THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date – 12-6-09
LESSON TITLE: “THE NEW COVENANT…SPEAKS BETTER THINGS: BETTER NOT TO HAVE KNOWN”
Good morning! Let me welcome each of you to our program this morning. It is always a privilege to have you with us to hear the Living Word of God. We are excited that you have chosen to give this time of sacrifice to our God. Won’t you take advantage of every opportunity this morning to give your own reverence to God, as we together offer this time of worship to Him. May all things be done, to God, for God and unto His glory? Let’s begin our offering to God with a prayer!
Now it’s time to praise our God through song. So, won’t you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, “I Know Whom I Have Believed?”
(SONG # 1)
One of our greatest opportunities and privileges as Christians is to share the message of God with the world. Thus, it is our hope and prayer that together we are able on a regular basis to confirm that God has certainly revealed to us His truths which we can know unto salvation. Furthermore, I hope that we all accept that when God has shown us what to do, that He requires that we obey His Pattern. Thanks are to God that all these teachings are confirmed for us in the Bible.
I love the way that Paul put it in 2 Timothy 1:13, there we read, “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” Here we find that this inspired writer confirms that there is a pattern which confirms God’s Will to man and it is based on the “sound words” which come from God.
You might also remember that in Acts 2:42, we read, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” What was this “apostle’s doctrine?” Where did it come from? The answer is God!
Everything the apostles did, knew and believed came directly from God the Father through the Holy Spirit. We know this to be true because He was promised to them by Jesus Himself. In John 14:26, Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
Thanks be to God that He has given us the truth in His Word, which was first delivered by His Son, through the apostles. Today we can know the truth which makes us free, John 8:32! We can obey that which was delivered through Christ unto all man! We can adhere to the pattern of God’s Doctrines, which are revealed to us in the great Book or Books! Have you submitted to the Will of God? If not, choose today to do God’s Will and to accept nothing less than to do that which He has commanded of us! Can you be satisfied with what God requires?
As far as our main study of the day, we will be continuing our study entitled, “The New Covenant… Speaks Better Things.” Our specific lesson of the morning will deal with the Biblical thought, “Better Not To Have Known”. So please stay with us this morning and after our next song together, I will be leading us in our main thoughts of the day. But for now let’s join together in our second song of the morning. The name of this hymn, “I will Sing The Wondrous Story.”
(SONG # 2)
By Ray Sullins
In 2 Peter chapter 2 and verse 21 the Bible says, “For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than having known it to turn from the holy commandments delivered to them.”
Thank you for continuing with us this morning as we now return to our series concerning “Better things.” We begin by looking at the concept of the New Covenant in and throughout the book of Hebrews that expresses to us why it is so much better than the Old Law or any other covenant of any age. We have seen many lessons based on the fact that the covenant is certainly founded on better promises, better sacrifices, better Christ. It is better in so many aspects as far as hope and promises and on and on we have gone. But today what we would like to do is to continue what we began last week and find out a few more places that describe to us why things are better or why things should be better or how they could be better if we would only learn simple Biblical truths that are revealed to us by our God. And so the truth that we consider today found in this text, 2 Peter chapter 2 and verse 21, states that “it would have been better.” In other words, if we do one thing, it is good, it’s better, but it would be better if we had not maybe done this thing. And so what is it that he is dealing with here? What is it that he is talking about? He actually states that it would have been better if they had not known the way or righteousness than what? Than having known it. That means to know of it, to respond to it, and to do what? To be delivered or to turn away from it. So what is the challenge that we begin to find here? The challenge of knowing that after we have understood the covenant of Christ, after we have heard it and responded to it that we hold on strongly to what God has blessed us with.
In fact, that really is what is spoken of throughout this entire context. If you’ll back up with me to verse 20 notice what the Bible says. “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, if they are again entangled in the them and overcome the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.” Oh doesn’t that tie beautifully in with what we have just read in verse 21? He says that if after they have escaped the world and its pollution. How do we escape the world? How do we escape the pollutions of the world? We follow God! We respond to the beautiful message of Christ and we obey faithfully what He has commanded to be called a child. So he says that it would have been better, verse 21, if they had never known than to know and to turn away from God.
