Participants: Geoff Youlden
Series Code: FGW
Program Code: FGW000008
00:26 Well tonight I want to talk to you on the subject
00:29 Can a man or a woman
00:32 go so far into sin
00:35 that God cannot save them? In other words,
00:38 can the go so far away from God
00:41 that it's impossible to come back to Him?
00:44 You know, tonight if God was here
00:48 in a physical sense so that we could actually see Him
00:51 and He talked to us, I would suggest
00:55 that if He actually talked to us we would never forget
00:58 that experience
00:59 and we would hang on every word, isn't that right?
01:04 I think we would.
01:06 I know I would... I'm sure you would, too.
01:10 Because if God was able to talk to us and we could actually
01:14 hear Him... what a wonderful experience!
01:17 You know I've had people say to me:
01:18 "If I could literally hear God I'd believe in Him. "
01:23 Well actually, God HAS spoken to us
01:27 and He literally wants to speak to us every day.
01:32 Now it may not be in the way that you and I are used to
01:36 people talking to us... with a voice.
01:39 But God has communicated to us in the Book.
01:43 Because this is God's letter to us.
01:48 And you and I know that if we want to grow
01:51 into a relationship, what must you do if you want to develop
01:57 that relationship? Those of you who are in love:
02:00 And I hope that's all... all husbands and wives
02:05 and friends. If you're in love with somebody,
02:09 what have you got to do?
02:16 All right. Get to know their family.
02:18 Spend time with that person.
02:21 Tell me, if your partner -
02:26 if your husband or wife or whoever it might be -
02:30 is very precious to you,
02:33 is it hard to spend time talking to them?
02:39 Is it? No!
02:42 In fact, it's very exciting to spend time with them,
02:47 isn't that right?
02:48 Yes. Now that's the way God wants us to be.
02:54 He wants us to develop a relationship with Him.
02:56 Now the way that He talks to us is through His Word.
03:00 That's why the study of the Bible is so very, very
03:05 important. And when I'm reading the Bible
03:08 I've got to remember that I'm not just reading words
03:12 but I'm actually thinking about the fact that this is God
03:16 speaking to me.
03:19 And so I'm not just reading about a historical event
03:23 way in the past, I am reading it so that it talks to me...
03:27 talks to my heart. So that's why the Bible becomes very
03:31 precious. And then when I want to talk to God,
03:33 that's what we call prayer.
03:35 That's my response to God.
03:39 And we develop a relationship with someone
03:42 by spending time by talking to them.
03:44 You know, when marriages break down
03:46 usually it is because communication breaks down.
03:51 That's usually the bottom-line cause of all marriage
03:55 breakdowns. Somewhere back in the past
04:00 communication began to break down,
04:02 and gradually gradually gradually until it collapses.
04:09 And God wants us not to break our relationship with Him.
04:13 That's why He has given to us the Word.
04:16 And tonight I want to study with you what I think is
04:20 probably the worst case in all the Bible.
04:23 But before we turn that story up let's come over to the book
04:26 of Romans at the back of the Bible, Romans chapter 15.
04:30 And Paul is talking here in Romans chapter 15
04:35 and verse 4. And this is what he says.
04:39 Romans the 15th chapter and verse 4:
05:01 You see, one of the major reasons that the Bible
05:05 has been written is to give us hope!
05:11 And when it says here that "for whatever things were
05:15 written before... " what's that talking about?
05:20 What's... what has been written before?
05:22 What was Paul primarily talking about
05:24 when he says: "what things were written before? "
05:27 What's that? Yeah, that's the Old Testament.
05:31 Because it didn't include as yet the New Testament
05:34 because the New Testament was still being written, wasn't it?
05:38 Now, of course, NOW it includes the New Testament
05:41 but when Paul was writing it primarily included
05:46 or it meant the Old Testament.
05:48 And that's why we must be very, very careful -
05:51 very suspicious about anybody that would ever suggest to you
05:55 that some parts of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament,
05:58 has been done away with or is not necessary for us to study.
06:01 Because the things that have been written in the
06:04 Old Testament and now included in the New Testament too for us.
06:09 But when Paul was writing the things that were written
06:12 in the Old Testament were written to give us hope.
06:18 And it says here:
06:23 So the best thing about the Bible to understand
06:26 is the fact that the Bible has been written to give us comfort
06:30 and to give us hope.
06:34 And this evening I want to talk to you about what I think
06:38 will be the most hopeless case in all the Bible.
06:43 And if there's hope for a creature like we're going to
06:46 talk about, then there's hope for us all.
06:50 You know, in the world today there's not too much
06:53 that gives you a lot of hope.
06:54 When we look at the environment, that doesn't give us a lot
06:57 of hope today, does it?
06:59 We listen to the scientists and the political leaders...
07:03 that doesn't give us much hope.
07:06 But the Bible says it's been written to give us hope
07:11 and as we study the scriptures that we'll learn patience
07:15 and comfort.
07:16 You know, I went through a hospital recently.
07:19 And as I walked through the ward I saw ward after ward
07:23 of children who were disfigured and handicapped.
07:28 And any parent's heart would just... just cry out
07:32 when you see children because you understand that
07:34 some parent is hurting because of their child was in
07:39 this situation. Terrible... ward after ward.
07:43 Then I went through ward after ward of accident cases.
