Program Air Date - 3-11-01


Thank you for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. We are excited to have you with us for this time of offering and encouragement, as we participate in the things of God. We are glad that you have joined us for this worship to our God.

Our commitment this morning is to give glory to God through the singing or songs of praise and through the study of His Word. I hope each of us will do our part to make this service acceptable in His sight. Now will you bow with me in prayer.

The Bible often talks about the two different parts that exist in each man! One is the physical or the fleshly part of man. And the other is the spiritual or the godly part of man. The Bible often talks about a man's soul and how that it belongs to God and thus will be eternal. The only problem is the Bible also says that a soul can reap destruction if it does not live according to the Will of the Creator. So, this morning, where is your soul headed?

At this time we want to sing a comforting song about those who have secured their souls in Christ. Won't you join in with the congregation at this time, as we together sing, "It Is Well With My Soul."
(SONG # 1)


In our comments earlier this morning we have already mentioned the soul of man and we just sang together a beautiful Hymn about the proper soul before God. Now I want to read a verse in 3 John which really shows us the great love this apostle had for the one who he wrote the letter to. In fact, in verses 1 and 2, we see that John twice refers to this brother Gaius as beloved! How encouraging this title must have been to Gaius, especially coming from a man of God like John! You might also remember back in the gospel according to John where Jesus referred to Him as the beloved apostle, 13:23.

Now if you go to verse two in 3 John, we read, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers." Here we see two different aspects which John addresses to His beloved brother Gaius. First, we see that John said his prayer was that Gaius would prosper in all things and be in health. What a wondrous example we have here of the care that one Christian had for another! His request of God was that his follow laborer would be blest in everything and be healthy in his service before God.

The other thing which John addresses in this verse is Gaius's soul. John said his prayer was that Gaius would prosper in all things, as well as in health - just as he had already prospered in his soul. Now I don't know about you, but this is kind of scary to me. What if we prospered in this life and health according to what we are doing spiritually? Where would we be? What would we have?

But the fact is, this is true! God is going to bless us according to our service and obedience in His kingdom. That's why in Matthew 6:33, we are told to seek the kingdom first to have all things! Again in Luke 6:38, we read, "...For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." As we give to God we will receive from Him.

Now, for John to say this to Gaius in all prayer and confidence that he would receive it - oh, what a great man in God Gaius must have been. We all need to strive to do more for God and justify our souls before Him, so that we will prosper accordingly in relationship to our health and all things!

Today, our specific topic is, "We want to see a sign from you?" This is our next lesson in our series called "The Lord's Response." So, please continue with us this morning, and after our next song together I will return with this study from God's Word. The name of our next song is, "I Know That My Redeemer Lives!"
(SONG # 2)


Speaker: Ray Sullins

Thank you for staying with us this morning after our program now has begun and we've had good singing. We've had the opportunity to go ahead and study some things from the word of God. So we do appreciate you staying with us always for our lesson portion so that we might study together and be further encouraged and maybe be able to improve our lives because we all want to go to Heaven and we all want to do what God has asked us to do.

If you will, go ahead and get your Bibles this morning. We're going to be studying from the book of Matthew as we again consider some important questions and statements which were made not only to Jesus but also that he was able to answer once again in order to show his great wisdom, his great ability as the son of God. And I'll ask you to turn to chapter 12 of Matthew as we begin seeing a story unfold again. Actually, we've got a miracle that took place here that Jesus performed beginning about the middle of that chapter and then later we see the Pharisees response to what they at least had heard in relationship to this miracle. So we want to begin right off looking at our story and then trying to make some application for us in this present day.

If you will, look then once again at chapter 12 of the book of Matthew. We want to read beginning in verse 22. Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute, and He healed him so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, "Could this be the son of David?"

Now once right off the beginning here in the things that we see are very clear because once again a miracle was performed by Christ, miracles that we've already seen up to this point taking place off and on from the very first miracle that He performed at the wedding feast, but here we see actually a man who couldn't speak, a man that not only couldn't speak but was blind and was completely restored in all areas, in all ways, and made perfect. And in this we see that the people were greatly amazed there in the next verse and were even questioning, "Is this the son of David? Is this the one that we've heard about, the one that has been spoken about?"

