene, it’s hard for us to imagine this evening, when we pray for our loved ones, and we pray for those who are sick here, and we wonder ‘Lord, why don’t you touch them the way you did in the Book of Acts and the way you did in the Gospels, why don’t we see? And sometimes we see people healed, but if you’re anything like me, I think so often we wonder, ‘Lord, why not, why aren’t you doing it the way you did it then, why is maybe once in awhile we see one person healed, but what about all the other people we pray for?’ But just imagine if the environment was ‘Everybody was healed.’ Imagine the pandemonium if everybody, buses are pulling up from the hospitals, you know, Nazareth Hospital, Redeemer Hospital, Children’s Hospital, Saint Christopher’s Hospital, you know, Honimon Hospital, just busses of people being pulled up, with IV’s, everything hooked up, just dragging them in, and everybody’s getting healed. Imagine the pandemonium.
What it means to be ‘poor in spirit’
And then his says to one of them, ‘You’re one of them, I’ll send you, you’re part of this.’ And you’re thinking, ‘Oh no, not me Lord. I’m so selfish Lord, I argue with people, I’m cranky, I get crabby sometimes, you know, I’m selfish, and I’m not concerned about others like I should be, Lord, there are such problems with my heart.’ Well he says to his disciples, in regards to entering the Kingdom, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” or ‘Happy or fulfilled, to be envied, are the poor in spirit, “for yours is the kingdom of heaven.” Blessed are the poor in spirit, if you sense that poverty, spiritually, not financially. If you’re anything like me, you sense spiritual poverty when you’re in traffic. [laughter] You sense spiritual poverty then, don’t you? You may sense [your own] spiritual poverty when it comes to loving the way that you should. You sense spiritual poverty in the checkout line when somebody starts writing a check in front of you, and you know your gonna be there for twenty minutes [chuckles]. You sense spiritual poverty when somebody puts a ding in your car in the parking lot. You sense spiritual poverty when there’s a person in front of you driving ten miles an hour. You see, I sense spiritual poverty when somebody in front of me is driving forty-four and a half in a 45-mile-and-hour zone. Blessed are the poor in spirit. ‘Blessed, happy and fulfilled are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, because you’re going to be filled.’ And anyone who is an honest Christian, finds that those who are the children of the Kingdom, those who are entering into the Kingdom, are those who are poor, they understand their spiritual poverty. That’s why they’ve come to Christ. They understand the hunger that they have inside is not for physical things but they’re hungering and thirsting after righteousness and the things of the Kingdom. Jesus said if you’re in that condition, there’s a blessedness about it, because you’re going to be filled. Because there’s a lot of other people who are hungering and thirsting after the things of this world, and they have it, one on top of another, and they’re never fulfilled. In my own life I think, ‘Lord, there’s so much in me that needs to change. Lord Jesus when I think about how you are, that you’re conforming me into your image and likeness, I think, boy there sure seems to be a long way to go. Lord, I’m selfish so often with my wife, my children and my home, with the people I work with, Lord, all of the things that are wrong with me, and all of the lustful things, all of the angry things, and all of the things that I see in my own heart that I don’t have the power to change.’ And you find yourself hungering and thirsting after righteousness. Jesus says that is a good thing, if you understand your own spiritual poverty. These are those who are entering the Kingdom of God. Are you hungering and thirsting after something that you can’t produce in and of yourself---after righteousness? Are you mourning about your spiritual condition? You know, repentance is a lifestyle, it’s not something that you do once and get saved. We carry it with us, it’s an attitude. [Pastor Joe has touched on the sanctification process, ‘What do I do once I’ve been saved?’ See http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm.]
We’re Going To Be Persecuted As Believers in Jesus
Verse 22, “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.” Now, by the way, I’m not good at doing this. Rejoice? Leap for joy? People persecute you and mistreat you [it’s even worse when it happens in church], rejoice? I’m good at reading it. I’m not good at doing it, I’m still mourning and hungering and thirsting. But when I get to this verse I’ve got to go right back to where we started again. Blessed are you when men shall hate you? Good plaque material, I could hang that on my wall. “when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil…” you know, your old friends might do that to you if you start talking about Jesus. [That happened to me, a shipmate off the submarine I served on, we were close until he saw this website, now the hatred and animosity rages within him toward me, and I did nothing to provoke this behavior.] Now notice, “…for the Son of man’s sake.” It doesn’t say ‘Blessed are you when people pick on you because you’re weird. And there are some Christians that need to get persecuted because of their weirdness. He says “for the Son of man’s sake”, when it’s for Jesus sake, you’re taking a stand for him and the heat comes, there’s a blessedness about that condition, he says. Now by the way, I think there’s a positive side to this. Take note of this, girls, you know we hear a lot about sexual harassment today, wherever you work, guys are always hitting on you, somebody’s always being a little bit friendlier than you want them to be, and asking you out, and you’re tired of saying ‘No.’ You need to preach the Gospel to them. [laughter] I’m telling you, it’ll solve your problems. You just say, ‘You know, I sense every time your around me, you’re just slightly perverted [loud laughter], and I really think you need Jesus, and he will forgive you, and cleanse you. And if you don’t turn to him, you’re going to go to hell and burn forever.’ You won’t have anymore problems. You may have a brother in Christ, but you won’t have any more problems. You know, there’s a positive side to this, if we look for it, we’re going to find it. “Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, separate you from their company”, they’ll do it, you share Christ with them, he says “for my name’s sake”, “cast out your name as evil”, ‘Oh there’s that Bible-thumper, I used to ask her out, man I’m staying away from her now.’ Praise the Lord, [laughter]. “Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets” (verse 23). This is why, because your reward is great in heaven. Now I can’t imagine doing that. Imagine somebody hassling you at work, ‘Oh man, are you reading that Bible again, you make me sick!’ Just jump up on your desk and go, ‘Yihaaa!’ That’s what it says right here. Rejoice, leap for joy, just jump up and scream [laughter]. And then they’ll be sure you’re outa your mind. That’s what it says. They don’t tell you this in counseling, instead they’ll tell you, ‘You need to develop a little more self-esteem, they’re not really picking on you.’ Jesus says ‘Just jump up and scream! Just leap for joy.’ Now see, we complain, ‘I don’t want to go to work on Monday, you know, the people pick on me, the people I work around, they’re not Christians…’ Well look, first of all, you may be, C.I.A., Christian Intelligence Agency, that’s who you are, and you’re a ‘plant’, God put you there. You may be the last link to eternity those people have. And he says, if they’re persecuting you, all they are, you look at them as ‘reward storer-uppers.’ You don’t look at them as hassling, ‘Do it again, you’re putting more in my account. Say that again, give me more, just lay it on me.’ [laughter] There’s a guy whose got it. He’s practicing for tomorrow at work. Easy to read, isn’t it? It’s easy to read. Because what we tend to do when somebody hassles us, is we want to jump up in their face. We don’t want to leap for joy and rejoice, because we’re getting hassled.
Those who persecute us have their temporary physical rewards in this life
Look, Jesus says “Woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.” The idea is now in contrast to eternity, that have everything now, self-righteous, fulfilled in this world. “For ye have received your consolation. Woe unto ye that are full! for ye shall hunger.” And there are those that are filled with themselves, they’re filled with the ways of the world, and the Bible says one of the aspects of hell is there’s a knawing hunger that will be there forever, hungering after light when you are in darkness, hungering after relief when they are in pain. Hungering after a drop of cool water, as we see later in Luke, when they are in the flame. Now Jesus, look, he’s not being unfair. Don’t say ‘How could a God of love send people to hell?’ He doesn’t do that. You choose. There’s a blessedness, there’s a way to enter in, you understand your spiritual condition, and there’s a spiritual poverty there, and you realize it, and you hunger and thirst after righteousness, and you mourn about your spiritual condition, you bring that before God. There’s forgiveness and there’s life. [Comment: Within the Body of Christ there are varying beliefs about heaven and hell. To read about some of these, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm.] If you just bumble your way through this world, thinking everything’s hunky-dory, you don’t need God, you don’t need to hear about this Kingdom stuff, you don’t need to hear about forgiveness, he says, well you have it now, ‘Woe to you that are full now, you’re gonna hunger, “woe to you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (verses 24-26).
