A number of years ago I happened to go to the post office on April 15, Tax Day. As you may have guessed, it was quite busy. People were hustling in and out to get their taxes in before the deadline. For the convenience of those last minute tax payers, there was a hotdog stand set up just outside the post office.
If I hadn’t just ordered a pizza I would have picked up a few and brought them home for my family.
But as I looked around I noticed that there weren’t all that many people scooping up these free hotdogs. I wondered what was making people refuse such a good thing? It sure wasn’t because there was a lack of people. The place was bustling like a bee hive. Certainly there couldn’t have been that many people on their way to the pizzeria. For some reason, many people refused the free offer that was set before them.
Now whether or not someone takes a free hotdog is of minor importance. But there are other offers that are much more significant, and how you respond to them is of great significance. Take for instance the offer of an extension on filing your taxes. If you don’t take the government up on that offer you’re going to be in for a lot of trouble, perhaps even to the point where you are put in jail.
But there are free offers that are of even greater importance. As a matter of fact we find the most important one right here in our passage this evening. In verse 15 it says, “This is a trustworthy saying deserving of full acceptance, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” This verse proclaims God’s free offer of salvation. In essence it says, if you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, God will forgive you of your sins and will give you eternal life.
But you know what? A lot of people don’t take advantage of that offer. The promise of eternal life is refused like one of those postal hotdogs. No matter how many times God offers to save people from eternal condemnation, people still refuse it.
You have to wonder, “What makes people do that?” Tonight I want to consider with you that very question. What makes us refuse God’s offer of salvation?
As I see it, and, as our passage puts before us, there are three ways we can refuse God’s offer of salvation. You can say, “I don’t need it” “I can’t have it”, or “I don’t want it
For the last couple of weeks we have been involved in a series of messages that I have entitled “Building a gospel based church.” We’re making out aim to be a gospel centered church and we are looking at this epistle as the blueprints for our church. The pastoral epistles basically lay out for us what a gospel based church looks like.
Paul is a guy who loves to talk about the gospel. And there were people in Ephesus who were more concerned about the law. As a matter of fact, they were so enamored with the law that Paul calls them “teacher of the law.” That was probably a derogatory term.
Now, the problem wasn’t that the loved the law. The problem was that they were using the law in the wrong way. They had begun to confuse the law and the gospel. The law was their gospel. The gospel was being nullified because they were teaching that the law was a way of salvation.
They say that when you are driving you shouldn’t take your eyes off the road for more than a second. I remember learning that in Drivers Ed. The sad thing is I don’t always do that. That’s because I get sidetracked pretty easily.
One time my brother asked me if I could drive him to a friend’s house. On the way we came to a stoplight. I saw the light was red, so I started slowing down. The bad thing was I didn’t see the car in front of me. For some reason my brother and I were looking at the gas station there on the corner. I don’t remember what exactly had caught my attention. It might have been the price of gas or maybe I was looking for an air pump. I do remember thinking how stupid it would sound to say to the guy whose bumper I rammed into that I wasn’t paying attention.
Thankfully I wasn’t going that fast and there wasn’t any damage to either of our cars. But it illustrates well the danger of becoming distracted.
What holds true for the road can also be said for the church. The church is always in danger of becoming distracted. And we have to guard against that. If we lose our focus there can be serious consequences. How can I say that? Because it almost happened to the Ephesian church.
The passage before us addresses a church that was in danger of imploding. They were getting sidetracked and were in danger of not being a gospel based church anymore. It was so bad that Paul had to send Timothy special directives on how to deal with the problem.
If we want to be a gospel based church, it is important that we not become distracted. And as we look at this passage, we can glean some lessons on where our focus is to be.
A number of years ago I happened to go to the post office on April 15, otherwise known as Tax Day. I had to pick up some mail, and, as you may have guessed, it was quite busy. People were hustling in and out to get their taxes in before the deadline.
For the convenience of those last minute tax payers, there was a hotdog stand set up just outside the post office. Anyone who was rushing to get their taxes done and didn’t have time for dinner could pick up a hotdog. The best part is that they were free. If I hadn’t just ordered a pizza I would have picked up a few and brought them home for Elizabeth and Katelyn. (Don’t worry, honey, I’ll take care of dinner tonight!).
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.