20th March 2023
Read - Hebrews 11:31
Message Alan Burke
Did you hear Billy’s mum is a prostitute? From my school days if something like that had have ever got out it would have been the end of Billy, not the end per say but he’d have never heard the end of it, he’d have never lived it down, ridiculed, slagged off, teased, mocked. The school would have intervened of course, we’d have had one of those assemblies where the deputy head or the head gave us a rollocking because of our behaviour, there’d have been detentions, internal suspensions, suspensions etc, these days sadly often that abuse goes home because of social media and kids never get away from it. The school playground is one thing but I imagine and I really hope that I’m wrong but if Billy and his mum arrived and sat beside you on Sunday morning you’d be more than a wee bit awkward and there’d be many who would show their prejudice, there would be comments, looks, you might even choose to move from where you are seated. Regrettably this is the type of behaviour that I have seen from people who have heard the gospel for years and failed to understand the heinousness of their own sin and just how scandalous the grace of God is.
Today we focus on Rehab, this woman is a wonderful testimony of the grace of God, so much so that the apostle makes it clear that this woman who Paul calls a prostitute was a woman of faith, as we are told in Hebrews; “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.” (Heb 11:31). Those words should give those of us who are saved such comfort and such assurance, for those who are not it should help you to know that even the vilest sinner in this world if they repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ they will be saved, that your sin is not to great to be forgiven, even if the world found out about you and wouldn’t forgive your, God’s grace is sufficient to cover our sin. Here in the midst of the destruction of Jericho as God brought judgment on the canaanites, we see hand in hand the wonderful grace of God, and for all who will respond to it it is freely given even to the most unlikely people.
We will get into more of the detail of Rahab as the week goes on but we need to know that the gospel is for all who will trust in Christ alone for their salvation, who are willing to turn from their sin. I’ll throw this out here, how would we react to the person who is just out of prison came to worship on the Lord’s Day? I’ve known places where this has happened and the people were clear that their church wasn’t for people that that, how would we react to the person smelling of drink, who had eyes as big as saucers, the prostitute, the abuser, the trafficker, is the gospel just for people like us or is it for sinners like us? My hope is that it is for sinners like us, as we know just how heinous our sin is and how wonderful the grace of our God is through Jesus Christ, for we are saved by grace through faith.
We must be willing to welcome those who have shady pasts into the fellowship of the church, if they have come by faith in Christ, repenting of their sin and believing in Christ Jesus for their salvation then they should be with the gathered Church on the Lord’s Day, Christ didn't die to make good people better - the Gospel is life saving medicine for terminally ill sinners. You may be seen as a fine upstanding member of your community but you are still a sinner. Who can be saved? Any and all who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sinner, regardless of your past the door to salvation has not been barred against you.
Q105 What do we pray for in the fifth petition?
In the fifth petition, (which is, And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, (Matt. 6:12)) we pray, That God, for Christ’ s sake, would freely pardon all our sins; (Ps. 51:1–2,7,9, Dan. 9:17–19) which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because by his grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others. (Luke 11:4, Matt. 18:35)