Sermon #62                                                     Luke Sermons


     Title:            Two Things We must Avoid

     Text:            Luke 9:46-50

     Subject:       Our Lord’s Warnings against Pride and Censorship

     Date:            Sunday Evening – October 7, 2001

     Tape #         W-63a

     Readings:     Wes Rozeboom & Rex Bartley





Be sure to read this paragraph in its context!


·        The Disciples were not about to cast out the devil possessing the young man in verses 37-40.

·        They ran across a man they did not know who was preaching the gospel, who cast out devils in the name of Christ, and told him to quit.

·        As they walked along, congratulating themselves on their great works, they started arguing about which of them would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven!


The title of my message tonight is Two Things We Must Avoid. Our text will be Luke 9:46-50. Our Lord Jesus Christ here gives us two very, very important warnings. These are warnings needed in every age, warnings needed in every congregation, warnings needed by every believer. Here our Master tells us plainly that there are two things we must ever strive to avoid. We must strive to avoid these two terrible evils because they are evils to which we are all prone and evils we seldom recognize in ourselves. We are very quick to spot them in others, but very slow to see them in ourselves. May God the Holy Spirit give me your attention and cause you to hear his Word to you in this brief paragraph.


(Luke 9:46-50)  "Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. {47} And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him, {48} And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great. {49} And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. {50} And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us."


Proposition: Here our Master warns us that we must ever guard against and seek to avoid the horrible evils of pride and censorship.


     Let me first give you a brief exposition of these verses. Then I will address these two, much needed warnings.


(Luke 9:46)  "Then there arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest."


As the Lord’s disciples were walking from Caesarea Philippi, to Capernaum (Mark 9:33), they began to engage in an argument about which of them would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:1). It probably got pretty heated.


The dispute was not about degrees in glory, or in grace, or who should be the greatest apostle and preacher of the Gospel. The dispute was bad enough, but not that bad. You see, these men still thought the Lord Jesus had come here to establish a carnal, earthly, Jewish empire, a literal rather than a spiritual kingdom, an earthly kingdom rather than a heavenly kingdom. Their argument was about who should be prime minister to the Messiah, to the Lord Jesus, in his kingdom.


     As you know, (At least, I hope you do!), prophecy is not and should not be a matter of great concern in the church of God. We rejoice to know that…

·        Christ is coming again.

·        When he comes, he will raise the dead, make all things new, and sit in judgment over all his enemies.

·        Our salvation will be complete.

We are not, in the least concerned about looking for signs and trying to figure out when the end shall be. It is absolutely evil to do so. Our business is serving and honoring our Redeemer until he comes.


     Yet, the notion of dispensational, premillennialism is horribly evil. As it is with many today, it was the idea of the Jews, of the Pharisees in particular, of these poor disciples that Christ, the Messiah, would establish a carnal, earthly, Jewish kingdom. And with that carnal doctrine, of necessity comes many carnal ideas, such as those expressed here. Be sure you understand these things:


1.     Our Lord Jesus Christ is the King now, seated upon the throne of David, as David’s Son in heaven (Acts 2:22-36).

2.     Our Lord’s kingdom is his church, the Israel of God, Abraham’s spiritual seed, God’s elect whom he redeemed with his own precious blood. – “The kingdom of God is in you. – The kingdom of God is not in meat and in drink, but in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

3.     We are born into the kingdom of heaven by the new birth (John 3:5-7; Rev. 20:1-6). – Faith in Christ is neither more nor less than bowing to the Son of God as your rightful Lord and King.

4.     There is no such thing as a secret rapture, a seven year tribulation period, or a literal 1000 millennial reign. – It doesn’t much matter to me what you believe or don’t believe about prophetic systems, as long as you are not deluded by the baseless nonsense as that. The reason these things concern me is that they are not only without foundation in Scripture, they promote pride, divisiveness, and carnal lusts after material things in the name of Christianity. Carnal religion promotes carnal hope, and carnal hope promotes carnal desires.


(Luke 9:47)  "And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child, and set him by him,"


     Here is another of those almost casual declarations of our Savior’s deity. He who is the omniscient God perceives the thoughts of men’s hearts. None but God can perceive the thoughts of another’s heart. And he who is God perceives the thoughts of all. Nothing is hidden from him. All things are naked and open to him with whom we have to do (Heb. 4:13).


     When our Master perceived the thoughts of the disciples’ hearts, when he would reprove them for their carnal strife, he picked up a child and set it beside himself in the presence of them all.