07:49 Mainly car accidents.
07:53 I saw one girl that had a great cut right across her face.
08:00 Terribly disfigured.
08:02 The nurse was saying she was lucky to be alive.
08:05 Looked to me as if she was, too.
08:08 And when we look within our own hearts
08:10 there's not too much to give us hope.
08:14 Pretty hopeless world.
08:16 And yet the Bible says it's been written to give us hope.
08:22 And as we study it tonight I think we're going to see
08:25 how much hope we can have.
08:26 And I know many of us have a strong hope.
08:30 But sometimes I meet people who talk about heaven
08:32 that they hope that they're going to have
08:34 and salvation that they hope that they're going to have
08:37 one day. Well the Bible says we ought to be confident
08:41 about our salvation.
08:43 We ought to be confident about what we believe.
08:47 And when we look within our own hearts, there's not too much
08:50 to give us confidence. For example, let me illustrate.
08:53 If I had a camera here and I took a picture of you
08:58 and then I put it up on the screen
09:00 for you all to have a look,
09:03 tell me this: whose picture would you look for first?
09:10 I guarantee it wouldn't be mine.
09:12 You would be looking for your own picture, isn't that right?
09:16 And let me suggest that if you were looking good
09:21 and bright eyed and bushy tailed
09:23 you'd say: "What a wonderful picture that is! "
09:26 Doesn't matter about others who may have been blinking
09:28 at the wrong time or, you know, things weren't quite straight.
09:32 If you took a good picture: "what a wonderful picture
09:35 that is! "
09:36 That's how much self is dead in each of our hearts.
09:40 And we all know that.
09:42 For example, when you hear the fire siren go and
09:45 the fire engine coming down and you're near your house,
09:48 whose house do you think of first?
09:53 That's how much self is dead in each of us.
09:56 And that's why when we look within our own hearts
09:59 there is not a lot to give us hope.
10:01 But the Bible says that the things that have been written
10:06 aforetime... the things that have been written in the past...
10:09 have been written to give us hope.
10:12 That we through patience and comfort of the scriptures
10:16 might have hope.
10:17 Now as I said, I want to talk about the most hopeless case
10:20 in all the Bible. I think by the time we're through
10:23 you will agree with me that it is the most hopeless case.
10:26 And if there's hope for a creature like we're going to
10:29 study about, then I think there's hope for each of us.
10:32 Come back to II Kings, toward the beginning of the Bible.
10:35 II Kings chapter 21.
10:38 II Kings chapter 21 and verse 9.
10:44 II Kings 21, and we'll pick up here the story in verse 9.
10:51 It says:
11:06 Now honestly friends, how Manasseh
11:10 did that I don't know.
11:14 I wouldn't believe it except the Bible said it.
11:18 How he seduced God's people to do worse than the Amorites
11:23 did and the Moabites I just can't understand
11:28 because they fell to about as low as it's possible to be
11:34 degraded as a human being.
11:37 You might remember that the Amorites inhabited a place
11:39 called Jericho.
11:42 And you remember the story of Jericho? How God's people
11:47 were to march around the city walls
11:50 seven times
11:53 then the walls eventually came tumbling down.
11:56 And God said to His people
11:58 when they went into the city: "Don't touch anything
12:03 in the city. "
12:06 Things had become so degraded, so filthy,
12:10 that God said: "Don't touch anything! "
12:12 Now one man disobeyed.
12:15 Do you remember his name?
12:17 Yes, it was a man by the name of Achan.
12:21 And he stole what he said was a
12:26 "goodly Babylonish garment. "
12:28 In other words, it must have been a pretty good looking coat.
12:32 And it must have fitted him
12:34 and he got it from one of the inhabitants of Jericho.
12:39 And he must have looked pretty good in it.
12:42 And then he hid it in his tent.
12:46 And the Bible says that he brought a curse upon the whole
12:50 camp of Israel
12:52 because he took that garment
12:56 because God said: "Don't touch anything. "
13:00 You know, I meet people from time to time...
13:03 In meetings like this they come to me and they say:
13:06 "Geoff, I can never understand
13:09 why if God is a God of love
13:12 why He commanded the destruction of the women and the children
13:17 of the Old Testament. "
13:19 I often am asked that question:
13:22 "If God is a God of love, why did He do that? "
13:28 You may have wondered it too.
13:32 You know it always reminds me of the chief of police of London.
13:36 He said as a young Christian he could never reconcile
13:40 the God of love with the destruction. In fact,
13:44 some people are so distressed over this question that
13:47 they believe that the God of the Old Testament
13:50 is different to the Jesus of the New Testament.
13:55 Now there's no difference.
13:57 Folk just don't understand when they make statements
14:00 like that. But this chief of police of London
14:04 he said: "I could never understand why God ordered
14:08 the destruction of the women and the children of the...
14:10 of the Old Testament... " he said, "until I became chief
14:14 of police of London. "
14:16 "Then, " he said, "my biggest problem was why God
14:20 didn't destroy London. "
14:22 And it's not just London, it's any of our big cities,
14:25 isn't that right?
14:28 Because when you get to know what's going on
14:30 you wonder at the forbearance and the love of God.
14:36 You know, when Billy Graham wrote his book many years ago
14:40 called World Aflame, his wife read the manuscript
14:43 before it was published.
