Worth Dying For
One way to stop arguments is not to start them over disagreements that really don’t matter.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, radio friends. How are you? I’m so glad for the opportunity of speaking with you day by day and sharing some things from the Word of God. We’re gonna start Acts chapter 15 today. Certain men which came down from Judea, taught the brethren and said, “Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, you cannot be saved.” When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain other of them should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question, and being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria declaring the conversion of the Gentiles and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. When they were come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and elders and they declared all the things that God had done with them, but there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, now these people were Christians, but they had their own bias, you see. There rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying it was needful to circumcise them and command them to keep the Law of Moses.
And so then they had this church council, we’ll get into that a little later on. Now, watch out for those who add to the Gospel. “By grace you are saved, through faith and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God,” said Paul, “Not of works lest any man should boast.” And the mark that God puts on you is not the physical mark that distinguished the sons of Abraham, but now it is the mark of a heart that is renewed. He says we are those who worship God in the Spirit and have no confidence in the flesh. And so he says, “The law was added because of transgressions till the savior would come to whom the promise was made, and he was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.” So he says, “The law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ and Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: As it is written, cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree.” So he says, “We through the Spirit,” I’m reading now from different passages in Galatians, “We through the spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision but faith which worketh by love.”
So I say watch out for anything that would add to the simplicity of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It isn’t Christ plus works, it isn’t Christ plus church, and it isn’t Christ plus penance, and it isn’t Christ plus gifts and offerings, and it isn’t Christ plus keeping your promises, it is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ period, end of sentence. “By grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” Now, where does good works come in? You say do you just believe on the Lord Jesus, and then live like the devil? Oh, no. When the Lord Jesus Christ comes into your life, he gives you a new heart. And so you read on in Ephesians 2, which I’ve just quoted for you there. I’ll start again, “By grace you are saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” Now, Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship created,” there’s your keyword, “Created a new creation, a new heart, a new spirit created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
God’s plan for you is to do good works. God’s plan for you is to live a good life, but he gives you that heart and that Spirit within you, that makes it possible when you receive the Lord Jesus Christ, and what the Bible calls the New Birth. Do you understand that? Well, then, be careful that people don’t add to the Gospel. It isn’t Christ plus anything, it’s the Lord Jesus Christ and faith in him that saves. But when you’re saved, oh, there’ll be a difference. There will be prayers, there will be repentance, there will be love, there will be good works, there will be holy living, not in order to be saved, but because you are saved. You do good works, not to become saved, you do good works because you are saved. What a different point of view, isn’t it? Well, now, what’s the answer to an argument?
Have you ever been in a deacons’ meeting where some deacon will pound the table while growing purple in the face, and while he’s pounding the table, he says, “I say this in love for the good of the work,” [laughter] and you wonder where the love is, if he’s about to have apoplexy, you know. Oh, boy. What’s the answer to an argument? What’s the answer to difference of opinion in a church or among individuals? Well, just by way of a small detour here. Did you realize that you don’t have to agree with everybody else? That’s a liberating thought, you know it. You don’t have to agree with everybody else. You know, you ladies will see somebody walking down the street with a new hat or a new coat or some new garment and you say to your husband or to somebody who’s with you, “Oh, such horrible taste. I wouldn’t be seen dead in that.” Well, now, you know, it really isn’t necessary for you to be seen dead in it. You don’t have to like it, [chuckle] you don’t have to like it, you don’t have to agree with her taste. She probably doesn’t agree with yours either.
There were these two [laughter] fellows who were standing at a party, and they were just off to one side looking at each other, and this one fellow committed the fatal error of talking about other people and finally got around to talking about some lady on the other side of the room and he said to his friend whom he had just met, he said, “See that woman over there in that red dress?” He says, “That’s the last woman I’d ever marry.” The man looked at him and he says “You’re right, she’s the last one I did marry.” [laughter] Well, you don’t have to agree with people. One answer to arguments is quit arguing. You don’t have to agree, and you don’t either have to disagree either. So, he likes the window open, you like it shut, go into another room. Sure.
He likes to get up early in the morning. You like to sleep until noon. Alright, there’s a way to work it out. Sure. You don’t always have to have your own way on things. Isn’t that a liberating, relaxing thought? You can actually make room for other people doing it differently. You know where I learned that? Well, I think I learned it most dramatically in Germany when I went over there shortly after the close of World War II, and this man said to me, he said, “Now listen, we don’t raise our hands as you Americans do at the Gospel invitation because it reminds us of Adolf Hitler. He taught us to raise our hands in the Nazi salute, and so we don’t do that anymore. And so we don’t want you to give that kind of an invitation.” Well, I thought to myself, “Here I am, I’m in Christian work, I’m a graduate of several schools. I’ve been in the pastorate, in evangelism, and I know a thing or two and this man is telling me how to do my job, and I was a little upset.” But I thought, “Well, alright.”
He said, “Now, when you get through preaching, you hand the invitation over to me.” And I thought to myself, “This thing is gonna be a total frost.” But I gave my little Gospel sermon there in one of those large cities in Germany. I gave my little Gospel sermon the best I knew how, told them about the Lord Jesus, how he could save from sin and fill the empty places in their soul and heal the heartbreak and take away the bitterness and the scar tissue and the aftermath, not only of war but of personal sin. And then I finished and this man took over again, he said, “Now, those of you who wanna trust the Lord Jesus as your savior,” he said all this in German, of course. He said, “You go toward this room,” he pointed to a room off to the side, and there they came, tears rolling down those German cheeks and wonderfully, wonderfully saved many of them that night.
Well, you know what the Lord said to me, I remember it as though it were yesterday, he said to me by his Holy Spirit, as I sat there and watched God work, he said, “You don’t have to do it your way.” He said, “Let me do it My way. Sometimes I’ll do it differently than you think it ought to be done.” It doesn’t have to be done your way. And you know, that served me in good stead throughout the passing years. Christian work doesn’t have to be done my way, it doesn’t have to be done my way. God reserves the right to use people with whom I disagree and I’d better learn to keep my hands off the Lord’s anointed. I’d better learn not to criticize people who are serving the Lord Jesus. Some lady came up to DL Moody, I read the other day, she had a lorgnette. You know, that’s a sneer on a stick. [chuckle] And she looked through those glasses on the little handle that she held up, and she said, “Mr. Moody, your grammar is atrocious. Well, you made this and this and this mistakes in your grammar, in your sermon tonight,” and you know, Moody wasn’t above saying ain’t and using a double negative now and again.
And so he said, “Well, ma’am, I know, I know that my grammar is faulty, but I’m doing the best I can with my grammar. What are you doing for the Lord with your grammar?” [laughter] Ah yes. Well, you see, God uses people that don’t do it your way or my way, don’t criticize them. You don’t have to police other people, you don’t have to be God’s policeman walking around and knocking people down and telling them how things have to be done. The disciples said, “Master, we saw one casting out demons and he followeth not us, and we forbad him because he followeth not us.” Couldn’t possibly be serving the Lord if he didn’t belong to that group, see. Aren’t you glad that doesn’t happen today, huh? [chuckle] Oh yes, it does. Jesus said, “Forbid him not for there’s no man that can do a miracle in my name that would speak evil of me.”
Ah, God uses people that may not belong to your group but he uses them. So one way to stop arguments is not to start them over disagreements that really don’t matter. Now, this was a very important question, however, and it says there was no small dissension and questioning with them. So finally, they decided that Paul and Barnabas, these men who had proved themselves worthy on another level, are now gonna be sent to Jerusalem, and inquire about it. John Walvoord, my friend who was President of Dallas Theological Seminary, said in my hearing one day, he said, “Every question, every argument and every problem will yield to more facts.” Now, if you don’t have the facts, go get them. I have found that some of the things I was surest of and arguing about them at the top of my voice really weren’t all that important or all that true when I got at the facts. So instead of pounding the table and arguing and disputing, find the facts. And this is what they did, they said, “Well, let’s go find out for sure.”
Anything that dilutes the Gospel, you wanna watch out for. Second, you don’t always have to agree with everybody, let God use people who disagree with you. Give him that privilege. Third, on important questions that have to do with salvation and the blessing of God, be sure you get the facts so you know what you’re talking about. We’ll go on with this the next time. Now it’s time to pray.
Dear Father, help us today to know what is important, to know what is worth dying for, and to know some things also that can be less important and we can specialize in doing thy will. I ask in the name of the Lord Jesus, amen. Amen, God bless you, dear friend, all the way. That’s all for now.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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