Saturday, April 02, 2011

Four Reactions to the Gospel

"Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." Mark 10:15


We react to the gospel in four basic ways. When we speak of reacting to the gospel, we also mean our reaction to some truth we have learned in God's Word, something the Holy Ghost is impressing upon us to do or obey, a doctrine that we have been made aware of and know of its truth, or some area of sanctification in our lives that the Holy Ghost has put his finger on for our attention. Whatever it is, we react in one of four ways. We find them in the parable of the sower.


"And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Matthew 13:3-8


The first reaction could be that like that of Festus, the Roman governor in Acts chapters 25-26. The word "Festu" meant "festival." He also was called Porcius meaning "swine." From this, we believe that this guy liked to eat, drink, and just have a good time. He really wasn't a bad guy, not as bad as some of the Herod's but the Bible gives no reference to his even being moved by Paul's preaching. In one place, he called it "superstition" and in another, after Paul gives most of his testimony, he blurts out, "Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad." Acts 26:24b He just didn't get it. It went in one ear and out the other. He didn't try to suppress it, nor did he try to embrace it but his reaction was that of so many today, "Whatever!"


The second way is when one reacts like King Agrippa II. This is the group Christ referred to where the seed feel on stony earth but when things got too hot, they withered away. Agrippa II was that way. The Bible says about his reaction, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." Acts 26:28b Agrippa II knew the scriptures and had heard of Christ. He had never had anyone really explain about Christianity but when Paul did, he knew the truth and was almost persuaded to embrace it. But, as is in the parable, the sun came out and he realized what he would have to do to live it. He would have to break off the incestuous relationship with his sister Bernice plus no doubt deal with many other issues. He just couldn't, even though he saw the judgment of God at work in his father Agrippa I in Acts 12 who was eaten of worms. So we receive the wooing of the Holy Ghost on various matters and yet, do we reject them knowing full well they are correct? The Bible never records an instant where God deals with Agrippa II again.


The third way of reaction is that characteristic of the seed sown among the thorns. They receive the truth and even go forth, but are choked with the cares, riches, and pleasures of this life and bring no fruit to perfection. (Luke 8:14) When the Roman ruler, Felix, heard the gospel, the Bible says that he trembled at the preaching of Paul. But it stopped there. It is not enough just to get moved by the Holy Ghost and feel conviction, one has to act. "And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee." Acts 24:25 There is never a better day to obey God's Word than today. "…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)" 2 Corinthians 6:2b Felix, whose name means "happy," kept calling for Paul but for different reasons. In Acts 24:26 we read, "He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him." He was looking for a way to profit from the gospel. Much could be said here but there isn't time or space. It doesn't stop there. He used Paul as a political ploy to try to keep him out of hot water with the Romans. "But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound." Acts 24:27 Because of some of his ruthless dealings with the Jews, he was fearful they would accuse him before the emperor so he hoped to appease them by keeping Paul bound. Many hear the truth, knowing it is right but fail to react and after while even become antagonistic towards it. How many times I've seen God deal with someone regarding an area of sanctification, only for them to finally reject it and later buffet those who hold that stand they rejected!


But the last group is like that of Zacchaeus. He was a tax collector and became rich from his profession. No doubt, like most tax collectors then, it wasn't always by being honest, in fact tax collectors or publicans, were known to be cheaters. But when he saw the Lord, it all changed. "And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold." Luke 19:8 He was ready to obey right away! Oh that we could have a heart of obedience like that so God could use us! He didn't ask a lot of questions, didn't try to use his intellectual reasoning, but just believed and obeyed because he know the Holy Ghost had shown him the truth. May we react the same way as he, like a child. As quoted at the beginning, "Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." Mark 10:15 That's means, we walk humbly before Him!

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