Matthew tells us that he sat this child in the midst of them all (Matt. 18:1). He wanted them all to him. Seeing this child, had he said nothing at all, they should have perceived his purpose. The Lord Jesus wanted them to see that he who is but a child, the most humble and least in his own eyes, is the greatest in the church and kingdom of God. Putting this child beside himself, pointing to him, perhaps putting his arm around his shoulders, the Lord Jesus said…


(Luke 9:48)  "And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great."


     We must be careful not to make anything more of this than is intended, and not to make anything less of it than is intended. There is nothing taught or implied here about children, about the baptism of children, or the conversion of children. – NOTHING. Certainly, there is nothing here to indicate that children are innocent and without sin before God until they reach an imaginary age of accountability!


The lesson is about Christianity. Our Lord is here teaching us that as a child is simple, humble, dependent, trusting, and unconcerned about worldly fame, power, and wealth, so we ought to walk before God. – As a child, knowing its weakness, depends upon its father, so we ought, as men and women conscious of our weakness, to depend upon Christ (2 Cor. 12:10). -- As a little child realizes that he is ignorant and helpless and therefore depends upon others to teach him, guide him, hold his hand and protect him, so we ought to look to Christ for everything. – As children are quickly pacified when injured by another, so we ought to be quick in forgiving those who injure and offend us. – As children just naturally embrace other children, so we ought to embrace other, avoiding and putting aside those things that divide men and women from one another.


Now, read the Master’s words again. – “Whosoever shall receive this child” -- one like this child, not in age, but in meekness and humility, one that is not proud and haughty, ambitious of worldly honor and envious of others, -- whoever receives such a one into his house and heart. (Specifically, he is talking about gospel preachers and the gospel we preach.)


In my name” -- because he belongs to me, because he is sent by me, because he represents me, because he delivers my message. – Let us receive one another as Christ himself, in his name. Receive your brother because he belongs to Christ, because is one of his, bears his image, is a partaker of his grace, is loved of God, chosen, redeemed, accepted and an heir of God, joint heir with Christ and with us, one with Christ and one with us in the family of God! Such is Christ’s great regard to his people that he takes it all one as if done to himself.


Receiveth me  -- his Lord and Master, his Savior and King.


And whosoever shall receive me, receiveth him that sent me” – In exactly as all who receive Christ receive the Father, so all who receive one of Christ’s disciples receive him. And all who ill-treat one of his his ill-treat him.


For he that is least among you all,” in his own opinion, the one who truly considers himself the least, -- “the same shall be great,” highly honored, greatly used of God.


(Luke 9:49)  "And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us."


     Be sure to get this in its context. John was not here suddenly seeking to change the subject. Just the opposite: The Master’s words pricked his heart. The Word of God brought to light the evil of something he and his brethren had recently done. Tender hearted John was immediately broken hearted because he knew what they had done was totally contrary to the spirit of Christ.


     In essence, he was saying, -- Oh, how terribly proud and haughty we have been! -- Master, I have something to confess. We saw a man the other day who was casting out devils in Your name, and we rebuked him, because he was not one of us.


(Luke 9:50)  "And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us."


     The Master plainly rebuked that censorious spirit. He said, Don’t ever take it upon yourself to rebuke, cut yourself off from, or condemn, or even speak evil of any man (in public or in private) who is doing the same work you are doing, preaching the same gospel you are preaching, laboring in my name against the prince of darkness and for the souls of men, just because he is not one of your little group.


     That is the mean of these five verses. Let me show you our Master’s warnings and endeavor, by the Spirit of God, to drive them home to our hearts.


I.       Pride -- First, the Lord Jesus here tells us that – We must ever guard against and strive to avoid that sinful, shameful pride that causes us to seek to promote, elevate, and exalt ourselves!


Here is a little band of insignificant nobodies, publicans and fishermen, whom the Lord Jesus had chosen, sought out, called by his grace and made to be his disciples, – (Sinners forgiven! – Rebels conquered! – Prodigals recovered!), -- arguing about who should be the greatest! Each one thought he was more deserving of high honor than any of the others!


A.   Such is the depravity of our hearts still!


There is no sin, no evil to which we are more naturally and wickedly inclined than pride. May God give me grace ever to realize this, ever to be aware of this monster in my heart, that I may watch and pray.


     No sin is more deeply rooted in our depraved hearts. It clings to us like glue. It is as much a part of us as darkness is a part of night. It never dies, until these bodies cease to breathe. It does not even weaken!


