Sermon for Sunday August 19th, 2012
Recall Notice by Ajai Prakash
Opening illustration: In 2010, auto manufacturers recalled a staggering 20 million cars in the US for various defects. The thought of such a large number of defective cars on the road is startling enough. But what is more disturbing is the apathy of some owners. In one instance, the executive director of the Center for Auto Safety warned owners, “It’s a free repair. Get it done. It may save your life.” Yet, despite the risk to their own lives, 30 percent never responded.
Likewise, many ignore God’s “recall notice” to the entire human race. Unlike a defect found in automobiles, the moral defect of the human race is not the Maker’s fault. He made everything “very good” (Genesis 1: 31), but people’s sin ruined it. God’s offer to us is “repent . . . that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3: 19).
God offers not just a free repair of the human heart but a replacement of it (Ezekiel 36: 26; 2 Corinthians 5: 17). Though the offer costs us nothing (Ephesians 2: 8-9), it cost God the life of His only Son Jesus Christ. “[Jesus] bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness - by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2: 24).
Don’t ignore the Lord’s call. The free and permanent remedy offered by God for your spiritual defect will save your life! Let us turn to Acts 3 in God’s Word and check out this recall notice …
Introduction: Throughout his sermon, Peter insisted that Jesus is Savior. He suffered according to God’s plan and the prophets had foretold his suffering. The apostles had seen Jesus’ death and resurrection. At least some of the audience would have heard Jesus teach and heal — and seen him die. Given these facts, Peter preached that only one reaction from the audience is appropriate. Luke summarized it in a sentence: “Repent…and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out” (3: 19).
Peter speaks here of repentance as a turning to God (1: 19). The reason is because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God — Jew and Gentile alike (Romans 3: 23). All people must turn to God, even those who have understood and tried to follow the Holy Scriptures (Acts 26: 20). To experience reconciliation with God, everyone needs forgiveness, repentance, and the Holy Spirit. (Repentance then meant to turn from their idols and follow the living God)
How to respond to God’s ‘Recall Notice?’ (What to do with the ‘Recall Notice?’)
In context today, “repentance” implies turning to God by accepting Jesus as Lord, and as the Messiah whom God had chosen (9: 35; 11: 27). When people acknowledge the Savior, they acknowledge the need for being saved from a condition of sinfulness. Jesus had already paid for their sins, but they would not experience his forgiveness unless they turned (repented) to God (3: 19).
What are the benefits of God’s ‘Recall Notice?’
1. Heart Replacement (Ezekiel 36: 26; 2 Corinthians 5: 17)
First we need a diagnosis. And the diagnosis in verse 26 is that we have a serious problem: our hearts are made of stone. Christ is our only doctor who can transform it. He alone is the donor too.
In Bible language, the word "heart" doesn't just mean "the large, muscular pumping thing in our chest that keeps blood flowing". The word "heart" in the Bible has a much wider meaning. It is linked here with spirit, and often in the Bible the words heart and spirit are used interchangeably. So when David prays Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me, he is not asking for two things — a clean heart and a right spirit — but one thing: to be completely clean inside. A person's heart and a person's spirit are essentially the same thing. David is asking God to revamp him completely from the inside out.
Jeremiah also spoke of this spiritual change in the heart of sinful man (31: 31). The change is in the heart that will cause the people to turn to the Good Shepherd. The people receive a new heart that desires to please the LORD. The "new spirit" (v. 26) is "My Spirit" in v. 27. He is referring to the Spirit of Yahweh (Ezekiel 37: 14; 39: 29; Joel 2: 28-29). Only the Holy Spirit can empower man to fulfill the word of God. There are twenty-five references to the Holy Spirit in the book of Ezekiel. A new heart and a new spirit are themes Ezekiel reflects on several times.
The Holy Spirit dwelling in the heart of the believer will "cause you to walk in My statutes and you will be careful to observe My ordinances" (v. 27). What Moses law could not do God does through His "Spirit within you." His dwelling within enables the "new heart." The heart of stone has been removed and replaced with a "new heart" and "a new spirit." Only the sovereign grace of God can do that. As the believer yields to the Holy Spirit He enables us to "walk" in the statutes of God and carefully observe His "ordinances." The holy life is an exchanged life.
How will you know that it is for real? The result will be a radical change in the heart. "Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations" (v. 31). True repentance will have taken place in the core of their being. The people will "remember" their evil ways and will "loathe" their iniquities. They will not secretly want the opportunity to be tempted to sin again. They will no longer be ready to sin when the temptation comes. They will see their former life style and feel the revulsion. That is what every true believer should experience when they pause and silently reflect upon their sins of the past in the sight of God. God is holy, and His holiness should cause us to loathe our past sins. His holiness should produce a desire in our hearts to be holy.
Note: The heart replacement will be evident by you hating and not desiring to sin or being a part of it. You will be sensitive to what pleases God and start developing disgust for sinfulness.
2. Mind Tuning (Romans 12: 2; 1 Corinthians 2: 16; 2 Timothy 1: 7)
The Greek word is metamorphoo – literally means “to change into another form.” From which comes the word "metamorphosis" meaning transformation. God wants to give us a complete "make-over"... through the blood of Christ. What would you like to see transformed in you this morning? Now your mind is racing … we can think of all the things in our lives and other people and the world to change but we never ever really think about our hearts and minds being transformed. That is what God is really interested in.
What does it mean to have a sound mind?
• The Greek word is sophronismos - (i) an admonishing or calling to soundness of mind, to moderation and self-control; (ii) self-control, moderation
• The Greek word denotes one of sober mind; a man of prudence and discretion. The state referred to here is that in which the mind is well balanced, and under right influences; in which it sees things in their just proportions and relations; in which it is not feverish and excited, but when everything is in its proper place.
