Preacher: Lionel Letcher | Series: Spiritual Growth 2020 |
So this morning, just in keeping things simple, we're going to go straight into the message. For those of you who may be viewing from elsewhere, we appreciate you taking the time to be involved with us. Uh, that's fantastic. Uh, cornerstone is a small church that meets in Cranbourne West, usually. we hire a hall from the city of Casey, um, through the week they have closed that facility down and as a consequence we're unable to use it. Um, and so, you know, this is probably safe for some people, but, uh, it's a great opportunity also for us to extend the gospel out to those who normally wouldn't walk in a church door, but who may be interested in. So, you know, for me, I got to share a link this morning to the podcast on the local Facebook page of our housing community here.
So we'd encourage you also just to spread around the link. Don't spread the virus, spread the link and uh, and get that out there. So, why don't we open a word of prayer here this morning as we go into, um, our session. So father we thank you for this morning and we just praise you for the opportunity to use this technology, uh, to continue in the spreading of the gospel and in the teaching and edifying of the saints that they might also build one another up. So we praise you and we thank you this morning. We ask you Lord that in the simplicity of this message you would use it to reach other people who maybe stagnant in their faith and help them to grow. We praise you in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.
So you can see that, uh, that we're ready to go here and we've been, uh, looking at the process of growth and so we're going to continue with that this morning. These are some of the subjects that we've looked at over recent weeks. And so we're not going to go over those this morning, but we're going to continue today with discipleship. We started discipleship last week and we're continuing that again. So last week on the YouTube page and Facebook, it was called the process of discipleship. So really this is the process of discipleship, part two. So in the parable of the sower, Jesus explains the soils of the heart. And when we think about the soil, when Jesus talks about the parable of the sower, we're talking about the soils of the heart. Luke eight 15, Jesus said, but the seed in the good soil.
So when Jesus was asked to explain the parable, and in explaining the parable, he was explaining what the, various elements of his parable were. And so he said, but the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart and hold it fast and bear fruit with perseverance. Now, the Greek word for perseverance, I think it's pronounced something like hupomoné, it means a cheerful endurance. So it's not just the idea of patience, but it's a cheerful endurance and patient continuance. And so there's something of deliberation about this idea of perseverance in Luke 18. Now a principle of growth is given to us by Jesus in Mark 4 when he said first the blade, then the ear after that, the full corn in the ear. And here he's describing the process of growth for wheat, that the seed goes in the ground and then, through a process that the farmer doesn't really understand.
That the blade of the seed begins to appear. And then after that it raises up into a full height. The ear appears or it becomes a stretched out plant. And then finally you get the kernels of wheat in the head of that fruit, of the wheat. James 5:7 says, therefore be patient brethren until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil being patient about it until he gets the early and late rains. Isaiah 28:16 states, he, that believes shall not make haste. Now for most people, that waiting is difficult. It seems like a long season, you know, from the tiny green blade up into the full, corn, you know the full kernels of wheat in the head of the wheat stalk.
And so many seek to, in those times settle for what would be the low road of convenience. They, have become believers, they are saved, they have an assurance of heaven. So they having an assurance of heaven and they as time goes by, they develop a measure of Christian respectability, in church circles. And, but the problem is that when we Christian settled for this as the status quo in our lives, we only tend to fellowship with people in the same status quo, in the same condition. And it's almost as if we settle on it, that this is the goal that I've been saved. And then I can settle into a pattern of what might be termed Christian behaviour.
And so they appear to be living as a Christian. But this is a stage at best, it's not the goal that God has for our lives. And it can be a very dangerous stage. It's a little bit like middle age for men. It can be one of the most dangerous stages. And it can be one in which we become a little bit self-satisfied. We become a little bit, enamoured with ourselves. And we think that, well, I've done my bit for the world and community and now's the time for me to have a rest. We expect some recognition as a mature believer. And often we ignore or forget the struggles and the pains that we had as the tiny green blade, that was popping through the soil of life.
And so we forget that there are new believers who are in that same condition and we just look on them and we say, you know, why don't you grow up and why don't you shape up and mature? Now this can be a very cozy but a very sterile environment. And the seed corn, the seed or the, the kernel of the wheat, it may be a beautiful thing, but it's hard. And, if you've ever, handled wheat grain, you know that it's hard. But within that hard outer shell, there is a germ of life, locked up in it. And it can't naturally come to fruit unless a couple of conditions are met. And, unless those conditions are met, you can't produce anything. And so this is what many Christians are like. And this is why many even preachers are unfruitful and many believers are unfruitful, you know, just seeing maybe small influence in their lives, over believers and that kind of thing.
