03 Nov 2019
It's easy to say, "I love God. " But it's another thing to really mean it from the heart. Jesus said that Israel in His day honour God with their lips, but their heart is far from Him. With a tale of 2 sons, Jesus further exposes their hypocrisy, and teaches about the mechanics of true salvation. Check out this sermon, and share it with a friend! May people not just put on external "Christianisation", but may they be truly born again into God's Kingdom.
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Well today, let's look at the passage before us. I've entitled the sermon today - Mouth Yes, Heart No. I know my English is bad, but I hope you understand that this means… this is taken from a Chinese saying which goes ”口是心非” [kǒu shì xīn fēi], which refers to a group of people who say, “Yes” with their mouth, but their hearts are actually set on - No.
So it refers to a kind of pretence, to a group of people who play hypocrisy. They say, “Yes” to God. But their hearts are far from Him. This absolutely describes the religious leaders during the times of Jesus. Jesus had already exposed them in Matthew 15:8, “This people honours Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.”
I'm sure as parents, you must have heard this from your kids many times. “Yes, Mommy …” But their hearts are far from Mommy. “No! No way am I going to do that, Mommy! No!” But they won't tell you that because they don't want to suffer some consequences, maybe. But for the religious people then they were absolutely guilty of pretending to love God when their hearts are far from Him. They pretend to obey God when their hearts are far from Him.
We notice that after the triumphal entry, Jesus went straight to the temple, not to go there to worship, but to go there to expose the hypocrisy. The people then, [has] have made the house of prayer, the temple of God into a den of robbers. They pretend to worship God, but actually, they were using religion, using God, using the Name of God to make money for themselves. So they were playing the hypocrisy game.
And then Jesus went to this special tree, this fig tree that had lots of leaves, but there was no fruit. And Jesus cursed the tree right then because the tree was meant to be a living demonstration, a live parable to describe the emptiness of the religion of His days. The people honour God with their lips, but their hearts were actually far from Him.
So now in a third event, after the triumphal entry, we see an intensification of this exposure of their hypocrisy. So the story before us is found in verse 23 to 32. “Jesus now enters the temple again, He went there to teach and the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to Him as He was teaching. They said, “By what authority are You doing these things and who gave You this authority?” [Matthew 21:23]
Now, it will be quite alright if they were asking out of a sincere heart to learn, but they were not asking out of a sincere heart to learn. They were asking this to trap Jesus. I know this because in a parallel passage in Luke 19:47, we are told, “The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy Him.”
They were looking for some excuse[s] to catch Jesus, to eliminate Him. “But they couldn't …” because all this while Jesus was teaching, they could not find any handle on Him. “… and the people were all adoring Jesus, they were hanging on to His words. [Luke 19:48]
So this time, when Jesus entered the temple to teach, they said, “We need to find an excuse.” “So as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the Gospel, these religious came and said, “Tell us by what authority You do these things, who is it that gave You this authority?”” [ [Luke 20:1-2]
The logic they have probably is this, if Jesus said, “I do all these things, because My Father gave Me the authority to do so,” they will likely catch Him for blasphemy. “How could you say that God is your father?” “Who said that He gave you such authority?” And maybe that's the logic behind it. But Jesus didn't answer them directly. He didn't tell them exactly by whose authority. Actually it's already clear by now, but He wouldn't be caught by them on this expressed statement.
So instead of answering the leaders, He countered with a question. He said, “I will ask you also one question and if you tell me the answer, then I'll tell you by what authority I do these things.” [Matthew 21:24] So He countered their question with His own and the question is this – “The baptism of John …”
“Oh, you guys must know John, right! John the Baptist, the one whom all Jerusalem, Judea and the regions around Jordan. Everyone went to hear him, the very unique man who wore camels' hair and ate locusts. The very unique man that was filled with the Spirit and preached great messages of repentance. The one who pointed to Me, as the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, the baptism of John. He was baptising people as a symbol, as a sign of their willingness to turn from sin. “ …the baptism of John, where did it come from? [Matthew 21:25] “On whose authority did he do these things? Did he come from God or is he ordered by man? Tell Me the answer and I'll answer you your question.”
“So the religious leaders discussed among themselves.” [Matthew 21:25] They did not have a ready answer to this question Jesus gave. I can imagine, as Jesus asked them, “By whose authority did John do these things?” One of the leaders would say, “Give us a minute ah! Wait, wait, wait.” “Ay, ‘ann chuah’ [how is it in Hokkien dialect], ‘ann chuah kong’ [what to say in Hokkien dialect], ‘bey heow kong’ [don’t know what to say in Hokkien dialect] lah? “Em cai” [don’t know in Hokkien dialect] “What? What do we say?”
They huddled around and they were discussing among themselves. “How do we answer this question?” “It's a difficult one because if we answered that John did all this because he was given authority from heaven, then Jesus will say to us, “Then why you never believe him?” [Matthew 21:25] “You know that John is sent of God and John testified of Me, why won't you believe Me then?”
“We can't say that he's sent from heaven.” “How about the other possibility, we say, “He’s sent of men.” [Matthew 21:26] “But if we say, “From men,” we are afraid of the crowd for they all hold that John was a prophet.” [Matthew 21:26] “It was undeniable, John was a man of God! So if we said, “That he is sent of men, the people would find us dishonest, we would be discredited before them.””
So it's a devil and the deep blue sea for them. What did they say in the end? “Ann chuah kong” [what to say it in Hokkien dialect], ‘kong’ [say in Hokkien dialect] heaven or heaven, or from men? “What do we say?” You know, I find their answer so typical because I hear that from my kids all the time.
They say? They say? “I don't know!” So they answered, “Jesus, we don't know.” [Matthew 21:27] Actually you know, but you don't want to say that's all, right? “So we do not know.” “And so Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority, I do these things”” [Matthew 21:27]
“You wanted to trap me with your words, here is the counter attack as it were.” So it's like boxing match, you know, the Scribes and Pharisees were looking for a knockout punch. Jesus evaded that and gave an uppercut to the, to the Scribes and Pharisees. And they are now cornered, they, they do not know the way out.
But instead of letting go, Jesus went further and exposed their hypocrisy, clearly with another punch. He now gives them a story. It's brilliant! Jesus didn't just rebuke them, but He spun a story and sort of unknowingly they fell for this story and saw themselves in the story. What's the story?
It goes like this, a very simple story. Any child, if you are P6er, joining us today for the first time, this is a story I think you can understand easily. Jesus said, “Let me tell you a story.” “What do you think? …” [Matthew 21:28] “Tell Me, what would it be your reply?” “A man had two sons - Kor Kor, [older brother in Hokkien dialect] Di Di [younger brother in Hokkien dialect]. Very simple! And He said to the Kor Kor, to the first son, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.”
Obviously this man is a vineyard owner. He says to His son, “Kor Kor, go and work in my vineyard today.” But this son answered, “Gua mai [I don’t want in Hokkien dialect]. Don't want! I will not! “Ngor em zho [I won’t work in Cantonese dialect] eh. I will not!” “But afterward, he changed his mind and went.” [Matthew 21:29]
So the Kor Kor after a period of time, decided, “I'll do what my father wants me to do.” “After this, the dad goes to the other son, the Di Di, “Di Di, go and work today in a vineyard,” said the same thing. The Di Di said, “I go, Sir. Yes Daddy. Yes Daddy. Yes Daddy.” But did not go.” [Matthew 21:30]
You get the story? It's as simple as that! So Jesus then asked, “What do you think about this story? Which of the two did the will of his father?” [Matthew 21:31]
You know, I thought the Scribes and Pharisees were smart, but they didn't realize Jesus is talking about them. Nevertheless, they were, they were just so caught up with the, with the story itself and they replied, you know, they replied, “Who did the will of the Father? Kor Kor or Di Di?” Eh, you all forget the story already ah! I know you forgot lah. Kor Kor said, “No, but in the end he went.” Di Di said, “Yes Sir, but never go.”
So who did the will of the Father? Kor Kor. They said, “Kor Kor.” Okay, didn't say, “Kor Kor.” They said, “The first.” “And then Jesus said, “Truly …” This is the, this is the punch that comes, “Truly I say to you, the tax collectors, and the prostitutes, the despised, the lowly, the scums of our society, they go into the Kingdom of God before you. Because they are like the Kor Kors.”
They said, “No, I will not obey God. I … I sin all I want but afterward they change their mind. They go into the Kingdom of God before you. “For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him. But the tax collectors and the prostitutes heard John and believed Him.” [Matthew 21:32]
So this is a story of two sons. Actually, I should have written Kor Kor and Di Di lah, easier. But first son, second son, both sons are called by the father to go and work in the vineyard. The father said to the first son, “Go today.” But the Kor Kor said, “I will not, I do not want to go.” But afterward, he changed his mind, he turned around and went to work. He did not just feel like it or think like it, he actually went to work.
And Jesus is saying, “That the Kor Kors are representing the tax collectors and the prostitutes of society, those who live in open sin, but those who are willing, ultimately to say, “Yes” to God.” These are people who believe the message of John the Baptist. These are people who believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Saviour, the Lamb of God who gave His life to save sinners, and they are the ones who go into the Kingdom of God.
The Di Dis, however, are the complete opposite. The Di Dis are those who say, “I go, Sir,” but they did not go. They ultimately did not do the Father's will. And they represent the religious leaders of those days because they did not believe and therefore they will not be part of the Kingdom of God.
It's a brilliant story, but it's actually very simple. So what do we learn, with the remaining time we have?
1]. Bear the Mark of Obedience
Number one, I want to share with you - God's people. The characteristic of God's people is this, what's the characteristic of God's people? Often times, we think a characteristic of God's people is that they go to church service. They give money in offering bags. They have a Christian name like Hezekiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. The longer the better, the more chim [complex in Hokkien dialect] the better. Wah! This one very godly - Hosea, Daniel, everything added together.
A characteristic of a Christian, people think is that they say their prayers three times before meals, or they have a necklace with a cross on it. But according to Jesus, the characteristic of God's people, this one characteristic. Very good - they do the will of Father. Isn't it! That's the point of Jesus.
How do you know if you're really God's child? “Oh, because my mother and father are Christians!” God doesn't have grandchildren, by the way. It's not said that God has grandchildren, God has children. So even if your father and mother are Christians, doesn't mean you're God's family. You've got to be God's child. And this is the characteristic of God's child - he will do the Father's will. There will be the mark of obedience.
Oh, I'm not saying, “That praying three times a day is not good. I'm not saying that you cannot have a Christian name. I'm not saying you cannot come for church service.” I'm saying, “However, there can be people who have all these things, but whose hearts are far from God. They are not yet born again.” Because only those who are born again, will do the Father's will. And those who do the Father's will, are those who are born again.
This is not a new teaching! I've actually said this and preached this many times over. I think even many Gospeliters are sick and tired of myself saying these things already. But you see, I'm not the one who is in charge of writing the Bible. I don't! God gave us the Bible and this is such a repeated theme in the book of Matthew.
It's, it's like Jesus is exposing the false religiosity of his days. And I think there is a lot of false religiosity in our day. There are a lot of hypocrites. There are a lot of people who, who presume and pretend they are doing God's will when they actually are not. They are the ‘mouth yes, heart no’ kind. And God, I think is merciful to show us that it is only lip service and not heart worship so that you today might truly repent and believe in Jesus.
So this is a repeated theme because He already said, “Not everyone who pays lip service, not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord” will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father.” [Matthew 7:21] A Christian, a God's child, a true follower of Jesus is not just someone who pays lip service, who said a prayer, who went to church, who reads the Bible. But he basically, most importantly, obeys God, does the will of My Father.
Now, I'm not saying, “That you can obey God perfectly.” No one can! Because there is still the flesh in us. We are going to struggle with sin, but you are going to struggle upwards. There will be a growth, a trend of obedience, as we often say here in Gospel Light, “The mark of a Christian is not sinless perfection, but sincere progression.” That's the key! That's the key!
So if you say, “You are a Christian, but there has been no change in your life for the past 10, 20, 30 years, could it be that you merely put on Christian culture, Christian language, Christian vocab, Christian costume, Christian behaviour, but your heart is not yet changed.”
You see, Christianity is not joining a membership club. Christianity is not putting on some new language. Christianity is a divine miracle from above. Jesus says, “You must be born from above.” It means God gives you an entirely new heart, with a new spirit. You are a new creation! And so if your life has remained the same, it just means you were not made a new creation.
So this is the day, you need to turn and come to Jesus because that's what He says. “Not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord” but he who does the will of the Father.” [Matthew 7:21] And isn't this what Paul himself also said? “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God?” [1 Cor 6:9-11] He's saying, “If your lifestyle is that of pervasive unrighteousness - no change, no growth. If you're still living in such a sexually immoral way, idolatrous way, adulterous way and so on and so forth, don't you know that these will not inherit the Kingdom of God?”
Now, mark you this is not to say sinless perfection, not that you will never struggle with these sins, but there will be a sincere progression. A, a kind of change, improvement and growth in godliness. He goes on to say, “And such, were some of you.” This is the miracle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the miracle of Christianity - that when one repents and believes in Jesus, God changes you.
So that it could be said of you, “Such were some of you.” Not “Such ‘are’ some of you.” That would be tragic! But ‘were’ some of you. You have been changed! You have been washed! You have been sanctified! You have been justified, because God has saved you and changed you!
This is the great promise of the Bible, “That I will give you a new heart, I will give you a new spirit.” When a man repents and believes in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour and when God works in him in a divine way, there will be a wonderful transformation. And he will now, not just have a ticket to heaven, but he has a new heart, new desire, new obedience.
John, himself would say, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning.” [1 John 3:9] He's not habitually in the same sin, in the same struggle. “For God’s seed abides in him and he cannot keep on sinning.” [1 John 3:9] Not sinless perfection, but sincere progression because he has been born of God.
Do you realize Christianity is not like other religions? Other religions, you become one of their adherents by maybe biting a finger, drop some blood, “Eh, I'm part of that gang.” “Or I signed some name.” “Or I, I do something to my external appearance, I'm part of that club.” No! Christianity is from the inside out and only God can do it. And when He does it in a man's life, in a lady's life, he or she is changed from the inside out.
“By this it is evident we who are the children of God and who are the children of the devil.” [1 John 3:10] How do you know? “Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God.” [1 John 3:10] I was speaking to one of our church members here. He was saying that he does not really know or the daughter was asking, “Dad, how do I know if I'm a Christian?” That's a great question! I will be so happy if my kids were to ask me that question, sincerely.
And I think according to Jesus, the story of the two sons, well, I will say, “A Christian is someone who repents and believes in Jesus and he will be someone because he has now has a new heart, will bear the mark of obedience.” “Son, do you obey God?”
I'm not saying, “You obey God to earn your salvation, but I'm saying if you are saved, you will bear the mark of obedience, not perfectly, but progressively.” You have a desire to and you have an actual attainment to. Are you merely in church or are you really in Christ? Those who are in Christ, bear the mark of obedience.
2] Begin at the Moment of Repentance
The second thing I see in this text is that it all began at the moment of repentance. Because the first son, the Kor Kor, he started off not wanting to obey God, right? “Nope, I will not!” And so it's, it's true that nobody is born into this world wanting to obey God, except if you are Jesus Christ. But no one is born into this world wanting to obey God. No one is born into this world, a Christian. Just because you're born in a Christian home doesn't make you a Christian.
The Bible tells us, this is who we all are before we come to Christ, at least. No, or … “None is righteous, no, not one. No one understands, no one speaks for God. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” [Romans 3:10-11, 23] Even if you are cute little boy or girl who grew up in Sunday school, I can guarantee you, in the early parts of your life, at least, you may say, you love God, but you actually don't.
We don't start off loving God. We are taught to love God. We are told to love God. But this love for God is not natural to us, it has to be given to us. And there needs to come a point of time in your life, where there is a turning away from sin. When there is a, there's a greater conviction of sin that you say, “I am sinful. God is holy and it is wrong for me to live in sin.” I think salvation comes when a man or woman comes to this point of repentance.
So, the Kor Kor bears the mark of obedience, because he came to a moment of repentance, afterwards, he changed his mind. Maybe for some of us, it's clearer because we are not … like for myself, I was not raised in a Christian home. There is a clear transition. For some of you who are raised in a Christian home, maybe that point of transition is not so distinctively in a day or so. But there should be a period of time you could point to that say, “Yah, I … I was lost, I … I was just in church but I was not in Christ, but I think there's a change in my life since a particular period.”
No one is born a Christian. Everybody needs to go through a point of repentance. Turning away from sin, seeing our sinfulness and fleeing to God, trusting Him to save us through the finished work of Jesus.
3] Believe The Message of Salvation
And finally, I say, “They all have to believe the message of salvation.” The publicans, the tax collectors, the prostitutes, they were willing to repent. Why? Because they heard the message of salvation.
It's the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. It's knowing that there is a Saviour that I would now be willing to turn from my sin. And they now believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Saviour, the Christ and Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. But they were willing to turn.
Yesterday, I wanted to bring my kids out and we … I asked them where do they want to go? Every Saturday, we have a problem where to go, very hard to find good places to go. It's too hot, too whatever. So anyway, I asked where do they want to go? And Shawn said, “I want to go to Hort Park.” Not, not HOT I mean, hort, horticulture park, alright. That's the one at Alexandra.
I said, “Why do you want to go Hort Park, so hot?” He says. “There's a fun, there's a funfair! There's a festival, there's a carnival at Hort Park.” We were there about a year or two ago and there was a nice little bazaar, people were selling things, plants and so on.
And recently Shawn has taken a strong interest in plants, in flowers and so on. He sort of degenerate from dinosaurs, to animals, to insects, to ants, then to plants. I don't know why, usually it's the other way around but his is this way.
So anyway, he likes plants and I thought okay, let's, let's support him. So we went to Hort Park. We drove there, we were expecting a lot of people. But we say, “Eh, quite good ah! No one come yet ah.” It was 11 or 10 plus 11. “No one here yet ah!” And we saw eh, there were people but they were all taking a wedding photo shoot.
Shawn was a little bit disturbed, I was disturbed, Matthias was disturbed and say, “Is, is there really a carnival festival going on?” “Oh maybe they are downstairs,” I say, “Ya, strange should have a lot of stalls!” We went downstairs, it was completely empty. We walked the whole length to where the shed was and there was nothing.
So in my heart, I was saying, “Wah, this Nparks is terrible! How can they organize a festival and not do anything about it? Or they cancel it or whatever?” I was blaming Nparks the whole way. I asked the uncle who was sweeping the floor. “Uncle, 有没有这个展览会” [yǒu méi yǒu zhè gè zhǎn lǎn huì ]. “没有 leh.” [don’t have in Mandarin] “Something is really wrong!”
So anyway, I was upset at Nparks, I thought they were bad. And so we went to this training shed area， drank water and then I looked at the sign, ”Garden Festival. Gardening through the years. 1st to 3rd of November.” Correct what! 10am to 7pm? Correct what! “How come don't have ah?” Aiyoh! You all see already, right? It is at Lakeside View – Jurong. I am at Alexandra.
I looked at Shawn and said, “Why are we here when it's in Jurong!” Hah, well I felt so sad about it. I could keep on blaming Nparks or I said, I talked to Shawn, Matthias, “You want to go Jurong?” They said, “Yes!” And they started to pack up and they wanted to run.
So we, we … we rushed, we had an appointment later on so we had to rush. We walked as fast as we could, got to the car, drove there and we've finally arrived at Jurong Lake Gardens, Lakeside View, after quite a search, we parked wrong place and so on. This is, this is your pastor here - super blur guy. So, parked wrong place, walked very far.
But eventually we arrived at the beautiful Lake Gardens. By the way it's closing today, I don't suggest you go. But anyway, it's a beautiful place, they, they have all the displays of the largest pumpkin, longest gourds, wonderful stuff and my, my kids enjoy themselves.
But I said all that because we saw a message and we believe that message, it's at Jurong not HortPark, as contrary to what people have told us, or others have told … we have been told to believe. And we were willing to repent. Repent! Repent! What is repent? Turn around. You know I could stay at Alexander and said, “Wah, blur lah, blur, blur, blur. Stupid lah, stupid, stupid, stupid.”
You know, I can blame myself, I can blame others and we will never arrive at Jurong until we're willing to repent. “I'm wrong. Let's go! Let's go!” And that is what Jesus is saying, “Let us all acknowledge we are wrong, but don't stay there. Turn around. Let's go! Believe!” Don't pretend you are right. “Oh, I … I wear religious clothing.” “I speak religious lingo.” “I have religious parents.” “I have religious prayer.”
Don't keep staying on at Alexander! There's nothing there! The festival is somewhere else. The celebration is somewhere else. So turn and go to Jesus, if you realize there's nothing there. That's the point! So the religious leaders, they were not willing to. “But the tax collectors and prostitutes believed. [Matthew 21:32] They changed their minds.
They turned, they believed and therefore God gave them new hearts and therefore they now obey. “But the religious leaders, they did not believe Him” . [Matthew 21:32] So today, I'm … I know some of you will be upset with a sermon like this. I've … I've heard some already upset because they feel like my goal is to shake you out of your confidence in your assurance.
No! Please understand, that's not my goal at all. But my deep desire is that each and every one of you when you come for a church service, will hear God's Word. This is God's Word. I did not write the Bible. I did not plan the story. I did not lay down the truth. I'm merely telling you the truth as God says it. And the reason I believe God gives us this passage is because there are many people who may be like the religious leaders, who think that they are God's people when they are not. They are the 口是心非 [kǒu shì xīn fēi]. “Their lips honour Me but their hearts are far.” And God doesn't want you to do that!
God wants you to come to Him humbly, that you may really have a new heart, that you will not just honour Him with your lips, but you will honour Him truly with your heart and your life. That you really be born again. That you will really enter the Kingdom of heaven and not just look like you are in church. And there's nothing more I want for you, than that you will have a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ.
If you today examine your life and you see fruit, I say, “Hallelujah! Praise God.” I'm sure with a message like this actually, your assurance grows because you say, “It is undeniable, God has changed my life.” But if you examine your life over the past 10, 15 years and there is no change, then maybe learn to be like Shawn, myself, Matthias, recognize Hort Park, there's nothing there. Just make a U-turn. It not[sic], there's an appointment, there's an appointment to die. Yes, we're all going to die but there is still time to get to Jurong. So please get to Jurong before it's really too late.
The religious leaders do not believe the message. They do not believe Jesus is the Christ. Maybe some of us say, “Jesus is the Christ” but we don't really believe it. And therefore there is no moment of repentance, there's no true turning away from sin. And because you are not a true believer, your heart is still the same. That's why you will not bear the mark of obedience.
On … I believe it was Wednesday night, at 12 midnight. A friend of mine called me, he texted me and says, “Hey, can I call you?” I said, “Sure.” He's a pastor of a church in Singapore. He's a pastor of a large church in Singapore. He called me and said, “Jason, I want to tell you something, “I have joy.””
So I said, “Okay, alright.” “I have joy. You know, I've always struggled with my assurance of salvation for long while.” Say, “Yes, I have known that.” “You know, when I look back at my life, I really don't think I'm saved. I'm not sure but I don't think so, because I don't have the same hatred and struggle against sin as I do have today. I have a new appreciation of God and His Word and the conviction of sin. It's, it's just different,” he said. I don't really understand all he’s saying, but this is what he kept saying, “I have joy! I have joy! I have joy!”
I said to him, “Hey, brother, I'm so happy for you. But you know what? As we all know, as we both know, real salvation will result in life change. There will be fruit, there will be obedience. Could you tell me how you are six months later? I want to hear from you.” “Sure, I understand that totally, but I have joy, I have joy.”
We ended that call and the next morning he texted me again, and said, “I have joy! I have joy!” You know, I'm so happy for him. I … I'm hopeful and I think he is, I don't know. He knows himself best. I'm thankful for the joy that he experiences. But I'm also confident that if God has truly had a grip of his heart, there will be fruit in his life.
Do you have joy? But the better question is - do you have fruit? Jesus said, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven.” [Matthew 5:20] It's not an exaggeration! Jesus is saying, “The Scribes and Pharisees have no righteousness because they only honour Me with their lips but their hearts are far.”
But when a man truly repents and believes in Jesus, he's born again. He has a new heart, he will not continue the practice of sinning. He will be washed, he'll be cleansed, he'll be justified. He will now start to live righteously. His righteousness, this man who is born again, will exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees.
How is your heart today? Our Saviour is a magnanimous, generous Saviour. You are not too far from God to be saved, folks. Because Jesus perfectly exemplified it by saying, “Even the tax collectors and the prostitutes can be saved.”[Matthew 21:28-31] You can be saved! So don't stay where you are, if you are in Hort Park, please join me and go Jurong. There's a lot of beautiful things to see there. Guaranteed!
Let's bow for a word of prayer together. The Gospel is the Good News of Jesus Christ, dying and rising, to save us from our sins, so that you can be reconciled with the Holy God. It is not just a message that gives you a ticket to heaven. It is a message that totally changes you - your heart, your desires, from the inside out.
So do you really know Jesus as your Saviour? Please understand, my purpose here is not to shake the assurance of God's people. I believe, if you are God's child, and when you examine your life, and when you see that there is fruit in your life, you are not shaken in your assurance, instead you are strengthened in your assurance.
But if you have always assumed and presumed your salvation, and a message like this causes you to examine your own faith, and you see that there is no fruit. Surely, you will be stirred. But that stirring and that troubling is not meant to condemn you. This stirring and troubling is meant to stir you to action, to repent, to cry out to God to have mercy upon your soul that you may really cling on and trust in Him alone.
I believe God gives us His Word because it is still not too late for you today to repent and come to Jesus. I'm thinking about so many of our young people growing up in Gospel Light. Don't be like that second son that says, “I go” but you never go. Admit today – “I've never been there, Father, but today I will.”
“Today, I'm willing, today I acknowledge my sin and my sinfulness and my hopelessness before you. I admit all my hypocrisy. I admit all my pretence. I admit that it was all a show. But today, I genuinely want to come to you.” Maybe today is the day of your salvation.
Would you pray for your children today? Would you pray for your kids, because they've joined church, they've followed you to church and maybe you've assumed. It's so easy for us to want to assume our kids are saved and to tell them they are saved. But really, it's not what they say only, it's how they live! Is there obedience in their lives? Would you pray for your children? Would you pray for your family?
There's no greater desire, than that you, each and every individual, you are precious to God, than that you will today come to Jesus. It will be worth it all! Take this time, examine your heart. Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith. Gospel Light exists not to be a big country club. This is not a membership you just sign up for.
This is church and church is the gathering of men and women washed in the blood of the Lamb, of men and women who believe and follow Jesus, of men and women who love God because He has changed our hearts, of men and women who really believe the Gospel. That's what church is all about! And the goodness of God will follow you all the days of your life. Would you come to Jesus today?
Father, we thank You this morning for Your Word. It's uncomfortable. It's awkward, perhaps. But Lord, I pray it will be turned to positive faith-filled surrender, repentance and faith and believing in Jesus Christ.
Oh God, be merciful today by Your Spirit, bring about conviction, bring about salvation, bring about the new birth. Even though the voice of men will cease, I pray Your Spirit will continue to grip hearts and to turn men and women around to Yourself that in their salvation, You will be greatly praised. Thank You and we pray all this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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