An Appearance of Godliness (Pt 24) -The Lord is Winnowing His Harvest

Mat 3:8-12 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. (9) And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. (10) Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (11) “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (12) His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

John the Baptist is here declaring an often repeated theme in Scripture. Namely, that the Lord Jesus is and ultimately complete will, cast all wicked counterfeits who presently dare to infect His church into unquenchable fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand. Even now He is separating the wheat from the chaff.

In this series we have considered many case studies from real life about people the Apostle Paul warned Timothy about:

2Ti 3:5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

Such people obviously are going to be found in the visible, local church. They put on their disguise of godliness, but it is just a sham. They are not born again and have no desire to be. Their “christianity” is a religion of a false gospel, a hypocrisy of the Pharisees who outwardly look white and impressive but inwardly have souls that reak of death.

Here then is a sobering question – why are we not seeing Christ’s winnowing happening in the majority of local churches? In fact, why is this winnowing separation of wheat from chaff being denied? I can assure you that where the gospel is faithfully preached and practices, where Christ’s people gather and love His Word, chaff is going to be separated from the wheat.

1Jn 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

See it? The norm that the Lord presents to us in His Word is that there is going to be separation even now in this present world in the visible church. We should be encouraged when we see it. But why isn’t it happening except rarely? I can tell you. Because a false ear-tickling handling of Scripture is being preached.

Every single one of the cases of an appearance of godliness that I have presented to you in this series ended with – they went out from us. They hated us. The chaff was separated from the wheat. And yet I can confidently tell you that most seminaries, church growth types, pastors and other “christian” organizations would count this as a failure on our part. If the numbers aren’t increasing, you are a failfure.

God’s Word is fire and hammer. It is food for the souls of His people – green pasture beside still water. But it is a stench of death to the counterfeit:

2Co 2:15-17 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, (16) to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? (17) For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.

This is a fundamental mark of a true church – this winnowing. In Scripture the pattern that we see is more people leave the church than enter it. And yet I heard a typical statement from a rather self-serving pastor once that went like this:

It should be very easy to enter the church and very hard to leave it.

Would you not agree that this is precisely backward from what God’s Word says? The only door is Christ and to enter His kingdom we must be born again. It is a radical door that is entirely of Christ’s making, not ours. It is in that sense, difficult to enter – indeed, it is impossible apart from the miraculous, creative work of Christ in us. And it is NOT hard to leave the church! Many have done so all these years of church history. MOST people leave:

Joh 6:66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.

Christ is winnowing His church right now. If you do not see that winnowing process happening in a church, you can be assured that Christ is not there.

God is Sovereign – CRC Sunday Sermon

May 2, 2021

Sunday School Songs

Oh How Good It Is

Verse 1
Oh how good it is
When the family of God
Dwells together in spirit
In faith and unity
Where the bonds of peace
Of acceptance and love
Are the fruit of His presence
Here among us

So with one voice we’ll sing to the Lord
And with one heart we’ll live out His word
Till the whole earth sees
The Redeemer has come
For He dwells in the presence of His people

Verse 2
Oh how good it is
On this journey we share
To rejoice with the happy
And weep with those who mourn
For the weak find strength
The afflicted find grace
When we offer the blessing
Of belonging

Da da da

Verse 3
Oh how good it is
To embrace His command
To prefer one another
Forgive as He forgives
When we live as one
We all share in the love
Of the Son with the Father
And the Spirit

Keith Getty/Kristyn Getty/Ross Holmes/ Stuart Townend
@2012 Getty Music Publishing/Parakeet Boots Music/Townend Song
CCLIC License #108183

He Will Hold Me Fast
Verse 1
When I fear my faith will fail
Christ will hold me fast
When the tempter would prevail
He will hold me fast
I could never keep my hold
Through life’s fearful path
For my love is often cold
He must hold me fast

He will hold me fast
He will hold me fast
For my Savior loves me so
He will hold me fast

Verse 2
Those He saves are His delight
Christ will hold me fast
Precious in His holy sight
He will hold me fast
He’ll not let my soul be lost
His Promises shall last
Bought by Him at such a cost
He will hold me fast

Verse 3
For my life He bled and died
Christ will hold me fast
Justice has been satisfied
He will hold me fast
Raised with Him to endless life
He will hold me fast
Till our faith is turned to sight
When He comes at last

Ada Ruth Habershon/Matthew Merker
2013, Getty Music Publishing
CCLI #108183

Sunday Service

Pastoral Reading
Psalm 29
Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.
3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord, over many waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
    the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
    and Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
8 The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
    the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth
    and strips the forests bare,
    and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
    the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the Lord give strength to his people!
    May the Lord bless his people with peace!

Opening Hymn
Oh God Beyond All Praising (Trinity #660)

Focus this week:  Isaac Brown

Offering Hymn
Psalm 91: 1-4 (PS #91B) Tune of “Just as I Am”

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most
High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress:
my God; in him will I trust.

3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler,
and from the noisome pestilence.

4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings
shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Scripture Reading
Daniel 2:31-49

The Lord’s Table
Christ our Righteousness

Preaching the Word
God is Sovereign – Jeremiah 27-29

Closing Hymn
Break Thou the Bread of Life (Trinity #146)

(links to sermon and hymns are in blue font)