And so the contrast is that Jesus speaks of a fruitfulness that comes when the seed is planted, when the grain of corn is planted. Remember the principle of growth, first, the blade, then the ear after that, the full corn in the ear. So in order for the hard exterior of the wheat kernel to be broken down for the life of that seed to actually come to fruition, the seed must be broken down in a way. And that occurs when the seed is planted in the soil and the hard exterior begins to soften and decay. And in fact, it provides initial nutrients for the young sprout, which would otherwise die. And of course, you know, crop failure. So how does all of this relate to us? Well we have been learning in Romans chapter 6 that we must recon ourselves to be dead in deed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus. Before the softening of the Holy spirit.
His influence upon the human heart, softening the human heart before that can, function in a believers' life. We have to recon ourselves as dead to that cold, hard, selfish self. Now there are many who want to do God's work. And I hope that there are many who listen to this, who desire to do God's work, but they're unable to and sometimes even ask themselves why. And that's a good place to be in when you're asking why, because it'll bring you to a place in which you see the hardness of your own heart, the outer husk of the flesh of our own lives. Now our heavenly father understands this, and it's he who takes the initiative in this matter. And once we begin to desire more, in fact, I would say that God causes that dissatisfaction in the Christian life, you know, and, dissatisfaction with where we're at, and what's going on in our lives.
He causes this in order for you and I to begin asking questions, isn't there more? What more could I be doing in this life? Is there more than just being saved? How can I be more active for him? How can I be more fruitful, for the Lord? Now, God must engineer a transition in believers' lives from being that hard kernel of grain to being fruitful, fellowshipping, disciples. And he will, he will, um, map the most effective transition for that, for all believers. God is going to engineer that, and that's in his hands. There's no fear in that, there is entirely a freedom. Have you ever met those Christians who, they stand out, they're very bright, clever, strong. They seem righteous believers. They seem to have everything going for them, but often they're just a little too bright, a little too clever.
There seems so much of self in their strength and their righteousness is often very severe and very critical. They have everything. But the problem is, is that they need to face the crucifixion. They need to face this death to self. And this is the very thing that will mold each and every one of us. This is what's needed for growth in tenderness, to be able to walk in the love of God and demonstrate that love to others, is that there has to be a death to self. Because this is about Jesus transforming the us from that hard kernel of grain, God planting us in the soil, of the circumstances in our lives and breaking down the hard outer shell so that the ear, might raise to the full head of grain. Now in Matthew 13, Jesus, presents the parable of the tares, Matthew 13:24.
Jesus presented another parable to them saying the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. If we skip down to 36, then he left the crowds and went into the house and his disciples came to him and said, explain to us the parable of the tares of the field. And he said, the one who sows the good seed is the son of man. And the field is the world. And as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom. And the tares are the sons of the evil one. So in this passage, Jesus is very specific. He says, the Lord of the harvest plants, buries, the Christians as seeds in the field, which is the world Jesus sows his children as seeds in this world to rise to fruitfulness. Well there is a lot of talk right at the moment about, heading for the hills, getting away from the cities, all these kinds of things.
And I think that people should be very cautious and very prayerful about those kinds of things. But you and I as believers, we are to be in the world and not of the world. And if all believers headed for the Hills, then we would have to wonder what happens to those who need to hear the gospel. That's a bit of a sidetrack, but it is through God's loving and patient cultivation that He, begins to harvest the believer's life, He begins to bring us into fruitfulness. And part of this is that we come to a place where we fear being fruit-less. And that should be a posture for all believers that we do not want to be fruitless. And if we will die to self, then the Lord can bring us to a place where we bear much fruit.
That is his promise to us. This is what God looks for in order to produce a disciple, God is looking for a filial heart hunger for fruit bearing. Now, the term filial just simply means a longing heart of a child towards a father or of one relative toward another relative to receive, some kind of blessing or enrichment out of that one, it's not a, a wrongful desire. This is a loving desire that in other words, a filial desire for my father would be that I am able to, be a wonderful example of my father's life in my life. And so this is the heart of fruit bearing is that you and I are pleading with the Lord to make us fruitful for his name's sake. And it's when we begin down that path of desiring fruitfulness, that God is then able to take our lives, mould us, and shape us. Jesus said in John 12:24 truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to eternal life.
