30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM
Clarksville church of Christ
June 25, 2000
Speaker: Richie Thetford
Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" I'm Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, thanking you for tuning in this morning to WAVG radio to listen to another truth of God's word. Now at this time I want to encourage you to get your Bible, pen, and pencil handy so that you can take notes on today's lesson. I once again want to thank you for listening to this morning's broadcast and hope that you are striving to know the truth and then practice the truth in your daily life. It is only the truth of God's word that can make us free (John 8:32). Every sincere, religious person will want to learn the truth in order to make sure that his call and election is sure (2 Pet 1:10).
Now let's get into our lesson of the hour entitled "Come Unto Me." Jesus Christ lived in northern Palestine, in the little town of Nazareth near the sea of Galilee. It was here that as a small boy he laughed and cried as all boys do; here that he learned the lessons of life; here that he grew into the splendid man that permitted him to be constantly doing for others. It was here that, as Luke observed in chapter one, "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man." When Christ was baptized by John in the Jordan River, in that beautiful river scene that witnessed the descent of the Spirit of God in the form of a dove and heard the voice of the Father declare his confidence in his Son, he was immediately led into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. After emerging triumphant in His first great test with Satan, He was ready to begin his ministry. He went back to his native Galilee burning with his message, and dwelt in Capernaum, the capital of his own province. The writer tells us that this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Elijah the prophet. "The people which sat in darkness saw great light, and to them that sat in the region and shadow of death, light is sprung up." Luke goes on to say,"From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Friends, there is something that I want you to understand this morning: Christ has been in this valley of tears all along the way. He knows the heartache and the sorrow, the joy and the happiness of man who dwells in the flesh here below. That is why he is a mediator or a peacemaker. He is well-fitted for his task. He could lift one hand up to God, His Father, and the other down to humanity, His mother, and say, "I am come to make peace." That is why Paul declares in Hebrew 4: 15, "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin."
Jesus wanted to take the glorious message of light and life to His own Galilee. I don't believe I need to tell you the story of Capernaum, for it is the same as Jerusalem and of the Jews. In it is summed up in this simple, dramatic, heartrending verse, "He came unto His own and His own received Him not." In the eleventh chapter of Matthew, we find one of the many sad pictures of this humble man of Galilee. He is upbraiding the cities of His own Galilee where most of His mighty works were accomplished. Listen now to the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:21-22: "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. "But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you."This sorrow was surpassed only perhaps by Gethsemane and His denunciation of Jerusalem, when from that hill without the city gates Christ cried, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" (Matt 23:37).
It was under conditions like these that He uttered the words of our text for this morning. It is found in Matthew 11: 28, 29, 30: Jesus says; "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." His burden could have been light that day but for his unlimited capacity for sorrow and his ability to conquer the very mountains of grief. Yet he who knows no rest says, "Come unto me and I will give you rest," and He, upon whom the guilt of the whole world was lain, cries out,"My yoke is easy." Friends, how much the world today needs to study the Savior's invitation! Universal in its scope, unlimited in its love, it needs to be read, considered and obeyed by every weary traveler on the highway of life. It has served for all these many years to lessen grief, to brush away the tears that fall, and to cause 'men to lift their faces heavenward to that city four-square. When all of its truths are brought to light, man understands more of his duty and is able to chart a clearer course, that there may be "light at the river, when the redeemed ones pass o'er."
Consider the first word of this great invitation, "Come." How many lessons can we find here? I present to you this morning that this single word in this connection gives us many lessons. 1) The nature of man is revealed. 2) The character of Christ is expressed. 3) The responsibility of man is emphasized.
