Full text of Zac Poonen’s sermon titled ‘Sixteen Truths That I Have Learnt’ (Part 2) — September 10, 2022.
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Zac Poonen – Bible Teacher
In our first session, we considered four truths that I have learned through my life. Number one, God loves Jesus’ disciples as much as He loved Jesus.
And I want to mention a word about John 17:23, which I quoted then. I said that that was only for the disciples of Jesus and not for the whole world. John 3:16 is for the whole world. And I’ll tell you why.
For John 17:23 is in the middle of the Lord’s prayer for His disciples. And He said in John 17, verse 9, ‘I ask on their behalf, I do not ask on behalf of the world.’ He was saying this prayer is not for the whole world. This prayer is only for My disciples who forsook everything to follow Me. And they have stood by Me all these years, they’ve given up everything to be My disciples. So I know, Father, You will love them, who? These 11, as much as You love Me, not all the others in Israel. But in the footsteps of those 11 are many today who also decided to be wholehearted disciples of Christ at any cost. So this verse applies for them, it’s not for the rest of the world.
And the second thing, said was God delights in honesty. And the third was God delights in cheerful givers. And the fourth was we must treat every human being with dignity.
Now we go to number five: HOLINESS COMES BY LOOKING UNTO JESUS. It’s the Holy Spirit who makes us holy. But He can make us holy only as we look unto Jesus. Sometimes these chapter divisions, which are made by man in the Bible, can prevent us from seeing a glorious truth. There are many things like that, like Romans 7:25 with Romans 8:1. Let’s read them together. Or the last verse of John 7 with the first verse of John 8. There are many verses like that, and this is one of those places.
Hebrews 11 is the great chapter of people of faith. We thought about Abel yesterday.
But God, Hebrews 11:40, with all these mighty men of faith mentioned in the Old Testament, who split the Red Sea, pulled down the walls of Jericho and stopped the sun and all types of things. All those fantastic things, it says here in verse 40, at the end of it: ‘God has provided something better for us…’ Have you noticed that?
Better than stopping the sun, better than pulling down the walls of Jericho, better than doing all the miracles, raising the dead like Elijah did. Better than all of that. And what is that? Hebrews Chapter 12, verse 1 and 2, we can run the race, looking at Jesus, enduring the cross, verse 2, despising the shame.
You mean enduring the cross is better than raising the dead? You mean enduring the cross is better than pulling down the walls of Jericho and splitting the Red Sea? Yes, sir, it is. If you have eyes to see it, very few have seen it. Most believers think, I’d rather raise the dead than take up the cross every day. I’ll tell you, I would rather take up the cross every day than raise the dead any day. Because that is a better thing.
It says here very clearly, ‘God has provided something better for us.’ And that is chapter 12, verse 1 and 2, something better than everything mentioned in Hebrews 11. So whenever you read Hebrews 11 and these fantastic things that people did, remember the last verse, there’s something better for you. That is to take up the cross and follow Jesus. And the reason is many Christians haven’t understood that.
OK, we’ll come to that in a moment. So we are to lay aside every encumbrance, verse 1, and the sin which so easily entangles us. It’s more important to give up sin than to do all the miracles mentioned in chapter 11 and run with the race, the race looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
So what we learn from that is that the way to live a holy life is not just by judging ourselves and any amount of self-effort. The maximum self-effort you make following all the rules that you hear in the church will never make you holy. It comes by looking unto Jesus. We are to live our entire life, it says, running the race, fixing our eyes on Jesus. That’s a great verse, fixing our eyes. That means there are a thousand and one things that will try to distract you from that. And you don’t look at Jesus, you look at the way somebody treats you, or you look at some circumstance in your life that’s making life difficult, or you look at some shortage of money, or opposition, or sickness, or a hundred and one things to turn our eyes away from Jesus, that’s why we have to fix it.
The only way I can be holy is if I fix my eyes on Jesus, and look unto Him, and run the race behind Him. In other words, I got to see the footsteps of Jesus.
I told you how some religious people whose wrong doctrine I exposed took me to court for 10 years. I remember the first day I went to court, I’d never been to court for 59 years, I never knew what it was. And naturally it’s a new experience and you feel a bit perturbed in your spirit. Now as soon as I entered the court, God was so good to me, Jesus said, ‘Don’t be afraid. Religious people took Me to court before they took you. So you’re only walking in My footsteps. Huh, didn’t you want to walk in My footsteps?’
I said, ‘Yes Lord.’ That excited me. What a word, it liberated me completely. And He said, ‘Look for My footsteps here.’
I said, ‘Lord, what are those?’
‘The footsteps of faith and love. Faith in a heavenly Father who’s in complete control of the circumstance right now. And He will never allow it to go one second longer than He has planned. And second, love for your accusers and your enemies. Don’t ever give up that.’
I said, ‘Lord, I’m determined to go walk that way.’
And the very first day I grabbed the hand of my accuser, said, ‘God bless you.’ He was shocked. And I kept that attitude throughout. It’s wonderful when you look unto Jesus and He says, I went through this before you.
The Bible says Jesus was tempted in all points as we are. Hebrews chapter 4 and verse 15. We don’t have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness. But we have a high priest who can sympathize with our weakness. Why? Because… what is our weakness? Our weakness is not physical weakness or financial weakness or intellectual weakness. Our weakness is that we sin so easily.
You recognize that your greatest weakness is not your blood pressure or your cholesterol level or anything else like that, which you’re so worried about. It is the fact that you sin so easily. That is your greatest weakness. Not your financial hardship or the fact that you lost your job. If we can see this, my greatest weakness in my life is that I sin so easily. In my thoughts, in my attitudes. And He can sympathize with our weakness.
Why? Because He was tempted in every single point exactly as we are. 16 years of my Christian life, I never believed it. I always believed Jesus was God. He was not like me. He overcame… one day God opened my eyes to see one simple truth which is written here that He overcame as a man.
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