So this is the work of the Holy spirit. In response to a believer's hunger, God begins to strip away the comforts. I mean, think about the description Jesus gives here. Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone. What does remaining alone mean? It is fruitless. It doesn't produce anything, but if it dies, it's no longer alone. It bears much fruit. If you plant a single grain of wheat, you will reap thousands of grains of wheat. Plant, an Apple seed, grown Apple tree, reap many apples. This is the law of sowing and reaping. And so as part of that law of sowing and reaping, when you and I allow ourselves through this filial heart of desire, desiring to have God's fruitfulness, flow through our lives or be displayed from our lives rather, Desiring that, that God would make us fruitful for his purposes then if we desire that we will be ready to be planted into the earth and die.
This dying, of course, is dying to our own desires and our own will, et cetera, et cetera. And God begins to strip away the comfort. Notice what Jesus says there that, when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he puts in the sickle. This is in Mark 4:29 because the harvest has come. Sooner or later, the grain of wheat finds itself dropped into the earth, into that darkness of the soil where is alone and it dies. And in that place, you know where it's dropped down from the height of being up in the, in the head of the stalk, sooner or later there it begins to seemingly perish and rot away. The husk begins to break down. And why is this, what does all of this mean? Well, what all this means is that, this is not the heart. This is not who we are.
The breaking down of this husk is the removal of all things that are not Christ. So no matter how nice in appearance and professionalism and loveliness a person might be, through this debt to self, all of that exterior will be revealed for what it truly is. That it's just self. Because being just nice or lovely in appearance on the outside may not necessarily represent Christ. It certainly did not represent Christ when he went into the temple and kicked over the tables and whipped the money exchanges. There's a further stripping down that happens right on down until there is nothing left, but Christ. He who is our life. So we go down into death and just have patience in that. If you're yearning is that yearning for a life that bears fruit, if that's your yearning, then God is going to take you on a path. He will plant you into the soil and he will strip you down. But have patience just like job declared, though he slay me, yet will I trust him? Here's an amazing poem from yesteryear.
Well, there's a couple of notes before we get onto the poem that I should have put on the screen. Summarising what we're just saying, that discipleship being a disciple of Jesus is going to strip away self, so Christ is revealed. That's a bit of a summary of what we're saying so far that the purpose of this filial heart, the purpose of desiring, for God to be revealed through us to be glorified through us. The purpose of that is so that you and I, can have our selves stripped away and Christ can be revealed through us. Well, let's move on to this wonderful poem called, Accept it fall into the ground. "Accept it fall into the ground and die. Can much fruit come alone at such a cost? Must the seed corn be buried in the earth all summer joy and glory seemingly lost.
He buries still his seed corns here and there and calls to deeper fellowship with him. Those who will dare to share the bitter cup. And yet while sharing, sing the triumph hymn. Except it fall into the ground and die. But what a harvest in the days to come when fields stand thick with golden sheaves of corn. And you are sharing in the harvest home, to you who lose your life and let it die. Yet in the losing find your life, a new Christ ever more unveils his lovely face. And thus his mirrored glory rests on you. When the believer takes up his cross, then the process of death begins to set in. And we have seen as we've looked through Romans chapter 6, that it is through this process of death that the life of God is manifested in our lives. And that's when, we find ourselves planted in God's purposes.
The process of death begins when a believer takes up his cross for discipleship. And then this is when the disciple is sewn into the field, the world. He might be planted in a home, with unsaved people. He might be planted in a workplace, in an office with unsaved people, might be planted in a community with unsaved people, maybe planted in a church where they're irreligious or, unbelieving people or out to a mission station. It doesn't matter where it is or what it is. When we desire more of the glory of God in our lives, there will be death and from that death, resurrection, life will flow. The glory of God will be manifest in our lives. Turn to 2nd Corinthians chapter 4, and we're coming to a close here this morning. 2 Corinthians chapter 4:7. A fantastic passage.
2 Corinthians 4, but we have this treasure in earthen vessels so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed. Perplexed, but not despairing. Persecuted, but not forsaken. Struck down but not destroyed, always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. This is the way that Paul thought is that, I'm always dying to myself because in that way, Jesus can be manifested through me. The more I die, the more he is manifested through me. Paul went on and he said, for we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you, but having the same spirit of faith according to what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke. We also believe, therefore we speak knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you for all things are for your sakes. So that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.
Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying. Remember we talked about the husk that is surrounding the kernel of the grain of weight. That outer husk shiny and hard as it is. That's the outer man. The outer man is decaying. Yet our inner man is being renewed day by day for momentary light affliction is producing for us any eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.
While we look, now this verse continues really verse 17, this light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight, of glory far beyond all comparison. While we look not at the things which are seen but at the things which are not seen for the things which are seen are temporal. But the things which are not seen are eternal. This is a powerful truth to be remembered.
Continuing with this, another powerful truth that we should remember is that the Messiah could not enter the glory of heaven until He had first given Himself over to death. Once Jesus came to earth and took on this earthly form, took on a human body like ours, it was required that He would be crucified and that following, that crucifixion would be resurrection. Without that crucifixion, without Him giving himself over to death, He could not ascend, to glory. Why did we see things differently? Why is it right that we can think that somehow we can live a life to the glory of God without dying and surrendering self over to His hands? Why do we think that that's even possible if we do? And as we get a hold of this great truth, as we begin thinking about the fact that the Messiah, even the Messiah, the perfect man had to give Himself over to death, God and man in human form,
As we consider that we must at least agree that through surrender to death, we share His life. Mark 8 verse 34, he summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, if anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me for whoever wishes to save his life will lose it. By the way, a loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. I've said before that when Jesus spoke these words to the crowd who were listening to him, that as he spoke these words, they would completely have understood exactly what Jesus meant when he said, take up your cross and follow me. They, would have known that this was a pathway to death and that is exactly what Jesus was asking them to do.
For if anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. It's impossible to share his life until indeed, you and I have surrendered ourselves daily to die to sin and die to self, to die, to the law to die to the world. This is where fellowship with our crucified and resurrected saviour begins. So we've learned a lot of truths about the cross. In these recent weeks. We have learned about our death with Christ. I would urge you to go back over Romans chapter 6, and just keep working on that. We've learned about our death under sin with him that by faith, by placing faith in Jesus Christ, we were crucified with him. We died with him. We've learned about our conformity to death, like a corn of wheat falling into the ground to die.
And these truths are foundational to the overcoming life. Not only that, they're fundamental to it. These truths are foundational to the life of a disciple. For you to be a disciple, you and I are going to have to, for you and I to be disciples, we're going to have to embrace this fact that we must hunger such a death. We have to hunger for God to plant us into that soil of death so that self can be stripped away and God's glory can reside in our lives and he can be manifest through us, it's in, such a death. That true fruitfulness comes. That's where true fruitfulness is, beloved.
That's about all we have for today. We really appreciate you joining with us. Chris made you aware in the beginning, we Cornerstone Gospel Church, our website is cgc.org.au. That's CGC.org.au. We're a nondenominational independent church. Though we're independent, we have some strong links with other like-minded churches. We've been going now for the best part of 18 years, as an independent church. My wife and I have been pastoring, and we have been missionaries since, 1991. We spent six years in Southern China. And we came back in 1997. We came down to the Mornington Peninsula region in 1998. And we were then involved with another organisation and we started Cornerstone as an independent church in 2002. That's a very short bio of Cornerstone. If you're looking for a church, we would love for you to be able to come and feel welcomed to come and join with us, get online with us, interact via the Facebook page and the YouTube channel, and dlive.
And just generally get involved. And then as soon as we go back to having meetings, we'll continue to stream, but it won't be quite in this manner. So things will change a little bit, but we really appreciate you taking the time to be with us today, on our inaugural, live stream. Let's just close in a word of prayer. Father, we thank you this morning. We thank you for your love. We thank you for your grace and we thank you for the great truths of scripture that, Lord bring us into those deeper truths. We pray, father, that you would cause a yearning in our hearts, that we will yearn for this death to self, that your life might be manifest through us and then we might then be truly declared as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Lord, glorifying yourself in us in the mighty name of Christ. Amen. Well, thanks for being with us and until next live stream, we'll see you then.