14:46 And she said: "You know, Billy,
14:49 if Jesus doesn't come back soon
14:53 He'll have to apologize for destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. "
14:59 Because our world is about as filthy as they were.
15:06 And as I said, he could never understand, he could never
15:10 reconcile this
15:11 until he saw the filth and the degradation
15:15 of our big cities.
15:17 And you see, if God hadn't destroyed those people
15:21 and allowed them to continue to live on,
15:24 they had become so filthy and degraded in their practices
15:28 that if God had allowed them to live on they would have
15:31 infected the whole of humanity.
15:34 It's a bit like a case of oranges.
15:36 You know very well if you have a case of oranges
15:39 one thing you have to be very careful about is
15:42 to go through those oranges pretty regularly,
15:44 isn't that right? Because all you need
15:47 almost overnight is one of those oranges to go a bit furry
15:52 and what will happen to the whole case
15:54 almost while you watch it?
15:56 It'll affect the whole case.
15:58 And God knew that. That's why
16:02 He allowed the destruction of those who were living
16:06 such filthy degraded lives.
16:08 Otherwise they would have infected the whole of humanity
16:13 and we all would have been wiped out.
16:15 So in love and mercy God destroyed those
16:20 who had fallen and become so degraded.
16:22 Notice verse 11 of II Kings chapter 21.
16:27 In verse 11 it says:
16:44 Now once again, verse 11 is emphasizing this very point.
16:48 "He has done more wickedly than the Amorites. "
16:52 And remember: Manasseh was one of God's leaders
16:56 and he led God's people to do worse above all.
17:02 Now there's not much an excuse for Manasseh because
17:05 you may remember Manasseh had a wonderful father.
17:08 If you go back to chapter 20 and verse 21
17:13 it tells you who his father was.
17:15 And if ever there was a good man that lived,
17:18 like the Bible says, he was one of the best if not the best.
17:22 Chapter 20 and verse 21 it says:
17:33 Now Hezekiah was a wonderful, wonderful man.
17:37 The best king probably that Israel ever had.
17:42 And so Manasseh had no excuses because he was brought up
17:47 to understand the truth.
17:50 He was brought up in a good home.
17:53 He had good parents who loved God
17:57 and who served God.
17:59 And you may remember that God came to Hezekiah
18:03 on one occasion and He said: "Hezekiah,
18:05 I want you to get your house in order
18:07 because you're going to die. "
18:09 Remember the story?
18:12 And Hezekiah didn't want to die. He was 39 years of age.
18:16 Now when you're 39, you're just at the best years of your life
18:19 because up until the age of 39 you've learned a few things
18:22 in life. Through your 40's, somebody wrote a book some years
18:26 ago: "Life begins at 40. "
18:29 I don't know whether that's true but that's what he said.
18:32 "Life begins at 40. " And the philosophy of the book was
18:35 up until your 40's you've had experience in life.
18:39 You've learned lots of good things
18:41 and in your 40's you still have the energy to be able to
18:45 put it into practice.
18:47 After the 40's...
18:52 it's only one direction.
18:55 Well you don't have to agree with him
18:57 but that's... that's the philosophy of the book
19:00 "Life begins at 40. " Well, Hezekiah
19:02 was just about to enter the very best years of his life.
19:08 God said: "Get your house in order, Hezekiah,
19:11 because you're going to die. "
19:14 And Hezekiah didn't want to die and so he prayed to God
19:17 and twisted God's arm so to speak.
19:20 And God answered his prayer
19:22 as Hezekiah wanted it to be answered.
19:25 And He extended his life. Do you know by how many years?
19:29 Fifteen years.
19:34 Now Hezekiah wanted a sign. He wasn't satisfied
19:37 that God had said to him: "Look, I'll extend your life
19:40 by 15 years. " He said: Lord, You give me a sign. "
19:45 So finally the Lord relinquished on that, too, and gave him
19:48 a sign. And you remember He put the sun back 10 degrees?
19:52 In other words, made the day longer.
19:55 Now that had a tremendous impact upon the Babylonians
19:59 because they worshiped the sun.
20:03 And they sent their best scientists,
20:06 their best ambassadors,
20:08 their best mathematicians over to Hezekiah
20:11 because they heard that it was the God of Hezekiah
20:14 that was actually able to make their god, shift their god
20:17 in the sky.
20:20 And the tragic thing is in the life of Hezekiah
20:24 who lived a very, very wonderful life
20:26 up until those extra 15 years,
20:29 he made two tragic mistakes in those 15 years.
20:35 The first was when the ambassadors came over
20:42 he never told them about God at all...
20:44 he told them all about Hezekiah.
20:48 And by the way, these mathematicians were the
20:52 forerunners. They have given to us much of our mathematics
20:56 today. For example, you may have wondered
20:58 where you get 360 degrees from for our circle.
21:02 You see, the Babylonians
21:06 based all their mathematics on the 60 system.
21:12 And we have changed over to the decimal system...
21:15 at least most countries in the world now
21:17 have changed over to the decimal system.
21:20 And we find it much easier because 10 is divisible by 5
21:25 and by 2. But 60 is divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.
21:33 And the Babylonians worked all this out.
21:35 That's where the idea of 60 seconds to the minute
21:38 comes from and 60 minutes to the hour
21:40 and 360 degrees in a circle...
21:43 all comes to us from the Babylonians.
21:46 They worked all that out. The #6 runs all through their system.
21:51 It's interesting when you get over to the Bible and you study
21:53 the Bible the #7 is God's number isn't it?
21:58 You know we have what? In the book of Revelation
22:02 seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven plagues,
22:05 seven overcomes. You've got seven colors in the rainbow.
22:10 Seven notes in music.
22:13 Seven seas.
22:16 Seven days in the week.
22:20 Interesting, isn't it?
22:22 Seven. And I'll tell you some- thing else that's interesting:
22:26 if you add 7 and 6 together, what do you get?
22:31 Thirteen. And what's thirteen considered to be?
22:33 Unlucky. Now most people don't know why 13 is unlucky,
22:37 but it comes to us from the Bible.
22:39 Because the Biblical people understood
22:42 when you mix the things of God and the things of the world
22:45 together you always have problems.
22:48 And they understood that.
22:49 That's why 13 is considered to be unlucky
22:53 even by people who don't go to church, have no idea about God.
22:55 They still are superstitious about 13.
22:58 Comes to us from the Bible.
23:00 I wish I had more time to talk to you on some of these
23:02 things because it's interesting.
23:04 And so the ambassadors, the mathematicians,
23:09 all came over to sit at Hezekiah's feet to learn about
23:13 his God. And the tragedy is when you read the story
23:16 he never even told them about God.
23:19 He told them all about Hezekiah.
23:21 Showed them all his beautiful palaces,
23:24 all the gold and all the silver, all that he had.
23:29 And God said to Hezekiah: "Hezekiah, they're going to
23:32 come down... " When they went back He said:
23:34 "They're going to come down and they're going to take the lot. "
23:36 You know the rest of the story.
23:38 That's exactly what the Babylonians did.
23:40 That was the first tragic mistake of Hezekiah.
23:42 The second tragic mistake of Hezekiah was
23:45 that he had a son born
23:48 because he was born in these added years.
23:54 How do I know that? Well if you have a look at
23:55 chapter 21 and verse 1 it says there
23:58 that Manasseh was 12 years old when his father died
24:02 which means that he was born in those added 15 years.
24:07 Isn't that right?
24:08 And I want to tell you something: the world would have
24:11 been a better place if Manasseh had never drawn a breath.
24:16 A much better place.
24:19 You could hardly believe that such a terrible man like
24:23 Manasseh could come from such a godly mother and father
24:26 as Hezekiah and his wife... but he did.
24:30 Just to give you some idea if you think I'm exaggerating
24:34 when I am pointing out here that Manasseh was such a
24:36 terrible man, you just have a look at chapter 21 verse 2
24:41 and we'll read a little bit about his actions.
24:44 Listen... verse 2:
25:14 In other words, he brought Baal worship - which was nothing
25:18 more or less than sun worship,
25:20 the worship of the Babylonians and the Assyrians
25:24 and all the heathen nations -
25:26 moon worship and sun worship - he brought it right into the
25:30 very church of God, into the very temple of God.
25:33 Right into the sanctuary.
25:36 And what his father had broken down
25:40 he raised up again.
25:42 Taught the people all this Baal worship.
25:46 This is where the idea of the zodiac,
25:49 astrology, and he taught the people to follow their luck
25:54 in the stars.
25:55 Because that all comes to us from ancient Babylon.
25:59 That's where that originated.
26:01 And I'm surprised at the number of people today
26:04 who would never start out the day without looking at
26:07 the stars... reading their luck in the stars.
26:10 People decorate their homes by the stars.
26:13 They wouldn't do business without checking on the stars.
26:16 I want to tell you: that comes to us from ancient Babylon.
26:19 That doesn't come to us from God at all.
26:24 Verse 4:
26:35 Verse 5:
26:44 Not satisfied to bring sun worship and moon worship
26:49 and the worship of the stars into Israel
26:53 he actually brought it into the very sanctuary...
26:57 into the two courts of the house of the Lord.
27:00 Verse 6:
27:17 And as I said, this man knew the truth.
27:22 There's no excuse for Manasseh because he was brought up
27:26 by these godly parents to under- stand the difference between
27:30 right and wrong. But in view of that
27:33 he cast it all aside and rebelled against his good
27:37 upbringing and began to follow all the practices of
27:40 the nations and the people that surrounded him.
27:42 In other words, he copied those who were living around him.
27:48 And then as we read on here in verse 7:
28:06 Verse 8:
28:35 Now honestly, I don't know how he did that,
28:38 but the Bible says he did and so he did it.
28:41 But understand it? I can't.
28:43 In fact, we believe
28:46 that Manasseh put the prophet Isaiah
28:50 into a hollow log.
28:54 And when he had pushed him up in this hollow log
28:57 that they'd hollowed out of this big trunk
28:59 pushed Isaiah up then got a saw and cut it in half.
29:04 And of course the New Testament tells us
29:07 in Hebrews the 11th chapter that many of the prophets
29:10 were sawn asunder. And we believe
29:12 that that's when Isaiah met his end:
29:14 in the reign of Manasseh.
29:17 Because... The reason we are pretty certain about this
29:20 is because you'll read about Isaiah up until the beginning
29:24 of the reign of Manasseh then you hear nothing more about him.
29:27 And so we believe that he was cut in two by this wretch
29:34 And the Bible says he was a murderer.
29:36 Just have a look at verse 16:
29:54 So the Bible says he was a murderer.
29:56 He filled the whole of Jerusalem from one end to the other
29:59 with the blood of God's people.
30:01 Anyone who stood against him and tried to stand for reformation
30:06 was killed.
30:09 Just like dictators do today... that's what Manasseh did
30:13 until he had filled the whole of Jerusalem with innocent blood.
30:17 Verse 17:
30:29 I thought: "Surely not... there can't be any more! "
30:32 But the Bible says if you want to read the rest of the acts
30:36 of Manasseh, go over to II Chronicles
30:39 and it will tell you more.
30:41 So let's go over to II Chronicles
30:43 which is the next book over.
30:45 I Chronicles then we want to go to II Chronicles
30:49 and we'll pick up at chapter 33 and down here in verse 9.
30:55 II Chronicles 33 and verse 9.
31:00 It says:
31:15 So there the Bible is emphasizing it again, isn't it?
31:17 Says it again.
31:20 They must have been a wretch for the Bible to keep harping
31:23 on this very point.
31:25 Notice verse 10,
31:27 the first part of it. It says:
31:35 You know, I've got to admit
31:37 that if I'd been the Good Lord back in those days -
31:41 and I guess it's one of the reasons why I'm not -
31:44 but if I'd been the Good Lord back in the days of Manasseh
31:47 I don't think I would have been just speaking to him.
31:50 Do you think you might have just been speaking to him?
31:52 I think we may have used some more positive
31:55 actions, don't you think?
32:00 But the wonderful thing is the Bible says the Lord
32:05 spoke to Manasseh.
32:08 Didn't hit him with some big judgment.
32:11 Tried to reason with him and spoke to him.
32:16 And when I read that first I gasped because
32:21 it's almost unbelievable after all that Manasseh had done -
32:26 all that he had said, all his rebellion,
32:29 all his murders and all,
32:32 bringing sun worship and all the pagan practices
32:35 right into the temple of God -
32:37 after all of that the Bible says that God spoke to Manasseh.
32:42 And I tell you, friend: you and I ought to be
32:45 very grateful for a God like that, don't you think so?
32:49 You know, I'm very grateful for a God like that.
32:52 That is so merciful and so longsuffering
32:57 that He would still speak to Manasseh after all
33:01 that he had done. A life of rebellion.
33:05 And not just a mistake here and there.
33:07 That's not what we're talking about.
33:08 We're talking about a deliberate planned rebellion
33:13 over many years.
33:16 No excuse for him.
33:18 But the Lord, the Bible says, spoke to Manasseh.
33:23 Therefore... notice what happened in verse 11.
33:26 First of all it says in verse 10:
33:32 See that? Wouldn't listen.
33:34 Then verse 11 goes on to say:
33:49 Just what he deserved, don't you think?
33:54 He's got what he deserved.
33:56 That's how we react, isn't it?
34:00 Because the Assyrians or the Babylonians came down
34:03 and they took him with hooks.
34:05 Now you see, back in those days
34:09 they didn't have any trouble with prisoners escaping
34:12 because what they would do is they would put a ring
34:15 through the noses of all the prisoners.
34:18 Just like we do with a bull.
34:20 And then they would have a chain which went to the next prisoner
34:25 through his nose to the next one to the next one.
34:31 So do you think any of them pulled back?
34:33 No. They all ran to keep up to keep the chain loose.
34:37 Because you can just imagine what would happen.
34:43 So they had no trouble with the prisoners
34:48 jogging back to Babylon... or back to Assyria.
34:52 None whatsoever. Bound him with hooks.
34:56 And that's how Manasseh was carried off to Babylon.
34:59 And it says he was put into prison.
35:04 You know, one of the great teachings of the Bible is this:
35:08 "Whatever a person sows
35:12 that shall they also... " What?
35:15 "reap. "
35:17 You know, I notice that people like to do the sowing
35:22 but nobody likes to do the reaping.
35:25 Because sin always appears good before it's committed
35:31 and while it's being committed
35:34 but when it IS committed it bites like a snake.
35:39 And as I said, people like to... to get involved with sin but
35:44 they don't like the results of sin.
35:47 They cry out then!
35:49 When their life of rebellion starts to catch up with them
35:53 then they cry out to God: "Why, God, are You allowing
35:55 this to happen to me? "
35:56 And they blame God for it.
36:01 And a person who lives a life of not caring for their health,
36:06 smoking and so forth and they're living a life like this,
36:09 and suddenly they finish up with lung cancer
36:11 and they say to God: "God? Where is God in this? "
36:17 Well I want to tell you something, friend:
36:19 God doesn't come down and blow the match out
36:22 when we begin to light our cigarette. Is that right?
36:25 God's not going to pull your chair away from the table
36:28 when you're overeating.
36:31 God doesn't work like that.
36:33 He's given us freedom of choice.
36:37 The people don't like the reaping.
36:41 They may like the sowing but not the reaping.
36:45 And yet the Bible says whatever we sow we will reap.
36:51 It's a very important principle for us always to remember.
36:54 Sow good things and you will reap good things.
36:56 Sow bad things and eventually it catches up with you.
37:02 Reminds me of a man who was going through a prison once
37:05 and he saw a prisoner sitting down there
37:08 sewing a... making a basket, you know, of cane.
37:12 Make a basket.
37:13 And he wanted to say something pleasant as he went past.
37:17 He said: "Oh, I see you're doing a bit of sewing. "
37:20 "Oh, no, " said the man. He said: "I'm reaping. "
37:25 And reaping is a tragedy.
37:27 And now Manasseh begins to reap.
37:32 You know, I've seen the life story.
37:33 I've had people tell me their life story.
37:36 Come to meetings and I visit them in their home
37:39 and so forth and they tell me their story.
37:40 And you can often see the story in the lines on their faces
37:44 because you cannot get away with sin.
37:48 It catches up with us.
37:51 It may appear for a little while
37:55 that God is not on His throne.
37:57 That God doesn't care.
38:00 But I want to tell you this: eventually it catches...
38:04 God gives every person opportunity after opportunity
38:08 after opportunity, but finally the time comes
38:12 when the sowing begins and then the reaping follows
38:16 like a whirlwind.
38:18 And people don't like that.
38:19 And this is what now was happening to Manasseh.
38:22 He was taken with hooks.
38:26 Bound him with bronze fetters and carried him off to Babylon.
38:29 Then it say in verse 12... notice what it says here:
38:47 Can you imagine the audacity of this guy now
38:51 down there in captivity
38:55 in this terrible prison? And believe me,
38:58 back in those days prisons were not like they are today.
39:01 No nice bed and television and...
39:05 and nice toilet and so forth in the corner.
39:09 Wash basin and so forth.
39:11 Nothing like that.
39:13 No, the toilet facilities were very crude
39:17 as you can just imagine.
39:19 And so they were dirty, dark, and smelly places.
39:25 And here is Manasseh... he's been thrown down there
39:29 without any windows, down... dark, underneath the bowels
39:32 of the earth. And he's thrown there into prison.
39:37 And while he's in prison he's got nothing else to do
39:40 but he begins to pray to God.
39:43 Now you imagine... after all that he had done
39:46 the audacity of a guy like that to start to pray now.
39:52 Why didn't he think about that a long time before?
39:55 But he begins to pray.
39:57 Do you think God would be interested in listening
39:59 to a prayer of a man like that?
40:01 After all that he had done and the rebellious life
40:03 that he'd lived? Do you think He would?
40:05 You just read the rest of the story here in verse...
40:09 verse 13... and prayed to Him:
40:27 You know, I am amazed every time I read that story
40:31 of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
40:35 to listen, first of all, and then to answer the prayer
40:41 of a man like that.
40:44 You know, reminds me of that great hymn writer John Newton
40:48 who was a slave trader.
40:52 Trading in the souls of black men and women from Africa.
40:56 One of the darkest stories of English history.
41:05 And he was a leader in it.
41:10 And the ship that he was on board
41:14 got into a big storm
41:18 and it looked as if it was going down
41:22 and he thought he was going to die.
41:24 And he'd had a good mother who'd taught him
41:27 right principles, and he prayed. He made a bargain with God
41:30 on that ship that if he was saved he would serve God.
41:34 And the ship was saved, and he served God.
41:37 A wonderful transformation. And he wrote that hymn
41:40 that everybody knows so well:
41:43 Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
41:48 that saved a wretch like me.
41:51 I once was blind but now can see.
41:59 And every time I read this verse I think of John Newton.
42:05 You know, it's not to a man's credit to pray in a crisis.
42:09 Everybody prays in a crisis, isn't that right?
42:13 I don't care who a person is.
42:15 The grandest and the most militant atheist that you've
42:20 ever met, you put him out in the middle of the ocean
42:24 in a little boat all on his own and a storm breaks up
42:27 and that boat is being tossed to and fro like a cork
42:32 I'll guarantee no matter who he is or she
42:36 they will pray. Isn't that right?
42:40 You notice on television when there's a crisis on.
42:44 These parents that lost their child over in England...
42:50 they have no hesitation in asking people to pray.
42:55 Now I don't know anything about them, but I can almost guarantee
42:58 that they probably never think about God
43:00 from one day to the next ordinarily.
43:03 Plenty of people are like that.
43:07 And it's not to a person's credit to pray in a crisis.
43:11 Anybody will do that.
43:15 And here he is praying down there in prison.
43:18 He can't get out.
43:21 And the Bible says that while he was there
43:24 God heard his prayer and his supplication
43:29 and put him back on the throne in Israel.
43:33 And then the Bible says Manasseh knew
43:37 that the Lord was God.
43:41 You know, I've had plenty of people say to me that
43:44 they have committed the unpardonable sin.
43:47 They've gone just too far.
43:50 When people come to meetings like this, I tell you,
43:53 one of the biggest problems that many folk struggle with
43:56 in their heart is that they feel that they've just done so many
43:59 bad things in their life that God could never, ever
44:03 forgive them. Well I want to tell you something today:
44:08 the reason why this story has been recorded in the Bible
44:13 is to give us all hope.
44:15 That's why it's been written there.
44:17 It's not just to take up space.
44:20 But nobody - absolutely nobody listening to me
44:27 either here or on television - nobody has sinned anything like
44:33 Manasseh sinned.
44:39 And yet the Bible says that God heard Manasseh's prayer.
44:45 Not only did He hear his prayer
44:47 but He answered it and put him back on the throne in Jerusalem.
44:52 Now my point is this: that if God would listen
44:56 to the prayer of a creature like that
44:58 there's hope for us all, isn't that right?
45:00 Because nobody has sinned like that.
45:04 Like Manasseh has.
45:06 Some of us may have lived a pretty colorful life...
45:08 that may be very true...
45:10 but it's nothing compared to Manasseh.
45:13 And yet God was patient with Manasseh.
45:17 God heard his prayer
45:20 and restored him back to the throne in Jerusalem.
45:25 You know, there's a text in... in the New Testament
45:28 which says this: that God can save to the uttermost
45:33 them that come unto God
45:36 by Him, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them.
45:41 In other words, someone has quaintly paraphrased that verse
45:45 by saying "God can save from the guttermost
45:48 to the uttermost. "
45:51 That's true!
45:53 God can lift us from the very, very bottom
45:56 and lift us back to glory.
46:02 All we have to do is to pray to God
46:04 even if we pray like Manasseh prayed...
46:07 because he had no alternative.
46:10 With his back to the wall God still heard his prayer.
46:15 And listen: if you and I will do the coming,
46:20 Christ will do the saving.
46:24 Because it's God's responsibility to save us.
46:27 It's not our responsibility.
46:29 We cannot save ourselves... that's God's responsibility.
46:33 And He has promised: "If you come unto Me
46:37 I will in no wise cast you out. "
46:41 No matter who we are; no matter what we've done.
46:44 And that puts us all on the same level together.
46:47 That's why we can be confident today.
46:49 That's why we can have the assurance of salvation.
46:52 Not because of anything that we have done or ever will do
46:56 that will merit God's goodness toward us because
47:00 we haven't got anything that can merit God's goodness.
47:04 But God accepts us as we are.
47:09 And when He accepts us as we are
47:12 he then begins to work upon us to change us
47:16 so that we don't remain as we are.
47:19 But God wants then to change our life and to
47:21 make us as He is.
47:22 But that doesn't happen in a moment.
47:26 That's a process. But the very first thing that we need to do
47:32 is to come to Him. And when we come to Him
47:35 and we present our life as a testimony to Him
47:40 then He will change us.
47:45 And that's why in the book of Revelation if you were to
47:48 pick up the book of Revelation as we begin to study it more
47:52 you will find that nowhere in the book of Revelation does
47:57 it say people get to heaven and say
48:00 "Well thank God I made it! "
48:04 You'll never read that in the Bible I can assure you
48:07 because the praise is to God
48:12 who has made it possible... through Jesus' blood
48:16 that's made it possible. Because salvation is a gift
48:20 that's given to us. It's not something we earn.
48:23 That's why we are all standing level.
48:28 Whether we are the most educated or the highest position
48:32 in the land or the lowest it makes no difference.
48:36 Because we all stand together because salvation is
48:40 given to us all as a gift.
48:43 And when something is given to us as a gift
48:46 if I'm going to get the gift what do I have to do?
48:50 See I can have a beautiful gift that I'm going to give you.
48:56 I might have $1,000 that I'm going to give you.
49:00 But what have you got to do in order to get the $1,000?
49:06 I might tell you I've got it here
49:09 and I'm willing to give it to you, but what's your part?
49:14 Yeah, you must accept it.
49:17 I must accept it.
49:20 And that's our part in the story of salvation:
49:23 we must accept it. And some people are going to be
49:26 lost because they refused to accept it.
49:31 Not because of their life.
49:33 Not because of what they have done.
49:36 That's not the reason they're going to be lost.
49:38 It's because they choose not to accept it.
49:41 And I don't know what more God can do for us.
49:44 He offers us that,
49:46 and all we have to do is to accept that gift.
49:51 And if we will, then we receive salvation.
49:55 And that's why we can have the absolute assurance.
49:58 That's why we can be confident... not in ourselves
50:02 but confident in the gift that God has given.
50:08 Let me tell you about a man in the Old Testament
50:12 that you have heard about... the story of Cain.
50:14 Come back to the book of Genesis chapter 4.
50:18 I'm sure you know the story of Cain and Abel.
50:23 Cain, you remember, murdered his brother.
50:28 Now the Bible says that Cain will not be found in heaven.
50:35 Now why won't Cain be found in heaven?
50:37 Is it because of the fact that he murdered Abel?
50:42 Is that the reason?
50:46 Well if it is, there's going to be an awful lot of people
50:49 in the Bible who won't get there.
50:51 Moses was a murderer.
50:53 And plenty of people throughout the Bible were murderers.
50:56 If murder is the unpardonable sin,
51:02 then there'll be a lot of people who will never make heaven.
51:04 But murder isn't the unpardonable sin.
51:06 Even though it's a terrible thing to do, it's not the
51:09 unpardonable sin.
51:11 And that's not the reason why Cain won't be saved.
51:14 You have a look at verse 13.
51:17 This is chapter 4 verse 13. It says:
51:27 Now it's interesting that the old version
51:30 says in the margin... You know, one of those old
51:32 Bibles that has the margin down the middle?
51:34 It has a little number in the verse
51:38 which says "my punishment is greater than I can bear. "
51:40 When you look over in the margin it says
51:42 "mine iniquity is greater than it may be forgiven. "
51:49 What was Cain's problem then?
51:55 You see, Cain felt that he had sinned so badly
52:01 that God wouldn't forgive him or couldn't forgive him.
52:04 He felt that he was a greater sinner than God was a Savior.
52:08 Get the thought?
52:10 That's why Cain won't be saved...
52:12 not because of what he did.
52:14 And let me assure you, any of us here
52:16 that will be lost will not be lost because of what we've done.
52:21 It'll be because we don't believe that God
52:24 will forgive us if we confess our sins to Him.
52:29 And that was Cain's tragic mistake.
52:33 He never believed that God would forgive him.
52:37 "Mine iniquity is greater than it may be forgiven. "
52:41 Now in the New Testament we have the story of two men.
52:45 Once again, you know these men very, very well.
52:49 The two men I'm thinking about: Judas Iscariot
52:54 and Saint Peter.
52:57 Very familiar men in the New Testament.
53:00 Now let me ask you a question:
53:02 which of those two men sinned the greater?
53:05 Peter or Judas? You think about that for a moment.
53:09 Which of those two men sinned the greater?
53:12 Peter or Judas?
53:18 You know, I'm hearing both.
53:23 Yes, it is true that first of all Judas
53:28 betrayed Jesus, didn't he?
53:30 And then he went out the Bible says
53:33 and hung himself.
53:35 On the other hand, Peter denied Jesus how many times?
53:41 Three times.
53:43 And furthermore, Jesus had warned Peter
53:47 before it happened that he would do it.
53:51 So he was given time to think about it.
53:55 And then even after the cock had crowed once
53:58 he still had two more times.
54:02 Which of those two men sinned the greater?
54:05 Well I'm not sure that you could actually measure
54:08 on a scale because I think
54:12 they both sinned about the same.
54:17 But the difference between Judas and Peter
54:21 is that when Judas was convicted that he'd done the wrong thing
54:30 he didn't feel that Christ would forgive him.
54:32 He went out and took the responsibility and hung himself.
54:35 Whereas when Peter... conviction came to his heart
54:39 what did he do?
54:41 He went out to the Garden of Gethsemane where he had
54:43 slept the night before where Jesus had sweat
54:46 great drops of blood, and he fell down there
54:50 on the ground and cried because he realized that
54:53 he'd betrayed his best friend.
54:55 And repentance took place,
54:58 and that's when Peter was converted.
55:00 He was a changed man.
55:02 Spent all that time with Jesus
55:04 and still really wasn't converted.
55:07 Not until that experience.
55:09 And so you see it's not so much a matter of what we do
55:13 that is the essence of whether we are saved or not.
55:17 What is the issue is whether we believe that God
55:21 can forgive us.
55:23 And the good news that the story of Manasseh reminds us about
55:27 is that Jesus is a greater Savior
55:32 than we are sinners.
55:34 Isn't that good news?
55:36 And no matter what we have done,
55:38 no matter what we have said,
55:40 no matter what we have been involved with,
55:42 if we come to Jesus and make a clean confession of our
55:47 mistakes to Him, the Bible says He will forgive us.
55:51 Cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
55:55 Not one of us is worthy of that, but thank God
55:58 the story of Manasseh has been recorded to give us hope.
56:02 You know, the story of Manasseh is really the Prodigal Son
56:06 of the Old Testament.
56:07 You know, we're all very familiar with the Prodigal Son
56:10 of the New Testament.
56:12 But God's people for hundreds and hundreds of years
56:16 didn't know anything about the story Jesus was going to tell
56:20 one day. They knew the story of Manasseh.
56:25 And that would have been quoted to them
56:27 as a means of hope to give them confidence
56:31 in the Old Testament
56:33 the same as the Prodigal Son in the New Testament
56:36 gives us hope in the New Testament.
56:39 And so tonight I want to assure you
56:44 that no matter who we are, no matter what we have done,
56:48 God will accept us.
56:51 And as we begin to learn truth
56:54 and as we begin to put into practice what we are learning
56:58 let's never ever be tempted to think that I'm not good
57:01 enough. So many people say to me: "Geoff, I'm just not
57:04 good enough yet. "
57:06 That's not the basis!
57:08 We'll never be good enough.
57:11 Because the closer you get to Jesus the more you will
57:14 recognize that you're not good enough.
57:16 That's a good sign when a person says: "I'm not good enough. "
57:21 But the closer we get to Jesus the more we realize
57:24 that God takes people who are not good enough in themselves
57:28 and makes them perfect.
57:31 Tonight God promises to give us that gift of salvation.
57:36 Who would like to join me and say: "God, I want to accept
57:38 that gift tonight... that gift of salvation
57:40 because I desperately need it? " God bless you.
57:42 Let's just bow our heads together in prayer.
57:45 Our wonderful Father, I just want to thank you
57:47 for Your grace tonight... the grace that is so wonderful.
57:51 So much higher than the highest mountain;
57:53 deeper than the deepest sea.
57:55 Lord, we are just so grateful tonight for the story
57:57 of Manasseh... the story that's been recorded to give us all
58:00 hope. I pray that as we go home that You will
58:03 put a song in our hearts as we realize there is hope
58:05 for us all. And as You teach us step by step
58:09 that You will lead us into a greater and more wonderful
58:12 knowledge of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
58:15 Bless us to this end I pray for Jesus' sake, Amen.