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The Appropriating Act
We’ve been dealing with the whole salvation of God provided by the death of Jesus on the cross. And I suggested to you that everything that was accomplished for us by the death of Jesus on the cross is described by the single biblical word salvation. We looked at a number of examples of the use of the word saved in the New Testament which included a lot more than merely having our sins forgiven or even being born again.
And I believe it would be practical to consider now what the New Testament teaches about how to enter into salvation—meaning not just the forgiveness of your sins. And when I say just I don’t want in any way to underestimate because it’s a tremendous miracle to have your sins forgiven. But it’s only a little part of God’s total provision in salvation.
You are familiar with many scriptures that speak about being saved but probably you’ve never applied them to this more full picture of salvation. So I want to take some of those scriptures and show you how to enter into salvation. I want to add that it’s a progressive experience. It’s not just a one time experience, salvation is something that unfolds and becomes fuller and richer the more you move into it.
Now the scriptures that I’m going to take will be familiar to many of you but I’ll give them a slightly new application because of the increased scope of salvation.
We’ll turn first of all to Mark 1:15 which is the first public preaching of Jesus with which he opened his ministry. It says there that he said:
“The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel.”
So the first two requirements, and these run all through the New Testament, are repent and believe.
Now there is a kind of preaching which leaves out repent and says only believe. But it is not scriptural. I question whether it is possible to believe the way the New Testament speaks of believing without first repenting. At least, you will find all through the New Testament from the ministry of John the Baptist onwards through the ministry of Jesus, through the ministry of Peter, through the ministry of Paul, all the way through; that repentance is the first step towards salvation.
On the day of Pentecost in Acts 2—well, we might as well turn there while we’re about it. Acts 2:37–38. After Peter had preached a sermon declaring the significance of the descent of the Holy Spirit, it says about the unbelievers present in verse 37:
“When they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
That was a practical question. And Peter immediately came up with a practical answer.
“Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
I understand that as God’s unvarying reply to the sinner who wants to know what God requires him to do. The church has truncated the message and in some sense misapplied the message. But the message remains the same. If I’m dealing with a sinner who says to me, “What am I to do?” it will always be my aim to give him the full, Biblical answer. Repent, be baptized and then you are qualified to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. I don’t believe God has ever changed his program. But I want to point out to you that the first requirement is repent.
Now the Greek word to repent—I don’t think it does much good my writing Greek words up on the board—but it means primarily to change your mind. In secular Greek literature you’ll find almost invariably it will be translated “to change your mind.”
What I want to make clear to you is repentance is not primarily an emotion, it’s a decision. It’s your will, not your emotions that God is after. You’ve been living one way, now you change your mind and you’re going to live a different way. You’ve been living by your own rules, setting your own standards, pleasing yourself, doing your own thing. Now that’s all over. Now you say, “God, I submit to you. Show me what to do and I’ll do it.” That’s repentance.
Why do we all have to repent? Isaiah 53:6 is the answer. Because we have all gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way. Which, in one word I said was rebellion. And because we are all rebels the first step that cannot be bypassed is we have to lay down our rebellion.
Repentance is laying down your rebellion. You see, since the root problem of the human race is rebellion, any form of religion which doesn’t deal radically with rebellion is ineffective. I have to say there is a whole area of presenting the gospel that doesn’t deal with rebellion. That’s why I’m sometimes concerned when people glibly say, “I’m born again” or even “I’m saved.” If I don’t see the evidence that they’ve laid down rebellion, I can’t accept their claim that they’re saved.
It’s very important to see this. I mean, I’m thinking of all sorts of people in situations that I know where they have a form of religion. They’ll use all the language but they’re still doing their own sweet thing. They’re still living by their own standards. They do as much of what God requires as they feel like doing.
God gave me a message once about the behavior of King Saul when he was sent to deal with the Amalekites. And he came back and told Prophet Samuel, “I’ve done what God said.” Samuel said, “If that’s so, why do I hear the sheep bleating and the oxen lowing because you were told to kill them all?” Dead sheep don’t bleat and dead oxen don’t low. There are a lot of people like that. “I’ve done everything that God told me,” but the sheep are still bleating and the oxen are still lowing. The evidence isn’t there.
And as I was teaching that to my students in Africa once, I said to them, “I’ll tell you the lesson of this story.” And God interrupted me inwardly and he said, “I’lltell you the lesson of this story. The lesson is this: Incomplete obedience is disobedience.” The people who only do as much of what God tells them as they want to do have never repented. They’re still rebels. They’re sweet, religious, maybe tongue speaking rebels, but still rebels.
Is it possible to be a rebel and speak in tongues? The problem with tongue speakers, and I’m one myself, is they think tongue speaking is a substitute for repentance. It isn’t. There is no substitute for repentance. It’s essential, it’s inescapable. You have to lay down your rebellion.
Requirement number one: Repent.
Requirement number two: Believe. There’s no substitute for believing.
Turn with me if you want to to Hebrews 11 for a moment. Verse 6:
“But without faith it is impossible to please God.”
It’s not difficult, it’s impossible.
“For he who comes to God must believe.”
There’s no way around it.
What have you got to believe? You’ve got to believe two things that are important. Number one, you’ve got to believe that God is, that God exists. Now most people believe that. That’s not enough. You’ve got to believe that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him. Faith is having confidence in the character of God. It’s believing that he’s a just, faithful God.
Why unbelief is such a sin is it imputes wickedness to God. It implies that God won’t do what he said he will do. It is required of us that we believe.
Now many of us have problems believing. I have problems at times believing. Let me tell you the solution. Faith—you know how faith comes, we’ve looked at this—faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Listen dear brother and sister, if you’re having problems with believing, let me suggest to you that you spend a lot less time in front of the television and a lot more time in front of your Bible. It will make a dramatic change in some of you. Faith does not come—normally—by watching the television. Now there are some preachers on television, I agree. But if you really want faith you’ve got to do the things by which faith comes—which is? Listening to the word of God, hearing it, give it your attention. Faith comes by hearing.
I’ll tell you something else. We need to renounce unbelief. We need to take an active stand against unbelief. If you turn back to Hebrews 3:12:
“Beware brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief.”
What kind of heart is an unbelieving heart? What is it? It’s evil. It’s not a harmless weakness, it’s evil. I think the majority of the professing church treats unbelief as a, you know, kind of a harmless weakness that we’re all exposed to. One thing I’ve learned, and I think we’re going to do it, is it’s important to renounce unbelief.
Many times before we conduct a healing service one of the things we’ll do is get people to renounce unbelief. Unbelief is a barrier between you and salvation. Not necessarily your initial experience with salvation but your ongoing experience with salvation. I find it very helpful. I’m a preacher but I still need to renounce unbelief.
Ruth and I were talking about this last night and she said something which rather stuck with me. She said unbelief is like mildew. When it first comes you don’t notice it but it spreads and it grows and it affects other people.
So I’m going to suggest, and this is optional, you don’t have to do it, we just take a moment or two to renounce unbelief. All right? And to proclaim faith. See, it’s very important what we say. So let’s turn to the Lord for a moment now, I’ll be the one that speaks. But you’re not dealing with me, you’re dealing with God. You can close your eyes or keep your eyes open, that’s up to you. But I want to invite you to say this confession after me. “Oh God, I confess that unbelief is a sin. And I have been guilty of that sin. And I ask you to forgive me now and to deliver me from unbelief. And God, I want to declare my faith. I believe in you, God. I believe in God the Father. I believe in God the Son. I believe in God the Holy Spirit. I believe in the Bible, the word of God. I believe it all, it’s all true. God, I believe. Help me, I pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.” Now just thank him for a moment.
Some of you will find it easier to receive from now on.
The second thing you have to do is believe. The third thing is confess. Now I know that in some cases there’s been what I call an excessive and unscriptural emphasis on confessing. But the fact of the matter is confessing is still very scriptural. You can abuse anything. You can carry anything to extremes and people regularly do. But don’t let the fact that some people have maybe abused this truth keep you from enjoying it.
Let’s turn to Romans 10:9–10. That’s the middle of a sentence. One of the problems with Paul was he wrote such long sentences. We won’t go into the whole of it, we’ll just start in the middle of it.
“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus [it’s better to say Jesus as Lord], and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
That means total salvation, everything that we’ve looked at. What do you have to do, what two things? You have to believe in the heart and confess with the mouth.
And then in the next verse Paul changes the order. He says:
“For with the heart one believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.”
The Greek preposition is “into salvation.” With the mouth confession is made into salvation. How do you get into salvation? You believe with the heart and you confess with the mouth. It is not enough to believe in the heart.
Nor is it enough just to confess with the mouth. We have some people who sincerely believe but they don’t have the courage to confess. And we have other people who put on the act of confessing but they don’t really believe. And neither of them get what God has promised because to get what God has promised you have to believe in the heart and confess with the mouth. That’s the way into salvation. Whatever area or aspect of salvation you have in mind, the way in is believe with the heart, confess with the mouth.
We need to be clear as to the scriptural meaning of the word confess. For many people, especially with a background in the Roman Catholic church or other liturgical churches, confession means confessing your sins. But that is only a small part of what the Bible means by confession. The word confess is derived from a Latin word which we won’t go into which means “to say the same as.” It’s the translation of the Greek word which means “to say the same as.” So confession is saying the same as.
Now saying the same as what? The answer is saying the same as God has already said in his word. Or, to say it another way, it’s making the words of your mouth agree with the written word of God. That’s confession. It’s extremely important.
I’d like you to turn to Hebrews for a moment and study what the epistle of Hebrews says about Jesus Christ as our high priest. The unique revelation of Hebrews is the high priestly ministry of Jesus. It is not really revealed anywhere else in the New Testament. But you’ll find as you study Hebrews that the high priestly ministry of Jesus on our behalf in heaven is directly connected with our confession on earth. Turn to Hebrews 3:1 for a moment.
“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest of our confession, Christ Jesus.”
Jesus is called two things there: the apostle and the high priest. As apostle he was sent forth from God the Father to do the work of redemption. As high priest he’s returned into the presence of the Father to represent before the Father those who have received his work of redemption. So he is both the apostle and the high priest.
But the writer of Hebrews calls him the high priest of our confession. That’s vital. His high priestly ministry is directly related to what we confess. When we say with our mouth the same as the Bible says, Jesus Christ acknowledges us and stands behind our confession with his authority in heaven. If we say nothing, we frustrate the ministry of our high priest. Understand that? So in a sense, his ministry as high priest on our behalf is limited by the extent of our confession.
If you turn to the next chapter of Hebrews, chapter 4 and verse 14 and following:
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, [praise God he’s a great high priest] who has passed through the heavens [into the immediate presence of God], Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.”
So first of all you confess and then what do you do? You hold fast your confession. You don’t change it. You keep on saying it. You don’t give up.
But that’s not all. You go to Hebrews 10 and we’ll just read from verse 21 which is again the middle of one of these long sentences. I want you to see the relationship between confession and the high priestly ministry of Jesus.
“And having a high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering.”
Does that tell you something? First you confess, then you hold fast your confession and then you hold it fast without wavering. What does that tell you? You’re going to encounter opposition. There will be all sorts of situations and circumstances which could cause you to change your confession.
But the New Testament says confess, hold fast, hold fast without wavering. It is an essential part of salvation. It’s not something added on. Salvation comes to those who believe in the heart and confess with the mouth. Or, with the heart one believes to righteousness but with the mouth confession is made into salvation. In other words, you come into salvation in the sense in which we’re talking about it by believing and then saying it.
Let’s think for a moment what we will say. We’re talking now about what Jesus accomplished by his death on the cross. So I say—this is one of our standard confessions and it puts together Isaiah 53:4 and 5, Matthew 8:17 and 1Peter 2:24. It’s totally based on scripture. “Jesus himself took my infirmities and bore my sicknesses, and with his wounds I am healed.” That’s my confession.
When Ruth and I conduct a healing service we usually require the people to make that confession because that qualifies them to salvation. Do you understand?
Now when you say that and you’ve got a problem in your kidneys you say, “Jesus himself [and remember the emphasis is on him] took my infirmities, bore my sicknesses, and with his wounds I am healed.” And you still got the problem in the kidneys. Okay, so what do you do? You hold fast your confession. You’ve still got the problem in the kidneys. So what do you do? You hold fast the confession without wavering. That’s right. Can you understand this is a battle. Believe me, and I know from experience, pressing your way into healing can be a tremendous battle.
The writer of Hebrews said to the Hebrew Christians, “You have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” We’re used to the idea that we have to strive against sin but we also have to strive against sickness. We have to fight. We are soldiers. We do not lie down and let the devil walk over us, that’s not glorifying to God.
Now I’m not going to focus exclusively on physical healing but it’s a thing that touches most people where they’re at. What about our financial needs? Well, Ruth and I have already demonstrated that but we’ll do it again. For us this is important. This is not just a ritual, this is our way of releasing the treasures that God has in his storehouse for our ministry. God spoke to us and told us that he had made full provision for everything he’d asked us to do. But to obtain the full provision we have to believe and confess. What are we going to say? We make it personal. This is 2Corinthians 9:8.
“God is able to make all grace abound toward us, that we always, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. Amen.”
While we’re here we’ll do a little more. We have so many and I think it will just kind of take some of the pressure off if we do a few more. We do one from Deuteronomy 33:25 and following, it’s in the NIV which is the version Paul used! We make it personal. It says you, we say we.
“The bolts of our gates will be iron and bronze, and our strength will equal our days. There is no one like the God of Jeshurun who rides on the heavens to help us, and on the clouds in his majesty. The eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out our enemies before us saying, Destroy him. Amen.”
Glory to God! Wait a minute, we’ll do one more. I feel so much better. The thing is I don’t want to cheat you people out of it. Now we’ll do 2Corinthians 2:14. We’ll do the Old King James first.
“Now thanks be unto God who always causes us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place.”
You’ll notice it’s always and in every place. That leaves out no time and no place. Now we’ll do the NIV.
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ, and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.”
And we add one more verse to this one
“For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”
Thank you so much.
Now we have a repertoire but this is not a religious exercise. This is part of a warfare that we’re in. We are shortly going on a ministry trip that will take us to Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and Indonesia. Now those are countries where there are tremendously powerful forces of darkness. But we have said God will drive out our enemies before us saying, Destroy him. Now if we only said it with our mouths it wouldn’t work. You have to believe it in your heart. But if we only believed it in our hearts we wouldn’t get the full benefit. We have to believe with the heart and confess with the mouth.
Now you can go down the list. I haven’t prepared this but let’s consider you’re having a struggle with condemnation. The devil is accusing you of all sorts of things. But you turn to Isaiah 53:10 and 2Corinthians 5:21 and you say, “Jesus was made sin with my sinfulness that I might be made righteous with his righteousness. Listen devil, you can accuse me as much as you like but it’s a waste of time accusing the righteousness of Jesus. That’s what you’re up against.” But it’ll not really be yours if you just think it. Or even just believe it. You have to say it. When the devil came against Jesus in the wilderness Jesus answered three times, “It is written”. He spoke it out. He proclaimed the word of God.
The next thing you have to do, and we’re back with the outline after a little detour, is act. Turn to James for a moment, chapter 2 and we read a few excerpts from this passage. James 2:20:
“But do you want to know, O foolish man , that faith without works is dead.”
Faith without corresponding action is dead.
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works by his actions, when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?”
And then we go on to verse 25:
“Likewise was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works, when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without corresponding action is dead.”
So once you’ve repented and believed and confessed, at some point you’re going to have to act your faith out. That’s the acid test. Will you act it out?
Just to go back to something I said yesterday, you remember how I described how I received healing in the hospital by going to Proverbs 4:20–22:
“My son, attend to my words, incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thy heart. They are life to those that find them, and health [or medicine] to all their flesh.”
So I decided to take God’s word as my medicine. Being a medical orderly [or a hospital attendant] I knew how people take medicine; three times daily after meals. So that’s what I did. I took God’s word as my medicine three times daily after meals. And I was healed.
See, it’s important to get out of being passive. Passivity is a tremendous spiritual problem. I didn’t work this out, I didn’t understand the principles, the Holy Spirit prompted me. But I didn’t just lie there in the hospital and say, “I believe God is going to heal me.” I said, “God, I’m taking your word as medicine.” Three times every day I acted and that’s what changed me from being passive to being active.
So at some point whatever line of faith you’re following, whatever area of salvation you’re moving into, you’re going to have to act.
Let me warn you. Very rarely, although it may be sometimes, is a negative action an expression of faith. I’ve met many people who say, “I believe God is going to heal me, I’m not going to the doctor.” Well, generally speaking, not going to the doctor is not having faith. Do you understand? Some people don’t go to the doctor because they’re afraid of what the doctor would tell them if they go. Faith is positive. I believe it’s possible to have faith and go to the doctor. It just depends on how the Holy Spirit leads you. We can’t tie the Holy Spirit down to one system. God healed me that time by taking his word as medicine. Other times he’s healed me other ways. The Holy Spirit is the one who shows us what we have to do. But sooner or later you’re going to come up against this principle. You’ve got to act your faith out.
You believe God is going to provide for you. That’s wonderful, they’re taking a missionary offering and the Holy Spirit says put in your last $100. Okay. That’s your act of faith. Are you going to do it or not? We’re not going to take an offering so don’t get nervous! But you see, at some point you’ve got to pass out of the passive “I believe” attitude into an attitude where you actually act.
A man came to me once in a church and said, “I’m sick, I want you to anoint me with oil.” Then he said, “I don’t know if I have any faith.” I said, “Brother, your coming to be anointed is your faith.” It’s the act that is the faith.
You’ve all heard of Smith Wigglesworth I’m sure, the pioneer Pentecostal evangelist? I came to the Lord through people who were the fruits of his ministry. I never knew him personally but before he got saved he was a plumber, he couldn’t even read the New Testament. I’m not suggesting that plumbers can’t read the New Testament! He had a very low level of education. He was one of those English people, of whom there are a good many, who put in the H where it doesn’t belong and leave out the H where it does belong. He was preaching one day to people and he was trying to get them acting their faith and he said, “Faith is a hact.” And he said, “They’re not believing it, they need to hear it twice.” So he called the other preacher who happened to be a teacher of elocution and said, “You stand there and I’ll stand here. I say faith is a hact and you say faith is a hact.” Well the teacher of elocution copied him exactly and after that everybody knew that faith is a hact, you understand?
But it’s true. At some point you’ve got to get off the sitting posture or the lying posture and do something. And it often doesn’t matter what you do. I think about the ministry of Elijah. I think he just did anything that came to his mind. They said to him, “This spring is no good, the water is bad.” He said, “Bring me a bowl of salt.” He threw the salt in and said, “Thus saith the Lord, the waters are healed.” And they’ve been healed ever since, you can go to Elijah’s springs today, it’s still healed.
Another time the Bible school student said, “I lost the head of my axe, it went down in the waters of the Jordan.” Well if you’ve ever been in the Jordan you know it’s about three or four inches deep and mud at the bottom. You’ll never get an axehead back. Elijah took a piece of wood, threw it in and said, “Come up,” and the axehead came up. Do you understand?
If you study the ministry of Elijah, if it ever demonstrated anything it’s demonstrated what I call the simple act of faith that releases the miracle working power of God.
There are many, many different ways. In my ministry one of the things that God has given me to do is check people’s legs. As I hold their legs, if they’re unequal, the short leg grows out. That doesn’t necessarily heal them all over but it releases faith. It brings them in touch with something beyond the natural.
We need to move on, otherwise I won’t get through it in time. What is the simplest, single act of faith that you can make—we can all make? If you can’t do anything else there’s one thing you can do. Give thanks, that’s right. And it’s really the purest expression of faith.
I always like the story of Jonah. Turn to Jonah 2 for a moment. Now Jonah is in the belly of the fish. I imagine it was very quiet and he had few movements that he could make. But, he needed faith. And if you read this second chapter he prayed about eight verses and nothing happened. And then in verse 9 he said:
“But I will sacrifice to you with the voice of thanksgiving...”
And the fish couldn’t hold him any longer. So when you get nowhere by praying, start giving thanks.
If you turn to the New Testament, John 6. One of the greatest miracles of Jesus was feeding 5,000 people with five loaves and two fishes. How did he do it? What released the miracle working power of God? If you look in John 6:11:
“And Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to the disciples.”
He didn’t pray, he just gave thanks. And this must have made a real impact on John because in the same chapter, chapter 6, verse 23 John says:
“Other boats came from Tiberius near the place where they ate bread, after the Lord had given thanks.”
So it really impacted John that he didn’t have to pray. What released that miracle? Giving thanks.
And in John 11—it’s interesting how a different writer could pick up different themes. John 11, when Jesus outside the tomb of Lazarus, verse 41. And you know the story, he’d been there four days dead.
“Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying, and Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, Father, I thank you that you heard me.”
That’s all he did. That tremendous miracle was released by that simple phrase “I thank you.”
In closing this let me give you one other piece of advice. We’re talking about appropriating total salvation which is everything that was accomplished by the death of Jesus on the cross. You need to bear that in mind. One other very important thing is keep your eye on Jesus and the cross. In John 3:14–15 Jesus is teaching about the purpose of his sacrificial death. And he says:
“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
So he takes an example from the story of Moses and the serpent of bronze in the wilderness.
Now this is very briefly related in Numbers 21. Let’s turn there for a moment. We’ll read from verse 5 through verse 9.
“And the people spoke against God, and against Moses, Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.”
Now they were complaining. How many of you realize that complaining is a serious sin?
“So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, and many of the people of Israel died.”
Bear in mind it’s very dangerous to complain. What’s the alternative to complaining? Giving thanks and praising. That’s right.
“Therefore the people came to Moses and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. Then the Lord said to Moses, Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole, and it shall be that every one who is bitten, when he looks at it shall live. So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole, and so it was if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.”
The phrase “he lived” means two things. He was physically healed and his sin was forgiven. Actually, the emphasis is on the healing, not the forgiveness. Jesus said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so also the Son of man must be lifted up.” In other words, to accomplish what was accomplished through the type of the bronze serpent which was, forgiveness and what? I didn’t hear you. Are you really convinced of that? It will make all the difference for the rest of your life if you are. It’s such a clear example.
Now what did the people have to do? Well, according to God’s instructions, Moses made a emblem in bronze of the thing that was the cause of their problem which was the snake. Bronze in the Bible is usually a type of judgment. So when he put the bronze snake up on a pole, high up, it spoke of God’s judgment on the sin that had caused them to be bitten by the snake. And when they looked at the sin judged on the pole, they lived. That’s all they had to do. They didn’t have to say a prayer, they didn’t have to go through some ablution with water. They just had to look. And every one who looked lived.
Now in the National Gallery of Great Britain in London there’s a celebrated painting by the Dutch artist Ruben of this scene. And he must have been gripped by it because there is the brazen serpent on the pole and various groups of Israelites all around. But in the forefront there is a mother with a little baby, sick baby, in her arms. And it is made so clear she is doing everything she can to get the baby to look at the serpent on the pole. And it’s such a vivid illustration of the fact that no one else can look for you. A mother can’t look for her child, the husband can’t look for his wife, each one has to look individually.
The application, I think, in the light of what we studied is very clear. We have to look to Jesus crucified and see in him our sicknesses, our poverty, our sin, everything in him. And because it’s in him we don’t have to bear it. See how simple that is?
We’ve come almost to the end of our time. I want to give you a little immediate practical application. I want you to look at that list that’s in front of you of the different exchanges, the exchange that took place, and I want you to come up for yourself with some phrase of thanksgiving by which you express your faith and appropriate what God has done for you. All right? Each one of you, just for a moment or two. Like, “I thank you Jesus that you were made sin with my sinfulness that I might be made righteous with your righteousness.” All right? And you don’t need to say it very loud but just say it out loud enough to hear yourself. Address the words to Jesus. You’re looking away from yourself. There’s no solution in you. The more you talk about your problems, generally speaking, the deeper you are in them.
Anybody want to volunteer? Stand up and say what you think. All right, say it out loud so that everybody can hear. Stand up. Turn around so the people can hear. Praise God, amen. That was a really good one. It was original. I think we’ve got time for one more. Anybody? That’s a wonderful application because that’s making your sins specific. Anybody else want to volunteer? Yes. Stand up and turn around so that the people can see you. Praise God, amen.
Do you people have wives? Your wives are going to be happy from now on. Somebody else? Turn around. Amen.
Let’s just end by thanking the Lord together for a moment and then we’ll close. “Thank you, Jesus, thank you. Praise your name. Thank you Lord Jesus, we give you the praise, the honor and the glory.” God bless you, God willing we’ll meet again same place, same time—tomorrow.
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