Sermon #922 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: “So Near Home, Yet Lost!”
Text: Mark 12:28-34
Subject: The necessity of faith in Christ
Date: Sunday Morning - July 22, 1990
More than a hundred years ago a Welch ship called, The Royal Charter, safely sailed around the world, navigating treacherous waters in every part of the globe. When the ship docked briefly at Queenstown, one of the sailors telegraphed his wife, telling her that he would be home in a few hours. You can imagine her excitement. She has not seen or heard from her husband in months, and months, and months. With joy and anticipation, she hurriedly prepared supper, set the table, and got all spruced up. Excitedly, she sat in the parlor, waiting for her husband to walk through the door. Instead, a messenger appeared at the door who told her that as the ship approached its home port it was smashed to pieces in Maelfra Bay, on the coast of Wales, and her husband was drowned!
As soon as her pastor heard what had happened, he hurried over to minister to his shocked and grieving widow. He said, “Never can I forget the grief, so stricken, and tearless, with which she wrung my hand.” As that lady held her pastor’s hands, those are the words with which she expressed her grief - “So near home, and yet lost! So near home, and yet lost! So near home, and yet lost!”
These words are the title of my message today. I am certain that they describe some, perhaps many of you - “So near home, and yet lost!” Some of you are, as it were, in the suburbs of the City of Refuge. You are in a very dangerous place. I warn you, if you stay there, you will perish forever. What a pity that some of you will perish at the gates of salvation for want of one step! You have come to the Door. Perhaps you admire the Door. But you have not entered into life by Christ the Door; and you are lost. “So near home, and yet lost!” I can think of nothing more pitiful. Today, I want to talk especially to you who are near, so very near to the kingdom of God, and yet altogether lost. We meet with a man just like you in Mark 12:28-34. (Read the text.)
It is possible for a person to be very near the kingdom of God and not be in it. It is possible for a sinner to perish upon the doorsteps of mercy. Our Lord Jesus Christ says to you who are here without faith, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.”
The kingdom of God is that kingdom of grace in which all are voluntary, loyal subjects under the rule of Christ. It is a spiritual kingdom, governed by Christ through the power of his Spirit and the Word of his grace. The kingdom of God is the church and family of God in this world.
1. Some of you are in the kingdom of God.
· You have been quickened, regenerated, and made alive by the Spirit of God (v. 27; Eph. 2:1; Rev. 20:6).
· You have been brought to the obedience of faith by the Spirit of God (Rom. 16:25-26).
· You have been adopted into the family of God (Eph. 1:4-6).
· You are led, ruled, governed, and directed in your life by the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:9, 14).
If you are in the kingdom of God, you are in it because God, by a work of his almighty grace, has put you in it. “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13).
2. Some of you are far off from the kingdom of God.
Though you are here, in the house of God, you have no interest in the things of God. You are here only because you have to be, or because you have been pressured to come. But you have no interest in your soul, or in Christ, or in the gospel of his grace. Like a brute beast, you live only for time and only for the physical, sensual pleasures of life. Though you are far off from God, I pray that God may come to you today. Though you have no interest in Christ, I pray that he has an interest in you. If he will, he can even bring you into his kingdom today.
3. But some of you, like the man in our text, are “not far from the kingdom of God.”
You are “so near home, and yet lost!” If God the Holy Spirit will enable me, I want to reason with you from the Scriptures. May he be pleased today to graciously bring you into the kingdom.
I want to do three things in this message:
1. Describe those who are not far from the kingdom of God.
2. Warn you who are not far from the kingdom of God.
3. Reason with you who are not far from the kingdom of God.
I. First, IW WILL DESCRIBE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THAT PERSON WHO IS NOT FAR FROM THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
One of the scribes listened carefully as the Lord Jesus baffled the Pharisees, the Herodians and the Saducees in their attempts to discredit him. Then he asked the Savior, “Which is the first commandment of all?”
A. The Lord Jesus answered his question according to the Scriptures (vv. 29-31).
In his answer our Savior shows us four things:
1. The Tri-unity of the eternal Trinity. (See John 1:1-3; 1 John 5:7).
2. The requirements of God’s holy law upon all men.
3. The depravity of all men. No man can keep this law! (Rom. 3:19).
4. The necessity of a righteous, sin-atoning Substitute.
B. When this Scribe heard the Savior’s words, he answered him discreetly, with reverence and wisdom (vv. 32-34).
1. He recognized Christ as a Master in Israel, a Teacher come from God.
2. He acknowledged the truth of the Lord’s doctrine.
C. And the Lord Jesus said to him, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.”
Why? What did the Savior see in this man that he did not see in the rest of the Pharisees? Why did he say he was not far from the kingdom of God? Let me show you.
1. He saw in this man what he did not see in the rest of the Pharisees. Christ saw standing before him a man of sincerity and truthfulness.