Persecution tells us who we are
If you are a sold-out Christian, you should be rubbing somebody the wrong way, somewhere. If everybody speaks well of you, you might be politically correct, but headed in the wrong direction. Jesus is saying persecution is kind of a road-marker. If we’re standing up for Christ we’re going to meet adversity. Now he begins to tell us that in verse 27. How do we relate to all of this? They’re going to hassle us, you know. We’re concerned about our spiritual condition, we want to enter the Kingdom. We’re talking about a Kingdom where people are getting healed, we’re talking about a Kingdom where there’s forgiveness, we’re talking about a Kingdom that is changing the lives of men and women. And our part in that is not by anything we have in or of ourselves. It comes through mourning and repentance, and receiving God’s Spirit and being born again of the Spirit of God. But that puts us of course in opposition with the world that we live in that is completely focused on the things of this world that are temporary.
As Children of the Kingdom, How Should We Respond to the Persecution of this World?
He says, “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you” (verse 27). ‘Which hear,’ it’s very important that you’re hearing. First of all love, “Love your enemies,” oh man, I’m going back to ‘blessed are the poor in spirit.’ “do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you,” you do that all the time, don’t you…“pray for those who despitefully use you.” How do we do this? Well, the Bible tells us that when we’re born of God’s Spirit, that Christ himself takes up residence in our heart [cf. John 14 & 16]. Paul says ‘I travail over you as a parent does over children, till Christ be formed in you.’ “Pray for those who despitefully use you.” “‘Father’, Jesus would say, ‘forgive them, for they know not what they do.’” Does it come natural? No, this is Kingdom stuff. This is what people are looking at, the Kingdom, what’s flowing out of the Kingdom is people getting healed who don’t deserve to be healed [during this period of time Jesus was speaking here and cruising through Galilee with his ministry]. They’re not people that are saved, they’re just people that are sick, people that have been afflicted because of the fall, because of Satan’s work. But the Bible says that God so loved the world, not the Church, he so loved the world, there was no Church at this time. God so loved the world, the world that just grates on us and tugs us and bothers us, that we get sick of, that we can’t wait until we’re caught out of here, that world, God so loved the world that he gave his Son, that whoever would believe wouldn’t perish, but have everlasting life. So God’s saying, ‘If you’re going to be of the Kingdom, and you’re going to have a Kingdom attitude towards the world that surrounds you, there is part of that, that is bearing up under the pressure of things, loving your enemies as he did, it says, ‘while we were at enmity with God his love was demonstrated towards us, in that he came and he died for us while we were enemies.’ “Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other” (verses 28-29). Jesus did that, they pulled out his beard. Now it’s tough, I know. If you just got saved, and a lot of people that have been saved lately have been thinking ‘I don’t know about this. I liked the Bible studies up until now. You know, I don’t know about this, hits you on one cheek, you turn the other cheek, if he hits the other cheek, then can you clobber the guy? There must be something in this where you can, you know…’ [laughter] Look, “And him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh way thy goods ask them not again” (verses 29b-30). Now look, Jesus is not condoning robbery. He’s talking about an attitude, a change of heart that we should be seeing within ourselves as Christians. “And as you would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (31). Now you have to understand, he took something that was a current saying of the day, rabbis of the day would say ‘Whatever you don’t want someone to do to you, don’t do that to them.’ And that’s, by the way, a good rule to live by. Anything you don’t want someone else to do to you, don’t do to them. But the problem is, you can go through your whole life not doing anything to anybody, and never get anything done. Jesus puts it into the positive and says, ‘Whatever you do want people to do to you, even if they don’t do it, whatever you want people to do to you, do it to them.’ The way you want people to live towards you, whether they do or not, live towards them. Difficult.