How could the nature of man be taught in a single word? In just this way: Christ could not have stood with open arms and said, "Come" unless man was a free moral agent. Man had the right to choose between good and evil from the dawn of creation. God made him and gave him the right of choice. The Bible tells us God made man in his own image, and therefore it follows that he endowed him in a limited measure with the characteristics that he, God, possessed. Christ was a man of free moral choice when the devil carried him into the high mountain and offered him the kingdoms of the world. He was a man with the right of choice while on the pinnacle of the temple, or hungry and faced with nothing but stones. How ridiculous it would be for Christ to say, "Come," unless it was in the power of the heavy-hearted to do so. What a strange doctrine to God it is that denies man the right to come to his Son. Unconditional election and predestination originated with men and are answered in a single word of the Savior, "Come." We have all read the horror stories of the dark ages when men were shackled in a few feet of cool water. After the terrible suffering of thirst became almost unbearable, the tormentor would lift up the cooling water and hatefully say, "Come." How could any man in this enlightened age conceive of that kind of a God? Christ says, "Come," not to the unconditionally elected or predestinated, but to all who are weary and heavy-laden.
Is it any wonder then that when the time came for Joshua to make his farewell speech to his beloved people before he crossed the dark river of death, he declared (in Joshua 24:22), "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD for yourselves, to serve Him." And they said, "We are witnesses!" Not only were men free to choose then, as Adam was in Eden, but later when Elijah made his great test with the prophets of Baal, we find men were still free moral agents. When the people gathered on old Mount Carmel, here are Elijah's words as recorded in 1 Kings 18:21: "How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people answered him not a word." Paul in Philippians 2: 12, admonishes the brethren at Philippi to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. And to further prove the ability of man to come to Christ, hear the beloved apostle John in John 5:39, 40: "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. "But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life." In Matthew 28 as Christ mourns over Jerusalem, he uses these words: "You would not." Man is to decide his own destiny and sits as the master of his own fate. If you are lost in that great day, it can only be because you failed to heed the invitation of Christ, who so plainly says, "Come."
We find also in this single word much of the character of Christ. The story of the love of the Son of God for fallen man, if written part by part, would fill the shelves of the libraries of the world. He stands midway in earth's history with arms outstretched, to all of the weary and heavy-laden of earth, and says, "Come." Isaiah states in Isaiah 53: 3-5, "He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; he was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed." What more can I say? His call was not to the mighty of earth, the rich, the proud, the haughty, but to those who have tasted the cup of sorrow and dipped into the bitter spring of grief. The love story of the Son of God and the magnificent picture of his benevolence is found here as he says, "Come."
We find also the all important lesson of the responsibility of man in this simple word. It teaches us that the sinner is to come to Christ. Let me emphasize this point: Christ has already died for the sinner, now it is the sinner's time to come to Christ. God has fulfilled the divine part in the salvation of man. He sent his Son down from the glory of heaven, and His Son bled and died on the cross. After three days he broke the bonds of the tomb, gave the great commission, and was received up into glory. I present to every man with an open mind and an open Bible that this is what God did to save this sinful world. The sinner's part in the divine arrangement is clear. He is to believe that Christ is the Son of God, repent of his sins, and be baptized into Christ. It is only then that he finds that rest for which he sighs. Come--or be lost.
Not only this, but we find the invitations are not extended to infants. Infant membership and infant baptism are as far from the teaching of the Bible as night from day. Those who are weary and heavy-laden are to come. Infants in their mother's arms are neither weary nor heavy-laden in the sense that the words are used here. Infants know nothing of the cares and responsibilities of this valley of toil. Their purity and sweetness needs no improvement. The babe in his mother's arms is neither saved nor lost: It is safe. Let me repeat it. Babies do not have to be baptized, for they are neither saved nor lost, but safe. Hear the scripture of Matthew 18: 2-3, "Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."Jesus is telling them that the character of the little child is God-like, ready now for heaven's home and that they will have to become, in nature, like the child, if they are to enter in. In Matthew 19:14 hear him further: "Suffer little children and forbid them not to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven." There are other scriptures but these are enough to convert a million to the fact that there is no way under heaven to improve the character of the little child. Man must reach the age of accountability, know good from evil, hear the gospel, believe it, and obey it to be saved. The grief recorded in the text chapter is not over little children of northern Palestine, but over men and women who would not repent. They would not believe in Christ nor turn from their evil way.
