— Brother Phil Enlow: I confess to having wrestled a little bit this week with some scriptures, and I’m just gonna go ahead and start by faith. There’s a central truth, and I want to…I mean, it’s one of those truths that can go in many directions, and I don’t want to get so bogged down trying to say everything, but I don’t want to miss something either that the Lord wants to say.
One scripture that we’ve heard many times over the years, and I really…I don’t want to spend time with the details so much as to get the heart of what is being said, and that’s in Luke chapter 14. There are two very similar parables that Jesus told and this is one of them. And He was in a meal at a Pharisee’s house.
The Pharisees were this religious sect that were so strict about their keeping…what they thought was keeping the Law, that was really just the traditions that had been handed down to them. They were religious but didn’t know God.
And so, anyway, one of the guys at the table said, “Blessed is the man….” This is the middle of verse 15. “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” (NIV). So, here they were. They were expecting the Kingdom of God, weren’t they?
“Jesus replied, A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, Come, for everything is now ready. But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me. Another said, I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me. Still another said, I just got married, so I can’t come. The servant came back and reported this to his master.
“Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. Sir, the servant said, what you ordered has been done, but there is still room. Then the master told his servant, Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.”
Again, you see the Father’s heart there. There’s this constant reaching out, in the face of all of this that…where people are just making excuses, He’s still reaching out, because His purpose is still gonna stand. God’s gonna have a kingdom, God’s gonna have a full house. This is in the context of a man asking about the Kingdom of God. So, He’s telling them how it’s gonna be. All right?
“I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.” Boy, you see what’s going on in the context. Jesus is talking about the Jewish nation, who actually…that God sent the very King of His kingdom among them, made full testimony as to who He was, by the power that they saw through Him, and yet, when the time came, come to my feast, it’s ready, they didn’t do it. There was a refusal to do it. And so, the consequence was, you’re not part of this. And you see God turning and reaching out to the world.
And you know, we’ve had this particular passage used many, many times about the three phases of God’s outreach. He reached to Israel, didn’t He? All the centuries that He reached out to them, as Ricky described, sent prophets to them, did everything He could to cause them to come and they had the invitation. They had the prophets. They knew what was coming if they had only listened and had a heart for it. And yet, when the time came, it’s ready! I don’t want it, got something else that’s more important. And so, the Lord turned to others and began to spread the Word around the world.
But yet, there came a time, didn’t there, when it still wasn’t full? And I believe we’re in that time. There’s this last call of God that’s going out into the world. I don’t know how it will unfold. I’m certainly not overruling the idea that there will yet be a great harvest. I don’t know. I know where the world is headed. I see the handwriting on the wall, in terms of the spirit that’s being allowed to take over our world. But I’ll tell you, I see a God who knows how to use that to reach those that He has purposed to reach. God will not miss one that He has purposed to reach in the world. Praise God! All right?
And there’s another passage in Matthew chapter 22 where there’s a similar truth. And boy, this was coming right down to the wire, right before the crucifixion. And there was an in-your-face confrontation, continuously, with…frequently, with the religious leaders. And so, they’re already looking for a way to arrest Him. He’s already said things that they know He’s talking about them. But the crowds are all for Jesus and they’re rejoicing in Him and so, what are they gonna do? It says, they’re looking for a way to arrest Him but they were afraid because of the people.
“Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited….” Again, who’s that?
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That’s Israel, yeah. “…To the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.” This is not God saying, I reject you, out of hand, I’m not even gonna give you a chance. This is God reaching out, isn’t it? This is God doing everything in His power to reach out His heart to the people, but they refused to come.
“Then he sent some more servants and said, Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet. But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them.”
So, now you’ve got another level. You’ve got some people who were indifferent to the message, right? Okay? These are people that miss out. Some are indifferent. But now, some are absolutely, in your face…there’s an anger, there’s an…I mean, I believe with all my heart there are people in this country, not a few, who if you took off every restraint—every restraint, and they could do it, they would kill every Christian!
It’s the spirit that is loose in our world. It’s only what’s left of civilization, if you will, that’s stopping all of that. There are still laws in place and there’s still a certain amount of restraint. But I’ll tell you, that restraint is changing. But Praise God! God’s on the throne.
So, we see what they did. “The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.” What’s He talking about there? He’s talking about something that was about to happen forty years later. When God…the people made such a choice to say, we will not serve God, we will not have You as our King.
