Even Then, They Would Still Not Believe (Matthew Sermon 74 of 151)
April 15, 2007 | Andy Davis
There are many astonishing things about the brief three-year ministry of Jesus Christ. It's really incredible to me how much He got done in three years, isn't it? Not traveling very far, yet in three years, He changed the history of the world, and you can focus it all on what we celebrated last week — the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. In one day, in one very brief period of time, his blood was shed, atoning for the sins of His people, from every tribe and language and people and nation, and every generation, centuries and centuries of sinners, in one afternoon atoned for. That's incredible, and then on the third day, by the power of Almighty God raised to life, living eternally. It's incredible.
Then look at the miracles of Jesus, the things that He did, the fact that He was able to speak to churning waves and to the howling wind, and it instantly obeyed Him, and became quiet and peaceful, just like that. The fact that He's able to walk on the water. The fact that He's able to raise a dead man to life who had been dead and buried four days, raised to life, simply by a command "Lazarus come forth." That He can do all of these things. These are all incredible about the life and the ministry of Jesus. But some time ago, I came across a different kind of marvel, and it is amazing to me that the Word became flesh and came to his own, but his own did not receive him. Now, that's incredible. That He could do all of these signs and wonders and miracles, and still, they would not believe. That's incredible.
Signs of Salvation: Unbelief in the Face of Miracles
This was highlighted for me as I read the account of the man born blind in John chapter 9. Jesus heals him by spitting on the ground and making a paste, some mud and smearing it on his eyes, and he gets up, and he's led to the Pool of Siloam, to the pool, and he washes the mud often and he can see. Then the religious authorities arrest him and bring him in for what, I don't know, for now, being able to see... They bring him in, and they're questioning him, very closely about the man who opened his eyes, about Jesus, and they get to the point in the interrogation where they're really getting to the focus of who is Jesus. They said, "We don't know where this... We know where Moses came from. We don't know where this man came from," referring to Jesus, and the man answered to them and said, “You do not know where he's from, and yet he opened my eyes." An original language translation would be this, “Here is the amazing thing. He opened my eyes and you don't know where he came from, now that's amazing.” I say to you that unbelief is amazing in the face of all that Christ has done to show us that He is the Son of God. It's astonishing to me that still they do not believe. I want to get very personal with you. What would it take for you to believe? What kind of miracle would it take for you to believe? Many of you are believers already. You can tell me what led you to faith in Christ, but this is a question for the unbeliever today. What would it take for you to believe? What test would you give Jesus?
In today's text, we have the ugly unbelief of the Jewish leaders put on display, and we have also Jesus' incredible and dignified way of dealing with it. Unbelief was constantly putting Jesus on trial, and so we have it again. The Pharisees and Sadducees come together for a strange purpose. They are uncommon bedfellows if you could put it that way. Ordinarily, they despised each other. Ordinarily, they would have had nothing to do with each other. They fought against each other. We get this incredible encounter in the Book of Acts when the apostle Paul was arrested and he's brought in in front of the Sanhedrin. They're giving him a very difficult time and he might even be executed, but then Paul knowing his own people very well, shrewdly says, “I stand here today on account of the resurrection from the dead”, and immediately the Pharisees and Sadducees start tearing at each other like a bunch of wild cats. He just stands back and watches and then is led off and they never resolved his case. The Pharisees and Sadducees couldn't stand each other. Pharisees were usually working-class people, made a living like Paul did, sewing tents. They would work with their hands, they were conservative, and fundamental theologically, they believed in the supernatural, they believed in the resurrection from the dead, they believed in angels and demons, but as we have seen, they held that the Rabbinic tradition was of equal authority to the scripture. They were strongly separatistic. They zealously desired to purify Judaism from all Gentile influences and above all things, they held to their own righteousness by obeying the law of Moses. That was the Pharisees. Now, the Sadducees were different. They were generally aristocratic. They were made very wealthy by their corrupt involvement in the animal sacrificial system. They made tons of money over it, it was corrupt, and they made lots of money through the money changing and through the inspection of sacrifices. They were powerful. They cared nothing for the Rabbinic traditions or for the scriptures. They had no problem making religious, moral, and ethical, and political compromises; whatever it took to further their own interests. They were pragmatists. They were powerful dealmakers. They easily collaborated with whatever Gentile power was in charge. The core of all of this is that they denied the resurrection. If you deny the resurrection, then this life is all you have and if this life is all you have, then you need to grab for all the pleasure you can get and all the power and all the satisfaction because this is all you get. That was their fundamental error, but here they were, together, the Pharisees and Sadducees. What united them? I think it was a common hatred for the light, a common hatred for Christ. In John 3:20, it says, “Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”
World War II had all kinds of strange alliances. For example, the Finns allied themselves with the Nazis because they hated Soviet Russia. The US and Great Britain aligned themselves with Soviet Russia because they hated the Nazis. Even in China, the nationalist movement under Chiang Kai-shek temporarily united with the communist under Mao Zedong, because they hated the Japanese and wanted to drive them out of their country. When you have a common enemy, strange folks get together and make alliances that ordinarily would have nothing to do with each other. We have it here with the Pharisees and Sadducees. The gospels record their common goal, and that was to murder the son of God. Matthew 12:14, "The Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.” Who was it that actually affected it? It was the Sanhedrin dominated by the Sadducees, the chief priest, and his family. They are all Sadducees, and so a shared enemy makes these strange alliances. They come to Jesus in verse 1 with an unbelieving demand. They want a sign from heaven. Look at verse 1, “The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested Him, by asking Him to show them a sign from heaven."