Developing the Way, the Attitude of Agape
And I think we get an insight into it in the next three verses here, because or “For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again” (verses 32-34). Now look, very interesting, and I don’t know what your translation says, if you read in the King James, where it says in 32-33 and 34 “what thank have ye” it’s charis, it’s “what grace have ye?” or “what grace do you posses?”. You know, if you just love those who love you, what grace then have ye? You see, you have been recipients of God’s grace. And that’s remarkable. Now again, we’re not just talking about God’s mercy. The difference between mercy and grace, mercy is not getting what you should get [as punishment], grace is getting what you shouldn’t. Here’s the difference. A guy’s on death row. He’s guilty. The Governor’s got the case on his desk. He wants to be acquitted, wants the Governor to intervene. He doesn’t deserve to be acquitted, but the Governor signs the paper. That’s mercy, he doesn’t get what he should get. But this is grace, the executioner says, ‘No, no, we just got an order from the Governor. He comes in, takes the guy out of the electric chair, takes him into another room, gives him a new suit, shave, expensive aftershave, says ‘The Governor’s waiting out front, he’s adopted you, you’re his legal son now. He’s sent his chauffeur to get you, and he’s driving you to the mansion, and at the mansion he’s put everything in your name, you’re the sole beneficiary of his will, you are now the inheritor of everything.’ Now that’s grace. You are a no-good for nothing that should have died, and instead you got rewarded like you were the Son of God himself. That’s grace. And that’s what the Bible says, if you just love people that love you, you haven’t been a recipient of God’s grace. Because if you realize that you were on your way to hell and you weren’t anything, and God forgave you and called you his son, why shouldn’t you be gracious to somebody else and even love those who don’t love you? Because that’s what God did for you, he loved you when you didn’t love him. If you just do good to those who do good to you, what grace have you? How much of God’s grace have you received, because sinners do that. It’s being good to those who aren’t good to you that demonstrates the Kingdom that you want to be part of and enter into. If you just lend to those you hope to receive again from, what grace do you have? It’s when you give, not expecting anything in return, he says, that you’re demonstrating that you yourself have been a recipient of the grace of God. And again, when I read this, I think ‘OK, let’s go back to mourning, hungering, thirsting after righteousness, I didn’t get enough of the first serving there. [Comment: Everything Jesus, and Pastor Joe is describing here is about the development of an attitude and way of life which the apostle Paul elaborated on in 1st Corinthians 13:4-8, the development of God’s agape-love within us. To learn more about this essential subject, log onto: http://www.unityinchrist.com/Agape/Agape%20I.htm.] “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil” (verse 35).
Is Serving Jesus for Reward Carnal?---Wrong?
Now by the way, there are those who tell us that serving Christ for rewards is carnal, that we should do not that. You know, I find Jesus all through the Gospels telling us ‘Remember, when you do this, and you’re serving me, and you give your life to me, that great is your reward in heaven.’ Jesus bids us to set our hearts on those things. ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all of these other things you need are going to be added to you.’ Paul would say ‘Set you affections on things above, not on things of the earth, where Christ liveth at the right hand of God.’ Paul would say remarkably ‘That though our outward man perishes,’ and Paul’s saying that of himself, sometimes I think we see Paul as the Energizer Bunny that just kept going and going and going, he said no, ‘that he needed to be renewed daily,’ he said, every day he ran out of gas spiritually. ‘’Though the outward man perishes,’ he said ‘the inward man is renewed day by day,’ and then he says, ‘while we look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen, because the things that are seen are temporal, and the things that are not seen are eternal.’ Paul says this, ‘What strengthens me on a daily basis and what renews me every day is when I look’, that’s scopio in the Greek, you know, it means a microscope to bring something small into focus, a telescope is to bring something far away, if you’re scoping out a girl in the sanctuary, you’d better repent, but that means you’re looking at her, thinking about her, scopio, it means you’re bringing something into focus and thinking about it. Paul says “While we look, scopio, at the things that are not seen,’ he said, ‘I’ve set my heart on them, I’ve brought them into focus, I’ve examined them, I’ve looked at the Kingdom, the streets of gold, the walls of jewels, the throne of God with the cherubim and the angels gathered round, and the saints from every age worshipping Jesus Christ, he said, ‘I’ve placed my heart there. And every day, when I find myself needing to be renewed, I bring those things back into focus again. And though the outward man is perishing, my physical frame, in my heart, he says daily, I’m renewed.’ Jesus says as you do these things, and they are difficult things, your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest. What a great Family. “for he is kind to the unthankful and to the evil.” And he was to me, before I was saved, that’s just where I was.