You remember…some of you remember the history there where James was the natural brother of Jesus. He became one of the leaders, or the leader of the Jerusalem church and was such a righteous man, everybody knew he was righteous. They couldn’t point to him and say, look you’re a sinner, you messed up. He was just such a just, righteous man.
And so, they were distressed, the leaders, that he was still talking about Jesus. They said, I’ll tell you what we’ll do, you are so respected, what we want you to do, we’re gonna put you up on a high place in the Temple and you’re gonna tell the people not to mess with Jesus, not to believe in Him. Okay.
So he got up there and he lifted Jesus up. And what did they do? They actually went up and threw him down. That wasn’t enough to kill him. They started stoning him. He was still there, on his knees, praying for them! And so, somebody got a club and went over, and that was the end of him. That was his ticket to heaven. But you see the spirit that had taken control of that society.
And it was not long after that that the Roman army surrounded Jerusalem and they had this terrible, terrible, destructive siege in which a million people died over a period of time. And the city was leveled. The Temple was destroyed completely. Not one stone was left upon another.
I’ll tell you what, judgment is real. And it’s not that, like we said last week, it’s not that God loves judgment and wants to do those kind of things, but I’ll tell you, when men take that kind of a spirit and align themselves with the Devil and his purposes, there is no future. And we’re seeing in that a mirror of what is yet to come upon this world.
Okay, so, we see those who are indifferent to the message of God. We see those who are opposing. But there’s one other category here. All right? “Then he said to his servants, The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find. So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. Friend, he asked, how did you get in here without wedding clothes? The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
I’ll tell you, that’s sober. That’s serious stuff, isn’t it? Do you think that everybody in this country who professes to be a Christian is gonna be accepted when they arrive to the other side? See, you had some that were indifferent. They just went on, they chose the world. They said, no, it’s my life. I’m just gonna live out the life that I have here. I’m not interested. You have others that actively oppose and persecute.
But, you have some that say, yeah, I’ll come. But the problem is, he came with his own conditions. He said, I’ll serve God but I’m gonna do it my way. I’m gonna believe what I want to believe. I’m gonna do what I want to do. I’m gonna wear my own…I’m gonna be good in myself. I’m gonna bring my robe. I’m not gonna accept what You have. Yeah, You provided everything, but I’m coming on my terms and not yours.
I’ll tell you, that’s a sober thought to think about, isn’t it? And it’s one thing that I want to…I sense the Lord wanting to say…like I say, there are so many ramifications to the truth here. But, this is one of them.
As I look out here this morning, as the Lord looks, there are hearts, there are all kinds of hearts here. And what a tragedy it would be for people to sit here, and to hear about the great salvation that God has provided, and yet to have such a spirit that you’re gonna be the Lord of your life. You’re gonna define your relationship with—your supposed relationship with God. Self-will is gonna continue to rule and you’re gonna show up there and say, but Lord! “… Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name…” Matthew 7. When Jesus said, why do you call me Lord, Lord and you don’t do what I say?
I’ll tell you, I pray that God will awaken anybody. My purpose is not to minister fear to people that love God and are serving Him, as though it’s all up to me. That’s not the message! But I’ll tell you, there is a lot of religious, self-will that exists.
And even in the midnight darkness, think about the very scripture from which we take our name as a ministry. There it was, the midnight hour. There were ten virgins who were there and every one of them was waiting for the Bridegroom, every one of them.
But it says, five were wise and five were foolish. They were supposed to have lamps where they would meet the Bridegroom and escort him to the wedding. That was a custom that Jesus used as an example. But, the problem is the foolish ones didn’t take any oil. Oh, they had the lamp. Oh, yeah, I’m one of them.
There are so many people that have a ‘lamp of profession’ and they have nothing on the inside! I’ll tell you, what is coming upon the earth is gonna take care of a lot of this. But there are going to be people who, at such a late hour, are gonna wake up and realize, I have never really opened my heart unconditionally and given it to Him.
( congregational amens ).
It’s never become real. I grew up in church. I heard about it. I sang the songs, sang in the choir. I did everything I was supposed to. I believed the right doctrines. I believed all the right things, but I never…it never became mine.
