Adapted from a message preached at the Bible Tabernacle in June 2017.
I was kind of interested in some of the references this morning to the Lord building His church. The church is a big subject, and there’s a lot of truth, and I think we are in regular need, as generations pass, of really seeing the truth of the church and what it is, established and re-established. We live in a cultural context in which it’s so easy to sink down into something that is basically man-driven, tradition-governed where we’re simply practicing a religion.
If you look up a dictionary definition of church, probably, one of the first would be a building. And I guess, in our culture, we all know what we mean when we say, “Go to the church.” So, I don’t see that we’re going to undo that any time soon. But, as you know, the church is not this building. The church is something that is very real and very spiritual.
But, other uses of the term “church” would be like the Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church, or the Baptist Church. It means a religious establishment, an organization, a movement that, in each case, claims to represent Christ and be followers of Him. And then, it might be used of a local congregation, basically the same idea: they’re followers of Jesus and claim to practice what He teaches and so forth.
But there is so much more that we need to really have so imbedded in our spirits that we “get it,” we understand. What must the Lord think as He looks down? How does He identify His church? Who is really a part of it? Because, we could say, “Well, we’re the Body of Christ.” And I believe God has established good things here, but certainly the Bible Tabernacle is not in any exclusive sense “the” Body of Christ.
The reality is, that there are people who come here who may well not be a part of His church, and that’s what we need to be focused on. I have a desire and a hunger, and I believe many share this, that we come to a place—a greater place, where we are so in harmony with Heaven and what Heaven stands for and what Heaven is doing, that we will become instruments of God in establishing what He wants.
And, while there is a “universal” church, there is a local expression that God longs to bring forth in a deeper way. I believe He’s doing it, I believe He’s working, but we need to understand a whole lot more about what the church is and how God does things so that we can truly be a participant in it.
Turn to Matthew chapter 16. I’m going to go ahead and start, by faith, and I don’t know how much we’ll get to. But I pray that God will somehow burn these truths into our hearts in a way that will make a difference.
Now, verse 13, a familiar passage, “When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (NIV). Now, the “Son of Man” is referring to Himself. That was the way He referred to Himself. Who do people say I am, basically?
And so, “They replied, ‘Some say, John the Baptist; others say, Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’” So, you had all of these religious opinions of people trying to account for the power and the authority and the works that He did. Oh, this must be one of the prophets. We’ve read about all the stuff they did. Maybe one of them has come back from the dead. That’s who He is. And so — but what you really have is a lot of natural men trying to figure it out.
God, deliver us! Like I said, there’s so much that is just totally natural in religion today that we need to build on a true foundation! We sang some songs about the foundation this morning. Do you know there is one?
Do you know it’s something only God can do? Do you know everything about the Kingdom of God is supernatural from start to finish?
So now, Peter: “Simon Peter answered, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Now, Jesus immediately responds to that by saying, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.” Folks, if we want a foundation for God calling people into His kingdom, to make them a part of His church, this is the foundation.
I’m thinking about the ways that men go about building churches. Can you imagine the Father sending Jesus out to do His work and saying, “All right, Jesus, I want you to go out and win everybody you can. Here is a soul-winning script that you can follow and every time you persuade somebody to say the little prayer at the end of the script, then there’s a discipleship course that you can teach them and you can begin to ….” Does any of this sound familiar?
That’s just one of many ways that people build what they call churches in this world. They have natural ways. What’s happened is the business mentality of Western civilization has basically invaded the church and people have had the idea, “I’ve got to build Him a church.” We’re out here, we’re trying to spread the Gospel, gather as many people together as we can, and so what we need to do is to employ the methods of the business world. We are going to start advertising campaigns. We are selling a product. The product is Jesus.
God, deliver His people from such as that! My God, do we not understand how supernatural all of this has to be? The only reason Peter followed Jesus was not because he had a nice opinion about Jesus. Oh, He’s one of the prophets. That sounds so good and so noble. God had planted a conviction, supernaturally, in his heart, as to who Jesus was, what He was about. And that was a conviction that held him through thick and thin, even through his own failure, when it came time for the crucifixion. There was something in here that he knew, supernaturally.
Has God ever planted that in your heart? That’s the foundation! Every person—every person, when the Father looks down to see who is a part of His church, every single one will have a God-revealed conviction in the heart as to who Jesus is, and who they are! There is no substitute for this!
I find myself, at times, fighting off anxiety. Why are there so few? Why this? Why that? What about my deficiencies? Oh, God, I’ve got to say it right! Oh, God, I’ve got to do it right!
No, we just need Him! We just need God to come and convict and deal with hearts and bring us together and form what He is doing! He is well able to do what He said He’s going to do!
Oh, we need to see that from the depths of our hearts and say, God, show me how to be a participant in that! Show me how, as Paul expressed it, to be a worker together with you.
So now, Jesus is going to make a statement: “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Praise God! You know what Hades was, don’t you? It was considered the place of the dead in the ancient world. The Hebrews called it Sheol.
And, you know, I don’t care what you do in this world, everybody knows at the end that’s where you go, and nobody comes back. It rules over everything that happens in this world. Here’s Jesus standing and saying, I don’t care, the gates of Hell won’t stop what I’m doing!
I’ve got people that have died, but I’m going to bring them out of there. I am the conqueror of death and Hades itself! There’s nothing that can stop what I’m going to build! And the point that I have made many times is, God has never told the first person to build Him a church. Not the first one! It’s not my job to build the church. It’s His job!
It’s my job just to yield my vessel. It’s our job to yield our vessels as that living sacrifice, so that He can live in us as the Father lived in Jesus. And as we allow Him to express His heart and His Word in power through us, God is going to cause that word to be planted in the hearts of those that He is calling into His kingdom.
I’m getting miles ahead of myself, but that’s all right. Praise the Lord! I’ll just pause and say this: the rock is not Peter. There’s a little bit of a play on words in that. The word Peter — by the way, how did he get the name Peter?
The Lord gave it to him. His name was Simon. And so, that in itself was a foretelling of what God was going to do to take a man called Simon and make him into Peter. Petros or Peter is a small rock. He’s made of the same stuff as the big Rock, but he’s not the big Rock.
But it’s upon “this rock.” The rock is the conviction, the rock is the revelation of who Jesus Christ is. It is a divine work of God in the heart of everyone that He calls and makes a part of what He’s talking about here. Everything about this is supernatural! All we can do is be a part of it or not! I want to be a part of it!
I want this local fellowship to reflect that and never to depart from it, never to devolve into just another tradition to preserve what Brother Thomas taught. That would be the last thing he would ever have wanted! I can’t think of any way to dishonor the man any more than that. But oh, God, we just need the power of God to come and to convict hearts. I see it happening, don’t you? God’s here! We just need to understand, in a deeper way, and cooperate with what He’s doing.
“I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.” He will build it, there’s a certainty to it. But somehow, I want to come at this in a slightly different way and focus on the word “church,” because it’s a little hard to render.
First of all, we have our cultural ideas as to what that means. Secondly, most people don’t have access to the original word, “ecclesia.” There are several ideas that are woven into that. It’s more than just “church.” It is a “called out assembly.”
And every one of those words that we use in English is rich with meaning. In the first place, this is something supernatural, composed of people who are “called.” How many of you know that the Kingdom of God is by invitation only?
Now that’s not meant to sound snooty. It’s not meant to sound scary, in the wrong sense. But what it is, is to put the emphasis upon God! This is something God is doing. Folks, we are dependent upon God. This is something that is in His heart from all eternity to do. And He is doing it and He will do it!
But I’ll tell you, you don’t just volunteer for this. You don’t just get a soul-winning script and go out and manufacture Christians. If God happens to be working in that situation, thank God! He works in spite of a lot of stuff, because He’s going to reach His. But I’ll tell you, you could fill a church and teach them all the songs and you would have nothing that would last for eternity. If that’s how it happens, if it’s just simply human effort with human energy behind it.
Folks, this Kingdom, this Church is not of this world! What Christ is talking about building here is not an institution of this world. It’s not an organization. Organizations are run by men. Organizations are ruled over and governed and the energy behind them, the ideas — people get together and have committees or else they have a dictator and he decides what’s happening.
My God, we have nothing we can do but stretch forth our hands and say, oh, God, lead us! We don’t know what to do. We’re like Solomon when he took over the kingdom. We need God to lead us, and empower us, and tell us what to do. We need His Spirit to go forth and accomplish what Jesus said was going to happen here.
When Jesus went forth he didn’t have a soul-winning script. He simply gave out what the Father gave Him. Every day He went to the Father. He said (to paraphrase), “I can only do what the Father shows me. He acts and I act. We’re in total harmony in what we’re doing. And so, my job is to go out and speak truth as He gives it to me.”
Now, by every measure of modern religion, Jesus was a total failure. Thousands listened to Him, thousands followed Him and thousands walked away from Him. Was Jesus a failure? No! God was reaching through Him and reaching those that He was calling into His kingdom, at that time.
There came a time when the numbers were greater, but was Jesus worried about all these people who just wouldn’t believe? “Oh, Father, what’s wrong? Why won’t they believe in me?” Do you get the feeling anywhere that He was upset about that? No! He had a perfect understanding. I am part of something that is sure, that is eternal, God is speaking words that are calling people out of a world that is headed for the grave and headed for destruction. That Word has the power to bring them to life and that’s up to Him. That’s up to God. He knows those that are His. He knows how to reach them. Oh, I’m glad He knows how to reach His people!
There are some winding paths we walk. But how merciful, how faithful God is to reach and to work with hearts, isn’t He? But this is by invitation only.
Remember what Peter said on the day of Pentecost when deeply convicted listeners basically asked, “What are we supposed to do?” And he says, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Then what did he say? “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.” You see, there’s a voice that’s going, that’s been going, ever since the day of Pentecost, it’s been going out into the world and God has been calling! Yes, men have been the instruments of His calling, many times! But in the midst of that it is God who has spoken, who has empowered that Word!
Oh, God, how empty it is when we simply expound the concepts of the Gospel and expect that to do something. We need God to come! We need to be praying! We need to call upon God to let the Word be so powerful — His Word is like a hammer! It’s like a sword! It has the power to get down into the depths of the needs of these desperately, wicked hearts of ours and break down the resistance!
Oh, I’ll tell you, there’s a tremendous need in hearts! We cannot manufacture Christians! We can’t teach you, come here and learn how to sing our songs and believe our doctrines, that won’t do you a bit of good if God doesn’t change your heart.
That’s what we need to be praying, that God will do something that’s supernatural because that’s the only thing that’s real. This is a supernatural Kingdom from top to bottom.
Look at Romans chapter 8. You know the scripture we use so many times: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been…” What? Oh! “…Who have been called according to…” Whose purpose? “…His purpose.” Sounds to me like God’s in charge! Wouldn’t it be good if we would recognize and live like that and say, “Okay, God, you’re the One doing all of this. You’re in charge. I rest my life in your hands”?
Anyway, we’re, “…called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he…” the Son, “…might be the firstborn among many brothers.” God’s called a family, hasn’t He? By invitation!
“And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified…” made righteous in His eyes, “…those he justified, he also glorified.” So, we’re allowed, through the eyes of Paul, to stand back and see the big picture. My God!
Now, the Devil would take this and cause some to say, “Well, God’s in charge, I don’t have any choice. He made me like I am.” That is a horrible, demonic cop-out! What we’re seeing here is not a lack of ability and responsibility on our part, but the fact that underneath are the everlasting arms! When we surrender to Him, our lives belong to Him and He is able and willing to do everything that He has promised! We are in a secure place in Him!
So, it’s wrong to listen to the devil’s lies that say, “Oh, He might just not even call you. You’re not one of ‘the called.’ You’re like you are because that’s how He predetermined it.” That’s not what His predestination is about. I’ll tell you, it is meant to give us that firm foundation, and to remind us that He is in charge.
What a hope we have! You think of the language and you could enumerate many scriptures along this line. But think about Paul talking to the believers and wanting them to have an enlarged understanding about the hope to which God has called them! God has called you to an expectation of something that is coming that depends upon Him. It’s His gift to you, and we need to live in the light of that!
But it is a calling, isn’t it? God has literally issued an invitation to participate in something that is beyond this world, that goes on forever. That’s the essence of what we’re talking about here this morning.
And then you look at Ephesians chapter 4 and see there’s one body, there’s one Spirit, even as you are — called according to one hope of your calling. Praise God! I don’t care what label you wear in this world and all the stuff that has divided the church of Jesus Christ, God has a people. Those are the ones that He sees as His people in the earth. But I’ll tell you, the hope that He’s called us to is an amazing one!
“All that the Father gives me…” What? “…Will come to me….” John 6:37. He’s describing an absolute process of God reaching down into human hearts, convicting them of their need, drawing them to a place of surrender, and on that ground alone, they come, and they cast themselves upon His mercy and put their faith in Him. That’s the process of God reaching, but everyone that God does that for, they will come. Thank God!
Now, for the last part of it. Everyone will come, “…and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.”
Praise God! See, that’s where even death doesn’t win. Death has absolutely lost the battle. Praise God! “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Well, the Jews were grumbling about that. And so, Jesus said in verse 43, “Stop grumbling among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Now, He’s going to explain that just a little bit, because you’ve got some folks out there that just have God make all the decisions, you know, “You’re going to Heaven, you’re going to hell,” like we don’t have any responsibility at all, and it’s not that way.
It says, “It is written in the Prophets: They will all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.” Has God ever spoken to you, I mean, personally? You know it down in here. Has God ever spoken to you? What happened when He did? What happened? How did you react?
See, this is where the “rubber hits the road.” This is the crux of the matter. God speaks to a human heart. What does that heart do? Everyone who listens — you see, that’s what He’s looking at. “Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.”
You see the work, the preparation work that happens in the human heart? Oh, I pray for everyone here that’s ever heard the voice of God. I pray for the kids that are growing up, that this will become real to you. You know, until that happens, all you can do is just listen, and learn, and grow, and ask God to help you.
But I’ll tell you, there’s got to come a point where God will absolutely reveal Himself to your heart and say, “You, come. You, surrender. You, give me your heart and give Me your life. Put your trust in Me.” You’ll never be a part of what Jesus is talking about until that day.
Look at John chapter 5, verse 24: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word….” Now, again, this is not just with ears. This is not just an intellectual process. Whoever hears my word! There’s something that’s beyond just one mind to another, because His words are spirit, and they’re life. There’s supernatural power when God speaks.
So, when He’s talking about hearing that Word, He’s not just simply talking about hearing the concept, He’s talking about hearing it, to where it makes an impact upon the heart, and you’re receiving it.
“…Whoever hears my word and believes…” There’s the response to that hearing. “…Believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” Have you ever crossed over from death to life?
Now, I don’t want to over-emphasize the event in the sense that, oh, I had this tremendous crisis. Lights flashed. Angels sang. Not necessarily. But I’ll tell you, there is a moment in time in God’s economy when God seals the deal and you have crossed a bridge from which there is no return. You are His for time and eternity. It’s a response to His Word that is faith.
It’s not just believing concepts. This is, “I rest the hope of my eternal destiny on Your promise of what You have done for me through Jesus Christ.” That’s it. It’s a sealed, settled deal in my heart. “I am Yours, ‘lock, stock and barrel.’”
And it takes God to do that. You won’t find that ability in any human being. You won’t find that inclination in any human being. God has to work with a heart. But when He brings the heart to that point, I’ll tell you, there is a God who hears and answers that prayer! You are in His hands, and you are in the hands of One who will never fail you, never leave you, never forsake you. Thank God!
But listen to how He describes this. “I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.” That’s some strange sounding language. What’s He talking about?
He goes on to talk about a day way down there at the end of the world where the dead are going to come out of the graves and all that. This is different! This is an apt description of what it is before you really come to faith! You are dead to the Kingdom of God! If all you have is Adam’s life, and you were just born into this world, you’re dead as far as God’s concerned. You have no more capacity to react than someone laying here in a casket, and Donald walks up and blows his trumpet in their ear. Do you think that would make any difference?
We need a supernatural God to do something supernatural to even cause somebody to be able to hear the voice. Oh, how dependent we are on the mercy and the grace of God. Isn’t that what He describes in Ephesians 2? You were dead, and you were made alive in Christ. Praise God! You were part of a world that was under the dominion of the power of darkness, but God raised you from the dead.
That’s what salvation is about. That’s what happens when the human heart hears the voice of the Son of God and puts their faith in it, believes it, receives it! God imparts His life! I’ll tell you, we need to be born. This is a birth, isn’t it? This is something that’s radical.
But I want to add one little dimension here, lest anybody would listen to the enemy and say, “Okay, God’s in charge. Nobody can come unless God calls them. He decides who’s coming. It’s all up to Him. I have no responsibility in this matter.”
I tell you, it’s not that way at all, because not everybody who is called answers the call. God’s call goes out to so many. You think of Noah’s day when God said what? “My spirit shall not always strive with man.” (KJV). Well, what does that tell you? God’s Spirit had been striving with men. He’d been striving with people who would not listen!
So, God wasn’t just saying, “Oh, I didn’t choose you, go on to hell.” This was God reaching out. This is the heart of God. This is still His heart. If there are some who don’t hear His voice and refuse to humble themselves and put their faith in Him, it’s not God’s fault! No one’s going to be able to stand there on the Day of Judgment and say, “God, You’re at fault! You didn’t give me a chance! You’re responsible for my condition! You have no right to judge me.” Trust me, that isn’t going to happen.
Oh, if we could see the heart of God! God, open our eyes to see the mercy and the love that would reach down to sinners who have absolutely no qualifications for His Kingdom. Folks, this isn’t about being some special somebody. This isn’t about being strong. This isn’t about being anything.
This is not just a rule-based religion He’s called us to. This is a new life! This is one where the weakest of the weak just says, “Lord, I’m Yours. Come and change my heart and make me what You want me to be.” Praise God!
But think about the parable Jesus told of the great supper. What a picture that is! Jesus said, “A rich man made a great supper, and…” — who did he call? He’s called a whole bunch of people that had been invited. The invitation, the general invitation had gone out, and he said, “Now, it’s time. Everything’s ready. Come!” So, there was an invitation, wasn’t there? There was a calling to come and partake of a feast that had been completely prepared.
But what happened? One after another, they made excuses. Something was more important than responding to that call. That’s a picture of the Gospel. Folks, if there’s anything in anybody’s life that takes precedence over what He’s talking about, oh, God. I don’t even want to think about it.
What do you think about the rich young ruler? What do you think he thinks now? “What an utter fool I was. I had a little bit of money for a short time, and then the grave claimed me, and now what? And He was offering me eternal life if I’d just turn loose of that! And eternal life is forever, and I would get to be with Him and be set free.”
There is nothing in this world worth putting up your hands and saying, “I don’t want it. I won’t come. I choose my way over Yours, Lord.”
Isn’t it interesting that, no doubt, Jesus drew on a custom of the time where people didn’t even have to provide their own clothes to come. How would you like that kind of an invitation? Of course, some of you ladies would say, “I want to wear what I want to wear. I’ve got this great new dress, and I want to go show it off.” I’m sorry. I had to throw that in there!
But what a picture it is of the Gospel when the ones who were invited were even provided the garment that they wore. Is that not a picture of the Gospel?
You think you’re too bad. You think you’re too this or too that, or is some other obstacle in your mind about what you are and what you’ve done? Forget it. What He did is enough, the song that was sung. It’s enough! It’s all that we need. It’s all that any of us needs, to be able to say, “Lord, I just surrender. You cover me with Your righteousness. You give me everything that I stand in need of. I rest my hope, my case in Your hands. I just come.”
And so, what did the master of the feast do? He sent his servants out, and he started gathering people off the streets. And then they bring them all in, and there’s plenty of room still. “Go out and get some more. Go into the highways and the hedges, I mean, just everywhere you can, anybody that’s willing to come.”
Folks, God’s not looking for the strong and great. He’s looking for people who will just simply humble themselves to His eternal purpose. He provides everything. Oh, praise God!
What a Gospel we have! This isn’t for the strong who are able to keep rules. This is for people who say, I am desperately in need of a Savior. I have no hope. I have a record of sins that reaches to Heaven. How could He love somebody like me? But He does, He does.
But you think about what Jesus said in one of the accounts of this great supper. He made the comment. He said, “Many are called, but…” what? “Few are chosen.” But do you suppose that means God is just playing games with calling people, because He’s just calling them and saying, I don’t really choose you, but I’m going to make a show of calling you? When God calls out to those who refuse to respond, is it just an act?
No! He’s calling, but He’s looking for a response, isn’t He? And where there’s a willingness to just say, “Yes, Lord, I surrender….” I’ll tell you, there is a choice. Then there’s an eternal hand that reaches down and takes care of the rest. Oh, praise God!
What a place of rest He’s called us to. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” That’s the hope of the Gospel.
You think of what Jesus said through the prophets. I think of a couple of places in the end of Isaiah. He said, “…When I called….” When I called--when I called, what? “…Ye did not answer…and did choose that wherein I delighted not.”
I’ll tell you, we have an awesome God who is building something that is supernatural. And He is going to reach every single one of His. But I’ll tell you, the heart of God is not looking to keep people out. The heart of God is looking to reach the weakest of the weak, the most hopeless of the hopeless. His heart is going to reach out until there’s no more capacity for someone to say, yes.
Think of the reaction of Jesus having to watch from Heaven as He would send prophets to the nation of Israel, century after century. He would send someone, and they would murder them. They’d say, “I don’t want you. I don’t want what you’re saying. I reject it! We’re going to go on and practice our idolatry. Get out of here. Stop rebuking us! We’re going to kill you,” and they did.
And here’s Jesus looking down at people that were supposedly His people. And now, He comes on the scene, and He realizes what’s about to happen. He’s about to be crucified, totally rejected. What does He do? He’s out there on a hill looking over Jerusalem. What does He do?
Does He say, “I can’t wait until I can get you for all this stuff you’ve done”? NO. He weeps. Is that not a divine response? Jesus breaks down and weeps. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered…as a hen gathereth her chickens…” What was the problem? “…ye would not!”
That’s what’s happening in the earth today. I want to be part of the voice of God calling forth. It’s not about eloquence. If it is, I’m not going to qualify. But it’s about having His heart, His Spirit. It’s about calling people to surrender their lives and put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ with the promise and the hope of something that goes beyond anything any of us could imagine.
Look at Hebrews chapter 3. “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling…” (NIV). I could say this: “Brothers and sisters who share in the heavenly calling, somebody here who has heard the voice of God, you said, ‘Yes,’ and God has put His Spirit in your heart, and you’ve been born of that Spirit and that life….” What about you? What’s God’s word to you?
“…Fix your thoughts on Jesus….” That tells me it’s not just something instant where you suddenly become mature. You know, we’re born into this thing. We hear the calling. “…The apostle and high priest whom we confess. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.” Praise God!
I’ll come down to this where it says in verse 6, “And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” Here’s the verse that Brother Thomas used so many times over the years, and I think I want to end with this. “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts….”
Now, is that an angry threat, or is that a yearning heart that knows what the consequences of hardening one’s heart are? It’s the latter, isn’t it? Don’t you see the heart and spirit of God in the way He reaches out to people? Why would Jesus weep if He didn’t have that heart? “Oh, if there’s anything I could do,” but yet He was part of an eternal process where God was working with hearts and speaking to people and calling them out of this present world into something that’s eternal.
And I’ll just return to this. Has God spoken to you? Have you ever heard His call to come and truly belong to Jesus Christ, “lock, stock and barrel”? And if you’ve heard it, what did you do? And if you hear it today, what are you going to do?
Oh, in the name of Jesus Christ, I beseech you to humble yourself and call upon His name. Don’t let anything the devil tells you stand in your way. You run to Jesus, and you fall at His feet, and you give Him your heart and your life. He will hear your cry. He will respond. God is not looking to keep people out. He’s looking to bring them in.
But folks, this is a divine process. Jesus is the one building this church, I mean, the one I’m describing. I pray, I hope everyone here becomes a part of that. But I’m not fool enough to think that everybody is, necessarily. But I’ll tell you, we serve a God who’s able to seek and save those that are lost.
So, I just put this in your hands today. You’re a part of this world: are you going to perish with it, or are you going to call out to Him and surrender and become a part of something that will never pass away? That’s His promise, and He will answer the cries of those who call upon Him. Praise God!