     There is no evil of our hearts so hypocritical and deceitful as pride. It wears the robe of humility. It pretends to be meek. It wants desperately to appear self-abasing. Pride is found in the ignorant and the brilliant, the poor and the rich, the most useless and the most gifted.


B.    There is absolutely nothing about us, any of us, that should make, or even allow us to be proud.


What could be more absurd than a proud man? Of all creatures, we who are the sons and daughters of Adam have the least reason to be proud. Of all men, we who are made to be the objects and recipients of God’s free grace in Christ have the least excuse for pride. Of all believers, sinners called and gifted of God to preach the gospel of Christ have the least reason to be proud! Nothing in this world is more contrary to the grace of God than our pride!


(1 Corinthians 4:7)  "For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?"


(2 Corinthians 4:7)  "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."


(Ephesians 3:8)  "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;"


C.   Nothing in the world is more contrary to the example our Lord Jesus left for us to follow than pride. – Nothing can be more contrary to the character of our Savior than our pride!


(John 13:1-5)  "Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. {2} And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; {3} Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; {4} He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. {5} After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded."


(John 13:12-15)  "So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? {13} Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. {14} If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. {15} For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you."


(Philippians 2:1-8)  "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, {2} Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. {3} Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. {4} Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. {5} Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: {6} Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: {7} But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: {8} And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."


(Philippians 3:10)  "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;"


II.    Censorship Second, our Savior here warns us that – We must constantly guard ourselves against and avoid our arrogant, proud tendency to censorship of our brethren. – We must studiously avoid sitting in judgment over, criticizing, condemning, or in any way seeking to undermine the ministries of others who serve Christ, but are not aligned with us.


That is precisely the meaning of our Lord’s words in verse 50.


(Luke 9:50)  "And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us."


     One of the most shameful, God dishonoring, gospel crippling deeds of church history is the fact that throughout the history of God’s church there have been many who equate serving Christ and defending the faith with dividing brethren! And this evil has never been more pervasive than it is today.


     Be sure you understand my meaning. Our Lord is not here telling us that we are to be indifferent to sound doctrine, or that we are to compromise the gospel for the sake of getting along with others. Heresy is to be and must be exposed, identified, and condemned. But there are many who serve the cause of Christ, who preach the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ, who are not a part of our “little group.”


     Let others, if they must speak ill of us, separate themselves from us, censure us, and condemn us. We must not engage in such evil. For Christ’s sake, for the gospel’s sake, let us do what we can to promote unity in God’s kingdom, among God’s people, and promote those who preach the gospel of God’s free grace. As in the days of Elijah, God still has his seven thousand (though unknown to us) who have not bowed the knee to Baal. We are all too prone to think like those of whom Job spoke, “We are the men, and wisdom shall die with us” (Job 12:2). If others choose not to identify themselves with Don Fortner, and think and speak evil of Don Fortner, that is no big deal. If they preach the gospel of Christ, if God is using them, I rejoice and thank God for them.




(Numbers 11:27-29)  "And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. {28} And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. {29} And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD'S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!"




(Philippians 1:12-18)  "But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; {13} So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; {14} And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. {15} Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: {16} The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: {17} But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. {18} What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."


     May God give us grace to cease from strife and contention. May God the Holy Spirit teach us to rejoice in the labors, usefulness, and success of others who serve his cause by the gospel, pulling down the strong holds of Satan and building the kingdom of our God. – “Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.” Let us give our time, efforts, and energies to the preaching of the gospel, aiming at the glory of God and the salvation of sinners on the brink of everlasting ruin.


·        Preach Christ, not controversy.

·        Seek God’s glory, not personal greatness.

·        Seek to build, not to tear down.

·        Hold up the cross, not a creed.

·        Seek the good of men’s souls, not the smile of their approval.

·        Like John the Baptist, let us point men to Christ, the Lamb of God, and say, “Follow him,” not us.


     Christ is not divided. – Let us not be!


(Romans 14:4)  "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand."


(1 Corinthians 1:10)  "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."


(1 Corinthians 3:9-10)  "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. {10} According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon."


(1 Corinthians 3:16-17)  "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? {17} If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."


(Ephesians 4:1-7)  "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, {2} With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; {3} Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. {4} There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; {5} One Lord, one faith, one baptism, {6} One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. {7} But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ."


(Colossians 3:12-15)  "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; {13} Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. {14} And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. {15} And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."


     Now, as we prepare, once more, to receive the Lord’s Supper, let us come together in this place as one body in Christ, with our hearts united to one another and united to him for the glory of God.


(1 Corinthians 10:15-17)  "I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. {16} The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? {17} For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread."