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Sermon outlines
by Edward Thomason
An equal opportunity implorer 
text: Ezekiel 18

Source: written by Edward E.Thomason Ė Preach today.com
Date _______  place: Church of Christ
Objective: Consecrative
Sermon Plan Theme
:
Our School Master - Expository

God is an equal opportunity "implorer"
text: Ezekiel 18

ILLUSTRATION:

Each day, it seems, somewhere someone will commit a crime that leads to their arrest and imprisonment. Sometimes the crime is so hideous that it makes all the newspaper headlines. Do you ever stop and wonder what that personís parents must be going thru? Or their children?

Just imagine for a moment that you are a parent of a child who brutally gunned down his class mates in a small community school. Imagine the intense shame and relentless embarrassment you would feel - simply because you were that childís parent. Imagine the continual pain inflicted by neighbors who stop and stare and point at you each time you venture out in the public eye. Often such parents sell their homes and move away because they canít stand the "stigma."

1. "Stigma!" Now thatís an interesting word. It actually refers to a mark, a tattoo, or a scar (like that left by a branding iron.) Sometimes people do things that permanently "mark" (or brand) their family with disgrace, dishonor and shame.

2. It doesnít seem fair does it? Why should children or parents have to suffer because of what someone in their family has done?

3. Turn with me in your Bibles to the Old Testament passage of Ezekiel 18.

Ezekiel was a Prophet of God who lived at the same time as Daniel.
He and his nation had been taken captive and placed in exile by the Babylonians because of their rebellious and wicked idolatry. Ezekiel and    Daniel and other young men like them suffered greatly because of the sins of their ancestors. It didnít seem fair!
Ezekielís mission as a preacher and prophet was to bring the light of "hope" to his generation of people as they suffered in the long darkness of their captivity.

4. But isnít it typical, that when people suffer, (as a consequence of the sins of others) that they think that God is being unfair?

5. Evidently some of those to whom Ezekiel preached were accusing God of being just that!  "Unfair!" or being "Unequal in his dealings with them as his people."

Look at Ezek 18:25 (read) "You say... ."
Godís ways are equal. . . it's manís ways that are unfair.
Man is not always fair in how he judges others. . . but God is.

6. If Ezekiel were living today, perhaps he would tell us that while people sometimes play unfair and show a lack of equality in their dealings with one another, our God is:
   -- " an equal opportunity implorer." (see title)

You might notice that I am using a play on words here. I am spelling the word "employer" (with an "i"). God thru his spokesmen (like Ezekiel) implores or pleads with man to do right... (but back then, even as today, many are not listening!.)
We can also say that God is an "equal opportunity" implorer because he gives each of us an "equal opportunity" to do right. We have no right to reproach and accuse God as being unfair.

7. In this chapter, Ezekiel the Prophet makes three important points that we should remember even today:

Remember you and I have a personal responsibility to God to consider
Remember you and I have a personal relationship with God to consider
Remember you and I have a personal recompense of reward from God to consider
-- Consideration of these matters should lead to our repentance

First Ezekiel says,
I. Remember you have a "Personal Responsibility" to God to consider

A. Look at: Ezek 18:1-3 (read)

1. This common proverb was being used as a reproach against God.

2. It says, "The fathers sin... and the children reap the consequences."
--- AND IMPLIES THAT GOD IS UNFAIR

3. I think you can see how someone who is born in captivity because of their ancestorís sins would be angry about their situation.

4. From only a physical point of view, it would seem unfair.

 

B. But unfortunately, our actions today may reap consequences that future generations must deal with. (Some good. Some bad.)

(Consider some modern applications:)

1. Our own generationís national debt can become a burden for future generations of children to pay. That doesnít seem fair but thatís life.

2. Our fatherís generationís decision to develop and explode atomic bombs unleashed a terror that will affect many generations of children who must live with the threat of radiation illness and nuclear terrorism. It doesnít seem fair.

3. Our generationís promiscuous behavior has helped to spread such diseases as aides that will affect many generations to come. Again, it doesnít seem fair.

(And in this same vein...)
4. The spiritual training or "lack of" by many parents today will have eternal consequences for multiple generations to come.

C. While there are physical and social consequences to our actions that often affect other generations, God does not judge the soul unfairly.

1. Society, as we have noted, is often unfair... neighbors will judge and accuse... and parents of wicked children (or children of wicked parents) will become stigmatized and considered "guilty simply by association."

2. Of course that same standard of judgment is used when parents or children are good... (However, we donít see the unfairness when a heroís children are given special treatment or a heroís parents are assumed to be good parents because a child is good.)