But then where we really need to come in and understand our stories in verse 24 because there we have the Pharisees brought into the picture and it says, Now when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of demons." So the Pharisees, if you notice, evidently at least in this situation were not there but it says when they heard about it, what was their reply? How did they try to discredit Christ? Well the way they did it was by saying that He did it by the works of maybe another god or by Beelzebub. And if you go on to read the several verses there, the application that Christ makes in trying to answer what they said was to say that there's no way that something good can produce something bad or that something bad is going to want to produce something good. If something is done that is good such as giving someone back his sight, giving him the ability to speak, this is doing a good thing, thus being from God. Whereas as opposed, why would Beelzebub or something that is not really of the true God, why would it want to or be able to for that matter do anything that was such a wondrous thing or such a righteous thing.

Now, in all of these ideas, and as we present these right at the outset of our lesson, it's important to understand them because it really puts the setting out for what we are discussing this morning because it was later in this chapter that we actually find out a statement that was made to Jesus, a statement that was made in the form of something that they wanted, really in the form of a question I think that we might even could say there. Because here again, we've had a man who was healed, the Pharisees after they heard it, were trying to discredit Him. He answered them properly. People were amazed at what they had seen, what they had heard. They understood that truly no one could do such wondrous things unless they were from God, such holy and righteous and perfect things. And then we come down to about verse 38 and we really are brought into the question that we mentioned earlier this morning or the statement that you might hear as we read this and it says there, Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered saying, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from you." Now there it is. "We want to see a sign from you." Here they had heard about the sign. They had been told of what had taken place. They had discredited Jesus. But now they said, "We want to see a sign from you. We don't want to just hear about it or know that maybe you've done this in the past or that you might do this in the future. We want to see it ourselves."

Now as you think about the story here again as it unfolds, you think about the miracles. This reminds me really of a lot of things that take place today and we're going to come back in just a moment and answer according to what Jesus said, these things that were brought before Him. But let's then just look briefly at this concept of miracles because we do see this very prevalent by many religious groups in our day and time as they strive to again still claim to have the abilities that they had in the early times, that Jesus had, that the apostles had, in order that they might do many of these great and these wondrous works. What was the purpose of these miracles? Well, I want you to turn with me over to the book of John because in the book of John and chapter 20, we find there a very clear statement again about why these things were done, the purpose, and how they should be perceived by those who saw them.

In John chapter 20, read with me if you will verses 30 and 31. It says there, And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples which are not written in this book, but these are written that you may believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and that believing you may have life in His name. Here we have it. We find that the purpose was belief, was trying to confirm the word, to do those things that were according to God, that were along the lines of what God wanted to really make people understand who Jesus Christ was. That's why they performed the miracles. It wasn't only because they cared or because they saw needs and they were willing to meet those needs, but they did these miracles again because they wanted people to believe. And when they proclaimed the word of God, the way that they proved that they were from God is by doing these great and wondrous works.

That's again what it says in the book of Mark. If you'll look in Mark chapter 16 and verse 20. It says, And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Very, very clearly here we find the purpose of these miracles were to prove the words that came out of their mouths, that they were from who? That they again were from God. Why would that be necessary? Well, you and I understand that at that time they did not have what we have today, the revelation, the complete revelation that was delivered as we read in the Bible. The perfect revelation, as we read in James chapter 1 and verse 25. That which is perfect. It has come. And we understand that to be the case because even Paul told us that at some point when there was something that was perfect which would come that there would no longer be a need that is for these great miracles or this type of proof because all things would be revealed.

And that's what he talked about and you might remember that from a series we had last year on love as we talked there from 1 Corinthians chapter 13, and understood there that these miracles would cease. Read with me if you will chapter 13, a few verses here anyway from 1 Corinthians, and let's begin at verse 8 as it says, Love never fails, but whether there are prophecies, they will fail. Whether there are tongues, they will cease. Whether there is knowledge, that is special knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part but when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. You see, we no longer need to confirm for somebody that this is God's word because we have it right here, the completeness, the proof, as we read in the book of Timothy. Timothy tells us that all scripture is from God. It gives us everything we need. It completely furnishes us and we read that verse here a lot on this program, because again, the program is called "The Living Word". Everything we're about in the churches of Christ is about the Bible, the word of God, the final authority, what He wants us to do and how He wants us to do it.

