10-11-2015 Talk is Cheap - Part 5 - Receiving the Word
When I was a kid, I would plant beans in cups in my room. It’s weird, but I was a weird kid. My mom would buy bags of dried beans at the grocery - you know lima beans, great northern (or butter) beans, etc. I’m not sure why I wanted to do this, but I would take some of those beans, put some dirt in a cup and plant them in a little one-bean garden in my room.
Eventually, this became part of the required science project in junior high school. Amazingly (at least to me) these beans would sprout and grow. I never had any beans grow on my bean plants, but they always would sprout and grow. Some became pretty tall.
I was probably the only kid in school growing beans in cups in my room. Now, I knew of some other students who grew plants in their rooms, but I was never allowed to hang out with them. I think they eventually got caught.
I was never a gardener, but some of you are. We have master gardeners here in the church family. I do not know the intricacies of gardening. It requires more patience than I have, I guess. But those of you who know more about that, know the principles referred to in Scripture regarding gardening and faith. You know, “You reap what you sow” and the like.
The Bible actually uses a number of references related to agriculture and life outside the city. It’s wise not to skip these portions just because you may not live on a farm or grow your own food. The deeper truths are there and vital.
In James' letter in the New Testament he speaks of the need to receive with meekness the implanted word. It made me think of those beans I used to plant, for some reason.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:19-21 (ESV)
This is a reference to Christians who have been born again. This word is the gospel. It has been given to us as a gift. Jesus spoke of this. James referenced this.
In John’s account of Jesus’ life, he shares a moment where Jesus spoke to religious leaders who sought to kill him.
I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. John 8:37 (ESV)
Jesus is speaking to people who are people who were highly religious and looked upon well by those in society. They were the celebrity preachers of the day and were greatly loved. They knew their Bible (well, the Old Testament at least) and could quote it verbatim. They looked well, dressed well, spoke well and yet. . .Jesus calls them out.
Apparently, the implantation of the word of God (a phrase I never hear anyone using) is more biblical than “praying the prayer” and “asking Jesus into your heart.”
What Is the Result of Not Receiving This Word?
Apart from the reception of the implanted word, religion is dead.
Maybe that’s what has happened to most of the churches in our nation?
Maybe that’s why the mission has seemingly been forsaken?
Maybe that’s why we lament that “things are really getting bad?”
Maybe we have spent too much time focusing on behaving well rather than the reception of the word and therefore have fallen into the mundane walk of a religion with no power?
Could it be that we have unknowingly become more like the ones wanting to throw stones at Jesus than like Jesus Himself? Not consciously, but perhaps it has occurred.
Maybe that’s why it is so difficult a concept to quantify the command to “make disciples?”
Maybe that’s why we think that by doing more religious activity we are forwarding the Kingdom of God?
In the midst of this reality, there is great news. All we have to do is put away and receive.
New birth is received through surrender to God’s Spirit, the repentance of sin and reception of Jesus Christ as Lord.
The Spirit carries the word into our lives and reveals the truth of Christ that is not possible just by choice. It’s by God’s design.
Life is given through the word and through that word of Truth, we are transformed.
The Spirit of God dwells within the children of God. The word of God is implanted within the children of God.
Verse 21 tells us the result of receiving this implanted word is the salvation of our souls. Don’t underestimate this.
It’s truly a simple principle, when you think about it. “Put away” and “receive.” Maybe you have a desire, but that hasn’t been enough for you to see life change. Maybe you were sincere in your prayer to receive Christ. . .but still there’s something not quite right. It’s not about having everything figured out. It’s about total surrender - perhaps the one thing keeping many who have “prayed the prayer” from being disciples of Christ.
What if we did this? What if we received with meekness the implanted word? What if total surrender happened today? What if church attenders and even church members took the dangerous step of faith into living as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
It’s not adding something into our lives. It’s replacing something.
You and your sins must separate, or you and your God cannot come together. - Charles Spurgeon