It’s OK to be a Fruit-Inspector, Just Don’t be Judgmental About It
“Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (verses 36-38). Now this is what he’s saying, he’s saying, ‘Don’t be judgmental. He’s talking about looking at somebody and saying, ‘You know, that person’s going to hell, this person’s…’ He’s saying ‘Don’t do that.’ It’s not up to us to pass that kind of judgment on people. And he says ‘remember to be gracious, because, and we should always remember this, ‘with the same measure we measure at somebody else, mercy and grace, forgiveness, that’s the same way it’s going to be measured back to us. And you know our sin looks a lot worse on other people, doesn’t it? Especially if they’re getting away with it. Now, it’s going to tell us, right after this, about a good tree doesn’t bring forth bad fruit and a bad tree doesn’t bring forth good fruit. So the Bible doesn’t say ‘Don’t use your brain.’ It says you’re allowed to be a fruit-inspector. Just don’t be judgmental. If you see somebody coming up to you saying, ‘Oh I’m a Christian’, and they’re living in fornication or adultery, they’re using drugs, you say, ‘Yeah, funny, good trees don’t bring forth bad fruit.’ I’m not being judgmental. Because they have their favorite verses, ‘Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.’ ‘Judge not, lest you be judged.’ You know, I’m not judging, I’m a fruit-inspector [laughter], ‘You’ve got bad fruit, wow!’ Paul says a spiritual man discerns all things, we are allowed to use discernment. And if we weren’t we couldn’t exhort one another to faith and good works. And we’re supposed to do that. You see a brother or a sister overtaken in a fault, it says ‘You with a spirit of meekness restore such a one, thinking of yourself, lest you be overtaken also.’ And we have to be able to encourage one another when we see one another struggling. That’s not passing judgment, that’s fruit-inspecting. Don’t have a judgmental attitude. He talks about that here. “And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?” (verse 39). He’s asking them not to be judgmental. The Pharisees had not been able to lead people into the Kingdom. Here these people were coming in, their hearts were broken, they were open to the things the Lord had to say, and he’s telling them ‘Don’t be judgmental, be gracious, be able to turn the other cheek, have the right attitude. Because if you enter the Kingdom [i.e. receive the indwelling Holy Spirit, becoming an active believer in Jesus Christ] they’re going to persecute you. And you need to remember, there are people in this world that will be full, they’re going to have everything now, but I’m saying woe to them, because in the eternal state, they find themselves suffering. You’re suffering is temporary. If you seek to walk as a Christian, you’re going to be hassled, you’re going to be aggravated, things are going to come against you. But he says ‘But the blind can’t lead the blind,’ the Lord is telling us, ‘they’ll both fall into a ditch.’
The Blind Can’t Lead the Blind---Using Discernment Correctly, With Love
“The disciple is not above his master:”---and Jesus was persecuted---“but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. And why beholdest thou the mote [the speck] that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye” (verses 40-42). He’s saying this, ‘the blind can’t lead the blind.’ The Pharisees and the Sadducees of Jesus’ day were Optimologists, they were eye-doctors, and all they were worried about was the speck, you know the little sin you were breaking, the tradition, they couldn’t see past that. And that’s because Jesus said they had a beam in their own eye. He says imagine some guy coming up to you, you know, you’ve got a hair in your eye, and here comes a guy with a 12 x 12 sticking out of his eye, saying, ‘Let me take care of you,’ Whawoom! and you’re just gone. He says it’s ludicrous, how can somebody with a beam sticking out of their eye, come to you to take a splinter out of yours? He says ‘Remove the beam first, so that you can see clearly to help your brother.’ In other words, get rid of the judgmental attitude, and your vision will sharpen right up, and it will be to help, instead of to judge and to tear down, or to whack with a beam. [Comment: There are certain parts of the Body of Christ that need to take this advice, the parts that tend to be legalistic instead of Christ-centered. For the Sabbath-keeping side of the Body of Christ, this would include their judgmental attitude toward all others who call themselves Christian, those who are trying to obey God’s commandments to the very best of their ability and understanding. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Has%20the%20Sabbath%20Been%20Abrogated.htm to see some of Jesus’ correction to the Pharisees and scribes for their blind judgment of others, and how it would apply to us now.] Now, I think we have to be careful, a lot of Christians, you know, somehow as time goes on their love seems to mature into discernment, they used to love, now they discern everything. Love does not mature into discernment, I hate to tell you that. Love matures into real love, not into discernment [real love, God’s agape-love. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/Agape/Agape%20I.htm to see what he’s talking about here]. And if God gives you discernment, it’s so you can pray for someone, and help them, not so you can blab about them to everybody else. “For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” Both are trees. “Every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” (verses43-45). Jesus says, ‘Look, it’s not a, you know, it’s a no-brainer. If you see someone, their life is filled with bad fruit.’ Jesus is saying, ‘That’s not coming from a good heart.’ And we see sometimes, we see somebody like that. You know, they claim to be a Christian, and I think they’re more concerned about finding a Christian dating-service than they are about finding Jesus. And sometimes we have people here in the church that we have to put out, because they go from sin to sin, in the church, dragging down God’s people. We don’t see any good fruit in their lives. We challenge them, counsel them, nothing changes. And it’s a no-brainer. Good fruit comes from a good work in the heart by God. Evil fruit does not come from a good heart. Jesus says that. In the same passage he’s saying not to be judgmental, but he’s also telling you that the fruit hangs on the outside of the tree, what’s hanging on the outside of the tree. You’re allowed to see that. You’re allowed to make a decision. [Comment: This discernment would also tie into Pastor Joe’s comments in Luke 5:36-39 about “new wineskins” and “old wineskins.” You are allowed to make a discernment (without being judgmental about individuals in a hostile way) about the various denominations, and which are spiritually healthier to attend, as to whether they are old, brittle wineskins, or new, supple and pliable wineskins, full of spiritual growth. You can discern these things also by their fruit. And some of that fruit has just been described by Jesus here within this chapter, with the difference between being Christ-agape centered and that of being judgmental. Those are two vital kinds of fruits, one positive, one negative to check for in choosing which fellowship to dwell in and be nourished by spiritually. The wise choice could make all the difference concerning your future eternal life. Meditate on that one for awhile.]
Entering into the Spiritual Aspect of the Kingdom is Entering into a Relationship with God, Jesus
“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (verse 47) Now what’s he talking about? OK, listen, this is what he’s talking about, his sayings, he’s talking all of his teachings. But this evening we’re looking at this, ‘The Kingdom of God. If you sense in your heart this evening that the Kingdom of God has touched your life, if you’ve come with a friend this evening, or you’re not sure that you know Jesus personally…Now maybe you have “religion,” but you wonder whether you really have “relationship,” and that’s what Christianity is. Jesus didn’t come to leave us a religious system, he came to leave us life, and to make us God’s children. And that’s a relationship, that’s not a religion. I have four kids, I don’t want any of them to have a religion with me, I want them to have a relationship with me. I don’t want them to get up with me every Sunday morning and come to my bedroom and see pictures of me on the wall and say ‘There’s Daddy, he laid down his life for us, Amnee Domnee, Amnee Domnee, and then go away for another week. That’s not a relationship, that’s religion! That’s religion, that’s not relationship. Because a sinner can have religion. He died, the reason he died was to cleanse us, because we are sinful, and we can’t come into his presence with our sin. So if we come to him for forgiveness, and we’re washed and cleansed, then we can enter into a relationship with a holy God. Because the righteousness of Jesus is now put on our lives, because we’ve come admitting, we’ve come mourning, he says. We’ve come hungering and thirsting for righteousness, this is how we enter into the [spiritual aspect of the] Kingdom. We come with a broken heart, and say, ‘Lord, I need your forgiveness, I need your love, I need to enter your Kingdom. [Comment: There are two distinct and very real aspects of entering God’s Kingdom. When a person accepts Jesus into his or her life, receiving the indwelling Holy Spirit, and is now walking in a life of spiritual overcoming of sin, that person has entered a spiritual aspect of the Kingdom of God. Then at the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ, when all who have died in Christ, or those still alive who are in Christ, will at this time of the 1st resurrection to immortality, be granted entrance into the real Kingdom of God, of which Paul stated in 1st Corinthians 15:50 “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God…”. Pastor Joe is talking about the first aspect of entering into the Kingdom of God, not the second aspect of phase of it.] And yeah, as Christians, we’re going to get hassled, we are not at home in this world. Jesus says to a man who wants to follow him, ‘The foxes have their holes, the birds of the air have their nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.’ In other words, ‘The foxes are in their environment, the birds of the air have their nests, this is their world. If you want to follow me, I have no place to lay my head in this world, I am not at home, and I live by the rules of a different kingdom, and by the power and the love and the forgiveness of a different kingdom.’