And the Lord’s heart in this is not to condemn or to cause people to be afraid, in the wrong sense. But why would Jesus give us something like this if it wasn’t a real issue? Oh, I pray that God will speak, will bring people to such a surrender and a rest until I don’t have…somebody else doesn’t have to tell you. You don’t have to just act the part.
God, that’s miserable! Trying to act the part of a Christian and you don’t have it in here! That’s an awful life! But God wants people to have Him! He does want to share His life! He wants to share Himself! And so much religion is just self trying to be religious and expecting God to accept that. That’s not gonna work. So, that’s part of the message of these parables.
But I’ll tell you, the message…the other message that I see is twofold. In both cases there was a feast prepared. But what was the message that went out when the invitation actually was extended? What was the message? “Come, for everything is…ready.”
Praise God! What a message! And he just said, go out and invite them. Get them wherever they’re at. Everything is ready! And here, this one guy comes in and he provides his own clothes. He doesn’t take what was made and what was made ready for him. He said, no, I’m gonna do it on my terms.
But think of the other side. I sense, in my own heart, a need for coming back to the simple truth that everything is ready! Everything is ready! God has done every…He’s taken away every excuse that any of us could possibly bring forth.
( congregational amens ).
God does not go out and look for the strong. He doesn’t look for the wise. He doesn’t look for those who are…have strong willpower and are able to alter their behavior to conform to His standard. It’s none of that. He looks for the worst of the worst!
( congregational amens ).
He looks for those who are in need, because He knows the depth of human need to the point where He says, I have to provide it all! I don’t come to a people and say, I’m expecting you to provide your own way. You do this, do that, do the other and then I’ll accept you. It’s just come as we are. But this is a truth we need to lift up with all of our hearts! For everyone!
Think of the words of Jesus on the Cross. What did He say right before He said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit…” and He died? What did He say?
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“It is finished.” Some of the greatest words in the history of this world!
( congregational amens ).
Does it dawn on us what He was talking about? It is finished! It is finished. Praise God! It’s finished!
( congregational amens ).
The Devil didn’t have a clue what was going on, what was finished! He was the one who was finished! Praise God! It is finished! God wants every person who hears the message of the Good News to get this, for it to take such a deep root in our hearts that we learn to rely upon what He has done and not upon what we are and what we can do.
And I wrote down a lot of scriptures. I’m just gonna refer to some of them. But if you’re writing these down, Matthew 25…you have the…I’m gonna pick a scripture out of that. But this is the scene where Jesus says, I’m coming, I’m gonna gather the nations and judge them.
But there was one group of people to whom He made a tremendous statement and that is this, He says, “… Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.” (NLT). Praise God! I didn’t turn that over and read it so, let me make sure I got it exactly…yeah. “… Take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you …” (NIV). Oh, when was this done?
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God is unfolding a purpose that was completed, in His mind, before anything ever happened! How do you…I mean, how do you even wrap your mind around something like that? But it’s the truth, because God is not part of time, He’s outside of it! He has set things in motion that are certain! The end of what God has purposed to do is as certain as God is!
And so, what He is calling us to put our trust in is just as certain as He is…His promise, the hope that He plants in the human heart. Oh, God, the people that miss this are the ones that make a choice to say, I will serve myself! I will cling to the life I have and pursue its desires in this creation! You do that, you will lose it! You will lose everything!
But oh, I don’t know…I feel my need of this. I feel my need of it. This is a truth that needs to be lifted up. This has been prepared since the creation of the world! Look at…I’m gonna go ahead and turn to these, quickly, because they’re not ones I need to dwell on in a long time, but Revelation chapter 1.
This is quite a scene when you think about it. John was the beloved disciple. He had walked with Jesus. He had seen Jesus, glowing like the sun, up on the mount of transfiguration! He had met the risen Christ! He had watched Him ascend from the Mount of Olives. He’d experienced all of this. Now, he meets Him in a way that just blows him over, and he falls over like he’s dead. The impact of it was so intense and powerful.
Verse 17, “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: Do not be afraid.” Praise God! How many times in scripture do we see that, when our natural reaction is fear and He says, don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid?
“I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” I’ve got the key to everything! There’s nothing the Devil can pull that I don’t have the key to. Praise God!
This is One who could say, it is finished! All He did was step into, with perfect obedience, to the purpose of God that was unfolding since the foundation of the world. Praise God!