The Preacher Says....  
  Unspotted from the World  

It is reliably reported that there are more than 5 billion people on the earth. Five billion; it's sort of like the national debt, you can't really comprehend a number so large, but let's try to comprehend it. The USA has 250 million people in it. Think of Virginia: Tidewater, Northern Virginia, Alexandria, Arlington, Herndon, McLean all those towns up there that are almost part of Washington Roanoke, Lynchburg. 5 million people. Well the world has a thousand times more people than that. The United States has 250 million people in it. The world population is 20 times the population of the United States. I guess about 3 and one half billion of those people are awake right now because we are awake longer than we are asleep, so I guess about two thirds of the population of the world is awake. Considerably south of us in South America , in the same time zone, dwell 500 million people that we almost never think about. As we speak, they are dressing, working, eating, worshiping, sinning, dying, drowning, being trampled to death in crowds, seeking God. Each of them lives in the center of his own universe just as we do; each one as sentient and sensitive as we are, and each hoping against hope that he is not a dry leaf to be carried away by the whirlwind of life, biodegradable dissolving into dust.

How many of those five billion people do you think are the seed of Abraham and heirs according to the promise? Jesus makes it perfectly clear that salvation is of the Jew, either natural or spiritual, which is what we are-- Jews by adoption, the wild olive branch grafted into the good olive tree. So how many people consider themselves to be the seed of Abraham and heir of the promise, the promise to inherit the earth? 10%? Well, 10% of 5 billion is 500 million.

That's twice the population of the United States. Do you think there are that many people in the world that consider themselves to be the seed of Abraham? How about 1 % of 5 billion people? 50 Million people. Well, 50 million people would encompass the states of California, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. That's 1 %. How about 1/10th of 1%. That's 5 million people. But aren't we people who take the truth from the Bible? It doesn't come to us through any filter. It doesn't come to us through Mary Baker Eddy or Joseph Smith. There is no person to whom we look to interpret scripture. I feel that I know as a certainty that if the truth is in the Bible, then I know what the Bible has promised. Paul said in 1 Cor. 1, "For ye see your calling, brethren. How that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. And God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty. And base things of the world, and things which are despised has God chosen. Yes, and things which are not, to bring to nothing things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence." Well, we fit that bill, don't we? Not many wise, not many noble, weak. But listen to this, also ascribed to us (we hope): In Ephesians 2 Paul writes, " God who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has made us alive together with Christ. By grace are you saved, and has raised us up together to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." What kind of reaction does this provoke? At first, disbelief. Can it be that we have been in a figure raised up together and sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus? After an initial reaction of disbelief, it dawns on us that it is probably true we hope it's true the next emotion is gratitude.

The next thought is dangerous. We're something special. We've been chosen by God. Well, you can't deny the fact can you that we've been chosen by God if what I've said up to now is true. But is that something that we can be proud of? Was Abraham special? The account of the choosing of Abraham doesn't indicate that there was anything special about Abraham when he was called out. After all, he became special because he believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness. Was Isaac special as compared to Ishmael? Ishmael was the firstborn. But Isaac was the chosen heir. And he was chosen when he was a child even before he was a child even before he was born he was chosen. Isaac didn't have anything to glory in. Was Jacob special? In Romans 9 Paul says speaking about God?, "Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated." Did Jacob have anything to be proud of? As a matter of fact, if you read the accounts of the lives of Jacob and Esau, it's almost as if Jacob had less to be proud of than Esau. I mean, after all, he deceived his brother and bought his birthright.

Do we have anything to be proud of? All of those examples simply show that God is in charge. It is a demonstration of the truth of God's name, the covenant name, Yahweh. I will be whom I will be. God's rule is arbitrary so far as we can determine. Having said it's arbitrary is not to judge Him, because nobody makes the rules except God. And he says and it cannot be gainsaid through Paul, "God said to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." When John said to the Pharisees that God was able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham, that applies to us as well as to the Pharisees. We have no special talent. We're no different from those people that we see around us. But if we've been chosen, even though we're not special, shouldn't we try to act special? Scripture seems to support that idea. In Philippians 3, Paul says that once you are chosen you must forget the things that are behind, and reach for the things which are before, and press for the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. That's some sort of special behavior, and reflected also in Hebrews 12. 1, 2: the writer to the Hebrews says this about all these faithful people who went before you, "seeing we also are compassed about with a great cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." With a little different emphasis in 1Cor 9, Paul referring to himself says, "Know you not that they who run in a race run all, but one receives the prize. So run that you may obtain." We're supposed to be special, that is to say, we're supposed to make a special effort. There is a response to having been picked for no special reason attributable to us. In an old hymn, Christian walk carefully, danger is near; on in thy journey with trembling and fear, we perceive there are dangers to be avoided; we could be castaways.

How do you avoid receiving the grace of God in vain? We read in 2Cor 6, "Come out from among them", it says. The world, it is speaking of. "And be ye separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you. And I will be a Father unto you and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty". In 1John 2. 15 it says?we've got to be careful, we don't want to be a castaway?"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." Well, what is this world that we're supposed to shun? I mean, after all, God so loved the world ?God loved the world that we're supposed to hate? "that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes on him should not perish but have everlasting life." Many of us in this room are alive because of the world. A lot of you out there wouldn't be as old as you are today if it weren't for the world. If some doctor hadn't treated or operated on or done something to you to make you still here, above ground. And one could say, well you know that's just a temporal, ephemeral blessing. Wouldn't it be nice if he could give you immortal life, but none of us is given that gift to give to another. But what he has done that doctor is give me an opportunity somehow to try to make my calling and election sure. We don't have cavities in our teeth because the world has fixed them for us. And many people here are living on checks that the world is sending us every month. Many of my friends want to do the right thing. They are examples to me. I consider many of them better than I am insofar as we can judge these things. But comparisons are odious. In a way, the world is less dangerous now than it has been because what we see on TV, and read in magazines and in the newspaper is so sinful, it is easy to avoid. You know, Paul said that the law of Moses was added to make sin exceeding sinful. Well, I think we've accomplished that in America. Sin is so exceedingly sinful that so many at least of my generation are repulsed by it. We see the idiocy of the statement of those who believe that there is no absolute truth that everything is OK or may be OK in any circumstance. The statement falls by it is own logic , because they say, "I say absolutely there are no absolutes". If there are no absolutes, how can you say it absolutely? I mean the logic whereby people try to justify sin is transparent. Think about some Biblical examples of people who sinned. David sinned. We all know about David and Bathsheba. David had a man murdered so he could take his wife. Saul sinned when he tried to kill David, among other grievous sins. Peter sinned. He dissembled. He tried to be a Jew to the Jews, and a Gentile to the Gentiles. Did the world make them sin? They sinned, in David's case because of the lust of the flesh and the eye. Saul and Peter sinned probably because of the pride of life. And you see, when you say that, you are looking for the ?world ?in the wrong place. Because the world is not outside the window. The world is in here. The world is in you. The substance of the world, John tells us, is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life. And where do we have the most contact with that world? The world within. In my flesh dwells no good thing. If you're gonna combat the world, the world within, you first have to seek the truth.

Jesus said, "Know the truth and the truth shall make you free". Well, the first thing one must attempt to know in order to know the truth is not the truth about the promises made to Abraham, not the truth about falsity of the Trinity doctrine, or not an understanding of the time periods of Daniel, or not even the truth about Jesus Christ. The first truth you have to learn is the truth about yourself. And when you learn the truth about yourself then you understand the love of God. God has plucked you out of the natural order of things. God has loved you even though you don't deserve to be loved above those around you. And the learning of that truth brings you to the natural corollary of it which is, I must imitate God. Christ preached the sermon on the mount before he straightened the Jews out about doctrine. The love we're supposed to imitate is love towards everybody whether they deserve it or not. And if you say it like that, you don't understand it. You can't think about loving somebody even though they don't deserve to be loved because, after all, who are you? I've said it before, we're all made out of the same dough. We're all exactly the same, just flavored a little differently. Let's look at love in a different way. We know, we read in James the gentle epistle, that faith without works is dead. And that ties us in knots because work has unpleasant connotations. It's hard to do. It's something that we have to do. And work. I think we tend to think in terms of proving our faith as unpleasant and trying, because we have to attempt to improve people. We have to make them more like ourselves, and that's difficult to do. See how perverse we are. Maybe we can understand works better if we think of works as being love. And I think we do no violence to scripture if we do that. Let me give you this example. How many times in the Bible do we read Jesus? behavior described this way: ?moved with compassion, he stretched forth his hand?? Is that the work that James was talking about? Was it hard to do? Jesus couldn't help himself. Moved with compassion he stretched forth his hand. That's work, for no reward. It's work for no reward because if love is work, work isn't hard. In fact, you don't even know you're working. And if that happens, you will have conquered the world. The world in you.