Now, what is a sign from heaven? They believed that the devil could do signs from Earth, but only God could do a sign from heaven. It's kind of strange because Satan is called elsewhere, the Prince of the Power of the Air. If you study the book of Revelation, the anti-Christ is going to be able to call down fire from heaven. They were wrong in thinking that if Jesus was going to do something like a sign from heaven, it definitely wasn't Satan that could do it, but they were looking for a sign from heaven. Like what? Let Christ call down a pillar of fire like Moses or a pillar of cloud during the day, let him do something like that. Or let him descend, let Jesus descend in a fire on top of a mountain, like at Mount Sinai. Or let Christ call manna down from heaven, feed them with bread from heaven. They want to see a sign from heaven. Or maybe he can control the sun, the moon, and the stars like what happened in Joshua's Day and make the planet stop revolving, do something really big. Or maybe he could at least do what Elijah did on Mount Carmel, call down fire from heaven and some sacrifice. Elijah at least could do that. “Show us a sign from heaven.”
What was their purpose? Was it because they're teetering on the edge of faith and if they could just have one more miracle, they'd come over to believe. Is that what it is? Not at all. Look what it says in verse 1, “The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested Him, by asking Him to show them a sign from heaven.” They're testing Jesus, they really want to disqualify Jesus, not to believe in him. Later when they tested him again by asking him about paying taxes to Caesar, Jesus called a spade a spade. He was very plain at that moment. Matthew 22:18, “But Jesus knowing their evil intent said, ‘You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me?’” Then He dealt with the issue of taxation. He knows exactly what's going on in their hearts. They're not trying to believe. This is not an honest inquiry by some people genuinely seeking to know the truth and they just need a little more help. “Just one more miracle, that's all it takes. Then I'll believe in Jesus.” It wasn't that at all. Now, doubting Thomas was like that. He wasn't there when Jesus appeared on the first day of the week. So when the other apostles told him about the resurrection, he said, "Unless I see the nail marks, nail prints in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, put my hand on the side, I will not believe.” A week later, Jesus meets his test. That's because Thomas was an apostle, he was to be an eye witness of the resurrection, and therefore, the Lord Jesus granted him a special privilege to meet his test. Don't think he actually put his finger in Jesus' nail marks, I think, he was too busy on the floor, worshipping the resurrected Lord saying, "My Lord and my God." It was enough for him, it was an honest, genuine, test if he could see it, he would believe, and the Lord met it.
Others required even less, like Nathaniel for example. In John chapter 1, Jesus said, “Now here is a true Israelite in whom there's no guile.” “How do you know me?” Nathaniel asked. "I saw you while you were under the fig tree before they called you." He said, "Rabbi you are the son of God, you are the King of Israel." Jesus marveled at his belief at this moment. He said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under a fig tree, you shall see greater things than these. I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man. I'll give you an even greater sign,” but that's all Nathaniel needed.
For these Pharisees and Sadducees, this is not an honest test. They're not trying to believe in Jesus, they're trying to disqualify him, to embarrass him if you can't produce a sign from heaven. Look what Christ does. First of all, He analyzes their hearts, He gives them an analysis [verse 2-3]. “He replied, ‘When evening comes,' you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,' and in the morning, 'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’” There's that old nautical saying, “Red sky in morning sailor take warning, red sky at night, sailor delight.” It has some kind of a foundation here in scripture. I looked it up on the Internet to find if it had any meteorological foundation. Apparently, it does. It says, “Picture yourself on a ship in the middle of a mid-latitude ocean. There’s the wind and the storm path is from west to east, it is morning and you're watching the sunrise, it is red. Since it is morning, you are looking east, the red sky indicates that there is high pressure there. Because you're in the mid-latitudes, the high is moving eastward away from you, that could only mean that a low-pressure region is coming towards you and with it probably an associated storm, so, sailor take warning. Now, picture yourself watching the sunset from the ship and the western sky is red, that means the exact thing is reversed. An area of high pressures to your west, the westerlies are moving in toward you, and good weather is on the way, sailor's delight. That's how it works. There are many other weather predictions based on signs.
Jesus is basically saying here that we have a common-sense observation, accumulation of information that enables us, somewhat, to predict the future. We can read the signs of the weather, we can read what happens just from everyday life, just from living here, we can accumulate things by our five senses, so they should have been able to read the signs of the times. What is He talking about “the signs of the times”? It has to do with Jesus' ministry. It has to do with a river of signs and wonders that He's already done, an absolute river. [Matthew 4] “Jesus went throughout Galilee teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about him spread all over Syria and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed those having seizures, the paralyzed and He healed them.” Matthew 9:35, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” Matthew 12:15, “Jesus withdrew from that place, many followed Him and He healed all their sick.” Matthew 14:35-36, “…and when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country, people brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.” Do you not see the comprehensive healing ministry of Jesus? This was not one or two miracles. This is a river of signs and wonders.
Now you might say, maybe He didn't do any in front of his enemies. First of all, huge crowds were coming. He wasn't distinguishing between friend and foe. He was healing everybody, whether they believed or not. You don't just have to have faith in order to be healed by Jesus, but there's a clear account in Matthew 12 of how Jesus is in a synagogue and it happened to be on the Sabbath. Jesus was forever healing on the Sabbath, and I think He did it on purpose. There was a man there with a shriveled hand, and the Pharisees were watching him closely to see if Jesus would heal him on the Sabbath. He challenged them. He says, “One of you has a sheep and it falls into the pit on the Sabbath, will you not make an effort to lift them out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep?” Then He commands the man, "Stretch out your hand," and he stretched it out, and it was completely restored. Then they went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. They saw it with their own eyes. They had no excuse.
The Purpose of Miracles
Now, what was the purpose of these signs and wonders? The purpose is so that we could believe in Him. Jesus did many other miraculous signs which are not recorded in this book, says John in John 20, but “… these signs are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing, you may have life in His name.” That's why. John Chapter 5, "I have testimony weightier than that of John," said Jesus. "For the very work that the Father has given me to finish and which I am doing testifies that the Father has sent Me." The miracles testified that the Father sent Jesus. To his own disciples, He says, in John 14-11, "Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves." The miracles were a solid foundation for genuine faith in Christ. They were proof that God was with Jesus of Nazareth in a way He'd been with no one else. More than that, they were evidence of Jesus' power to forgive sins and of his status as the only begotten Son of God. That's what the miracles were.
They were effective for the elect. They were effective for those who would believe. In John 2:11, after He changes the water into wine, it says this, “The first of His miraculous signs Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee, He thus in this manner, He in this way, revealed His glory, and His disciples put their faith in him.” You see the connection between changing the water into wine and their faith. Then there's Nicodemus, who comes in the next chapter 3. He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know that your teacher has come from God for no one could perform the miraculous signs you're doing if God were not with him." That’s the basis of Nicodemus' faith. In John 7:31, “Still many in the crowd put their faith in Him. They said, ‘When the Christ comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?’” So many believed in Jesus because of these miracles.
Then there's that man, who is born blind; he has got to be one of my favorite figures in the entire New Testament. I mean he gives as well as he gets there in Chapter 9. You got to admit he's a courageous man, this is what you had to do to survive as a blind man. He's no shrinking violet, he knows how to handle himself, he's strong and courageous. He said, "You know, whether this man's a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know, I was blind, and now, I see. If you ask me my opinion. I think he's a prophet from God." In the end, they throw him out of the synagogue. He was the one who said “From the beginning of history, no one has ever heard of him, a man born blind, having his eyes opened. If this man Jesus were not from God, he could do nothing.” He's drawing his own conclusions, he is ready, he just doesn't know who Jesus is. He was blind, he never saw him. Jesus comes and he asked him a question. "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" He knows his voice, he knows right away who he's talking to and says, "Tell me sir, so that I may believe in Him." He says, "I am the one who is speaking to you, in fact, you have now seen him." And he said, "Lord, I believe." And he worshipped Him just like that. The miracle was the foundation of that man's saving faith, that's why the miracles were given.
However, the main point of this passage is the miracles are ineffective for those who do not receive saving grace from God. They're ineffective for those who harden their own hearts and who are spiritually blind. It doesn't matter how many miracles you see, unless God moves in your heart, you will never believe, never. So you may say, "Well, I set up a test. If God will do this if God will do that." Even if you were to do that, you still wouldn't believe, if you don't believe the testimony of Scripture. It didn't matter how many signs and wonders Chorazin and Bethsaida saw in Matthew 11, they still didn't believe. Jesus said in Matthew 11, "Woe to you Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the Day of Judgment than for Tyre and Sidon than for you, and you Capernaum, you saw all of my miracles, will you be lifted up to the sky? No, you'll go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day, but I tell you, it will be more bearable on the Day of Judgment for Sodom than for you." River of miracles, still, they do not believe.
The clearest summary statement of this is in John chapter 12. After all of the public ministry in which John relates seven miraculous signs, seven extended teachings, he sums it up, concerning the unbelief of the Jews toward Jesus. Even after Jesus had done all of these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in Him. "This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet, “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For this reason, they could not believe." Because as Isaiah says elsewhere, "He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts so that they could neither see with their eyes nor understand with their hearts, nor turn, and I would heal them." If somebody's heart is hardened by sin, willfully rejecting, turning away, and that's all of us, friends, before God's grace comes, that's all of us, not a special category of sinners, that's all of us. If God's grace doesn't come, we will never believe, it doesn't matter how many miracles God shows us.
In the 18th century, there was a witty, clever Frenchman named Francois-Marie Arouet. He was able to defeat anyone in a debate, slicing people to ribbons with his wit, with his clever tongue, never once, never a single time, did he lose a battle of words. He was brilliant, he was incisive, cynical, sarcastic, he could lay people in shreds. It actually got him into trouble, he insulted one person too many and he got thrown in jail as a result. He was a thorough skeptic of all things religious and spiritual. He did whatever he could to mock the Christian faith and deride all aspects of the supernatural. He's better known by his pen name, Voltaire. This is what Voltaire said concerning miracles, "Even if a miracle should be wrought in the open marketplace before a 1000 sober witnesses, I would rather mistrust my own senses than admit a miracle." That about says it doesn't it? Thank you, Voltaire, for making it that plain. "I could be standing, watching the dead body of Jesus, I could watch him rise from the dead, and I still would not believe." He's right, it's not enough to see the miracle. You have to have another miracle, a miracle of regeneration inside your heart, or you will never see what God is doing. It's not seeing is believing, friends, it's believing is seeing, and belief is a gift of God.
Unbelievers exert this daily faith in saying, "When evening comes, it's going to be fair weather, for the sky is red and... " You know, he says, "You know how to do this. You interpret this all the time, you know how to predict the weather." I remember when I was living in Massachusetts, there was a very strong warning, a prediction of a coming hurricane. People heard the reports and I don't know anyone that doubted them. I remember long lines at the supermarket, flashlights, and batteries being bought, canned goods. I remember people buying all kinds of stuff. I remember especially, duct tape in big X's on plate glass windows. They knew how to interpret the reports of the meteorologists and all of the weather sources in the news, and they believed them. But when God says, "There's a coming storm known as Judgment Day and there's only one refuge, and it's Jesus,” they don't believe. Even if Jesus does a river of miracles, they still do not believe. They make preparations for a hurricane, but they do not make preparations for the storm that will destroy their soul for eternity; for that, they make no preparation, and how terrifying is that?
Instead, it doesn't matter how much you show the unbelievers, they just daily harden their hearts. Instead of seeing God's awesome works around them, unbelievers daily harden their hearts. In Romans 25, it says, "But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed." Satan blinds the hearts of unbelievers, so they can't see the glory of God in the face of Christ. They can't see because Satan blinds their eyes. How many more miracles would Jesus have to do? Answer: Not one. How many more prophecies would he have to fulfill? It wouldn't matter. What more could he have done to prove himself to them, even still, they would not believe.
Judgment for Unbelief in Miracles
So Christ moves out in judgment, verse 4, "A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign but none will be given it, except the sign of Jonah, Jesus then left them and went away." First, He assesses them; they are, He says, "A wicked and adulterous generation." He marvels over their hardness of heart. Here they are for a second time in Matthew's Gospel, asking for another sign. Matthew 12, "He's shown them many good works from the Father, and yet they want to stone him.” Their hearts are perverse and apart from sovereign grace, they will never repent and never believe." "They are wicked,” He says. That speaks of internal defilement. They are adulterous, which means they should have been God's bride, instead they're running after, whoring after other gods or their other idols. They're acting in an adulterous way toward God and so He gives them a decree, no new signs. "None will be given it." He says. He will not be a traveling miracle show.
You remember during his trial, King Herrod had him over, and he was hoping that Jesus would do some kind of miracle in front of him. Why? So he could repent and believe like the King of Nineveh, take off his royal robes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and mourn for his sin and wicked? No. Because they didn't have cable TV back then and He would have been a good form of entertainment. He just wanted entertainment, something to lighten the burden of living in this sin-cursed world, just entertainment, that's all, not ready to believe. So Jesus decrees that there'll be no new sign from heaven given, except one, which I'll talk about in a moment.
But then in his action, He ends the discussion. In Verse 4, "Jesus then left them and went away." When the judge's gavel goes down, the case is dismissed, it's done. He ends the discussion, it's finished, and He walks away. He has the authority to end the discussion, so He will do on Judgment Day, as well. It's not going to be an endless banter of our relative merits and his law, and all that, it's not going to go like that. He will make the final decision. To those who have not repented and believed in this life, He will say, "Depart from me, you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." And that's it, there's no recourse, He is the final judge. It is finished at that moment, and so He leaves and goes away. Now, that final sign, He will give it, it's the sign of the Prophet Jonah. The sign of Jonah we first saw back in Matthew 12: 39-41. He says, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it, except the sign of the Prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the son of man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." The empty tomb, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the resurrection was his final sign to a wicked and adulterous generation. This is an incredible display of the person and power of Jesus, power over death, over our final enemy. "No man takes My life from Me, but I lay it down of myself. I have the authority to lay it down and I have the authority to take it back up again, and you will see the evidence, the empty tomb.” No one else in history has had this power. It should have been enough, don't you think? Enough to prove his claim that He was God.
Signs of Salvation: Apostolic Preaching
There's a second sign connected with it and that was preaching. Because Jonah came out of the belly of the large fish, and he went and preached, 40 more days and Nineveh will be overturned. So it wasn't just the resurrection, it was also the preaching. The Jews would have both the empty tomb, and the preaching of the Apostles. On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up with the eleven, raised his voice, addressed the crowd, and preached the great Pentecost message, and the culmination is the evidence of the resurrection. In Acts 2:32, "God has raised this Jesus to life and we are all witnesses of the fact." In Acts Chapter 3, after healing the lame beggar, he preaches it again. Peter preaches in Acts 3, "The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed. You disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the holy and righteous one and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead and we are all witnesses of this fact."
Arrested for healing a lame man, the religious leaders bring him into the Sanhedrin, in Acts Chapter 4, and guess what? They preach the resurrection again. Peter says, "If we've been called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel, it is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed." Over and over, they refer to the resurrection again in Chapter 5, "You killed Him, but God raised him from the dead." Again and again, they didn't just get the empty tomb, they also got the preaching by eyewitnesses that Jesus had risen from the dead. Was it enough? No, it was not enough. Jesus had predicted it wouldn't be enough in a story about the rich man and Lazarus. A rich man got sent into hell and he's in torment there, and he wants to go warn his brothers, he wants to warn them lest they end up in the same place because they're going the same way he was. Do you remember what Abraham said? "They have Moses and the prophets, let them listen to them." "No, father Abraham,” He says, "That's not enough, the Scripture isn't enough." Now, that's a voice from hell. "It's not enough just to have the Bible, we need more. No, father Abraham, but if they see someone rise from the dead, then they will believe." Abraham said the truth when he said, "Even if they see someone rise from the dead, even still, they will not believe." So, what happened? In order to prevent the resurrection, the Jewish leaders hired some Roman soldiers and put them on guard duty in front of a tomb of a dead man. Can you imagine the little conversations going on among the Romans? "Why are we here?" "I don't know, Pilate sent us here. I guess this is just for one night." You know they're just talking among themselves, guarding a dead man's tomb. It was very routine until suddenly something happened on the morning of the third day. An angel came down and his clothing was brilliant, radiant, shining, and he by himself, moves the stone and sits on it, end of discussion. The Romans are shaking like dead men. I think they ran away once they came to. The soldiers went to the Jewish leaders and told them what had happened, they told them of the empty tomb, they told them of the angel. Do you know what happened? They paid them off to lie and say his disciples came and stole him away while we were asleep. They paid money, even still, they did not believe. Do you think they went and saw the empty tomb, do you think they went and saw it? Oh absolutely, they went and saw it to say, "What are we going to do with this?" Pay money, even still, they would not believe.