If you’ll also notice here it states in verse 20 that, “The end is going to be (what?) worse for them than the beginning.” Why is the end worse? Why are these things so? Because you and I know that someday all men will stand before the judgment seat of Christ after we die (Hebrews 9:27). When we stand there before God, we will either be justified or condemned based on our actions and works in relationship to how we have served God according to His Will. And so therefore if I have escaped the pollutions of the world, and I have got away from those things that have separated me from God, such as sin, and then I return to it, oh how sickening that is to God to know that someone has loved Him, that someone knows the truth, that someone knows of salvation and eternal life, that someone knows the distinction between eternal life with God and eternal damnation in Hell and yet, they still choose sin, and yet they still want their own selfish way and desires. Oh how clear this passage is in helping us to see the great warning through Peter that the Holy Spirit gives. Beware! Beware because if you have escaped the world and you return to the vomit, then it is even worse for you at that point than ever before.
I want you to notice that very example that is found in the next verse, verse 22, because there he actually states two examples showing us what it is like. What is it like when a man comes to God and obeys, but then at one point returns to the pollutions or wickedness of the world. If you’ll look at verse 22 the Bible says, “But it has happened to them according to the true Proverb.” Of course referring to Proverbs 26:11 where it states, “A dog returns to its own vomit and a sow having washed to her wallowing in the mire.” You know isn’t that a strange thing in the world, in life? We probably no doubt have seen a pig after maybe being clean to just get down in the mud and get so dirty and how really repulsive. Why would it want to be dirty and muddy? Or a dog after having regurgitated going and lapping that up. How sickening! Well what do you think God feels when someone who has come and obeyed rejects Him?
So what is it that we learn? What is the challenge that He is giving here? It would have been better if they had never known. What does this teach us? It teaches us a lot about our God. It teaches us a lot about the warning of God through Peter, but it also teaches us the truth of scripture. Is it possible that someone leave the fold of God? Well certainly it is despite the fact that many in the religious world and many denominations seem to preach otherwise. The concepts that “once saved, always saved.” Or the fact that somehow after I have become a child of God that I could never fall away. How many examples in scripture does one have to consider before they realize how false that doctrine is? Isn’t it significant that Peter here warns that if you fall away after turning to God and leaving the pollutions of the world…? Why warn us Peter? Why warn us if it is not possible? The fact is that if it is not possible then Peter was lying, the Holy Spirit was lying and Christ is lying. If that is true, should we follow God? Why would Jesus lead us in a warning that cannot take place? The fact is that He wouldn’t! Jesus doesn’t try to deceive us or to have us follow through deception or to tell us a lie that we might believe. God is the truth giver, the one who tells us all that is right. If we can’t trust God, who can we trust? Well here the Holy Spirit warns us to beware! If you are a follower of God and you fall away, it would have been better that you had never have known of God. You will be punished.
We could look at many stories throughout the scriptures. We could look at the story of the prodigal son, of man, there referencing the father to God who has two sons, and what happens to one? Well they are both in the fold, the family. They are both blessed in the family. He says I want my inheritance and he leaves the father. What does he do eventually? He returns to the fold of God. What is the symbolism? Someone in the kingdom, someone in the family, someone of God who leaves God but finally wakes up and says, “I need to go home.”
What is it that Jesus was talking about for instance in Matthew chapter 7 when he stated there in verse 21, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the Will of My Father in Heaven?” Then He actually goes on to say that, “There will be many in that day who will say, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not cast out demons in your name? Have we not done these wonderful works?’” Then what is the result? Verse 23, He says to them, “I say depart from Me. I never knew you.” Why? “You have practiced lawlessness.” The reality is that one can scream out the name of God and praise Him or follow Him of claim to be a child of God and yet they are not following Him properly or they have followed and then fallen away.
Let’s look at some more passages because I don’t want you to take my word for it or the Holy Spirit’s word only in Peter or what Jesus said although these are certainly clear enough. But let’s see what some of the other writers said that were also being led clearly by the Holy Spirit to pen these things that completely furnish us (2 Timothy 3:16) unto all things and unto a complete and perfect knowledge of what God wants.
First of all, Galatians 5. How interesting here in Galatians chapter 5 that we are dealing with a problem of the Jews, Jewish Christians, those who have turned away from Judaism and began to follow Christ, but there is something they are doing that is not right. If we had time we would read the whole context, but we don’t. I just want you to notice what he is dealing with in verse 2. He says, “Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised Christ will profit you nothing.” The Jews were trying to tell even the Gentiles that in Christ you must be circumcised as was from the beginning there in the Law of Moses. Well he says, “Not so, not so according to the Law.” Because of what? Because of Christ. “In Christ,” verse 6 says, “Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.” Later the author goes on to say that if you want to have a circumcision under Christ, make it of the heart, not the flesh because following Christ is about the heart and not the physical things.
But now I want you to notice a verse that I skipped over purposely there in verse 4. He states this. “You,” Who? You Jews. You who? Or rather chapter 6 and verse 1 says, “Brethren.” If you back up to verse 15 of chapter 3 he says, “Brethren.” The point is he is talking to Christians. “You have become estranged from Christ.” You who do what? “Attempt to become justified by the Law.” But now I want you to hear what he says to these Jews who are holding on to circumcision in the Law and will not let it go for the sake of Christ. Look at verse 4 at the end. “Therefore you have fallen from grace.” In order to fall, where must you be? You must be in something or on something to fall. You can’t be falling off of a truck that you are not on! This says these Jews, brethren, Christians that Paul was addressing needed to turn away from those things that would cause them to do what? Fall! Is Paul lying? Is the Holy Spirit lying through Paul and suggesting that something could happen that really couldn’t happen if you are a real Christian? Well these were real Christians alright and they were being warned with something that we need to be warned of. Be careful because Satan is strong and he can lead any of us away from the fold of God. So let’s be strong!
I also love the way that the Hebrew writer put it. I believe that Paul also was the writer of Hebrews but none the less, we know that whatever the case be it is an inspired book that has stood the test of time for thousands of years. There in chapter 6 I want you to notice what is being addressed here in this context. The fact that there were those who were becoming weak in Christ and they were just as elementary in their beliefs and teachings as the day they had become Christians, but yet they had been Christians for a long time. And so what is the warning in verse 4? He says there, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened…” In other words, they have seen the light. They have tasted. They have actually taken of, and you don’t taste something until it is in your mouth. They have tasted of the heavenly gift and they have become partakers of the Holy Spirit and they have also tasted of the good Word to come. They have responded. These are people who have seen the light, who have done what God has said, and if you’ll back up again throughout the text, guess what they are called- brethren! Brethren!
But then notice with me what he says in verse 6. “If they fall away.” What can happen? It is possible that we fall away. It is possible that we live our lives in such a way after having left the pollutions of the world, after having our eyes opened, after tasting of the heavenly gift and responding to what God has given… If you offer me a gift and I take it, and I eat and I taste it, I have received it and done my part, but then if I fall away, oh my, it would have been better if I had never have known God than to spit on Him knowing the Truth, than to mock Jesus on the cross having been a child of God. Oh what a sad thing. What a disgusting thing in the eyes of God and certainly how clear it is to see the displeasure of God to see those who choose self of sin over Him.
No wonder we read there the familiar text in Galatians again, or rather Ephesians and chapter 2. We find here Paul challenging us to understand that yes we are saved by grace, the same grace that Paul said to the Galatians that we can fall from. He says we are saved by grace, but verse 8 says, “Through faith.” Then he explains to us that it is a gift. The next verse, 9, says, “It is not of our own works. There’s nothing you or I could ever do to earn salvation because we cannot have God owe us anything or do works great enough that He owes us because He has done too much that we could ever repay Him. So it is not about works. It is about grace. But our faith is our part. Grace is the gift of God. Faith is my reaction.
You know there are those who say that works aren’t necessary, although James chapter 2 verse 26 says, “Faith without works is dead.” He says, “The devils believe.” He says there in verse 18, “You show me your faith without works and I’ll show you my faith by works.” Look with me here in the same text after he says that, “By grace you are saved through faith, not of works lest you boast.” Look at verse 10. “For we are the workmanship created by God.” Why are we created by God? “For good works.” That we might do what? “Walk in them.”
Are we willing to do the good works of God? Are we willing to continue in them faithfully no matter what will come? Are we ready to prepare and to defend our faith so that we will not fall away, so that we will not fall prey to the devil, so that we will not lose our reward, so that we will not be those who find ourselves wanting in the end or lost, those who have left that reward? We need to be strong in Christ doing whatever it takes to serve Him because in this life, we will be blessed for doing such and eternally we will have a home with God if we remain faithful until death. Are you willing to give your God what He deserves today?
(SONG # 3 – “All The Way My Savior Leads Me!”)
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in this offering to God. I hope our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to all of us. We invite you back every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this worship to God!
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How wonderful it is to know that God has promised us a great reward at the end of this life. Furthermore, how wonderful it is to know how much God cares for us as the faithful. Will you live today, so that at the judgment you will be rewarded with Eternal Life?