No Cold Sales Calls

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Rom 2:12-29 GW  Here's the reason: Whoever sins without having laws from God will still be condemned to destruction. And whoever has laws from God and sins will still be judged by them.  (13)  People who merely listen to laws from God don't have God's approval. Rather, people who do what those laws demand will have God's approval.  (14)  For example, whenever non-Jews who don't have laws from God do by nature the things that Moses' Teachings contain, they are a law to themselves even though they don't have any laws from God.  (15)  They show that some requirements found in Moses' Teachings are written in their hearts. Their consciences speak to them. Their thoughts accuse them on one occasion and defend them on another.  (16)  This happens as they face the day when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge people's secret thoughts. He will use the Good News that I am spreading to make that judgment.

“Here’s the reason.”  The reason for what? The reason for the judgement against the self-righteous and the unrighteous. The reason why we need Christ for our salvation. As we pointed out last week, anything done apart from faith (in Jesus Christ) is sin. And, it is impossible to please God without faith.

A quick definition of faith? First of all, faith is not matter of intellectual mastery. it’s not head knowledge, and it is not a decision. Faith is trust. Faith is a relationship of utter dependence on Christ.

Without faith, your struggle to be “good enough” will never be enough. You can’t do enough on your own to please God. And you will always fall short of the glory, (the attention) of God. Do you think you struggled here on earth in trying to please others, in trying to be noticed? Wait until Judgement Day!

If you have not surrendered your life to Christ utterly, He will say to you on the Last Day, “Depart from Me for I never knew you....I never noticed you, or anything you did to get My attention!.

How devastating that Day will be for those who thought that their good deeds would count for something!  Oh, how the Gospel ought to speak to every human being on this point. Every human being wants attention, recognition, and affirmation, and the gospel says, this is how to achieve it. By simply and utterly surrendering your life to Christ.

On that great Day of Judgement God will not say “pretty good job,” to those who have surrendered to His Son, intimating that it could’ve been better. And He won’t say “that’s junk, do it over and this time do it right.” No, if you are in Christ, He will say “well done, good and faithful servant.

We can read these passages in Romans and think that we earn God’s approval through our obedience to His Law....that’s what it says here! .......and we do sort of, but that obedience is Christ’s obedience and He gives it to us, as we utterly give ourselves to Him.  
The stark reality is that we cannot keep His Law. All have sinned (disobeyed) and fallen short of the glory of God.  All then, must rely utterly on Christ.

Paul throws another shocker at us here as he says that not hearing or knowing the Law is not an excuse for disobedience. Whether one has heard the Law or not doesn’t alter sin.  If you are on someone’s property and you didn’t see the “no trespassing” signs, doesn’t change the fact that you are trespassing. Or you can’t be in court for a speeding ticket and say,  “Your honor I didn’t see the sign.” Yea, that’ll work real good in court.

Now the Jew had a great privilege. They were given the posted signs in stone and in black and white, and they were given in such a way that they couldn’t possibly miss them.

Exo 19:16-19 GW  On the morning of the second day, there was thunder and lightning with a heavy cloud over the mountain, and a very loud blast from a ram's horn was heard. All the people in the camp shook with fear.  (17)  Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.  (18)  All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the LORD had come down on it in fire. Smoke rose from the mountain like the smoke from a kiln, and the whole mountain shook violently.  (19)  As the sound of the horn grew louder and louder, Moses was speaking, and the voice of God answered him.

Pretty hard to miss the giving of the ten commandments wouldn’t you say?

The Jews  received the Law in the form of the Ten Commandments, but remember that according to v15, God’s Law has always been written on every man’s heart.  Jew, Gentile, moralist, or savage, all have God’s Law written on their heart.

C.F. Walther puts it this way in Law and Gospel” “The ten commandments were published only for the purpose of bringing out in bold outline the dulled script of the original Law written in men’s hearts..”

The advantage then for the Jew was that they were given some hard copy (in outline form) of God’s complete Law that was already written on their heart. Then Jesus came along and gave us the complete script!

The complete script is what is written on every one’s heart and it looks in part like this: Just being angry with someone, or calling them a name, or regarding them as a fool is the equivalent of murder.  

Just looking at a woman lustfully constitutes adultery, love your enemies, forgive those who trespass against you, don’t lie, marriage is forever, ...all these things, and all other things written in the Bible that call for obedience,  are written on the heart of every man, woman, and child alive.

However, in our own disobedience, our own laziness,  and our rebellion against God we have tarnished what is written on our hearts. We have dulled the Law.

That is why we preach it! It is there in every human heart and our prayer is that as we preach it, the sinner is reawakened to his sin and his need for a Savior. So that he will turn or return utterly to Christ.

Jesus, by the way, not only reminded us of the complete script of the Law, but He also further reduced it in outline form to two points. Love God with all of your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.

The first 3 commands take us to remembering the Sabbath and fall under the first heading: Love God. And the rest of the commandments fall under the second heading of loving others as you love yourself.

We are a forgetful people, and so God in His mercy gave us the two tablets of the Law to help us stay focused on what really matters, and Jesus took the next step and reduced the Law to two commands also to help our focus. Love God and love others and you will be in good shape with the Law.

Knowing the bold outline drives us then to explore the fine print. We ask with Luther, “What does this mean? And the meaning is found in Scripture and affirmed in our hearts because the fine print is in our heart.  It was reiterated and clarified by Jesus and the Apostles, and the prophets, and the Holy Spirit now brings it to life as we are exposed to God’s Word. He blows the dust off of it, if you will, revealing it to us and then spurs us on to trust and obey it. .

This is what was prophesied by Ezekiel in Ezekiel 11:19,20

“Then I will give them one heart, (unified by our baptism) and I will put a new spirit within them, (the Holy Spirit) and take the stony heart out of their flesh, (the one that has all of God’s Law but has become hardened and dead to it) and give them a heart of flesh. (One that is pliable and receptive to the Law of God) that they may walk in My statutes and keep my judgements and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.

Every act of obedience on your part comes from God’s Law being written on your heart and the Holy Spirit, (who indwells your heart from the moment of your baptism) is the softening agent for your heart and brings forth an awareness (we call that conviction of sin) and a  willing obedience and trust of God and His Word. Ultimately then, every act of obedience comes from Christ, working in the Law that has always been in your heart.

And so Paul says that it’s not the hearers of the Word who are justified but the doers, because the doers give evidence of utter dependence on Christ or faith.
So the only difference between you and the savage in the deepest part of the jungle is you have responded to the Gospel, you have been baptized. By God’s grace, the softening agent has been placed in your heart “that you may” not that you will, but that you may not only hear God’s Law but obey it. You can resist it and such is the case of so many in our land today. Baptized, but resistant to utter surrender.

The beauty of it is that you don’t even have to think about what to obey, because it’s already in your heart and the Holy Spirit will bring forth the obedience if you just trust Him. Paul says in Gal 5:16 - “Live your life as your spiritual nature directs you. Then you will never follow through on what your corrupt nature wants.”

 And in v18 he says, “If your spiritual nature is your guide, you are not subject to Moses laws.

The idea is you are not just subject to what Moses brought down from Sinai, you are subject to the complete Law of God that He has written on your heart, The entire package is there, not just an outline!  

Now there’s a danger here. The danger is we mistake the prompting of our flesh for the prompting of the Spirit and we do things that are contrary to God’s Word. Our religious creed becomes, “well I feel......” instead of “I believe thus saith the Lord!”

How many times have we used “I feel” to justify our sin? I feel it’s okay for me to divorce, I feel it’s okay for me to marry an unbeliever, I feel I don’t need to connect to this body of believers. I feel homosexuality is not a sin, I feel it’s my body and I have a right to choose abortion,  and yada yada yada. How many times have we been swayed by our sinful heart instead of the Word of God.

Gen 6:5 GW  The LORD saw how evil humans had become on the earth. All day long their deepest thoughts (thoughts of the heart) were nothing but evil.

But praise the Lord for the Word of God! Here we have the entire script of what is written on our hearts, and by comparing it to our thoughts and actions, we can see if it is the Holy Spirit or our flesh that is leading us. First we look at the outline Jesus gave us. Do our actions reflect a love of God or a love of our neighbor?

Then we can put our actions alongside the ten commandments, and finally we can dig into the  fine print. The Holy Spirit will never lead you to do anything contrary to the fine print of this Book.  And furthermore, the Holy Spirit will compel you to be a doer of this Word, not just a hearer.

One Christian comedian put it this way. “I’m so busy with the Holy Spirit’s to do list, that I don’t have time for the don’ts.”

But what about those who have not yet heard the gospel and have not yet been baptized? Well, what about them? They’re waiting. They have the Law dimly written on their hearts. Someone must bring the Law to their ears in order to awaken guilt and despair in order to drive them to the cross.

What an added incentive to evangelism! You are not making cold sales calls here! The Law has been there ahead of you and as you proclaim it again, the Holy Spirit can work in that Law to reawaken the sinner to their guilt and need for a Savior. They are ready then to hear the Gospel.

Now they may have become so hardened that they don’t want to be reawakened.  Fine, shake the dust off your feet and move on, but understand there is raw material present in everyone! Everyone has the potential to be convicted of their sin, because of what God has planted in their heart.

Ray Comfort in his book “Revival’s Golden Key” writes, The Law makes the sinner thirst for righteousness, that he might live. It’s holy light reveals the dust of sin on the table of the human heart, so that the gospel in the hand of the Spirit can wipe it perfectly clean.”

Comfort also relates a beautiful teaching concerning the Law found in Gen. 24:

Gen 24:10-20 GW  Then the servant took ten of his master's camels and left, taking with him all of his master's best things. He traveled to Aram Naharaim, Nahor's city.  (11)  The servant had the camels kneel down outside the city by the well. It was evening, when the women would go out to draw water.  (12)  Then he prayed, "LORD, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today. Show your kindness to Abraham.  (13)  Here I am standing by the spring, and the girls of the city are coming out to draw water.  (14)  I will ask a girl, 'May I please have a drink from your jar?' If she answers, 'Have a drink, and I'll also water your camels,' let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. This way I'll know that you've shown your kindness to my master."  (15)  Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel, son of Milcah, who was the wife of Abraham's brother Nahor.  (16)  The girl was a very attractive virgin. No man had ever had sexual intercourse with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar, and came back.  (17)  The servant ran to meet her and said, "Please give me a drink of water."  
(18)  "Drink, sir," she said. She quickly lowered her jar to her hand and gave him a drink.  (19)  When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, "I'll also keep drawing water for your camels until they've had enough to drink."  (20)  So she quickly emptied her jar into the water trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels.

What’s that got to do with the Law? Comfort said the ten camels here are like the ten commandments. When the servant arrived at the city of Nahor, he had his ten camels kneel down outside the city before the well at the time the women go out to draw water.

He prayed that the bride-to-be wold be evidenced by the fact that she would have consideration for the camels. (For the Law) When Rebekah saw the camels she RAN to the well to get water for them.

God the Father (symbolized by Abraham) sent His Spirit (symbolized by the servant) to search for a bride (the church) for His only begotten Son. (symbolized by Isaac) He has chosen the Ten Commandments to carry this special message from His Lord.( A foreshadowing of the Law which had not yet been given)

While we may not be able to clearly distinguish the Bride of Christ from the rest of the world, the Holy Spirit knows that the primary reason she draws water from the well of Salvation is to satisfy the ten thirsting camels of a holy and just Law. The true convert comes to the Savior simply to satisfy the demands of a holy law.

(The Law can only be satisfied by Christ who is the living water.)

We have a dying world out there. A world that desperately needs to have the tarnish removed from their hearts in order that the true Law of God may be revealed in all of it’s clarity and severity.  This is how the heart is prepared for salvation.

The question is, are we prepared to take that message to our world? Do we have a life changing and life giving message or not? Is our message the right product for removing the tarnish from the human heart or not?

If we are not engaged in some sort of Law and Gospel sharing ministry, either as ambassadors (one on one witnessing) or with financial and prayer support of those who are ambassadors, , then I’m afraid the message of salvation is not as important to us as we let on.

People have got to hear the Law and Gospel and it’s our duty as a congregation to figure out how we can become active participants in the great commission of our Lord. “Go and make disciples.”