Let us notice now the second and third words of this invitation: "Unto me." Christ is the only man in the world's history who could invite us. He and He alone possesses the authority to do so. I could not say "Come unto me" this morning, for I have no heaven to give. I was not crucified for mankind and they were not baptized in my name. We are to recognize and praise Him for performing these things for us. He came to the disciples in Matthew 28 to say, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Then again in Hebrews 5:8-9, the Hebrew writer declares, "though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him." Not only does He have all power, not only is He the author of eternal salvation, but he is head over all things to the church. We find this reading in Ephesians 1:22, 23: "And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." He and He alone can say,"Come unto me." Wear My name, be a part of My body, be a member of My church, and share My Father's mansions in heaven.
Notice the final promise, "I will give you rest." Observe the use of the personal pronoun I. Jesus said, "I will give you rest." Let us observe, too, that He delegated much of the work of the gospel to the apostles, the Holy Spirit, and others, but here, as in John 14, He declares His personal fulfillment of the reward. Notice the use of the pronoun I in the 14th chapter of John. "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am there you may be also."
And now, "I will give you rest." It has been suggested by some students of the Bible that the rest here in the 28th verse is simply the remission or forgiveness of sins. They hold the view that the rest for, or unto, your souls in verse 29 is the eternal rest beyond this vale of tears. This makes little difference. Man must have forgiveness from sin or the remission of sins before he can be reconciled to God. This remission of sins is found when the blood of Christ cleanses from all guilt. We come into contact with the blood where it was shed, namely in the death of Christ. Therefore, baptism is for the remission of sins. When we are buried with Christ in baptism, it is into death,"that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Rom 6:4). Confusion reigns over the entire realm of the religious world today over the time and method by which his blood, the blood of God's Son, is applied to save man from sin. Why not take Paul at his word, be buried with Christ by baptism into death, come into contact with the blood where it was shed, and then arise to walk a new life. When we do this, we obey from the heart that form of doctrine taught by the apostles, and break the bonds of the spiritual tomb just as Christ broke the bonds of the literal tomb long ago.
How beautiful this rest for the soul! How we need in this day of sorrow to lift up, as it were, the Savior of men to the highest hill and call attention to him as the giver of perfect rest. It is promised from Christ to the faithful. After awhile when our bodies bend low, when our checks have been furrowed by the finger of time, the Lord of our salvation will bid us come and enter into that rest. Think what the term "rest" would mean to the millions of people in this world today. Christ declared in John 3: 14, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so must the Son of man be lifted up. "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life." Friends, this morning we cannot lift up the Lord of men without being obedient to His every command. The simple words of the Savior ring out from John 14: 15, "If you love me, keep my commandments." The rest is promised for those who will come, for the sinner who will come to Christ, take his yoke, and be subservient to his every requirement. Only the man or woman who meets these conditions has a promise of rest.
The Bible tells the sinner to believe with all his heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. Paul states in Romans 10:9-10, "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
Christ is upbraiding in the cities of the plains, as recorded in Matthew 11, because they repented not The first word he ever uttered in his preaching was "Repent." The first word ever spoken by an apostle after the Spirit descended on Pentecost Day and men cried out asking "What shall we do," was "Repent," Acts 2:38. The first word of John the Baptist's sermon in the wilderness was"Repent," Matthew 3:2.
Then be baptized into Christ. Peter said in the second Chapter of Acts, verse 38, that it was for the remission of sins. Paul declares in Acts 22:16 that it will wash away sin. Paul in Romans 6, states that we are baptized into Christ's death, and this (baptism) must precede a new walk and a new life. Christ set the supreme example when He was baptized in the Jordan River before he ever preached a sermon or started his ministry. If he is our example, and we are to follow all the way, we must be baptized.
"Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest." Heaven awaits the faithful. Won't you prepare now to enter and find rest for your souls before it is everlastingly too late?
This is Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"