To begin my message, I want to read only a few texts to you that should demonstrate the power, authority, and utter sovereignty of God. These texts – I surely hope – will encourage us each as we journey through our lives, even as we journey now through the last years of our lives.
Here is the first: (Jeremiah 32:17) ‘Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.”
And Luke 18:25-27 “For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”
These texts – these promises – and scores of others just like them – form the basis of my message today which I hope will be of GREAT encouragement to each of you.
The first point I want to make this afternoon is this: It is IMPOSSIBLE for anyone who does not want to FAIL in his or her relationship with Christ – it is impossible for that person to fail. It is impossible.
The second point is this: It is IMPOSSIBLE for anyone who wants to be found by God, it is impossible for that person to not be found by God. It simply is impossible.
And finally for today, the third point is this: It is impossible for anyone who wants to be fruitful for Christ to NOT be fruitful. Such is an impossibility.
Now at the outset I will acknowledge that these ‘impossibilities’ overlap – much like a Venn diagram shows the relationships between different elements of a discussion or an organization. They overlap because the whole of life is inter-related.
So, back to those three impossibilities. It is disastrously absurd to think God is unable to do what He wants to do with you and through you. I mean, we are talking about God, here. The one who simply SPOKE the universe with all its galaxies of suns and planets. We are talking about the One who CREATED you and me and formed us cell by cell and ligament by ligament and bone by bone in our mother’s womb. We’re talking the ALMIGHTY One. And by simple Biblical definition, God is utterly sovereign – in full control over your days and mine. Over your paths and mine. “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hands of the Lord,” God tells us through Solomon, (Proverbs 22:1) and ‘He alone turns the king’s heart wherever He wishes.’ And since God does that with kings and rulers, don’t think for a nanosecond He is unable to turn your heart to His will, perhaps especially if your heart is willing to be turned.
So listen to what He declares to us through the prophet Isaiah (55:10-11) “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,” God tells us, “and do not return there without watering the earth, and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
That is why it is NOT POSSIBLE for the one who wants a successful relationship with Him to fail in that relationship. God makes sure He accomplishes in us what He designs to accomplish. But the problem many of us have is we have experienced failed relationships in our pasts, and so we extrapolate to our relationship with our God.
Perhaps some of you have experienced a failed marriage or marriages. Perhaps some have failed relationships with your children or with your parents. Perhaps some have failed relationships with friends and former employers. And for all these years, those failures have taken you captive and have convinced you that even your relationship with God Himself is a failure – or in the very least, that relationship is certainly always at risk of failure.
OH, but you have GOT to hear this word from Scripture. You simply and unquestionably cannot fail in your relationship with God if you do not want to fail. And what is the mark of a man or woman who does not want to fail in such a relationship with God? A lifestyle of obedience to His commandments and a life of ongoing repentance for daily sins.
Horizontal relationships – that being relationships between people – those fail because of sin, often manifesting themselves in the form of pride. One person sins against the other and the other refuses to reconcile despite your heartfelt apologies. In such cases there is simply no chance to bring forth success from the initial failure when the offended refuses to forgive, and there is usually no point in chasing after them for reconciliation.
But our relationship with God is absolutely nothing like human relationships. NOTHING like it. Why? Because WHEN (not if) – when we offend God by our sins, and when we honestly repent of those sins, He always, always, always IMMEDIATELY forgives those sins – to the point of considering those sins as if they were never committed.
OH! How glorious is that? How unlike human horizontal relationships is that? When we come to Him in repentance, but He immediately reconciles us to Himself. Immediately. Even before the last syllable of repentance has crossed our lips.
Satan does not want us to know that. And if he cannot hoodwink the penitent into thinking God is unwilling to reconcile with them, the devil has duped MILLIONS of Christians into believing that although they are forgiven, God is still going to settle the score in a place called purgatory – an unbiblical invention by some in the past and which persists to this very moment.
Let me reiterate the point for emphasis – the man or woman who WANTS a successful relationship with the Creator cannot – CANNOT – fail to have a successful relationship with Him because the sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ will not permit such a relationship to fail in the life of a person who is obedient to His commandments and who lives a life of ongoing repentance for daily sins.
Wow! Just think what that means! Just think of that promise of the one who spoke the universe with all its stars and planets into existence. HE will not permit you to fail in your relationship with Him if you don’t want it to fail.
So, repent. Again and again, for each sin no matter how terrible and no matter how seemingly insignificant. Repent. And routinely ask the Holy Spirit to change your heart, to conform you better and better each day into the image of Jesus.
Now to the second point: It is IMPOSSIBLE to be lost for the one who wants to be found by God. The story of the prodigal son should very clearly make that inerrant and infallible point. No one who wants to come home will be unable to come home. No one who does not want to stay lost, needs to stay lost.
