Text: I CORINTHIANS 16:13-24
1. Towards the conclusion of the apostle Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians, right between his salutation and his benediction, we find a very solemn warning (16:22).
2. In a few words, Paul declares the inevitable doom of all who do not love the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. It is significant that Paul chose to write these strong words with his own hand (16:21).
4. Some people interpret these words as a malediction or an imprecation. They say that Paul is calling down a solemn curse on those who do not love the Lord Jesus Christ.
5. But I do not think Paul would ever do such a thing (cf. Romans 9:1-3). No; this is not a curse but a statement of an inevitable fact – the Bible teaches that those who do not love the Lord Jesus Christ will be accursed at the second coming of Christ.
6. What makes this warning particularly interesting is its use of two untranslated foreign words. “Anathema” is a Greek word and it means “accursed” (cf. Gal. 1:8, 9).
7. The preacher who misleads others with a false gospel is under the curse of God. What a terrible thought, especially when you consider that so many churches today are preaching a false gospel.
8. The second word, “Maranatha,” is an Aramaic word meaning, “our Lord cometh!” (Cf. Scofield margin).
9. The great Bible preacher, Harry Ironside, paraphrased this verse this way: “If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, he will be devoted to judgment at the coming of the Lord.”
10. Let me ask you this question, “Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ?” Remember, our Lord said in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
I. IF YOU DO NOT LOVE THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, YOU ARE NOT SAVED
1. The great test of salvation is love for the Lord Jesus Christ. If you do not possess that love you are lost – it is that simple.
2. I preached Wednesday evening on the restoration of Israel, and I referred to this preacher in Texas who is teaching that Jews do not need to believe in Jesus in order to get to heaven.
3. Well, that is not what the Bible teaches (I Cor. 16:22).
4. That is not what Peter said in Acts 4:12. Referring to the Lord Jesus Christ, Peter said, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
5. Our Lord plainly said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
6. There are many people who are trying to love Jesus, but are unable to do so. Why is that? Because first they must be born again.
7. If you are not born again, then you are attempting to serve God in the flesh, and that will not do. Jesus said in John 3:6 and 7, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”
8. Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.” The works of the flesh are unholy (Gal. 5:16-21).
9. Romans 8:8 says, “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
10. You cannot love God if you are in the flesh. But praise God; Jesus said, “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). Once a man is born again by the Spirit of God, he is a new creature.
11. When a man is born again, God gives him a new heart – a heart for God. Before his conversion, he loved the world. But now he loves God (cf. I John 2:15-17; 4:7-21).
12. Before his conversion, he loved sin – drinking, smoking, drugs, gambling, cursing, immorality, etc. He loved sin but he did not love God (cf. II Timothy 3:1-4).
13. But between sinful man and the fires of hell stands the cross of Christ. The love of God was demonstrated at the cross (I John 4:9, 10; Rom. 5:8; John 3:16).
14. And because Christ suffered and died for us, we love Him. It was the great missionary, C.T. Studd, who said, “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” (C.T. Studd, missionary who served in China, India, and Africa).
15. Frances Havergal’s first hymn was one of her most famous: “I Gave My Life For Thee.” She wrote it after seeing Sternberg’s famous painting of the crucified Christ in Düsseldorf, Germany. A caption below the painting read, “This have I done for thee; what has thou done for Me?”
16. On January 10, 1858, Frances Havergal had come in weary, and sitting down she read that inscription, and the lines of her hymn flashed upon her. She wrote them in pencil on a scrap of paper. Reading them over she thought them so poor that she tossed them on the fire, but they fell out untouched. Showing them some months later to her father, he encouraged her to preserve them.
17. “I gave
My life for thee, My precious blood I shed,
That thou might’st ransomed be, and quickened from the dead;
I gave, I gave My life for thee-- what hast thou giv'n for Me?
I gave, I gave My life for thee-- what hast thou giv'n for Me?”
II. IF YOU DO NOT LOVE THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, YOU ARE UNDER THE WRATH OF GOD (JOHN 3:36).
1. Referring to the love of God demonstrated at the cross, Harry Ironside said, “Who can fathom the wickedness of the man in sinning against love like this? Need we wonder that the Holy Spirit has said, ‘If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha’ (devoted to judgment at the Lord’s coming)?” (from “Charge That To My Account” and Other Gospel Messages).
2. Unregenerate man has a stubborn will that can only be properly subdued by the grace of God. Unregenerate man is a hopeless sinner, and his worst sin is the sin of unbelief.
3. Jesus said to those who rejected Him, “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40).
4. A few minutes ago, we read I John 4:19, “We love Him, because He first loved us.” But what does that mean?
5. It means that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…(John 3:16).
6. It means we comprehend the cross and we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Gal. 1:3, 4; 2:20).
7. But what about those who turn their back on the cross? Those who ignore the cross? Those who despise the cross? This is what the apostle Paul is referring to in I Cor. 16:22.
8. Those who do not love Jesus are under the wrath of God (John 3:18, 36).
III. IF YOU DO NOT LOVE THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, YOU ARE NOT READY FOR HIS RETURN
1. We have been focusing on the word “Anathema.” I would now like to say a few words about “Maranatha.” As I said earlier, this literally means, “Our Lord cometh,” meaning that those who do not love the Lord will be judged when Christ returns (cf. II Thess. 1:5-9).
2. There are hundreds of Scriptures dealing with the second coming of Christ. They all teach the same thing – it will be a time of blessing for those who are saved, but a time of judgment for those who are lost (cf. I Thess. 5:1-9; Rev. 6:12-17).
3. The next great event on God’s prophetic calendar is the rapture of the church. Are you ready?
4. The Pew Research Center recently did an extensive survey on religion in America. This past July they interviewed over 2,000 people over the telephone about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the nation Israel, the inerrancy of the Bible, and other important subjects.
5. The survey asked Christians whether or not they believe in the second coming of Christ. Seventy-nine percent of “Christians” say they believe that Christ will return to earth someday.
6. This means that 21% do not believe Jesus (John 14:1-3).
7. Here’s another alarming statistic – only 20% said they believe Jesus will return to earth in their lifetime. But one of the great themes of the NT is the imminent return of Christ (cf. I Cor. 1:7; Titus 2:13).
8. It is clear that many so-called Christians do not believe the Bible and are not looking for the Lord to return.
1. There was a great Puritan preacher named John Flavel, who pastored in Dartmouth, England back in the 17th century.
2. On one occasion John Flavel preached from our text –“If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.”
3. When he was about to pronounce the benediction, Mr. Flavel paused, and said, “How shall I bless this whole assembly, when every person in it who loves not the Lord Jesus Christ, is Anathema Maranatha?”
4. It is recorded that, “this solemn appeal to conscience so affected a gentleman of rank present, that he fell senseless on the floor.”
5. That is not all that unusual, but I will now quote directly from an account recorded in a publication called the Christian Treasury: “A lad of 15, a native of Dartmouth, named Luke Short, was one of the congregation on that occasion; and shortly after he entered on a seafaring life, went to America, and settled there, where he passed the remainder of his long life in the state of Massachusetts. When a hundred years of age he had bodily strength for farm labour, and considerable mental activity also, but he was still careless about his soul. One day as he sat resting in his field, he reflected on his past life, and called to mind the days of his youth, when he used to hear Mr. Flavel preach at Dartmouth; his affectionate earnestness and solemn warnings came to mind with unusual vividness, and particularly the sermon on the ‘Anathema Maranatha,’ above alluded to. The blessing of God accompanied the old man’s retrospective meditations; he felt that he had never yet loved the Lord Jesus Christ, and that the Anathema rested on him. Conviction was followed by repentance. The aged sinner obtained peace in believing, joined the Congregational church at Middleboro, and to the end of his days, at the age of 116, gave evidence of true piety.” (Taken from The Christian Treasury, 1864, pg. 395).
6. Unsaved friend: I hope you do not wait 85 years to get saved! For every Luke Short that gets saved at 100, there are multitudes who die and go to hell (cf. I Cor. 16:22).
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