04/09/2009

Sermon Sinful excuses answered

Luke 14:18 They all with one consent began to make excuse

What could be the reason of such conduct? Were they called to any laborious exercise or to bear any painful suffering? No, they were invited to a feast, a feast of the Lord's providing; yea, they were to feast with him. But though men are fond of their entertainments and will go at the first call and sometimes without a call, yet here they have a rooted aversion. They will go to a tavern, a playhouse or any other place of vain amusement; but call them to Christ and they with one consent begin to make excuse.

1. Some men will say they have no need to come to Christ
This arises from insensibility and ignorance of their lost condition. Some sense of it they may have but it is neither deep nor lasting. It is not sufficient to make them willing to part with their bosom gins nor renounce their carnal confidence. They are whole and need not a physician; need him they do, but do not feel their need; and having slight thoughts of sin, they have also slight thoughts of the Saviour. Being strangers to the spirituality of the divine law, they hope in the mere mercy of God, without any regard to the Mediator, and expect great things from their own good works. ... Self-righteous, self-conceited sinners will show no regard to the work of Christ upon the cross or the work of his Spirit upon the heart; the former excluding all merit in us, and the latter casting contempt upon all our supposed sufficiency.
2. Others imagine they are already come to Christ; and the act being performed, they have no need to repeat it
Their hope is too firmly fixed to be shaken, and their confidence too deeply rooted to be overthrown. Some think they were made Christians by baptism, some that they became so by an external profession, whilst others have recourse to former illuminations and reformations, terrors and consolations, supposing that these could not have taken place without an effectual closure with Christ. But admitting that such have come to Christ, (which indeed does not appear to be the case) yet should not coming to him be the daily reiterated work of the Christian; yea, the business of his whole life?
3. Pre-engagement is another excuse which sinners make for not coming to Christ
... A hurry of business, the necessary occupations of life, and consequently a want of time, are common pleas of carnal men for a neglect of duty and inattention to their spiritual concerns. ... Want of opportunity is alleged but the great thing wanting is a heart. If men saw their absolute need of Christ, they would employ some of that time in seeking him which is often spent in feasting, dressing, unedifying visits and unnecessary recreations.
4. Some say they have tried but cannot come to Christ
They have struggled hard and long but all their efforts have been ineffectual; nay, the more they press forward, the further they seem to be from the mark. But if this conviction of your inability were genuine, you would have reason to bless God for it as being the fruit of special grace; and generally speaking, the fore-runner of his merciful appearance. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might, he increaseth strength. But be not deceived: the pretence of incapacity is often a cloak for indifference and enmity. The language of the lips is, I cannot come; that of the heart is, I will not come. If your acknowledgements be sincere, you will put yourselves in Christ's way, diligently use all the means, will bemoan your ignorance, indolence and weakness; and pray that if you cannot come to Christ, he would come to you.
5. Others who are deeply bowed down in spirit, do not so much plead their inability, as their unfitness and unworthiness
They do not say they cannot come, but dare not come. There are some preparations and dispositions necessary, and they are destitute of them. ... I return this short answer: Thus they must come, if they come at all, come to be eased of their burdens, not as already eased; to be healed of their spiritual diseases, not as already healed. Willingness is the only worthiness that Christ looks for, so that we are to come to him not with qualifications, but for them.
6. Some stumble at the austerities of religion, and the dangers to which it will expose them.
They own that it is glorious in its end, but complain that there is something very discouraging in the way. They must renounce their old sins, forsake their old companions, forgo present advantages, submit to poverty and reproach; and all this in prospect of a future good. ... Is not then the thorny path to heaven preferable to the flowery path to hell? Nay, are not the very restraints laid upon the Christian designed fur his advantage; and will not his momentary affliction work out for him a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory?
7. It is the fear of some that if they do come to Christ, they shall either be rejected, or dishonour him.
As to the fear of rejection, it is wholly groundless: it is contrary to all the promises, and the universal experience of all the saints: not a single instance of the kind can be produced. The tenderness and faithfulness of Christ both forbid it; and yet this fear is too apt to take place in the mind of an awakened sinner. ...
8. Many who do not come to Christ now, purpose to do so hereafter
This indeed is generally the case with those who, while convinced of the necessity of coming to Christ, think it to be in their own power; so that the idea of self-sufficiency naturally leads to indolence, and carnal security. ... But God says, Now is the accepted time. Today if you will hear his voice. Delays will but multiply your difficulties: you will become more hardened in a course of sin, more deaf to the remonstrances of conscience and averse to all vital religion. What is hard to-day will be harder tomorrow; and it is only the present hour, the present moment, that we can call our own. ... And now will you comply with Christ's invitation or run headlong upon your own destruction? All that he invites you to is, that you would be wise, holy and happy: and shall his importunity be in vain? If so, that hand which is now extended towards you, will one day be stretched out against you. If you shut Christ out of your heart, he will shut you out of heaven and his forbearance slighted will turn to provoked wrath and indignation. Matt 9. 22; Heb 2. 3; 12. 3,5.
The hymn that follows appears as 464 in the Hymn Book but in a different form (Shall God invite me to his arms, And I his call delay? Shall he impart his just commands, And creatures disobey? etc)
Doth God invite me to his arms,
And do I still delay?
Shall he impart his just commands,
And I refuse t'obey?
Doth Jesus call me to rely
Upon his righteousness?
For safety bid me thither fly,
And I despise his grace?

Hath not the Holy Spirit yet
Withdrawn his influence?
And do I still supinely sit,
Immers'd in earth and sense?
By mercy wooed, by wrath pursued,
How sluggish I remain!
Rouse up, my dull inactive powers,
The heavenly prize to gain.

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