- Text: Lk. 8:18.
- If the gospel has a prerequisite, it is humility — we must be humble enough to hear what the gospel says to us. (The process can go no further if there is anything that filters the gospel out of our thinking.)
- Like any message, the gospel of Christ requires a fair hearing.
- We must be humble, open, willing to be persuaded — the gospel won’t have a chance if we don’t give it a chance.
- No amount of evidence will be enough if we are simply “unpersuadable.”
- There are none so deaf as those who will not hear. Cf. Mt. 13:13–15; Jn. 5:40; Ac. 7:57; etc.
- In Jas. 3:17, one of the qualities of wisdom is that it is “easy to be entreated” (KJV) or “open to reason” (ESV).
- All the people who heard Jesus heard the same words, but there were many different responses. Cf. Mt. 7:24–27.
- Simple “hearing” is not enough — the question is, how will we hear and what will we do about it? Cf. Hb. 4:2.
- We are all prone to the problems of denial and defensiveness. (Rather than “hear,” we tend to “hide” — Gen. 3:8–10.)
- So Jesus said, “Take heed how you hear” (Lk. 8:18). Let’s think first about the message that must be heard.
I. The Gospel Story
- The gospel is the message of the cross — it’s about “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2).
- The gospel is the story of God saving us from the eternal consequences of our rebellion against Him.
- When mankind rebelled against God, God was not willing to leave us in our lost condition.
- He sent His Son into the world to live a perfect human life, and then die, taking our punishment upon Himself.
- Raised from the dead after His crucifixion, Jesus now reigns at the right hand of God and offers forgiveness and salvation to all who will obey His gospel.
- When the time is right, He is going to come back, destroy this world, and take His forgiven people to heaven to be with Him forever.
- Four passages that point to the heart of the gospel.
- Mt. 20:17–19.
- Jn. 3:16–18.
- Lk. 24:46–49.
- 1 Cor. 15:1–8.
- The gospel story has an invitation attached to it — but it is a two-fold invitation.
- Accept forgiveness — “Repent . . . be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Ac. 2:38).
- Become disciples — “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me” (Mt. 11:28–30).
- Hearing this message requires being open to all the truth we need to hear.
II. Life’s Most Important Issue
- The gospel challenges us to deal seriously with whether there really is a God.
- Truth . . . Is the gospel of Jesus Christ true? (Honesty — truth is not always what we want it to be.)
- Response . . . What am I going to do about it? (Courage — truth is not always easy to respond to.)
- There is no in-between, no safe middle ground: if the gospel is true, we should devote our lives to it — but if it is not true, such a lie needs to be eradicated from the earth.
- Well might Jesus have said, “Take heed how you hear” (Lk. 8:18).
III. Two Truths, Both Hard to Accept
- The gospel confronts us with two truths.
- The sinful truth about ourselves (the gospel’s diagnosis of our malady) — the problem.
- The saving truth about God (the gospel’s plan for our redemption) — the solution.
- From the beginning, the first has always been the hardest to accept — we all struggle with defensiveness and anger.
- Adam and Eve — Gen. 3:8–10.
- Cain — Gen. 4:4–8.
- If we’re not prepared to hear the gospel penitently, we should go back home — Mt. 3:7,8.
- Consider the story of David and Nathan — 2 Sam. 12:1–14. All of us face the same decision: how will we hear what God says about our sins?
- Nathan: “You are the man” (v.7).
- David: “I have sinned against the Lord” (v.13).
- How receptive are you? Honest? Courageous?
- We must not define truth in terms of what we want it to be.
- Truth is what it is, regardless of our preferences. “Truth is not always what we want to hear” (Jewish Proverb).
- The more painful a truth may be to accept, the more we must be willing to go wherever truth leads us.
- Without honesty and courage, hearing the truth is worse than useless — it will, in fact, condemn us. Cf. Jn. 12:48.
- How have you “heard” the gospel up to now? In what manner have you listened to what God has said to you?
- What is your track record?
- What have you done when you’ve had to deal with uncomfortable truth?
- How have you reacted when you’ve been told told something you didn’t want to hear?
- Are there any limits on how far you would go to follow Jesus?
- We alone can determine what kind of hearers we are going to be — and our salvation depends on our decision.
Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com