The Final Sign for Salvation
But there's a future sign coming, the final one, it's not a sign for salvation, it's a sign that Jesus is coming back. They wanted a sign from heaven, remember that? "Show us a sign from Heaven?" “Alright, you'll see a sign from heaven. It will be too late, too late, but you will see it.” Matthew 24, "At that time, the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the clouds in the sky, and all the nations of the Earth will mourn. He will send out his angels and they will gather his elect from one end of the heavens to the other." The sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky. Jesus spoke of this at his trial, before the Sanhedrin, before the high priest. The high priest said to him, "I charge you under oath by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God?" "I am." He said, "And in the future, you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven, you will see that sign." It's a clear prediction of the second coming of Christ, but it's not a sign that produces salvation, it's a sign of impending judgment. Revelation 1:7, "Behold He is coming with the clouds and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all the nations of the earth will mourn because of Him, so shall it be, Amen." They'll see the sign of the Son of Man in the heavens, they'll see a heavenly sign, but it will be too late for them, you know why? Jesus said to Thomas, "Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed.” The only way you're going to have your sins forgiven, the only way is by believing something you cannot see. By believing it from the scripture, by believing that Jesus has risen from the dead, the evidence of His miracles here on the page, the evidence of his healings, the evidence of His fulfilled prophecies, the evidence of his teachings, the evidence of His person, the evidence of His resurrection are on the pages of scripture and nowhere else. Here is where you will find your salvation by repenting and believing the clear testimony of scripture and no other place.
What will it take to get you to believe? If you don't believe by the clear preaching of the word, like this morning, for example, you will not believe. For God has ordained something called “today” and He set it up, calling it “today”, saying, "Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart." It says about today in 2 Corinthians 6:2, "In the time of my favor, I heard you, and in the day of salvation, I helped you, I tell you now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." You may have come here today, never having trusted in Christ, not knowing how you're going to face Judgment Day, and now you've heard this kind of a sermon, now you're concerned, perhaps. You don't know how you're going to face Jesus as judge, you've never dealt with Jesus as Savior. Simply believe that Jesus's death on the cross, His blood shed on the cross is for you. The signs were to give evidence that He had the power to forgive sins. Hear what I'm saying, believe in your heart.
If you have any questions, if there's anything hindering you, if there's any lack of information, if it's an honest inquiry, come and talk to me after the service. You don't know who to talk to, talk to me. I'll talk to as many people as you want or any of the others that you've seen, any of those that have come and collected money, they'll talk to you. Any person here that's a believer will tell you how to have faith in Christ, or come talk to me. You don't need to walk anywhere or do anything to be saved, but you have to hear and believe, and if so, your sins will be forgiven. But if you have an honest question, you don't know what to do, come and ask, and the answer is given. If you say, "I'll believe if he does a miracle." No, you won't. The Scriptures already testified about that, He has given you all you need right here.
Now, I speak to those of you who have already made a commitment of faith, what does this text say to you? Thank God you believed. Thank God you believe, it's because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, give Him the glory, give Him the praise. Your faith isn't something you scraped up together and then you saw seven or eight things from scripture and then boom, you came over. It's a gift from God. This chapter, Matthew 16, will testify to that later, "Blessed to you, Simon, son of Jonah, this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. Give thanks and praise to God." And one more thing, don't give up on those hard cases that you think will never believe, don't give up on them.
I'm talking about the relative, the mother, the father, the brother, the sister, the son, the daughter that just will not believe. God is able to take out the heart of stone and give the heart of flesh, it is His gift to give, so pray without ceasing, for the salvation of those loved ones. I'm talking about a co-worker, a neighbor, somebody who just doesn't seem to get it, that God will take away the blindness, and give them eternal sight.