Persistence + Patience = Perseverance | Sermon Notes, Luke #72
From the May 1 sermon, "The Parable of the Persistent Widow," preached by Pastor Mark out of Luke 18:1–8. Also, in case you missed it, be sure to check out the two clips on prayer from this sermon that we released last week in a special preview post to this sermon.
In the parable of the persistent widow, Jesus exhorts us to persist in prayer, because he is a judge who is completely unlike the unjust judge in the story. Prayer is simply talking to God our Father. Persist in talking to God until this life comes to an end, when we will all stand before the Judge and there will be justice. This life is like a marathon and to be a Christian is to run through to the end. Persistence plus patience equals perseverance.
My fear is this: we’re a culture of victims. We love to be victims. It tends to put us in a position where we have power and people owe us. And the result is we tend to see others’ sin against us more clearly and quickly than we see our sin against others.Now the truth is, we’re sinned against and we’re victims like the widow. But we’re also sinners like the judge. And we too have victims. And so I want you to think, in hearing this story, what people for what reasons would think that you remind them of the judge? How are you like the judge? …
Who could you be helping and you’re not? Who could you be serving and you’re not? Who could you be defending and you’re not? And you may say, "Well, I didn’t do the bad thing." Perhaps you did, perhaps you didn’t. But if you don’t do anything, that’s a bad thing. We can’t just have a value of compassion, empathy, love, mercy, respect, and generosity. We have to have a lifestyle that actually embodies, demonstrates those stated values.
So if we looked at your schedule, does it reveal a real care for people? If we looked at your budget, does it reveal a real care for people? Or are you like the typical person today who has an attitude of compassion, but not a lifestyle of compassion? And by definition, that’s hypocrisy. Say, "I really care about people." Well, who are you helping? "Well, I love ‘em in my heart." Well, great. Open up your wallet, open up your mouth, get your hands dirty. Love is what you do, right? Love is what you do.
It says in Proverbs 29:25 that the fear of man is a trap or a snare. And here we see that the judge has no fear of God, no fear of God.
And by "fear," it is meant honor, reverence, respect, submission, obedience, compliance, deference to God, that in your mind, in your heart, in your life, there’s a functional lord. It may be the Lord Jesus Christ or someone that you have chosen to be a functional lord, a false god. If God is not the center of your life, if God is not the highest authority in your life, someone else will be. You’ll live for their approval. You’ll live for their affection. You’ll want to make them happy and keep them from being angry at you or punishing you.
And the way we deal with the fear of man is with the fear of God. See, some of you have had fear of man, so you’ll fear one person. And then you’re able to get rid of them in your heart at least as the center of your life. And then someone else takes their place. The only way to overcome this problem of fear of man is with the fear of the Lord, that God is preeminent, that God is prominent, that God’s opinion of us weighs most heavily, that God’s judgment is what guides our decision making. And that we’re trusting and waiting that the day will come when God will tell us, "Well done, good and faithful servant." And until then, everyone else’s voice is not unimportant if they love him, but is secondary to his.
Twelve exhortations to perseverance in the Bible, after the jump:
Roughly twelve of the books of the New Testament at or near their conclusion give an exhortation to persistence and patience that culminates in perseverance. Keep on keeping on, keep going. Dear victim, don’t quit. Trust the judge and get to the court date. I’ll read them to you because the Bible says elsewhere that faith comes by hearing the Word of God.
And some of you are tempted to quit. Some of you are tempted to doubt God. Some of you are tempted to deny God. Some of you are tempted to disregard God. Some of you are tempted to disobey God. Persistence plus patience equals perseverance. …
Matthew 28:20: "to the end of the age."
1 Corinthians 16:13: "Be watchful, stand firm."
Galatians 6:9: "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."
Ephesians 6:18: "Keep alert with all perseverance."
Colossians 4:2: "Continue steadfastly in prayer."
2 Thessalonians 3:13: "As for you, brothers, do not grow weary."
1 Timothy 6:12–14: "Fight the good fight of the faith . . . until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ."
2 Timothy 4:18: "The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom."
James 5:7–8: "Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient."
1 Peter 5:12: "This is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it."
2 Peter 3:17: "You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability." He’s saying remain stable.
And Jude 24–25: "Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling."
God exhorts us, God encourages us, and, let me say this, God enables us and God empowers us to have both persistence and patience. The life we live is not just a life lived for God. That’s what religion teaches. It is the life of Christ lived for us. It is the life of Christ lived in us. …
And dear friends, you and I are called to follow in the example of Jesus and we are compelled to follow in the example of Jesus and it is ultimately by the grace of God and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit that we can. The Bible says that this is Christ in you. So it is the life of Christ in you and through you empowering and enabling you to persevere through persistence and patience.
Next week, Luke #73, "Works Righteousness vs. Gift Righteousness," from Luke 18:9–14.
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