Now as we continue thinking about these ideas of miracles, in the lesson that I actually looked at as I actually was preparing, I found some good ideas that were mentioned here in relationship to what miracles were like in the New Testament and I liked them very much. There were a lot of very interesting ones because to me they really contradict what we find today in our present time and what people claim that they can do miracles. One thing though is that miracles were instantaneous. Jesus didn't say, "Well maybe this is going to happen after I lay hands on you or maybe you're going to be healed at a later date." They happened immediately. Now how often do you see somebody head into the hospital and maybe do something like that today? They were instantaneous.

Some other ideas. They were done by those who had faith but at some times we see that they were done because of the faith of others. Sometimes the ones who were healed didn't even have a faith, but maybe the parents or someone else who came to them having a great faith, then it was bestowed and their prayers were answered according to what they asked of Jesus.

So again, we find very clearly there that faith was a requirement at times, but sometimes a faith was not involved on the part of actually the one healed, but there was a belief and need by someone at some point. They were very public. They weren't in private. They weren't something that again we said is going to happen here and then nobody will know about it. It was always known. Why? Because again of the need for those to believe. It was always something which was complete, perfect, whole. There was never that a man's hand would be healed and just a little of it would be healed and the rest would still be somehow maimed. But again, they were complete. They were perfect. And on and on we could go about these miracles trying to again understand and really confirm that these things were done to the glory of God, to the glory of Christ. They were done really again to confirm really who Jesus was being the son of God on the earth.

So now as we go back to our lesson and our text this morning, in Matthew chapter 12, and we think about what was taking place in that day and time. We know that these miracles did meet these qualifications. They were instantaneous. They were of God. They were powerful. They were complete. They were perfect. They were wondrous in all senses of the word. And they were true to life because they were individuals who were known to be sick, who had been sick a long time and then they were healed and there was only one way that could have happened and it only could have come from God.

Now again as we look in the text, we know that these things did take place. Why? Because there in verse 22, we know that the blind man, the mute man was given his sight and was able to speak. Not only that, but we go on now here in verse 38, we see that the Pharisees say, "Why can't we have a sign?" Well, go on with me and look at some of the things that Jesus said in the following verses beginning in verse 39. But Jesus answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah, for Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Now as we begin looking at this story of Jonah, really here what Jesus is trying to remind them of is that the Jews themselves, the people of God, even back at Ninevah had rejected Him, rejected the Father's will. Even Jonah, if you'll remember, had rejected the will of God and even the power of God and it took him seeing a sign before they received Him and then some knowing what had happened to Jonah received the will that Jonah had presented of God also but we see that many still rejected. In fact, many in Ninevah rejected the things that came before them that were of God. In verse 41, it goes on to say here, The men of Ninevah will rise up in judgment with the generation and condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah and indeed a great greater than Jonah is here. Again, being the son of God. Someone who is greater. You see, there at that time they saw a miracle. Many responded. Today at this point, they saw a miracle. Many responded, but the Pharisees, the very people of God who should have been the most responsive, were they believing it? No. What were they doing? They were saying, "Lord, we want to see it." Why did they need to see it? They had grown up knowing about all the wondrous works there in Egypt that Moses did, all the wondrous things under the periods of the judges and the kings. All the way up to the New Testament, we find out about the great sacrifice made on the cross. The miracles that were performed. They saw these things. They knew them with their own hearts, and minds and souls. They knew that they had to have been real. They knew about the prophecies. But still what did they do? Lord, show us more.

That reminds me of the rich man Lazarus. You might remember that story and how the rich man said, "Lord, send somebody back. My family needs to hear." And they said, "Well, if they wouldn't hear what they've already heard, if they won't respond to what they've already seen, if they can't know what the miracles are all about now that are before them, why would they hear somebody from the dead? Why be like that? How many today do you know in this world, in Springfield who have the very same problem? They've got the proof in their hand, the word of God. They've seen it. They've seen it act in the lives of others. They've been able to experience it when they do what God has asked them to do but they still say, "Lord, show me another sign."

Let's choose as people who love God not to be weak but to have a great enough faith to know not only what we believe and what God wants us to believe, but to show the whole world through our life that everything we do will be to His glory, and hopefully bring others with us to that glorious home in Heaven.

(SONG # 3 - "I'll Fly Away!")

Again, let me thank you for choosing to be with us this morning. I hope we all have been encouraged through our time spent together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God.
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May we all have a greater faith to believe that God did and can do all that He says. May we also help the world to see and believe in the wondrous power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
(Program closing)