Monday, December 23, 2013

Three-Legged Footstools ............................ Parables 057

How do you say ‘no’ to something that you do not want?

Some refuse with a polite, “No, thank you.” Some loudly protest. Others simply ignore the offer, or maybe pretend to not notice that it has been made. Others might say there is no room for it in their life, or declare that it does not appeal to them. ‘No’ can be expressed in many ways.

Someone asked me this week, “How do people reject Jesus Christ?” Is it a polite, “No thanks” or a loud protest? Is it by just ignoring Him, or by ignorance of Him? Saying ‘no’ to Him is also expressed in many ways.

Jesus Christ was rejected by some who accused Him of breaking the Law of God. In one of those instances, He responded, “Judge (me) not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgement.” He was asking that He not be evaluated by appearance only (and therefore rejected), but judged as the Father does, with fair, impartial evaluation.

Scripture affirms that God is fair in His judgement of us. He considers more than just what appears on the outside. He looks at our hearts (I Sam.16:7) and listens to our words (Matt.12:36,37), as well as observing our behavior. It appears that He looks for response in all three areas, like three legs on a footstool. If one is missing, the stool cannot stand up.

In other words, the heart (or mind), the words, and the deeds are supposed to match each other. If they don’t, the person is somehow saying ‘no’ to Christ. The Bible gives examples of people who professed to love the Lord with their mouth, and who did the required “religious duties”, yet God said “Your heart is far from me.” These people were pious pretenders, looking good on the outside, saying the right words, but actually hating God in their hearts. And God condemned their so-called faith. It only had two “legs.”

Another example of inconsistency are those who say they live a good life and think that they believe, yet refuse to publicly profess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives. They are somehow ashamed of Him and His words. He declares that He will also deny them before the Father (Matt. 10:32,33). Again, the mind and life are not really yielded unless the mouth follows suit. Another two-legged response.

Thirdly, James Chapter 2 speaks of some who -say- they have faith but their lives have no works that give evidence to that faith. James says “Faith without works is dead.” Again, there is a “leg” missing.

In John 6, some asked Jesus, “What shall we do that we might work the works of God?” His response was this, “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him who He hath sent.” Obviously, works without faith is dead too. Ephesians 2:8,9 says that we “are saved by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, that we should do good works...”

Notice the order. 1) God does the work of grace whereby a person becomes a believing person. That work of God changes a persons mind - about Christ, and about sin. 2) Other Scripture affirms that the mouth will say so - when the heart truly believes. 3) Then, as a result of the workmanship of God, we do the deeds that please Him. In fact, the works that God wants are impossible to do unless God has first done a work in a person’s life; unless the other two “legs”, a yielded heart and a yielded mouth, are already in place.

Rejection takes many forms. The mind may refuse to believe what Jesus has said and what He has done. The mouth may also refuse to yield to Him, or be piously used to cover up that inner rejection. A sinful life rejects Christ, but may also do “good deeds” to compensate for a sin-filled heart.

God cannot be fooled. He knows exactly how we say “no” to Him. But our rebellion does not change His attitude toward us. It was even “while we were yet sinful, He sent Christ to die for us ...” That love conquers minds, and mouths, and transforms lives. He can change the “no” to a glorious “yes.”

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