Sermon #4 Ruth Series:
Title: The Resolute Consecration Of True Faith
Text: Ruth 1:16-18
Subject: Ruth’s decision and determination
Date: Tuesday Evening - April 27, 1993
After I had finished preaching Thursday night a young lady who was visiting the services took exception with my closing remarks. I had urged my hearers to come to Christ, declaring that all the blessings of salvation, and grace, and eternal glory are promised to every sinner who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. This young lady was upset because I had made salvation too free and easy. She said, “There’s more to it than that. The devil believes. A person also has to follow Christ everyday.”
While I agree that true faith follows Christ and that many are deluded by a false faith, my suspicion is that this young lady was putting works in the place of faith and making works a condition of salvation, which, of course, is heretical. Be sure you understand these two things:
1. Good works are not, in any way, a cause or condition of salvation. We are saved…
· By grace alone!
· Through faith alone!
· In Christ alone!
2. Yet, good works are the fruit, consequence, and evidence of true faith (Eph. 2:8-10).
· If I am born of the Spirit, I bear the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
· If Christ is in me, my life bears a resemblance to Christ.
· If I am I Christ, I am a new creature in him (2 Cor. 5:17).
Tonight, I want to talk to you about The Resolute Consecration of True Faith. My text is Ruth 1:16-18. (Read these three verses with me.)
I hold Ruth before you as an example of true faith. This woman’s decision to worship and serve the Lord God was followed and evidenced by her determination to go with Naomi to Bethlehem and identify herself with the people of God.
Wherever there is true faith in God, true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, there is a voluntary, determined consecration of heart and life to him.
Let me show you four things from our text: Four things about Ruth and her faith.
1. Ruth was converted by the godly testimony and influence of her mother-in-law, Naomi.
2. Ruth’s consecration to the Lord God was tested.
3. Ruth devoted herself to the Lord God of Israel.
4. Ruth devoted herself to the people of God.
I. First, notice this important fact - RUTH WAS CONVERTED BY THE GRACE OF GOD THROUGH THE GODLY TESTIMONY AND INFLUENCE OF HER MOTER-IN-LAW, NAOMI.
She was converted by God’s grace. We understand that. “Salvation is of the Lord!” It is God’s work alone! Yet, our God condescends to use human instruments to accomplish his work. And the instrument God used to save Ruth was Naomi.
I want to be an instrument in the hands of God for the saving of his elect. I want each of you to seek the salvation of sinners as instruments in God’s hands. It is written in the Scriptures, “He that winneth souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30).
Illustration: The four men who “sought means” to
bring their friend to Christ (Lk. 5:17-20).
NOTE: Do not ever use the sovereignty of God and the doctrines of grace as an excuse for indifference to the souls of men or the neglect of your own duty and responsibility.
A. Ruth’s conversion gave Naomi a reason to rejoice and give thanks to God.
Naomi was so melancholy, so dejected that she hardly seems to take notice of what the Lord did for Ruth. But she should have rejoiced. True, her afflictions were sharp. She had suffered great loses…
· Her husband.
· Her sons.
· Her home.
But look what she had gained.
1. She had lost everything earthly and material; but she had gained the soul of her daughter-in-law. She should have been rejoicing (Lk. 15:10).
NOTE: I am afraid wer are too much like Naomi! We have become so concerned about ourselves and about the cares of this world that we…
· Fail to care for and minister to the souls of men.
· Fail to observe the works and blessings of God’s grace.
2. It was Naomi’s decision to return to Bethlehem that appears to have been the thing that influenced Ruth to trust her God.
NOTE: I do not doubt that the reason why many have so little influence upon their children, their relatives, and their friends is the fact that they do not live consistently with their profession.
B. Yet, when all is said and done, we realize that - It takes more than good influences to create faith in the heart.
Were it not for the depravity of the human heart there are many things which might reasonably be expected to cause young people to follow the examples of their godly parents and worship the Lord God.
· The influence of love and admiration.
· The influence of instruction and example.
· The influence of a desire to please and honor.
· The influence of the fear of separation.
Illustration: G. G. Letters, a preacher who lived a long time ago, said that he was converted at a prayer meeting one Sunday evening. That same night, as his mother sat with her children by the fire, she told them how delighted and thankful she would be if they, as one family, were traveling together on the King’s highway. When she said that, young George stood to his feet and said, with a calm, resolute voice, “I, for one, have decided for Christ.”
Thank God, he does use the influences of the godly to save his people. But it takes more than godly influences to save a sinner. Those godly influences must be accompanied by the power and grace of God the Holy Spirit (John 6:63). Not even the preaching of the gospel can bring forth faith in the hearts of men without the quickening power and grace of the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 1:5).
1. You Mamas and Daddies, learn from Elimelech and Naomi the importance of obedience and consecration to Christ.
· Elimelech led his sons away from God to Moab, and they died there!
· Naomi taught Ruth about God and led her to the Lord God by her renewed devotion.
2. You young people who are yet without Christ, who are yet uncommitted, follow Ruth’s example - Renounce all for God, “count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord.”
Yet, even as I call upon you to consecrate yourself to Christ, honesty compels me to tell you that…
II. Secondly, RUTH’S CONSECRATION TO THE LORD GOD WAS TESTED.
Like Ruth, if you trust Christ, if you consecrate yourself to the Lord God, your faith will be tested, your resolution will be tempted, your consecration will be tried.
A. It will be tested by the sorrows and trials of other believers.
Naomi worshipped God. She was a true believer. Yet, she was a poor, penniless, homeless widow. She had lost everything dear to her in this world. It was not an easy trial she had to bear.
The Lord had taken Naomi’s husband, her sons, her home, and all earthly comforts, that he might have her heart.
· He would not leave her!
· He would not let her leave him! (Jer. 32:38-40).
B. Ruth’s faith was tested by being required to stop and count the cost of following her Lord (vv. 11-13).
· She had to leave Moab; so will you.
· She had to forsake family and friend; so must you.
· She had to share the lot of God’s despised and afflicted people; so must you (Heb. 11:24-26).
I have counted the cost of following Christ; and, like old Samuel Rutherford, “I know his sackcloth and ashes are better than the fool’s laughter!”
C. Ruth’s faith was also tested by Orpah’s apostasy.
Orpah followed Naomi for a while. She made a good start for Bethlehem. But when she realized what it would cost to be numbered among the people of God, she kissed Naomi and went back to Moab. Like the rich young ruler, she decided against God. Like him, she departed reluctantly, but she departed forever (Matt. 19:20-22).
The Pliables of this world are a grief and disappointment to Christians. Yet, Christian must not be influenced by Pliable’s fall.
D. Ruth’s faith was certainly tried by the humiliation she had to endure (2:2).
She had to glean in the fields of Boaz as a pauper, as a stranger, depending entirely on his charity. Even so, you and I must humble ourselves as empty-handed beggars before the throne of Christ.
E. Her faith was greatly tried, I am sure, by Naomi’s apparent coldness.
“Ruth clave unto Naomi;” but Naomi was a wise woman. She did not want Ruth to come with her because of pity, but because of conviction. To Ruth, it must have appeared that Naomi did not care for her, because Naomi was more interested in her soul than in her approval.
Perhaps some of you imagine that I do not care as much as other preachers appear to, because I do not beg you and plead with you to join the church. The fact is I do greatly care. I am not at all concerned about statistics and numbers. I will not play games with your soul. I want you to know, worship, and serve the Lord Jesus Christ. But that is one decision you will have to make for yourself, with your eyes wide open.
Illustration: Rebekah - “Wilt thou go with this man?
And she said, I will go? (Gen. 24:58).
F. And Ruth’s faith had to have been greatly tried by Naomi’s sorrow and bitterness (vv. 20-21).
If only Naomi had been able to look into the future, she would have seen that she had greater reason to rejoice now than ever. She was about to be brought into the family from whom the Lord Jesus Christ would be descended!
1. We need to learn to trust God’s providence (Rom. 8:28).
2. When our hearts are overcome with sorrow, for the sake of others we might influence, we ought to take care that we speak no disheartening word (Psa. 73:15).
In spite of all these trials, Ruth “was steadfastly minded,” and ….
III. Thirdly, SHE DEVOTED HERSELF TO THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL.
When she said, “Thy God shall be my God,” Ruth declared her allegiance to God. When she said, “Entreat me not to leave thee,” she was declaring her thoughtful, resolution and determination in this matter.
Illustration: Jephthah (Judg. 11:35).
The converted slave, speaking of his
devotion to Christ said, “I done got
safe pas de go-back corner. I’m goin’
all de journey home. If you don’t see
me at de first o’den twelve gates up
dere, jus look on tu de nex’un, for I’m
boun’ to be dere!”
The problem, I fear, with many is that they never get past “the go-back corner!”
The essence of all true faith is a confident consecration of heart and life to the one true and living God, the God revealed in Holy Scripture, the God revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ. Ruth said to Naomi, “Thy God,” not another god, not Chemosh or Moloch, but Jehovah - “Thy God shall be my God!” Most people today make a calf and call it God, but the god of their devisings is no God at all! They shudder at the mention of the God of the Bible, whose justice is such that he…
· Destoryed the world in his wrath.
· Burned Sodom and Gommorah in his fury.
· Drowned Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea.
· Swallowed up Korah, Dathan, Abiram and their followers.
· Saves sinners only by the blood of his own dear Son!
This God, the one true and living God, the God of mercy and truth, grace and justice, fury and goodness, severity and love, the Lord God of heaven and earth, is the peculiar, distinguishing possession of every believer. “Thy God shall be my God.”
A. This is the believer’s great article of faith - “I believe in God!”
· Believe his Word!
· Trust his grace!
· Bow to his rule!
B. God himself is our Ruler and Lawgiver - “Make me to go in the path of thy commandments” (Psa. 119:35-38).
C. The Lord God is our Instructor - “Teach me thy way, O Lord” (Psa. 27:11; 86:11).
D. He is our Trust - (Ruth 2:12). Our faith is in God! We trust him.
· For salvation!
· For all things temporal!
· For all things eternal!
“This God is our God, forever and ever, he will be our Guide even unto death” (Psa. 48:14).
IV. Fourthly, be sure you understand this - IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO BE CONSECRATED TO GOD IF YOU ARE NOT CONSECRATED TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD. RUTH DEVOTED HERSELF TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD.
She said, “Thy people shall be my people.”
A. They were a despised people - But His people!
B. They were a people with many faults - But His people!
C. They were a people from whom she was not likely to gain much -
Illustration: Those looking for a perfect church.
NOTE: Being a Moabitess, Ruth might well have expected ill-treatment from the Jews.
D. Because Jehovah was their God, Ruth made Naomi’s people her people.
E. Boaz was in Bethlehem!
· Christ is always present with his people.
· His presence more than makes up for their deficiencies.
· Christ is here; and that is enough for me!
Application: “Come thou with us, and we will do thee good!” (Num. 10:29).