3. People often judge (rightly or wrongly) on the basis of association.

4. Look at: Ezek 18:14-17, 20 read.

a. A son is responsible for his own actions...

b. Our fathers may have soiled their souls... but we do not have to follow in their steps.

c. Each new generation is responsible for itself.

D. So Ezekiel reminds us that we canít excuse our selves on the basis that we are our fatherís sons...

Illus: Hank Williams Jr., the son of the famous country music legend who was known for his problem with alcohol, wrote a song in which he says people ask him, "Hank why do you drink, why do you roll smoke, etc.?" His closing lyric was, "Iím just carrying on a family tradition."

1. We may see our fatherís sins and follow in his steps... or we may chose not to carry on that tradition.

2. But the old proverbs... "the apple doesnít fall far from the tree..."
or "the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the childrenís teeth are set on edge" just doesnít excuse us anymore.

3. As they say in the South... "that dog want hunt." We can rise above our heritage.

4. We are each responsible for our own actions. (And arenít you glad!)

So remember that you have a personal responsibility to God for your own soul.. and
II. Remember you have a personal relationship with God to consider

A. Look again at Ezek 18:4 (read) "Behold all souls are mine...."

1. "All" souls belong to God. Have you ever thought about that?

2. Perhaps we should.

3. The souls of our children do not belong to us... they belong to God.

B. God is the Creator of our souls... they belong to him...

1. When we die... our souls, even lost souls, go back to God...
-- Ecc 12:7 "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."

2. How God will judge our souls depends upon our relationship with him.

C. Again, There is no transference of guilt from wicked ancestors to the innocent

-- And likewise, there is no transference of innocence to the guilty.

1. We may inherit our fatherís dark hair or blue eyes,
2. We may inherit our fatherís name and social standing (good or bad)
3. But we do not inherit his sin nor his righteousness.
4. These are important things to remember:

While we have a physical relationship with our ancestors and children, more importantly, we have a spiritual relationship with God.

We may enter this world reaping the consequences of what others have done inheriting their stigma and their guilt by association, but we enter this world with a soul that belongs to God... and it is pure and holy and without stain.

D. God loves each of us. Each of our souls are equally precious in his sight. It doesnít matter "who" your earthly father is or what he has done... it doesnít matter who your children are or what they have done...

1. God does not judge us on the basis of our earthly relationships. (He doesn't look at our genetics, race, gender, or physical abilities - but he looks upon the inside, into our hearts and souls.)

2. The apostle Paul knew that heritage and ancestry might be some peopleís claim to fame but when it comes to God there is no respecter of persons with God. (Rom 2:11)

3. Each of us will be judged by God on the basis of our relationship with Him and not our relationship with family. Now thatís fair and equal. (And arenít you glad?)

So remember that you have a personal responsibility to God. and a personal relationship with God to consider but also...
III. Remember you have a personal recompense of reward to consider

A. Ezek 18:4b, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die."

1. The idea that there is no payday when it comes to our sins is forever silenced by that statement in scripture.

2. No we donít have to worry about paying for the sins of our fathers on judgment day... but we had better worry about our own sins.

B. Ezek 18:30 (read)

1. Here is the bottom line, the purpose of Ezekielís lesson:

Yes, we may suffer physically as a consequence of what others have done. And that may not seem fair, but it is life.

But donít spend your time fretting over the physical inequities of life, instead consider your own soul....its responsibility, its relationship with God and its recompense of reward.

2. God will not judge you on the basis of others (good or bad). He will judge you for what you have or have not done.

3. Therefore, (bottom line) Repent and turn from all your transgressions; so iniquity (sin) shall not be your ruin.

C. Your ruin - in the end will come as a result of your own sins, not others. And that is fair. That is just. That is equality. And God implores us to consider these matters carefully.

CONCLUSIONS

1. If our soul is lost... it will be because it has become separated from God because of our own sins.

2. We cannot stand before God and claim that it is someone elseís fault.
(We canít blame our ancestors, our parents, or our children or anyone.)

3. What about your soul today?

Is it lost? Does it need to be redeemed, restored, reconciled and reunited with God.
It can be. God who loves us, made that possible thru Jesus Christ

4. Someday your precious soul will return to God...

Will it be stained by sin... or cleansed by the love and blood of Christ?
That choice is yours and yours alone. And it is the choice you are making now in life.

Invitation:

* I appreciate my friend Dave Bragg of Cape Girardeau MO who got me interested in this text.

 


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