31 Mar 2019
John Newton said, "If ever I reach heaven I expect to find three wonders there: first, to meet some I had not thought to see there; second, to miss some I had expected to see there; and third- the greatest wonder of all- to find myself there. " It is not always easy to tell the true Christians from the false "Christians" apart in this age. The Parable of the Weeds tells us however that at the end of the age, there will be a great separation when Jesus returns. There is nothing more important than knowing if you are truly His or not. Find out from this sermon how you can know if you are the "real deal"!
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So as a church, we have journeyed till Matthew chapter 13. And this is where we enter the, ‘Secrets of the Kingdom’. Secrets because Jesus spoke in parables. Parables are earthly stories meant to describe, or to teach heavenly truths. And these stories remain misunderstood or could not be comprehended unless Jesus Himself gives the interpretive keys.
So, parables become secrets until Jesus reveals the way to read the parables. And that's what we have been looking at for the past two weeks.
Last week, we looked at the, ‘Parable of the Sower’, the ‘Story of the Sower’. And we recognize that there may be some people in this world who look like Christians but eventually turn out to be fakes. So, this is the stunning reality. There are people today who come to church, who say that they are Christians, who read the Bible, but actually they were never God's people.
So, they are pictured in the ‘Parable of the Sower’ as a little bit of a growth but soon it dies away. So, this is a reality. Not everyone who comes to church, not everyone who says they are Christian is really Christian. Yes, there are those who are really Christian. But there are also those who are self-deceived, who may be false, who may be fakes.
Now then, how do we tell them apart? And when can we tell the real and the false apart? That's why, I think Jesus gave us the second parable, the ‘Parable of the Weeds’. This is a very interesting parable! It might seem long but I think the sermon today will be short. So, let's plunge right in!
“Jesus, puts another parable before them, the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.” [Matthew 13:24] I like that word, ‘compared’. A parable is a comparison. Comparison between an earthly situation and a heavenly truth.
So, the story here is that of a man who goes out to the field to sow good seed. It might be pictured as someone like this, carrying seeds to be sown. “And while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.” [Matthew 13:25] So, the good seed is meant to bring forth wheat but there is an enemy who came in the middle of the night and sowed bad stuff, sowed weeds. And then went away.
So this man carries a different kind of a seed is a different man; is an enemy of the owner. “So when the plants came up and bore grain, there also sprang up weeds.” [Matthew 24:26] Weeds here, looks similar to the wheat. But they're actually very different. They look alike but they're not the same.
In those days, wheat, and really in our days, wheat look something like this. And in Palestinian Syrian region, there's a kind of weed, a kind of a darnel. They call, ‘the poison darnel’. That looks like wheat. It looks a little bit like this. It is a , there's a, there's a technical name. It's ‘Lolium temulentum’. And it looks temulentum, and it looks very similar to normal wheat, that you may eat.
So when you put them side-by-side and when they grew up together, people who are not in the know, may just harvest them altogether. But weeds, this darnel, poison darnel, is a kind of poison. That's why they called ‘poison darnel’. If you eat it, you may feel a little sick. You may be giddy. It's not good stuff for you.
So Jesus, gave a parable where there was a good sower who brought, brought good seed, that brought forth good fruit, which is wheat. But the enemy comes along, sows bad seeds. So that weeds will come along. They look very similar, but to the discerning eye, to the servants of the sower, they could pick up the difference.
“So they said to Him, “Master did you not sow good seed in your field, how then does it have weeds?” [Matthew 13:27] Hey! I thought you went to bring good seeds there, why is there the presence of darnel or weeds? “The master then said, “An enemy has done this.” .” [Matthew 13:28] “I did not do this. It's not my work, it's the work of the enemy!”
“So the servants then said, “Do you want us to go and gather them?” [Matthew 13:29] “Do you want us to pluck out the weeds, so that the harvest at the end of the day will be pure? And there will be no poison and nobody will be sick.” “The master says, “No, don't do that! Because in case when you gather the weeds, you will root up the wheat along with them.” [Matthew 13:29]
He's saying that the roots of the weeds and the wheat would probably be intertwined and entangled. So if you pull up the weeds, you will inevitably also destroy the wheat. So don't do that, but “let both grow together and wait till harvest is come. And during harvest, I will tell the reapers, gather the weeds first. So at that time, it's time for everything to be pulled up. Then, I will gather the weeds and the weeds deserve to go nowhere except to be bundled up and to be burned.” [Matthew 13:30]
There is no use for weeds. There is no purpose for weeds. They are to be destroyed. They are to be burned. But the wheat, which is the real stuff, the good stuff, you will gather them into My barn. That's my story. That's the parable of Jesus.
Now, if I were to ask you, what does this mean? You probably be scratching your head and say, “I don't know what Jesus is trying to say. I understand the story. There’s a kind of contamination by the enemy. And you can't make that separation clear until the very end. But I don't know what it means in the spiritual realm. I get the story but I don't get the moral of the story.
And that's why, “after He left the crowds and went into the house, His disciples came to Him, saying, “Can you please explain to us this parable, this comparison You gave us?” [Matthew 13: 36]
You see, the rest of Israel, the people who gathered to hear Jesus, they didn't understand it either. And Jesus didn't give them the interpretation. He only gave the interpretation to His disciples. As we've said, these are the secrets of the Kingdom. Jesus deliberately kept the truth from Israel because they hardened themselves, hardened themselves. And will not listen and obey God's will. So this is a kind of judgment against them. But to His disciples, He now began to answer the question.
“He says, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.” [Matthew 13:37] To those who are new in church, I really don't think you would understand the term, ‘Son of Man’. I didn't! I mean, why would you know! But if you have read the Bible before, let me try to explain it very simply. You would understand that the ‘Son of Man’ is a very unique term. It's a term that refers to the promised King. It's a term that Jesus used the most to refer to himself. We call Jesus, Jesus today. But when Jesus refers to Himself, He says, ‘Son of Man’, the most.
This is a term that first occurs in Daniel. And in Daniel's prophecy, Daniel could see and write, that there will be a coming Son of Man who would reign and rule over all. It is referring to the promised King. So Jesus says, “I am the Son of Man. I am the One prophesied of old. I will rule over all. I am the Lord of this kingdom. And the person that is referred to in the ‘Parable of the Sower’ is none other than Me. And I go and sow good seed in the field.”
So the sower is the Son of Man. “And the field is the world…” Jesus said, “And the good seed is the sons of the kingdom.” [Matthew 13:38] Now the word, ‘sons’ or the phrase, ‘sons of the Kingdom’ could be more easily understood today, as God's people or the followers of Jesus or the believers. Or if you like it, true Christians.
So the good seed, the wheat here refers to born again people. Christians who follow Jesus, who are believers of Jesus. They are the people of God. But the bad seed produces weeds. “And weeds here are the sons of the evil one.” [Matthew 13:38] These are people who do not know God. These are people who hate God. These are people who will not obey God.
Now they look like Christians. They live side-by-side with true Christians. They are the darnels, that look like the wheat. But they are really opposing, opposing God. They are the opposites of Christians. They look like one but they really are not! And then Jesus goes on to say, “The enemy who sowed them these darnels is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age...” [Matthew 13:39]
Not now, not then but somewhere in the future. There will come a harvest time, where there will be a great separation. “And the reapers are angels.” [Matthew 13:39] I do not know how to draw angels, so I use the sickle. The reapers are angels.
“And just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send His angels and they will gather out of His Kingdom all causes of sin and all lawbreakers.” [Matthew 13:40-41] Look at this, the mark of the sons of the evil one. The mark of the weeds is that they are the people will commit all causes of sin and are all lawbreakers.
So they look like Christians, they sound like Christians. They wear a cross like Christians. They carry a Bible like Christians. They go to church like Christians. They say prayers like Christians. They have parents who may be Christians, but they are really not Christians. Even though they look like one, sound like one, feels like one. And their characteristic is that they commit all causes of sin and are all lawbreakers.
“And they will be gathered by the angels to be burned. And they will be thrown into the fiery furnace. And in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” [Matthew 13:42] Hell is not a place where you sleep forever. Hell is a place where you burn forever, where you suffer forever, the weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“But the righteous will shine like the sun.” [Matthew 13:43] The righteous will be glorious, like the sun. Imagine that! God's people, the true believers, one day, you will shine like the sun. You don’t look like it now but one day it will be. And we will shine in the kingdom of the Father. And so, Jesus gave the interpretation and he says, “He who has ears, let him hear.” [Matthew 13:43]
So let me test you, alright, with the legend? What's the legend? The legend is that box where you have the symbols to represent different things on the map. So what is the legend to the “Parable of the Weeds’? Very simple. Let's look at them.
Number one, what does the sower represent? Jesus or the son of man. Very good.
Number two, what does the field represent? The world. Doing very well.
Number three, the good seed, what does it represent? Children of the Kingdom or sons of the Kingdom. Alright, so Christians, real followers, real believers of God.
Next, weeds, what do they represent? Fake followers; false prophets. Good. What else? Sons of the evil one. That's right! Weeds represent the sons of the evil one.
How about the enemy? Satan or the evil one or the devil.
And how about harvest? The end of the age. Very good.
Next, reapers? Everybody knows this one? Angels.
And the burning? Hell or eternal torment.
And finally the barn? Heaven. Yah, that's what my son said too! Barn - the Kingdom of the Father.
So very simply, Jesus gives us the interpretive legend. And I think then this parable makes clear sense for us. The ‘Parable of the Weeds’ therefore speaks of two kinds of plants - the wheat and the weeds. They both exist on the same field. In other words, there are two kinds of people who look and call themselves Christians. And they are both in the world today, right? And they live side-by-side in the world today but they're actually very different.
There are many people today, who call themselves, Christians. But they really are not. They say that they are followers of God, they are the people of God. But they really are not. Let me give you some simple examples.
There are many religions today that will be branded under Christianity, right? If you go to, if you check your IC today, they will ask you what religion are you in? And many people will have things like Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity. But do you know that in Christianity, there are many different groups. And according to the teachings of the Bible, not every group really believes Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. But to the world, they are Christians. But they really are not.
How about in the church gathering like this? Are all who come Christians? Probably not! Most probably not! Just because we gather together doesn't make us Christians. Just because you come to church doesn't make you a Christian. We always say, “Going to church doesn't make you a Christian, just like going to McDonald's doesn't make a big Mac or doesn't make you a hamburger.” Alright.
So we are not all Christians. We cannot assume that we are all Christians, simply because we come to the same church. So, you may be sitting side-by-side, you may be surrounded by people you thought they are Christian.
They say they are Christian. They carry a Bible like a Christian would. They pray three times a day before their meals. They have a Christian name. They wear a Christian cross. They may not be Christian! That's what the Bible is saying. Maybe even in your family, you have kids, you have parents, you have cousins, you have uncles, you have aunties. They seem to all go to church. Are they all Christians? Maybe! I hope so, but maybe not too.
Just because someone says he is or believes he is, may not always be absolutely true. I mean, that's what Jesus is saying. In the world today, there are those who say they are, look like they are, but they may not really be. Now, before I go further in this sermon, I want you to be clear why I think, a preacher needs to preach something like this.
It is very uncomfortable, I know that. It is maybe even upsetting to some. But the goal of preaching this, is not to cause a believer to lose his assurance of salvation. Certainly not! I believe the work of the Holy Spirit, one of His ministries is to grant to us this assurance to know that we are His. For those who are truly His, He wants us to know we are truly His.
So, I'm not here, intending to shake anyone of your assurance of salvation, if you are truly born again. But the purpose of a message like this that Jesus would give is to help us realize that we must not be complacent. And we must take for granted. And we must not deceive ourselves. That if there is really no evidence of life change, that we will continue deceiving ourselves. And just say, “Because I think I'm a Christian, I must be a Christian.” I hope that is why you would listen on.
The goal at the end of the day is that we hope everyone here will really come to Jesus, to be saved. The reality, however, in this world is that they are real Christians and there are counterfeits and fakes and self-deceived ones.
The reason behind it is because the parable tells us that there are two planters. Jesus sows the good seed and Satan sows the bad seeds. Jesus sows the good seed, so that it will bring forth fruit. And I believe the fruit is meant to glorify God the Father. But Satan contaminates that harvest. Satan sabotages that harvest. Satan disrupts the work there, to confuse and to poison and to ruin the harvest. He deliberately sows weeds.
Yesterday or the day before, I can't remember for sure, I read an article about a man who went to a very popular restaurant chain in the world. This restaurant chain is owned by the third richest man in Singapore. You know what restaurant chain that is? Not McDonald's. 海底捞, [hǎidǐlāo] . Alright. So he went… this man from, in Beijing, he went to a restaurant in 海底捞and he ate there. And after a while, he fished out a, out a dead rat from the soup. He called the waiter and said, “Hey! See! I found a dead rat in your soup!”
Of course, the waiter was very apologetic and said, “Sorry”. I think the manager must have come along. And they talked for a while and soon they came to this offer. The staff offered this man… How much would you settle this problem for? How much would you ask from a restaurant chain owned by the third richest man in Singapore? Hun… wah, this one very greedy this one. So okay, so anyway, the staff offered 20 … 20% discount? Ah, see, she is very kind, you see the weed and the wheat can sit together. I'm kidding.
They offered him 20,000 RMB, that is about 4000 Singapore dollars. But this man refused. Not enough. He asked for five … again hundred million, this one. Still insist on being a weed you know. He asked for five million RMB. That is $1 million.
What do you think 海底捞would do? Negotiate ah? Negotiate to how much? Don't talk to this one, this one. Well, they didn't negotiate. 海底捞 refused to submit to his claims or to his, his desires. And they began to conduct a police investigation, is that really the case?
So what they found is that actually, this man came from Henan. It's quite far from Beijing. Henan, in central China. And all the way from Henan, his hometown, he brought along a dead rat. Now, don't ask me, “Why?” I can't figure out why can't you catch a dead rat in Beijing, at least get a Beijing species. Don't get a Henan species. But he brought a dead rat all the way from his hometown, comes to海底捞, puts it into the soup to sabotage.
Now, he did it of course out of greed. He was remorseful but when I read about this man, you can't see his face because it's all covered up. But when I thought about this man, I thought about Satan. I thought about the man who would sabotage the field. I thought about how the devil wants simply to ruin.
Now, haven't you realize that? When you share the Gospel, when you want to share the Gospel with someone, your friend or colleague. One of the obstacles is when your friend and colleague says, “I have no desire to learn about the Christian faith. I don't want to hear anything about the church, about the Bible.” Why? “Because I remember someone who was really mean to me. I remember someone who said, he is a Christian. But I can't believe what he did.”
Now, maybe the people who stumble non-Christians are Christians ourselves, that can be true. And I, I, I think I might have stumbled many people in my life. You might have stumbled people in your life. And that is true! But it could also be that many people are stumbled and kept away from the faith because Satan's strategy is exactly to sow hypocrites into this world, who call God, their God. Who says that Christ is their Saviour, but they are anything but.
They are people who commit all causes of sin and are lawbreakers. And they live in such a detestable life, maintaining a profession of faith. But they live such a detestable life that people are turned away from Christ.
The soup is sabotaged by the dead rat. The fruit, the crop of fruit of wheat is sabotaged by the poison darnels. And that is the strategy of Satan, the evil one. So, don't be surprised when Jesus says in Matthew 24:24, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray if possible, even the elect.”
This is not happening now. I guarantee you. This verse is not talking about what's happening today. This verse is talking about what's going to happen at the end of times, near when Jesus returns. In those days, there will be many, many false Christs, false prophets. They look like God's people. They look like God's creatures, but they are anything but. In fact, they can be so convincing because they perform great miracles; great signs and wonders. But they lead people astray. So, there will be in great deception in end times.
But of course today, there already false teachers. There are already false believers. There are already hypocrites. And why are they there? It's not God's work. The enemy has done this so as to lead people astray. So this is a scary reality.
There are two kinds of planters and this is important for us to know. Because the Bible speaks of two prospects. Two future states. Two.
One, they will be gathered to be burned. Two, they will be gathered to be barned, to be kept in the barn. And this separation does not happen today. It's not easy to separate today. It's not easy to tell of wheat from the weed so readily today. But when it comes at the end of the age, at the harvest, it will be made abundantly clear. So, it's not easy to tell now but it will be very clear at the end of the age. And the scary thing is that the fate and destiny of both groups are diametrically opposite.
One group, the false professors; the false hypocrites, they will be gathered and burned with fire. Jesus says, “The Son of Man will send His angels and they will gather out of His Kingdom…” [Matthew 13:41] Notice, it's out of His Kingdom, out of the outward kingdom is at least, “all causes of sin and all lawbreakers throwing them into the fiery furnace, in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. [Matthew 13:41-42]
Again, hell is not a place of eternal sleep. It's a place of eternal torment. And who is the one who will be gathering? Jesus and His angels. So, it's very interesting! Just a little thought, we are responsible for sowing the Gospel seed today, but we will not reap. The angels are not quite responsible for sowing the seed of the Gospel like preaching, like we do. But they will be reaping, so there's a labour differentiation. We do different things.
But at the end of the age, Jesus will come with His angels and gather all hypocrites. And they will be judged and tormented with weeping and gnashing of teeth. “For the Son of Man is going to come with the angels in the glory of His Father and then He will repay each person according to what he has done.” [Matthew 16:27]
Some of you ask, how come there is no real justice in this world? How come the evil can go off scot free? How come God's people are persecuted? Well, not every bit of justice is executed now. But you can be sure at the end of the age, there will be justice. Everyone will have to be judged according to what he has done.
Second Thessalonians 1:7-9. Again, the imagery is so consistent! “When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus.”
So, there are people who look like they are Christians, but they do not know God. They say prayers but they do not know God. They read the Bible, but they do not know God. They wear a cross, but they do not know God. They belong to parents who know God, but they themselves do not know God.
They come to church, but they do not know God. They serve in church, but they do not know God. They may even give the Gospel but they do not know God. Isn't it scary? They do not know God. And they do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. What is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus? The Gospel is the Good News of Jesus Christ dying and rising to save us from our sins.
To obey the Gospel means I repent, I turn from my sin and my self-righteousness. And I believe in Jesus as my Saviour. That's what it means to obey the Gospel. I repent and believe in Jesus Christ. And there are those who do not know God. There are those who do not obey the Gospel of Jesus and they will be judged.
“They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might.” [2 Thess 1:7-9] So that is prospect number one. They will be burned.
But then there will be those who be gathered into the barns, that's what Jesus says, “They are gathered as wheat into My barn.” And He says, “These are the righteous. They are not the lawbreakers. They are the righteous. And they will they will shine. They will be glorious. They will be beauty to them.”
Today, we don't look very beautiful. We've pimples and so on, but on that day you will be glorious. You will be flawless. You will shine with glory, like the, in the kingdom of the Father.
And Matthew 24:31 tells us, “And He will send out His angels …” Again, the reaping, the gathering will be done by the angels. “He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” So people across the world will be gathered if they are followers of Jesus to enter the kingdom of God and have eternal glory.
So there are two prospects and you can be in either one of them. If you say you are a Christian, now, do you really know which group you belong to? I think is very important to know, isn't it? There's nothing more important in life than to know: am I a wheat or a darnel? There's, there's no question more important to answer than that question.
And that's why the Bible tells us in second Corinthians 13:5, we've really got to “Examine ourselves to see whether if you are in the faith.” Now let me say this, this is not something for you to listen to, to then say, “Hey! He's not a Christian. He's not a Christian.”
First of all, this is very important for yourself. Am I really in the faith? Am I really the real deal, the follower of Jesus Christ? It's very interesting, yesterday we were in our care group and after the session we were chatting. And we're talking about lights and so on. And someone mentioned about having bright lights in the toilet.
I say, “Why bright lights in the toilet?” I thought toilet dim lights is quite good what, you don't see your pimples and all the flaws when you wake up. You don't see all the horror of your face, on your face,. But no, there’s a group, especially the ladies, the ladies all say, “No, you must have bright lights in the toilet, the brighter the better. Not the yellow one, the white one. I want to see every pimple. I want to see every freckle. I want to see every pore on my skin.”
I say, “Why?” I'm scared to see my own self, I don't want to see.” “But no, I want to see.” And I realize why, I, I don't want to see and they want to see. You know what's the reason? Wah, Shalom, you very kiang [clever in Hokkien dialect] ah you. And that's exactly the reason.
They say, “I want to see so that I can do something about it.” Aah, it makes sense to me! When I see my problems, I don't do anything about it. I mean, I'm not going to put foundation, wah lau, this one, please, it scares me man. But for the ladies put, you must know where to put, you don't know where to put no good, you must see all the flaws and cover, cover, cover, you can do something about it. So please, have the lights turned on because there is salvation.
Now, I say that because this is very uncomfortable but there is something you can do. The reason why you really need to take heed, listen up and say, “I need to examine myself.” because there is still hope for you. You can do something about it. I mean, it's like going to the dentist.
When you go to the dentist, do you want to go to the dentist where the chair is very dim? “Hey, Doctor, dimmer lah! Don't see so much problems, please. I don't want to see too much, please.” Seow ah, you go see dentist, you better make sure the lights are very bright. So that you can say, “Doc, see all my problems, settle all my problems.” Now, you want it bright, you want it clear when you know that there is help and there is salvation.
I want you to know that you can be brutally honest with yourself because the grace of God is still available for you today. The Gospel message can still be yours today. It is still not too late for you to repent and believe in Jesus, if it be found that you are really not a believer as yet. So please, understand this, so if we are to shine the light into your life, what should we look for, to see whether you are in the faith?
What is that question or what is the answer to this question? How do I know if I'm really God's child? Obedience to His law. Good. How do I really know if I'm God's child? Is it because as I've been saying so long - I come to church, I read my Bible, I serve, I pray, I have Christian name? Would that be the answer?
Well, the best answer I think is given by Jesus. He said, “On that day many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and do many mighty works in Your name?” [Matthew 7:22] Now, this is quite an impressive resume by the way. Wow, these guys, amazing. You know, they prophesy, they preach, they teach in the name of Jesus. Not only that, they exorcise in the name of Jesus. They cast out demons and not only that, they are miracle workers. They do many mighty; miraculous; spectacular works in the name of Jesus.
Impressive? I don't think you would argue with me, if I say to you these are people who probably carry a Bible. They read the Bible, they pray. They are leaders maybe in church. Many people may follow them. They have Christian names. They wear Christian clothes. They wear Christian garments. Would you be surprised? No? If they can do this, what are all the things I've said?
Yet, Jesus says, “And then I would declare to them, I never knew you.” [Matthew 7:23] Not that I knew you once. You were mine once and somehow you fell away but I never knew you. I never knew you at all! In Hokkien, ‘wah ng pak ler’, ‘ler kong si mi, wah ng pak ler’. You say you know Me, I don't know you. I never knew you.
And what is their characteristic? “Depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.” [Matthew 7:23] You know, what's scary? Again, we often say, what's scary about this verse? There's one word that is very scary here, that should sends shivers down your spine. That should cause you to perk up your ears and listen very attentively.
The word here is, ‘many’. This is not a rare thing. This is many. Many people on the last day will stand before Jesus and said, and say, “Didn't we do these things? I serve in Gospel Light kitchen, you know. Every day fry until my hand burn, you know. Every day, I stand out there in the sun directing traffic. I preach, you know, pastor, I pastor, you know.
“Many will say to me, you did many impressive things, but ‘wah ng pak ler’. I never knew you. You workers of lawlessness.” And that's why before this, in verse 21, Jesus already said, “Not everyone who says to Me Lord, Lord…” Not everyone who says, I know Jesus, He's my Saviour, He's my God, “Not everyone who says to Me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.”
In other words, I think what Jesus is saying is that the ultimate test of a Christian is not what he says, not where he goes, not what he carries, not who his parents are. The ultimate test of a Christian is obedience.
“Aah, Pastor, you're a heretic, man! You are teaching us that we need to obey to be a Christian.” No, no, no, no. I'm not saying obedience is the means of salvation, but obedience is the evidence of salvation. Because I don't think Jesus is saying, “Obey to be saved.” No, of course not! But Jesus is saying, “The saved will obey.”
Because if you really believe in Jesus, if you are really his child, you know something, you have a wonderful heart transplant. He gives you a new heart and that new heart wants to obey God.
So the ultimate test of a man's faith in God is obedience in his life, obedience to do God's will. “Aah, Pastor, you again teach wrong things! How can anyone fully obey God? Don't you realize that there is the flesh in us and that we are still sinning.” I say, “I agree with you, brother. We, who are believers can still sin. No question indeed, we still sin, no question.” But the difference is this, the difference is that for the believer, he may sin but he sins less.
He does not become sinless, but he sins less. Do you know the difference? Can you catch a clever play of words? OK, no, you, you are not sinless but you sin less. Why? Because 1 John 3:9 says, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him.” He's born again! He has God's life in him. And he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.
Look at the logic here. Very clear! If you're really God's child, it means you have a spiritual rebirth. It's not just a creed you profess. It's not just a profession you make. There is a new life. You're born again. God's seed remains in you. And if there is God's life in you, it will make a difference in that you will not make a practice of sinning. You will still sin but you will sin less. It does not become habitual. It does not become a regular pattern.
So in this church, we often say, when we say, “Obedience is an evidence of salvation, we are not saying sinless perfection but we are talking about sincere progression.” And there's a whole world of difference there.
So, what Jesus is saying is that in this world, in this church congregation and even in this family of yours, there will be wheat and they may be weeds. They look very similar. They sit together. They eat together. They serve together. They read the Bible together. They hear the sermon together but they can be very different in their eternal destiny is because one is real and one is not.
How do you know the real deal? You know it by the ultimate test of obedience. Not perfect obedience but progressive obedience. Because you recognize that with the growing obedience, it is the best evidence of a new life of God in him.
I like what Adrian Rogers says, “A Christian lapses into sin and loathes it, a non-Christian leaps into sin and loves it.”
Imagine a pig, a pig that you keep in a farm. What does he do? Wallow in the mud. He, he loves the mud. It's almost like he bathes in the mud. Whoa, he, he loves it! I mean that's, that's what he enjoys. And if you take the pig, you bring it to your shower. You wash him and you let him out into the farm again, what is it going to do? He's going to roll in the mud again! That's his nature, he loves it!
But supposedly today, suppose a wizard comes and casts a spell over the pig. And he now becomes a handsome prince. What does he do? He goes to shower. Aiyoh, ah ne ang jang eh [so dirty in Hokkien dialect], I go shower. And then when he gets out of his palace he walks, he trips and falls into the mud, what does he do? “Aah, so nice, I love the mud!” Does he do that? He says, “Eee, so dirty! Let me go back to bathe.” Why? Because he's a new creature.
You see, there are people today who think they are princes when they are actually pigs still. And the best way to tell is - do you love sin or do you loathe it? And it is not just on the subjective feeling level, it will be evidenced by a progressive sanctification or change in your life.
I hope this bright light shining at you, may make you uncomfortable, self-conscious for a while. But you will say to the Great Surgeon of your soul, “Lord, please, have mercy on me. I see in me no hatred for sin, no love for you, a continuous habitual pattern of sin. I might have profess faith. I might even be baptized. I might have thought I'm a Christian, but maybe I'm not.”
Maybe if that's you and you're still not sure, not certain, hey, there's no harm in you letting us know, letting Me know. I would love to just meet up with you. Because there's nothing more important than this, isn't it? And if you are very clear today, you've never been born again. This might be the day you can humble yourself, repent of your ways, cry out to God and look to Jesus to really save you from your sins. That's the purpose! That's really what I want to do.
I end with this quote. John Newton, writer of ‘Amazing Grace’, that popular song. He says, “if I, if ever I reach heaven, I expect to find three wonders there. Number one: to meet some I had not thought to see there. Huh, this one also can ah. Aiyoh, that boss who keeps scolding me, he's in heaven ah? Yah lah, he believed in Jesus, after you quit lah. Well, to meet some I had thought I will not see there.
Second wonder: to miss some I had expected to see there. Eh, Pastor Jason, where are you ah, hah, hah, hah maybe, I don't know. Maybe you will be shocked to realize there are some you've thought will be there are not there. They were the weeds who were found out ultimately.
The last wonder, the most wondrous of all: to find myself there.
You see, salvation, is all of grace, it is not of works. No one obeys his way, no one obeys the law to deserve salvation. You can't! We are saved because of God's grace. And God's grace is quite an amazing thing. It comes to the people, you don't think that deserves it. And it doesn't go to the people you think deserves it, because it's what grace is all about.
The most important question today is: are you a recipient of this grace? Have you really been born again? I hope I will see you in heaven. I'm, I'm sure I'm going to heaven, at least at this point of time, unless I defect from the God, from the Lord next time. I think, I will be in heaven and I hope to see you there, every one of you. Please think about this seriously for your own soul sake.
Let's bow for a word of prayer together. Maybe today you are not sure, not certain if you really know God as your Lord and Saviour. I hope this very uncomfortable time is not meant to crush you. But this uncomfortable time is maybe meant to lead you to real grace and salvation in Jesus. I dare not take for granted any one of your salvation, your soul, really.
It is too much, there is too much at stake here. But the Bible is very clear, would you examine yourself to see if you are in the faith? How about your kids? Are you blindly ushering them just to go for baptism even though they, you and they are not sure at all? Would you not rather continue to point them to the Gospel, labour in the Gospel, pray for them in the Gospel?
But again, what about you? What about me? May this time be a time of searching. May this time be a time of reflection. May this be a time that you may really repent and believe in Jesus as your Saviour.
I pray for those who are sure; certain, because you see the mark of grace, you see a growing obedience in your life. You see that you're not making a practice of sinning. I hope that this message will give you tremendous assurance. You will be grateful, you will be thankful. You will praise God for this wonderful salvation he has given to you. May God bless each one of you richly. May we all find salvation in Jesus Christ alone.
Father, thank You for this time. We pray that at the second coming of Jesus, we will not be found wanting. But oh God, you will be gracious to provoke and to stir those who are self-deceived today that they may really still come to Jesus for repentance and faith. So that, when you return, we can really be joyous and grateful as we are gathered into the kingdom of our Father. Lord, save souls today. We thank You and we pray all this in Jesus’ Name.
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More Episodes from Pastor Jason Lim:
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Episodes from other sermons:
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