Scripture Reading: Mark 4:16,17; John 16:1-4
Text: Ps. 119:165 “Great peace have they which love thy law and nothing shall offend them.”
I. Some get offended because they are not rooted in Christ- Mark 4:16,17 “And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground, who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness. And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time; afterward when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.” Our Lord here speaks in the parable of the soils of 4 types of soils upon which the seed falls. The seed of course is the Word of God and more particularly, the gospel. When the seed falls on stony ground, it often will sprout up and look real and genuine and endure for awhile, but when some problem comes up or the excitement and newness wears off, they are offended and fall by the wayside. The word never really took root. Jesus said of the Pharisees, “I know that ye are Abraham’s seed, but ye seek to kill Me because My word hath no place in you.” (John 8:37) Matthew 15:12,13 “Then came His disciples and said unto Him, Knowest Thou that the Pharisees were offended after they heard this saying, But He answered and said, Every plant which My heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” Many, many are offended because, though they got placed on a church roll, they never were placed on God’s roll! They never were rooted in Christ! Charles Spurgeon said, “It is a comparatively easy thing to increase the church roll, but it’s only God’s Almighty grace that can preserve to the end those whose names are written in our church records.”
What did Jesus mean when He said in Mark 4:17, “They have no root in themselves”? “Roots” are the “hidden graces.” The plants look exactly like other plants from the ground up, but below the surface the roots had not taken hold! The most important part of a plant is its roots! They are the things that hold it down and give it nourishment! But they are things you cannot see! What are some of those hidden graces that show that you are a genuine plant of God?
(1) Genuine repentance– The genuine believer loathes sin! You see, when you are saved you are changed from a goat to a sheep! Your nature is changed, likes and dislikes change. You may be tricked and duped by sin and fall into sin, but you can never again be happy and contented living in sin! There is in all likelihood someone reading these words who secretly, without anyone else knowing it, indulges in some pet sin, such as pornography or immorality and rather than genuine repentance, you cover and scheme to stay in it. This is not the mark of one rooted in Christ. Most people have not truly repented of sin, they have simply been sorry that they got caught in their sins.
(2) Another root that is hidden is secret communion with God. When Jesus told the Pharisees that “My word hath no place in you,” He didn’t mean they weren’t religious nor that they didn’t have a Bible. No, He meant that their religion was external and had no power within. Their religion was something they did, not Someone they knew! Communion with God is a hidden root that only you and God really know. Do you really have communion with God in His word and prayer?
(3) Another root is divine sustenance– Jesus said, “I am the Vine ye are the branches…without me ye cannot do nothing.”(John15:5) I can understand why many get tired and quit and fall by the wayside for they have no divine sustenance. They are operating with their own will power and it cannot endure the test of time! If you are not rooted in Christ. You will not last long in the Christian life!
II. Some get offended because they are not grounded in the word- John 16:1-4 “These things have I spoken to you, that ye should not be offended…” Jesus told His disciples many things ahead of time so that when they happened His disciples would not be offended. In other words, He grounded His disciples. It is very possible to be a genuine believer and yet meet many stumbling blocks. Paul said in First Corinthians 8:13 “If meat make my brother to offend I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.” You see, a genuine believer can be offended. When someone is saved they have all kinds of things in their mind about what to expect. Many new believers wonder why some of their old sins still hang on and they doubt their salvation because of some of these old lingering habits. They need to be taught First John 1:9 and how to deal with their sins. They must be taught that they will begin the fight of their life with their flesh and with the world and the devil. They have just begun to fight. When Paul was saved, Annanias was sent to him to tell him that God had chosen him to suffer. New believers must also be taught to distinguish between what the Bible actually says and what men say the Bible says (i.e. between interpretation and application). They must be taught that men are helpful and God uses men but that they must be very careful who they listen to and that it is God’s own word that is final and authoritative, not man’s. They must become attached to God’s word and God’s work not to a man. Jesus constantly taught His disciples that he was going away and that His disciples must not become so attached to His physical person and presence as to His word and His work!
Remember that John the Baptist even got offended with Jesus at one point and sent his disciples to Jesus to see if He was the One sent from God to be the Messiah or should they look for another. Jesus sent back to Him and said, “Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me.” John had expected the kingdom to come and now at the end of his life he was in jail. He had wrong expectations and was thus offended! I wonder how many new believers and ungrounded believers are out of church and not serving God because they were never taught exactly what to expect in the Christian life.
Jesus told Peter, “You are going to deny Me.” When it happened just as Jesus said, the Bible says, “Peter remembered the word and went out and wept bitterly.” He had been taught what to expect!
If I give you directions to go somewhere and I give you several landmarks to look for along the way, then as you see those landmarks, you will know you are on the right road! So, when we ground believers in the word and let them know precisely what scripture says will happen to them, that they will be tested, that they will experience great turmoil by the opposition of their flesh, that they may experience opposition from family and friends, then, when these things happen they will not discourage them but rather confirm that what has happened to them in becoming a Christian is real and genuine.
III. Some Christians get offended because they do not love the word- Psalm 119:165 “Great peace have they which love Thy law and nothing shall offend them.” The safest anchor for any Christian is to fall in love with God’s word! “Man is not governed by what he knows, man is governed by what he loves!” Millions upon millions know the Word of God but do not love the Word of God! Many read it dutifully but do not love it! Many even memorize it but do not love it! Jeremiah said, “Thy words were found and I did eat them and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.” (Jeremiah 15:16) David said, “O how love I Thy law; it is my meditation all the day.” (Psalm 119:97)
An easily offended Christian is one who is not in love with the Word of God because if we are deeply in love with this book, then God’s Spirit is constantly nourishing our spirit and keeping us strong. Proverbs 18:14 “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?” A wounded spirit is an offended spirit or a touchy spirit. If my spirit is strong because I love God’s Word and God’s cause, then I can overlook things that would otherwise personally offend me. When I have spent time with God in His word of a morning and God has enriched my spirit and strengthened me, then the things that happen to me simply strengthen my resolve, they do not offend me. It is love for the word and the cause of Christ that keeps me from being turned aside and offended.
There are things people say to me and about me that could easily offend me if I have my eyes on me and what I can do and want to do. But if I am deeply in love with Jesus Christ and His word, then it is not me and my cause I am so much concerned for as for the cause of Christ.
Years ago, when I was praying about leaving a ministry and going to another, a dear friend of mine wrote me a letter and asked me to consider what my leaving would do for the cause of Christ in that area. I have never forgotten how that question pierced my heart. Am I only interested in my welfare and what I want, or am I interested and in love with the cause of Christ in this world and in the area where God has placed me?
Jesus told all the disciples that they would be offended because of Him on the night of Gethsemane. Peter said, “If all others are offended, I will never be.” But of course, Peter did deny the Lord. Later when Jesus appeared to him on the Sea of Galilee and Peter jumped in the water and swam to Him; Jesus did not say to Peter, “Peter you denied Me because you weren’t saved.” No, that wasn’t Peter’s problem. Neither did He say that Peter denied Him because he wasn’t grounded in the word. No, He said, “Peter, do you love Me.” You see, Peter’s basic problem was that he still valued his own personal feelings and life more than He valued Christ and His cause! Oh, how we need to fall desperately in love with Jesus Christ and His word! It is the best preventive medicine for being offended!