• It depicts one who is stable and self-controlled in both life and doctrine.
How does God make us of sound mind?
• Through obedience to the words of His Son - cf. Mt 7:24-25
• By setting one's mind on the things of the Spirit (i.e., the word of God), producing the fruit of the Spirit - cf. Romans 8: 5-6; Galatians 5: 16,22-23
Illustration: Farmers in Zentsuji, Japan, are preparing full-grown watermelons for shipment—only these are no ordinary melons, they're square! They were placed in tempered-glass cubes while they were still growing. Why would anyone want a square watermelon? They're much easier to store in a refrigerator! It's amusing to think of how a naturally round watermelon can become square because of the shape of the container in which it's grown. This reminds me of the forces in the world that exert their influence on us and attempt to shape us. That's why in Romans 12: 2 we are told not to be "conformed to this world," but to be "transformed by the renewing of [our] mind." The idea is rather simple: We are to allow the transforming Word of God to work within us and produce outward results, instead of permitting external pressures to shape us.
If we meditate on God's Word daily, it will influence our thoughts and help us grow to be more like Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3: 18). Then we will act in a manner that pleases Him. Pressures of the world will continue to try to shape our character, but they will not succeed if God's Word is changing us from within.
Note: Remember we develop a mind of Christ and a successful mind-tuning will be evident when we start thinking, seeing, comprehending, doing and imitating in the likeness of Christ.
3. Spiritual & Physical Restoration (Isaiah 53: 5; 1 Peter 2: 24)
Ever since the fall, healing has been the chief necessity of manhood. Now Peter is not thinking here mainly of physical healing for cancer and arthritis and so on. As a matter of fact the cross will one day accomplish that in our lives whether here or in the age to come. But that is not Peter's thinking at all here. He explains in v. 25 what he has in mind by the healing that the suffering and death and wounds of Christ accomplish: namely, a spiritual healing that sheds tremendously important light on what we have seen so far.
There was no physician in paradise, but outside that blissful enclosure professors of the healing art have been precious as the gold of Ophir. Even in Eden itself there grew the herbs which should in after days yield medicine for the body of man. Before sin came into the world, and disease, which is the consequence of it, God had created plants of potent efficacy to soothe pain, and wrestle with disease. Blessed be His name, while thus mindful of the body, He had not forgotten the direr sickness of the soul; but He has raised up for us a plant of renown, yielding a balm far more effectual than that of Gilead. This He had done before the plague of sin had yet infected us. Christ Jesus, the true medicine of the sons of men, was ordained of old to heal the sickness of His people.
Everywhere, at this present hour, we meet with some form or other of sickness; no place, however healthful, is free from cases of disease, it is all around us, and we are thankful to add that the remedy is everywhere within reach. The beloved physician has prepared a healing medicine which can be reached by all classes, which is available in every climate at every hour, under every circumstance, and effectual in every case where it is received. Of that medicine we shall speak this morning, praying that we have God’s help in so doing. No eloquence of speech or crafted rhetoric will bring about the healing except the blood of Jesus Christ. The promise is that by His stripes we are and were healed.
Note: Living a life of liberty and security in Christ gives us the evidence of spiritual restoration but as our bodies are perishing day by day the evidence of physical restoration may not be that profound. God is more interested in our soul/spirit which is eternal than our flesh which will perish.
4. Life Insurance (John 3: 14-15; John 10: 27-28; Romans 6: 23)
• The danger: perishing
• The design: love
• The duty: believing
• The destiny: eternal life
In John 5:24 Jesus says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life [not "will have" but "has"—now!], and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." In other words eternal life is not something you wait for after death. It is something you have NOW if you believe in Jesus. Believing is the link that unites us with the life of God in Christ now. If we have Christ, we have his life now. And his life is eternal. Eternal life is not interrupted at death.
Where are you in the stages of eternal life? All of you are at least at stage two: the hearing of the words of life. That is what I have been speaking. And I believe God has taken many to stage three: he is drawing you by helping you see Christ for who he is. O that you would cross the threshold of life and believe this morning, and come into that present possession of eternal life and that wonderful relationship of knowing the only true God and the one whom he sent, Jesus Christ.
What if you believe this morning? What if you finally say, "Lord, Jesus, I see you in your Word, and I no longer will resist you. I trust you with my soul and my body.” The word perish is interesting also. It literally means that they can “never destroy themselves.” The Good Shepherd has made it His mission that we all arrive home safely!
Note: Christ has done it on the cross … we only have to believe in faith and receive it.
(i) So that's my appeal to you this morning. Have you had that heart transplant? Have you let God take from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh? You only need one heart transplant. If the transplant has been done, it will not fail. It may not always seem like it is successful in this life, because the process of removing our heart of stone will not be complete until we die.
(ii) What about your fine mind tuning? The renewing of our mind takes place only when we conform and bring it to submission to Christ. The car has to be brought under the submission of the mechanic to work on it so that it is perfected to work just the way it was designed.
(iii) When we believe and have that undoubting faith in Christ alone, we will be restored with spiritual and physical healing.
(iv) Looking for life insurance … you’ll find many but not the way Christ can deliver. This is eternal life insurance. Forever and ever … everlasting.
So what are you looking around for … some more of that flesh pleasing pleasure, lusting of the eyes and then probably I’ll walk that path … maybe not really sure! The door is still open … the call (choice) you have to make. But once that door closes, there are no more opportunities. It is a done deal! Do not delay by hardening your hearts when God’s Word beacons you … Heed and adhere to His still small voice … Christ knocks and waits at the door of your heart … this is an opportunity for you to repent and come in terms with Christ. You might not ever get it again.
Note: For a new start, ask God for a new heart.