Silence: Our Suffering Saviour Is Speaking!
Reading Luke Chapter 23 v 27-28
Preached By Ken Humphries,
2. An Amazing Example of Preaching!
"Father forgive them for they know not what they do."
- Preaching that leads to Salvation!
Sure, this was a prayer to the Father but it was also a preaching to the crowd around the cross. Do you recall the effect these sayings and this Saviour had on the centurion responsible for the carrying out the crucifixion that dreadful day?
As he stands beneath the Cross of Christ, having carried out his task well, having been faithful to his masters as far as his duty was concerned, having crucified Christ he now begins to consider Christ. He had never before witnessed such personality. As he listened to these seven sayings from the cross they must have had an amazing affect upon him. He had never witnessed such pain. Here is someone who is despised and rejected of men, judged and forsaken of God. He was indeed a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, smitten of God and afflicted, yet Jesus is more concerned about others than Himself. This centurion had never witnessed such power. Some of those Calvary miracles were happening as he stood there. So as he carries out his duty he must have been considering deeply the events of the day. This personality, the awful pain suffered, the amazing power released, which in turn had a convicting effect upon him because the next thing we hear is, this centurion is confessing Christ. Luke 23 v 47 puts it best.
"Now when the centurion saw what was done he glorified God, saying, certainly this was a righteous man."
How did he know that? Who revealed that to him? Why the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. What’s happening? The Spirit of God is working in this mans heart bringing him to faith in the Christ of the Cross. This is without doubt a preaching to salvation directly from the cross and from the lips of our dear Saviour. That’s why I say, silence, our suffering Saviour is speaking!
A. Preaching that leads to Salvation!
Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 1 v 18.
"For the preaching of the (word) of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."
Someone asked Luther: "Do you feel that you have been forgiven?"
He answered: "No, but I'm as sure as there's a God in heaven.
For feelings come and feelings go, and feelings are deceiving;
My warrant is the Word of God; naught else is worth believing.
Though all my heart should feel condemned for want of some sweet token,
there is One greater than my heart whose Word cannot be broken.
I'll trust in God's unchanging Word till soul and body severs;
For though all things shall pass away, his Word shall stand forever!"
Luther was absolutely right. We have been saved from the penalty of sin, we are being saved from the possibility of sin, and we can be saved from the practice of sin and praise God one-day we will be saved from the very presence of sin.
Our text should read. (1 Cor.1 v 18)
"For the word of the cross which is the power of God for this Salvation."
It’s the word of the cross, the "logos", the word, the same word who became flesh, in whom dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead and who died on the cross. It’s the words of the word. The eternal word of the cross enables the sinner to find salvation from the penalty of sin and it’s that same eternal word of the cross that will provide power for that saved sinner to live with victory over sin.
Beloved, this is a power that can and must be visualised, vocalised and vitalised, the message is, there is power in Jesus Christ and His precious Salvation to make us all a mighty power for God in this age.
Is that power active in you and me? Can it be seen and heard and is it mighty for God? We are called upon to be witnesses, but for a witness to be credible they must be believed.
In driving piles, a machine is used by which a huge weight is lifted up and then made to fall upon the head of the pile. Of course the higher the weight is lifted the more powerful is the blow which it gives when it descends. Now, if we wish to impact our age and society with ponderous blows, we must see to it that we are uplifted as near to God as possible. All our power will depend upon the elevation of our spirits. Prayer, meditation, devotion, communion, are like a windlass to wind us up aloft. It is not lost time which we spend in such sacred exercises, for we are thus accumulating force, so that when we come down to our actual labour for God, we shall descend with an energy unknown to those to whom communion is unknown. Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
B. A Preaching that leads to Sanctification!
Paul writing to the Corinthians said. 1 Cor. 1 v 2.
"Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours."
If you have ever attempted a study of what has been called the deeper Christian life, to find out the truth one tends to read many sermons, look through many
books and commentaries on the theme in order to get it right. But by the time you have studied the subject at some length through the eyes of so many disagreeing expositors you end up somewhat confused. You look at all these phrases such as, the victorious life, the spirit filled life, the surrendered life, perfect love, the baptism of the spirit, two natures, eradication of the sin nature, entire sanctification and the rest of faith. You are in danger of becoming a disciple of a phrase instead of a person. Then you read 1 Corinthians 1 v 30.
"But of Him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption."
You see, strictly speaking sanctification is not something but someone.
I believe our God is on the look out for a people today who will be quiet enough to hear Him speak, brave enough to tell it to others, and honest enough to live it out, displaying what real sanctification really means.
Many are the Elijah’s collapsed under the juniper tree in need of being summoned to Horeb to learn the lesson of the still small voice.
This from Dr. Vance Havner.
"There is a lot of fanfare and activity today, there is a flood of words and a famine of ideas. The preacher is told to adjust---adjust to what? To this Punch and Judy farce of modern church life, this meaningless marathon of breathless Christians, too exhausted to run and too scared to rest, and not willing to work.