Let me give you a personal example. I am certain many of you can think of your own personal examples.
As some of you know, when I was a young child my father, Albert, left Mom, my sister, and me for another woman. After I got saved 18 years later, I located him and sent him two letters at different times. Each letter received a strong rebuff from him.
Now, if I didn’t know any better, after so many of my failures to live up to God's standards of holiness, I could believe the LIE that God is just like Albert. And although I wouldn’t want to stay lost to Him – if God is just like Albert, then it is likely that He’d WANT me to forever stay lost and leave him alone.
And it is possible that some of YOU have thought something similar in times past. But even if you have not – I would not at all be surprised to learn that there are those in your dining room here at Ashwood Meadows who long ago succumbed to the false belief that God is just like some flawed and sinful human father.
But you and I OUGHT to know better than to think such a horribly corrupted version of the One who did what He did on Calvary for the express purpose that we would not have to be lost to Him. Oh, how I wish everyone in that dining room – I wish everyone who walks through the doors of this building – would think of God in such biblically correct terms as to believe the Creator’s unconditional love for each of them – for each of us – here in this sanctuary.
God has promised ALL humanity that NO ONE needs to stay lost if they want to be found. Listen again to what Jesus tells everyone who wants to hear it: (Matthew 11:28) “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
Listen to God speak to us through the prophet Hosea. The context is God's appeal to Israel, but His appeal applies to every person on this planet as well: (Hosea 14:1-2a) “Come back, come back O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously.”
Oh, my brothers and sisters – hear Him say it again to you and to me who do not want to be lost: “Come back. Come back to your God. Take words of repentance with you and return to the Lord.”
Before we move on, let me share with you one more text to help solidify the point that it is not possible to be lost to God if we do not want to be lost.
Many Christians can recite the Shepherd Psalm by heart. Here is the last verse: “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
But what you might not know – what I myself did not know until very recently, is the Hebrew word David used for ‘shall follow me” (rah-day-ef) means to ‘ardently pursue; to chase after.’
David, under the inerrant inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is telling us, “Surely goodness and mercy shall passionately pursue us all the days of our life.”
Oh, get that. The Shepherd, in His most magnanimous mercy, passionately pursues us all the days of our lives. Even to this very moment. Right NOW. Jesus is single-mindedly running after us. Therefore, do you see why it is impossible to be lost when God is chasing after the lost sheep?
And now finally for the message today of impossibilities; It is impossible for the Christian to not be a fruitful Christian if he or she WANTS to be fruitful.
Listen to Peter’s counsel:
(1 Peter 1:5-8) “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This text alone (and there are many others) is our RECIPE for fruitfulness for Christ. Moral excellence in what we do in public AND in private. Self-control, for example, with our tongues. Kindness toward each other – even those we don’t particularly like.
When we do those things, the Almighty supernatural God ENSURES and PROMISES we will be fruitful.
St Paul adds to Peter’s encouragement in Romans 12:6-13 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly . . . if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality . . .he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor . . rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.”
I do not know where Christians get the idea that doing ‘good deeds’ is not as important to our salvation as is ‘faith.’ That very idea is totally unsupportable by Scripture. Indeed, I will say that idea stands in direct opposition to what Scripture teaches us.
Look for a moment at James 2:14-20 “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?
Listen now to Paul’s word to the Christians at Ephesus: (Ephesians 2:8-10): “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Now listen to Paul as he wrote to the Church through Titus (3:8,14), “This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men . . . . “Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.”
It is NOT POSSIBLE for anyone, regardless of age, health, wealth, religious background – or any other factor – it is impossible for a Christian who WANTS to be fruitful for Christ to not be fruitful if he or she simply follows the recipes God gives us. It is as simple – as they say – it is as simple as making a proverbial pie. Just follow the recipe and all will be well.
Let me now bring this message to a close by reiterating for the sake of emphasis:
Impossibility number one: It is impossible for a ANYONE who genuinely WANTS a good relationship with God to fail in that relationship, because Almighty God will not permit it to fail.
Impossibility number two: It is impossible for ANYONE who genuinely DOES NOT want to be lost to Him – it is impossible for anyone to remain lost, because Almighty God will not permit it to happen.
And impossibility number three: It is impossible for ANYONE who genuinely WANTS to be fruitful in their work for Christ – it is impossible for that person to be unfruitful. Our Almighty God will not permit such a thing to happen.
Hear this one more time from the mouth of Jesus as recorded by St Luke (18:27): “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”
My brothers and sisters – be encouraged. God is working IN you, For you, and THROUGH you.
How do we know that? Because He says so.