This scribe was something more than a religionist. He was no hypocrite. He sincerely studied the law of God, saw something of the supremacy of God, and tried to order his life by the law of God. Like the Jews Paul spoke of, he had a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge (Rom. 10:1-4).
2. This man understood something of the spiritual nature of the law.
He saw that the law had more to do with the glory of God and of inward principle of love for God and man than it did with mere outward deeds. He saw that the worship of God was inward, not outward, spiritual, not ceremonial.
a. He saw more than the papist, who makes worship nothing but ceremonies.
b. He saw more than the doctrinalist, who puts head knowledge above heart experience.
c. He saw more than the legalist, who puts outward morality above love and kindness.
3. The Lord Jesus saw in this scribe a teachable spirit.
Here was a man who was willing to learn. He was willing to have his doctrine, his religion and his opinions examined and corrected by the Scriptures.
4. This man was in a hopeful condition.
a. He saw the unity, the breadth and the spirituality of the law.
b. And he appears to have realized something of his inability to keep the law. He knew what God required. And he knew that he could not meet God’s requirements. There is reason to have hope for a man who knows that much!
D. Some of you here are, like this Scribe, “Not far from the kingdom of God.”
Like the five foolish virgins, you have the lamp of religion, but you do not have the oil of grace.
1. You have some fear of God, which in great measure regulates your life and keeps you from the evil deeds of other people.
2. You have a high regard for the things of God.
· His Word.
· His worship.
· His ordinances.
3. You know something of your need of Christ.
Sometimes, the Word of God touches your heart. You go home, after hearing a gospel sermon, resolved to trust Christ and confess him. Like the prodigal, you say, “I will arise and go to my Savior.” But that is as far as you have gone. You have come to the Door, but never entered in. You have come to the gates of the city of Refuge, but never entered the city. My dear friend, you are in a very dangerous place.
II. Secondly, I MUST WARN YOU WHO ARE NOT FAR FROM THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
In this world, you may be happier and more respected than the base, profligate, openly ungodly. But, before God, you are no better off than those who are far off. In Christ, in the kingdom of God, there is life, eternal life. Out of Christ, out of the kingdom of God, no matter how close you may come, there is nothing but death, eternal death.
Though this man was not far from the kingdom of God, we never read that he entered into it. Like the rich young ruler, he was decisive. Halting between two opinions, he could not make up his mind to forsake all and follow Christ. Perhaps, like his friends, he “loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” He had much, but he lacked the one thing needful, he lacked faith in Christ. How many there are like this scribe! You see much, know much, feel much, and do much, and yet live and die undecided, without Christ!
No man is safe who is not in the kingdom of God. The border land is a place of danger. If you are satisfied with being “not far from the kingdom of God,” you will in the end be shut out forever.
A. If you do not enter in by Christ into the kingdom of God, I know exactly what will become of you.
· Either you will go back into hopeless apostasy (Heb. 10:25-31; 2 Pet. 2:1-2, 20-22; 1 John 2:19).
· Or, you will become content without Christ, indifferent, and gospel hardened - “That which is set in the sun, if it be not softened, will be hardened” (C. H. Spurgeon).
B. And in the end, you will be shut out of the kingdom altogether, and cast into outer darkness! (See Luke 13:23-30!)
Religion without Christ is the most damning thing in all the world!
Illustration: The man who became a Junkie.
III. Thirdly, I WANT, BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD, TO PERSUADE YOU WHO ARE NOT FAR FROM THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND YOU WHO ARE FAR OFF TO ENTER TODAY AND BE SAVED.
If you die where you are, without Christ, you will be forever lost. “So near home, and yet lost!” Will you hear me? Will you hear what God says to you? “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mk. 16:16).
A. The only Door by which you may enter into the kingdom of God is Christ (John 10:9).
· His blood.
· His righteousness.
B. God has opened the door of entrance for sinners (Heb. 10:19-23).
Salvation is accomplished! Redemption is done! Christ has purchased eternal life for sinners! There is nothing you can do or must do to win God’s favor, satisfy God’s justice, or merit eternal life.
C. But God has sent me here to tell you that there is something you must do, without which you will not be saved - You must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ!
You can sit and speculate about God’s sovereignty and man’s depravity if you want to. But it is your responsibility to:
· Repent of your sin (Lk. 13:3).
· Trust Christ (Acts 16:31).
· Confess Christ (Rom. 10:9-10).
If you were dying of thirst and someone brought you a pitcher of fresh spring water, would you try to get it straight in your mind whether God had predestinated it, or you were responsible to drink it, or you had the ability to drink it? Why that is nonsense! Men never act so foolishly until they start trying to become theologians. A thirsty man would drink the water, and ask his questions later!
If there is a thirsty sinner here today, I set before you Christ, the Fountain of Life. Drink of that Fountain and live forever.
Will you enter into the kingdom of God; or will you die “not far from the kingdom of God”? God help you now to enter in. “How long halt ye between two opinions?” “Choose you this day whom you will serve.”
Illustration: Barnard, “For Christ’s sake, leave me alone!”