Daniel was not invited to Belshazzar’s feast, but he was the only man in the Kingdom who could read the writing on the wall. Blessed is the man who spends time with God and understands the message for the age." End quote!
C. A Preaching that leads to Service!
Beloved, listen, listen!
We have a Mandate from the Sovereign! Matt. 24 v 44.
"Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh."
We have a Motto for the Soldier! Acts 21 v 13.
"Then Paul answered, what mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? For I am ready, not to be bound only but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."
We have a Maxim for the Servant! 2 Tim. 2 v 21.
"If a man, therefore, purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and fit for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work."
When the Lord Jesus uttered those amazing words on the cross, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do" He was saying, listen, listen, Salvation is precious to all, Sanctification is powerful in all, and Service is personal for all.
You see, a ship is safe in harbour, but the truth of the matter is, ships are made for the sea. Harbours are not only the safe destination for incoming ships; harbours are points of departure for ships. Beloved, the church is indeed a haven where weary souls may tie up for repair and renewal, a place to strengthen the inner man and to bring solace to the soul. But the church is also
the starting point of our week from which we sail out into the unknown to serve our glorious master. There was a time on the Lord’s Day when we stood amazed in the presence of our dear Saviour, today it seems as though we want to sit in His presence and be amused. We once came to church that we might be edified, now all we are looking for is entertainment.
We must come into God’s House to hear, but then we must go out to hearers!
We are not to be salt cellars but salt shakers to scatter the precious truths of God everywhere we go.
The cry comes down the centuries, even from as far back as the book of
1 Chronicles Ch. 29 v 5.
"And who, then, is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the Lord."
And yes, it will cost us to give to our dear Saviour the kind of consecrated service he requires of us. The Psalmist reminds us there is to be.
i. The Sacrifice of Penitence! Psalm 51 v 17.
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."
That’s the first step leading to a consecrated life for God. A spirit controlled by the Holy Spirit and a heart willing to hear the Word of God and obey it.
Isaiah 66 v 2 reminds us, that that is exactly what God is looking for in His people!
ii The Sacrifice Of Person!
"Present your bodies a living sacrifice"
The Macedonians first gave themselves unto the Lord!
The second step toward a consecrated life is giving up ourselves continually, a living sacrifice.
A little boy, having listened to the Minister’s sermon of that morning, as the offering plate was passed, realising he had no money quickly found a piece of paper and pencil and hurriedly wrote the words, ‘I give myself’. The minister said to his office bearers, that is the biggest offering we have received for many a day.
Lord Jesus, look down from the skies
And help me to make a complete sacrifice;
I give up myself and whatever I know;
Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
iii. The Sacrifice of Praise! Hebrews 13 v 15.
"By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name."
We try to work up such a sacrifice by artificial means; those who lead the singing sweat and plead trying to produce a song from the heart that just is not there. The Psalmist said in 119 v 54.
"Thy Statutes have become my song in the house of my pilgrimage."
The third step to a consecrated life is giving God the fruit of our lips by giving continual thanks to His wonderful name.
When the children of Israel were taken captive to Babylon in Psalm 137 they said "There we sat down by the rivers of Babylon, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion." It was as they sat by the rivers of Babylon with a heavy heart because of their sin, their captors said, sing us a song, a song of mirth or a song of Zion, sing us a happy song or sing us a holy song, they could do neither. Why? Because they had lost their song.
"Happiness is caused by things that happen around me, and circumstances will mar it; but joy flows right on through trouble; joy flows on through the dark; joy flows in the night as well as in the day; joy flows all through persecution and opposition. It is an unceasing fountain bubbling up in the heart; a secret spring the world can't see and doesn't know anything about. The Lord gives his people perpetual joy when they walk in obedience to him." D. L. Moody.
3. An Amazing Example of Prayer!
"Father forgive them for they know not what they do." Surely was an amazing example of prayer at such a time in the life and near death of our dear Saviour.
A. This is a prayer to the Father!
And in this prayer, our suffering Saviour displays for us the wonderful appreciation he has for His Father.
Some time before this occasion he had taught the disciples this very thing.
In Matthew chapter 6, in what is commonly called ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ we have the Lord, in response to the disciples ‘Teach us to pray’ giving them an appreciation of---
God’s Person: Our Father!
God’s Purposes: Thy Kingdom come…Thy Will be done!
God’s Provision: Give us…our daily bread!
God’s Pardon: Forgive our debts!
God’s Purity: Lead us not into Temptation!
God’s Protection: Deliver us from Evil!
God’s Power: Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory!
(I draw this from Dr. John Phillips Exploring Series)
Beloved, we desperately need a renewal of such an appreciation of our Heavenly Father. That in the darkest hour, in the deepest agony, through desperate times, with a discouraged heart, in a despondent mind and with a detracting interest we will know there is nothing too large or too small to bring to Him in prayer.
We are coming to a King; large petitions with you bring.
Prayer releases power! Acts 1 v 14 + 2 v 41.
Prayer reveals secrets! Daniel 2 v 14-22.
Prayer replenishes His Church! Acts 4 v 31-37.
Prayer repels the adversary! James 4 v 7-8.
Prayer reclaims ground! Zechariah 3 v 1-7.
Listen to this from George Muller! "I have been praying for sixty-three years and eight months for a friends conversation. He is not saved, but he will be! How can it be otherwise, for I am praying to my Heavenly Father". That’s the appreciation Muller had of his Heavenly Father, that friend was saved at George Muller’s funeral!
B. This is a prayer to Forgiveness!
Sinners were in need of Salvation: Jesus was showing us that there is none past praying for however far down in sin they have fallen, however wicked they have become. This is not a request for God to wink at ignorance, it’s not a request for the blanket pardon of sin, it’s not a prayer to thrust forgiveness upon people, but it’s a prayer that says, all who will repent can be saved and have the wonderful joy of knowing their sins forgiven and the assurance of a home in Heaven.
Saints were in need of Submission: You see, it’s on the basis of forgiveness the church would not only be formed but also move forward.
Did you notice when we were looking at the Lord’s prayer in Matthew Ch.6 v 14-15 the Lord Jesus took time to point out His thinking on forgiveness?
"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
Now this is nothing at all to do with our Redemptive forgiveness, that has been taken care of and nothing in the world can change that. This is to do with our every day forgiveness and simply put means, if I cannot forgive others then sin
becomes a barrier between my Heavenly Father and me.
The Scriptures say, Matt. 6v15. "If you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses." The church will move forward on the basis of forgiveness but there is nothing that will hold back growth in the church like an unforgiving spirit.
"Alas! if my best Friend, who laid down his life for me, were to remember all the instances in which I have neglected him, and to plead them against me in judgement, where should I hide my guilty head in the day of recompense? I will pray, therefore, for blessings on my friends, even though they cease to be so, and upon my enemies, though they continue such." William Cowper.
C. This is a Prayer to Furtherance!
As He prays this amazing prayer on the cross, surely it will have a telling effect on His disciples whether they hear it from a distance or up close. And what Jesus is saying in this prayer, among other things, whatever men do to you, say about you, or make of you don’t go back, rather keep on going on. Nothing the sinner, the saint, or Satan does to you should cause you to quit, give up or go back. So later, after the resurrection when Jesus met with His disciples he gave them some great encouragements.
He made His passion known to them! Go to the uttermost parts of the earth.
He made His presence known to them! He convinced them of His Resurrection, of His Rapture and His Return.
He made His plan known to them! Start in Jerusalem, move to Judea, and then on to Samaria. Start in the Community, move to the country and then spread the message to the continent.
He made His power known to them! "Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you."
He says to His disciples, now get going, keep going and don’t stop going until I get back or call you home!
In the final years of our imprisonment, the North Vietnamese moved us from small cells with one or two prisoners to large rooms with as many as 30-40 men to a room. We preferred this situation for the companionship and strength we could draw from our fellow prisoners. In addition to moving us to new quarters, out captors also let us receive packages and letters from home. Many men received word from their families for the first time in several years. The improved conditions were a result of public pressure put on the North Vietnamese by the American public.
In our cell was one Navy officer, Lt. Commander Mike Christian. Over a period of time Mike had gathered bits and pieces of red and white cloth from various packages. Using a piece of bamboo he had fashioned into a needle, Mike sewed a United States flag on the inside of his shirt, one of the blue pajama tops we all wore.
Every night in our cell, Mike would put his shirt on the wall, and we would say the pledge of allegiance. I know that the pledge of allegiance may not be the most important aspect of our day now, but I can tell you that at the time it was the most important aspect of our lives.
This had been going on for some time until on of the guards came in as we were reciting our pledge. They ripped the flag off the wall and dragged Mike out. He was beaten for several hours and then thrown back into the cell.
Later that night, as we were settling down to sleep on the concrete slabs that we our beds, I looked over to the spot where the guards had thrown Mike. There, under the solitary light bulb hanging from the ceiling, I saw Mike. Still bloody and his face swollen beyond recognition, Mike was gathering bits and pieces of cloth together. He was sewing a new American flag. John McCain.
My brothers and sisters, surely this is the kind of commitment our dear Saviour displayed on the Cross, and is it not the kind of commitment he asks of us today. This kind of commitment will lift our precious Lord Jesus high before a fallen and lost world.
Years I spent in vanity and pride,
Caring not my Lord was crucified;
Knowing not it was for me He died
But, Now I’ve given to Jesus everything,
Now I gladly own Him as my King,
Now my raptured soul can only sing