When we enter into a relationship with Jesus, we’re going to get hassled
And if we’re going to step in behind him, and follow him in a relationship, we’re going to get hassled, we’re going to get persecuted. People are going to say strange stuff about us. Relatives, parents, friends, they’re going to wonder what in the world happened to you. I hope they do. I hope they think about it hard and long. But he says, to get through that you’re gonna have to have an attitude. If people are hassling you, you’re going to have to be able to turn the other cheek, not necessarily physically, but it has to be an attitude of heart. Somebody’s taken something from you, let it go, let ‘em have it. That has to be our attitude. Because the blind can’t lead the blind, we can’t let religious people, they have nothing to give, they are not giving relationship. You and I, we’re not to be judgmental like the religious people. We’re not to be swinging around a beam in our eye and wiping people out! We don’t have to be judgmental in that way.
What Determines Whether We Have A Relationship With Jesus?
It’s easy, a good tree brings forth good fruit, a bad tree brings forth bad fruit. The question is, are we saying “Lord, Lord,” and doing the things that he says? Or are we saying “Lord, Lord,” and not doing the things that he says. That’s what determines whether we have a relationship with Jesus or not. Because “Lord, Lord” insinuates relationship, that he’s our Lord and Master, our Saviour. He says, “Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: he is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was built upon a rock. But he who heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great” (verses 48-49). “Upon the earth,” Matthew says “upon the sand.” Jesus says, ‘Let me tell you what it’s like when people hear the things I have to say, and you have to make the decision.’ He said, “There are those who listen to the things I say, and they do them.’ He said, ‘Those people are like people who have dug deep, they’ve mourned, they’ve hungered and thirsted after righteousness, they’ve laid a foundation upon the Rock, upon Jesus of course, the Rock of Ages. And when the storms of life come, notice both of these people are exposed to storms, the believer and the unbeliever. Sometimes as a believer we’re shocked that cancer or difficulty or things come our way. No, believer or an unbeliever alike, both are exposed to the storms of life. And the interesting thing is, you look at these two houses, above ground they look exactly the same. Both guys work on their houses. Both guys say ‘Praise God, glory to God, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.’ Both of them know all of the Christian jargon maybe. But he says one of them is someone who dug deep, and laid the foundation of what he was building on the Rock, on Jesus Christ. And the storms of life came and beat upon that house, and it didn’t fall because it had a foundation on the Rock. The other man who doesn’t listen to what Jesus says, it’s hard to tell outwardly, because he also builds something that’s visible, you can see it. ‘When we find out that he’s not building his life on me,’ Jesus said, ‘is when the storms of life come, and his life comes crashing down.’ Now let me tell you something. The ultimate storm in life is death. And it comes to all of us. They did a survey not too long ago, it’s important you pay attention. And they figured out that for every ten people born, ten people die. Just to make sure they did it with a hundred. They found out for every one hundred people born, one hundred people die. C.S. Lewis said this, he said, “War” and we look at war on television, on the news we see how cruel it is, we see Boznia, we see Central Africa, [now we see in Syria, and what happened in Libya], we see what’s going on in the world today, C.S. Lewis said, “War does not increase death, because death is total in every generation. Every generation dies.” Jesus’ generation died and passed off the scene, whether they died of old age or they were killed by the Romans, or were eaten by lions in the arena. The idea is, war does never increase death, because death is total in every generation. What that means is everybody in this room has an appointment with death. We all have the same destination, a hole in the ground. That’s your destination and my destination if the Lord tarries, a hole in the ground. Confucius is in his tomb. Buddha is in a pot in a temple somewhere. Mohammed is in his tomb. We know who’s in Grant’s Tomb. There’s an empty tomb in Jerusalem. [applause] Everybody in this room is headed for a hole in the ground. The question is, how are you coming out? And that’s determined on what you build on. John Paul Getty, one of the richest men the world has ever known, in his last days, carried a sack lunch, because he became a miser. He had more billions than he understood, and it just grated on him to spend the money to buy a steak sandwich, a multi-billionaire. So he carried a sack lunch. What was he building on? Again, William Randolph Hearst, one of the wealthiest men in America, forbid the word “death” to be said in his presence, by his servants, or by anybody in his house. Didn’t help. He’s dead. [laughter] Howard Hughes, one of the richest men this nation has ever known, died locked away in a room, afraid of viruses, bacteria, he had everything sterilized. He had needles broken off in his arm from syringes. He was a bigot, he died insane. What did he have? What did he build on, what are you building your life on? The Bible says if you build your life on the words of Jesus, that you can have eternal life. You can build a life that the storms of life, whatever they may be, will not destroy your faith in Christ. And when the ultimate storm comes, that of death, your house stands, what you’ve built, because you’ve built on the Rock of Ages. And the Bible says that if the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you, that that same Spirit will also bring your mortal body back to life one day. Do you have that hope? Or are you building on this world? Are you full now? Or are you laughing now? Or are you popular now? Are you seeing to be politically correct now? Is everybody around you speaking well of you, because you do everything you need to do to pat everybody’s back and make everybody happy. Or are you standing up for Jesus? Are you having your reward now, and suffering then, or are you bearing up under the reproach of Christ now, and looking forward to eternal rewards? And the Bible says the choice is yours, you can make that choice. It isn’t how can a God of love send people to hell? No there’s two doors. One door leads to forgiveness and eternal life. If you build there, you’ll live forever, you’ll be forgiven. If you go through the other door, you suffer forever, in outer darkness. [Comment: The Body of Christ has different varying beliefs about heaven and hell. To see what some of these are, log onto: http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm.] It isn’t ‘How can a God of love…’ the remarkable thing is he set two doors in front of us, you make the choice. You know, we hear a lot about AIDS in our society today. And they’re doing all kinds of experiments, and every time we hear they have made somewhat of a breakthrough, and we hear more about it, and we’re hoping they come with a breakthrough for AIDS. And you know if they came up with a breakthrough for AIDS, people would stand in line for blocks to get it. Nobody would say, ‘That’s too narrow. You mean there’s only one cure.’ See people say that about Jesus, ‘Oh, that’s too narrow minded. What about this religion, what about that religion, what about this religion.’ Or people say ‘What about the guy on the island.’ Who is this guy, I want to meet him someday. Everybody’s worried about the guy on the island. No, if they said ‘Here’s a cure for AIDS, people would stand in line to get it. It wouldn’t be too narrow, it would be remarkable that there finally was one. Well everybody in this room has an Immune Dificiency Disease. It may take you 70 years to kill you, but the moment you were born you began to die, and the disease is called “sin.” And remarkably, there is a cure, the blood of Jesus Christ. [applause] That can be yours this evening, this is what’s involved. The Bible says all have sinned, all of us, that’s why we mourn and hunger and thirst after his righteousness, we’re growing in grace [those that are Christs’], the Bible says. The Bible says all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, every single person in this room, me included, everybody. We’ve all come short of his glory. That’s why we hunger and thirst for it. And the Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death [cf. Romans 6:23], that’s what you get paid for sin. You can’t get a check somewhere else, if you worked for sin. You don’t work at Burger King your whole life and every week go to McDonalds to get your check. The wages of sin is death, you get paid what you deserve. But the Bible tells us that if we come to Jesus, and admit that we’re sinners. You know, if you need plumbing, I hope you get a plumber. If you’ve got an electrical problem you get an electrician. If you have a sin problem, you need a Saviour. The Bible says if we come to Christ and ask for forgiveness of sin, just ask, we admit that we are a sinner, that he’ll wash us and cleanse us [which is a lifetime process, by the way], and give us eternal life---for the asking…[transcript of a connective expository sermon given on Luke 6:12-49 by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19116]
Developing the way, the attitude of Agape:
Are you judging, discerning others through a Pharisaic lens: