Jer 17:5 Cursed Be the Man That Trusteth in Man 3/6/2011 ßą
#1. What Does the Context Say? (Rom 2:28-29, 9:6-8, Matt 2:15, Hos 11:1, Jer 17:1-13)
#2. The Middle Verse (Jer 17:5,13,9, John 4:14, 7:37, Rev 22:1, Acts 28:20, Psalm 146:3, Isa 30:1-2, 31:1-3)
#3. Is This a Warning for Today (Ezek 14:1-5)
#4. What Is the True Gospel? (John 14:6, Jer 17:5-8, Eph 2:8-10)
Please open your Bibles to the Prophecy of Jeremiah, Jer 17:1 (2X).
Once upon a time there was a man who wanted to know where the middle verse was in the Bible. So he counted all the verses, and then divided the total by two, and then counted where the middle verse was. It turned out to be Jer 17:5 (2X). And to his amazement he discovered that this verse, Jer 17:5, shows the character of the whole Bible. Yes, it is a verse that was designed by God to lead us to Christ. So, let us read the context, Jer 17:1-13
Jer 17:1-13 The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars; Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills. O my mountain in the field, I will give thy substance and all thy treasures to the spoil, and thy high places for sin, throughout all thy borders. And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever. Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool. A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.
The title of this sermon is taken from Jer 17:5, “Cursed Is the Man That Trusteth in Man” (2X). We can already sense what God is going to say in this chapter. But let us now see what God is saying in this passage.
#1. What Does the Context Say? (Rom 2:28-29, 9:6-8, Matt 2:15, Hos 11:1, Jer 17:1-13)
In verses 1-4 God gives a principle: The principle of sin and its consequences. In verses 5-8 God gives a contrast between someone who is blessed and someone who is cursed. In verses 9-11 God repeats the principle of the deceitfulness of sin and its consequences. In verses 12-13 God repeats the contrast between someone who is blessed and someone who is deceived and is cursed. This contrast is continued and repeated in verses 14-18.
Whom is God addressing in this passage? Look at verses 1 and 13. God is addressing Judah and Israel. God is addressing all those in Judah who have forsaken Jehovah. They claimed to worship Jehovah, but in practice they actually worshipped another god. But these words also apply to us today, for the Bible is God’s Word to all people at all times. How then should we apply these words so that we can hear God speak to us, today? Who does Judah
represent? Judah is the land of the Jews, for the name Jew was derived from Judah. God says in Rom 2:28-29,
Ro 2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
Ro 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
And thus a Jew, in the NT sense of the word, is anyone who has been saved, or who has been born again, or who has been circumcised in their heart by God. After the cross God changed His terminology. Before the cross Judah and Israel were the descendants of Judah and Jacob. After the cross Judah is the land of all those who have been saved, who are Jews in the NT sense of the Word. Israel can refer to Christ (Matt 2:15, Hos 11:1), or to all those who are in Christ, according to Rom 9:6-8, and Jehovah in Jer 17:5 refers to the Lord Jesus Christ. So, how does that apply to us today? In Jer 17:1-13 God is addressing all the saints, especially those in His congregations, the churches, in the final days before the end of time. God is speaking to the nation whose God is Jehovah, who is the Lord Jesus Christ; but in the final days of her existence she has forsaken Christ. This is not something new. We can read in Rev 2 and 3 that already in the first century AD five of the seven churches were in various stages of apostacy. And so, God is addressing us, His congregation, His church, in the final days before the end of time, and paraphrased He says, “Watch out! Listen carefully to what I have written. What I said to Judah 2500 years ago applies to you now, and learn from this what is going to come to pass near the end of time.
They have forsaken Jehovah and they have turned to man made idols, the work of their hands. How do we know that this is what God refers to? This idolatry is indicated in verse 2 by “their groves”, which really means by “their Asherahs”, and in verse 3 by the words “thy high places”, which were the places where they sacrificed to idols. They committed idolatry all over the place. What is an Asherah? It is a female image of a goddess of the Canaanites, the female counterpart of Baal, and it was cut out of a tree trunk still standing in the ground. That is where the word “groves” comes from. The word “grove” in the KJV is an incorrect translation of the word “Asherah”. How does Judah’s sin apply to us today? Paraphrased God says to all the saints, and He says to all the churches today, “Watch out! Your sin in the last days is especially the sin of idolatry. It is the sin of forgetting the God of the Bible, and instead turning your worship to man-made idols. But look around. People are not falling down and worship dumb idols any more. We are too sophisticated for this. We are too clever now; we are not deceived by gospels that feature graven images of wood and stone and idols of gold and silver. Is that really so?
But then, why would the Lord Jesus in Luke 18:8 say, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” It is a rhetorical question. “Shall he find faith on the earth?” The answer is: NO! And why not? It is because as we approach the end of time the number of saints will gradually decrease, until their number will be very small. The Lord Jesus said in Matt 24:37 that the time of the end can be compared to the days of Noah just before the flood. There will be a relative calm in the world; it will be business as usual, but the number of saints will be very small. In Noah’s days there was only Noah and his family, but no one else of the millions of people in the world was saved. And so, when the Lord Jesus asked this question in Luke 18:8, it was a rhetorical question. People have abandoned their churches in droves, rather than trying to address the apostacy in the church. People have forsaken their true God for a god of their own making. Let us find out from Jeremiah how this can apply to us today. What were the results of Judah’s sin? Look again at verse 4, Jer 17:4, “And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever.” What are the results here?
#1. They will lose their heritage, the land of Canaan. And what does the land of Canaan represent? It represents the kingdom of God on this earth. If they will lose the kingdom of God, it means that they will not be saved.
#2. They will become slaves of their enemies in a strange land. It means that they will be enslaved to morals and practices in a country which is far removed from the kingdom of God. And who is their main enemy in that strange land? It will be Satan and Antichrist who will lead them further and further away from the true God of the Bible. #3. They will burn forever under the wrath of God. And where is that place? That place is Hell forever!
These are also the warnings that God gives to the people of today. Listen carefully. Beginning in the passage of Jer 17:5-8 God gave two parables which are contrasts of one another.
#2. The Middle Verse (Jer 17:5,13,9, John 4:14, 7:37, Rev 22:1, Acts 28:20, Psalm 146:3, Isa 30:1-2, 31:1-3)
What does God really say in Jer 17:5? God says three things: #1. Cursed be the man who trusteth in man. #2. Cursed be the man who maketh flesh his arm. #3. Cursed be the man whose heart departeth from Jehovah.
Let us look at each of these three curses one at a time. Why does God use these three expressions? It seems like a triple redundancy. But remember that these words came from God. And God does not waste any words.
Cursed Be the Man Who Trusteth in Man. What is this principle that God lays down here? We should look at this principle from two vantage points. First we look at it the wrong way, and secondly the right way.
#A. Does this principle mean that we should NOT put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who is called “the Son of Man?” No! That is not what it means, for then this verse 5 would contradict verse 13. Look again at Jer 17:13.
Jer 17:13, O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters
Properly, the Hebrew text of verse 13 should be read as two sentences, for the word “and” is not found in the Hebrew text of Jer 17:13. Literally this is what the Hebrew text says, and these are the words God has written:
Jer 17:13, Jehovah, the Hope of Israel, all who forsake Thee will be ashamed. Those who depart from Me shall be written in the earth (in contrast to those who have been written in heaven), because they have forsaken Jehovah, the Fountain of living waters.
Unmistakably, verse 13 is speaking of Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. The first half of verse 13 speaks of “forsaking Thee (God).” The second half of verse 13 speaks of “departing from Me”, which means not a departing from Jeremiah, but a departing from Christ.” And then the second half also makes that departing from Me equal to “forsaking Jehovah”, or forsaking Christ. Furthermore, we know that Christ is “the Fountain of living waters” (John 4:14, John 7:37, Rev 22:1), and we also know that Christ is “the Hope of Israel” (Acts 28:20). And thus definitely we must put our trust in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, even though He is called “the Son of Man”.
#B. Then what does this first portion of Jer 17:5 mean? Cursed Be the Man Who Trusteth in Man. Paraphrased it means, “Do not put your trust in a man, or in a man’s promises of salvation. Do not trust a man’s prediction of the Lord’s return, unless God has plainly stated in the Bible. And if you do trust the man instead of trusting God, you are under the curse of God.” And why would we fall under the curse of God if we trust a man? It is because God said it so plainly in Jer 17:9 (2X), “The heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” If we believe the words of a deceiving man rather than the words of God, we are like the woman in the Garden of Eden who believed the words of the serpent rather than the words from God. Then we should be under the curse. Therefore, do not trust the man on the radio who says that he knows the date the Lord comes again, for he is a false prophet. Let us now carefully compare the first half of Jer 17:5 with the following three passages:
Psalm 146:3, “Put not your trust in princes (or nobles), nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help,” for there is no salvation in him; he cannot be your mediator before God. Trust only in Christ.
Isa 30:1-2 Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that weave a covering web, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin: Who set out to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to take refuge in the stronghold of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!
Isa 31:1-3 Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and lean on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD! ……. Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall cease together.
All these three passages have two elements in common: #1. They are trusting in Egypt, rather than trusting in Jehovah. #2. They are following after a false gospel. Why does God repeatedly say that His children should not go back to Egypt? It is because Egypt stands for the house of bondage. And to go back to a works gospel is putting ourselves back into Egypt, the house of bondage. When we adhere to the Gospel of grace alone we can relish in the words of the Lord Jesus when He said, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” But if we believe that we must do something for our salvation, then we are not free; then we have put ourselves under a law that we must obey; then we have put ourselves back into Egypt, and we have put ourselves under the curse of the law and we are not saved. Can we see this clearly that if we believe a man with a deceiving heart rather than believe Christ who desires to make us free, we are led astray by this man’s false gospel and we have put ourselves back into Egypt, believing lies rather than the plain Word of God?
Time and again the children of Israel wanted to go back to Egypt and put themselves in bondage under the rulership of Satan, for Egypt represents the house of bondage under Satan. Is that strange? No. That is the nature of man, for we have come into the world as slaves of Satan, and that is what we are familiar with. Time and again the NT church wants to put itself under rules and regulations that did not come from God. Time and again the churches want to put themselves under the law, because they have a hard time understanding what grace is. Think of the letter of the apostle Paul to the Galatians, or think of John’s letter to the seven churches of Asia, or think of the teachings of Purgatory, or think of the many rules people have made for water baptism. And then we see that man gravitates toward rules, and rules, and rules. God is warning against trusting in man rather than trusting in Christ, for that is a gospel that cannot save, and it is the same as idolatry. This is the warning that is the common denominator throughout Jer 17:1-13. And if we can see this, then everything else falls into place.
The second part of Jer 17:5 says it a little differently. “Cursed Be the Man Who Maketh Flesh His Arm.” What is God saying in this part of the verse? The man who is under this curse is not referring to his own flesh or to his own arm. If we consider that the word “arm” stands for strength, then this part of verse 5 says essentially the same thing as the first part of verse 5. Paraphrased we can say, Cursed is the man who makes human flesh his strength, or cursed is the man who relies on mankind to give him wisdom and strength and protection. But the Hebrew text says “arm” and not “strength”. If God wanted to use the word “strength” He could have used any one of 30 Hebrew words that mean strength. But God did not do that. Why did God want to use the word “arm”? An arm refers to humanity. The Spirit of God does not have an arm. Therefore, let us consider the words God spoke in Deut 5:15, “And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day.” Who took us out of the house of bondage “through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm?” This passage speaks of salvation. This is how God redeemed us from enslavement to sin and Satan. This is how God saves. That is why He used the word “arm” in Jer 17:5. It is pointing to the Lord Jesus Christ. It was the Lord Jesus Christ who stretched out His arms, and He did that not only for the NT saints, but also for all the OT saints. The saints that lived in the time of Moses were completely saved at the time that Christ died on the cross in AD 33, for they too were saved “through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm”, which is the stretched out arm of Christ on the cross. We should keep in mind that the Lord Jesus is “the firstborn from the dead”, that in all things He might have the preeminence (Col 1:18). And when we say “all things” we really mean all things that the Lord Jesus Christ is going to take with Him into the NH&NE. That is why He is called the firstborn from the dead. Moreover, when God says, “therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day”, that day is a memorial to the day that we were completely rescued out of the house of bondage to sin and Satan, that was the day when we were born again, and thus the Sabbath rest is a picture of the complete rest we have in Christ, and it is a picture of the absence of work that we have in the Gospel of grace alone.
But if we put our trust for salvation in another kind of “arm”, for example the arm of the Arminian Christ, we are actually putting our trust in someone else than the Lord Jesus Christ of the Bible. That would be the idolatry of a man-made gospel, for in the free-will gospel the god whom we worship is a man-made god.
The third part of Jer 17:5 says it again a little differently. “Cursed Be the Man Whose Heart Departeth From Jehovah.” What is God saying in this part of the verse? This is not a person who has lost his salvation. This is a person who, like national Israel, and like Lot’s wife, has been brought very close to salvation, but was never
saved. This cursed man is a natural man who has never been close to Jehovah or to Christ.
Š This is a person who has put his trust for his future in the hands of man. He trusts that everything has been checked out correctly by his pastor and by the ancients, the church fathers of centuries ago. (The Arminian)
Š This is a person who is following a man-made gospel and has never checked out the origins of this man-made gospel, for he believes that God cannot be found out or understood. (The Agnostic)
Š This is a person who wants nothing to do with the God of the Bible, for he thinks that the Bible is a man made idea and all the concepts of the Bible were man-made ideas. He is reinforced in this thinking after hearing that the Bible consists of 66 books which were written by 40 writers over a period of 1500 years. (The Atheist)
Were these persons ever saved? No! Where are these persons going to end up? In Hell! Remember Jer 17:4 says, “for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever.” Only Hell will burn forever.
Paraphrased God gave a warning, and this was a warning in love: “Do not put your trust in a man-made gospel, for then you will have departed from Jehovah.”
#3. Is This a Warning for Today (Ezek 14:1-5)
What are the man-made gospels of this 20th and 21st century? Where does man today find his security for the future? What are the idols of this day and age? What are the idols that man has in his heart today? Please turn to the Prophecy of Ezekiel, Ezek 14:1 (2X). What is the sin that infuriates God? It is idolatry! And when we think of idolatry we usually think of things around us, like a boat, or a recreational vehicle, or a snowmobile, or skies, and so on. That is a mistake. Things can be idols, but the greatest idols are false images of God that we hide in our heart or in the back of our minds. God is able to see the secret idols in our heart. We read in Ezek 14:1-5,
Eze 14:1-5 Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me. And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them? Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols; That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols.
They are all estranged from Me through their idols. Therefore, what are idols? They are false concepts, or false images, of God that we hide in our heart, or in our mind, or in our theology. If we copy our theology from other people, without checking in the Bible if that is really so, we are most likely copying their false images of God. And when we worship, and pray to this false image of God, do not be surprised if God does not listen or answer, for our prayer was not addressed to the Almighty. We were barking up the wrong tree.
Another area of idolatry can be detected when we ask ourselves: “Where do we spend our TIME, and who do we do this for?” And then we discover that we do it: For the job like taking work home, for our possessions like our house or our car, for reputation because I am a professional, for successes and awards in society, for sports that take up a long time, for pleasures and relaxation such as watching TV, for beauty like doing our hair, and so on. Why do we spend so much time on these things? Who do we do this for? And do we realize that all these things fall in the category of “Pride”. But all these things cannot give a man security for the future. God can take away all these things in an instant. Who controls our time? Does our job control us, or do we control our job? All these are idols we have to fight with. And some of these idols are giants, like the Anakim in the land of Canaan, and we are afraid to fight against them. All these idols are time stealers, time that could be spent much more fruitful by studying the Word of God. But these days people are not interested in studying the Word of God. In fact, most people do not care what the Word of God says. All they care for is what the television says.
A lawyer asked the Lord Jesus, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law”? Then the Lord Jesus answered him in Matt 22:37-38, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.” Now, if this is the great commandment of the law of God, what sin does infuriates Him most? You guessed it. The sin that infuriates God most is not having an idol, but worshipping your idol, bringing your idols to church, making these idols an integral part of your religious worship, sharing these idols with others in the church, and making these idols an integral part of you faith. And everyone else brings their gods also. It is a religious worship of gods that cannot save.
Now, you ask me, “Who is doing this kind of thing?” The answer is, “Most people”. Most people these days have a gospel that begins with the Bible, but then they deliberately change God’s Word, so that it says things that God did not say. Then presto: they have a man-made gospel. Are we in danger of falling into that snare? But we are not wicked or trusting in idols! That is also what everyone else is saying. But when we consider the teachings that are generated in most denominations today, we realize that they have slowly slid into idolatry. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Galatians, Gal 1:8 (2X). For example, have you noticed at the water baptisms of babies that people congratulate the parents of that baby? Why? This reflects the theology of works that they hold. Or have you noticed during the Lord’s Supper ceremony that you can hear a pin drop? But it is not that quiet when the pastor preaches. Why? Does that not also reflect the theology of works that they hold? Or have you noticed that at Sundays when the Lord’s Supper is served there are fewer people in the seats than at other Sundays? Why? Does that not also reflect the theology of works that they hold? The theology of works has invaded the church.
#1. God is condemning works gospels either in the church or outside the church. God says in Gal 1:8-9,
Ga 1:8-9 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Did the apostle Paul preach a Gospel of grace alone, which was a Gospel totally apart from works? Indeed he did, and he emphasized it again in Gal 5:2-4. Please turn in your Bibles to Gal 5:2-4 (2X), and there we read,
Ga 5:2-4 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you
whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
Most churches do not adhere to the Gospel of grace alone contained in the Epistle to the Galatians.
#2. God is condemning gospels that rely on experience or good feelings, rather than trusting by faith. How do we know that this was one of the concerns that God had when He wrote the Bible? God says in Jer 17:9,
Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
If man’s heart is so deceitful and desperately wicked, it means that definitely we cannot trust gospels that rely on experience or good feelings. And most people forget those last two words, “desperately wicked”. God said it!
#3. God is condemning man-centered gospels. Most people want to retain their own free-will, and their own self-respect, and so they have turned to “positive thinking” and to “the purpose driven church”. But all these are smoke screens for man-centered gospels. The Gospel does not start with man’s goodness. God says in Jer 13:23,
“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” And God says in John 6:44, “No man CAN come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” And yet, most people remain in a gospel where man is the center of all the action, and man’s own free will is retained, and man’s self-respect is kept up high, and the concept of God is a little genie who obeys the initiative and the will of the people rather than His own will. So then, we ask: What is the true Gospel?
#4. What Is the True Gospel? (John 14:6, Jer 17:5-8, Eph 2:8-10)
The true Gospel is that the Lord Jesus Christ came for sinners, for people who were born desperately wicked like everyone else, for people who knew that they did not deserve anything from God, for people who were by nature under the wrath of God; just by nature, for from eternity past God loved them, and God already decided to save them, and to send Christ to save them from the guilt of their sins, and from all the consequences of their sins.
The true Gospel is that the Lord Jesus came to save His people from their sins and to change them from sinners into saints, and make them believe on Him. Christ did not come to save everyone in the whole world, but only His elect group of people whom the Father has given Him, for in His infinite wisdom He already knew that no one else in the world would believe on Him. When The Lord Jesus said in John 14:6, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me”, He indicated that no one of the millions of people who lived and died in a Christless universe would be saved, for they inherited the wickedness of Adam, and they did not know Christ. He came only for His elect.
The true Gospel is that Christ came to save His people “through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm”, by being crucified for them, and by enduring for them the equivalent of an eternity in Hell on the cross. It was the only way that He could pay the full price that had to be paid in order to satisfy the righteousness of God. It was the only way Christ could buy the whole world (Agorazo) and at the same time redeem His elect (Exagorazo).
And how do I know if the Lord Jesus Christ died for me? If the Spirit of Christ dwells in me, and made me willing to believe the whole Bible from cover to cover, and made me believe that all my sins were paid in full at the cross in AD 33, and made me willing to serve the Lord Jesus Christ all my life, then I know that the Lord Jesus died for me. Notice that I did not say that the Spirit of Christ also gave me an understanding of the Gospel, for understanding does not save anyone, but believing and commitment are definite signs of salvation and a love for Christ. And so, have we examined ourselves, and have we examined our faith and our love for Christ? Whose will is ruling in our life? Is it our own will, or is it Christ’s will? Let us now return to the Prophecy of Jeremiah, Jer 17:5 (2X) and let us consider the two parables in verses 5-8. Here are two parables: Jer 17:5 starts with, “Cursed be the man”, and Jer 17:7 starts with, “Blessed is the man”. Hold a finger in Jer 17:5, or put a sticker there, and please turn also to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 2:1 (2X). These passages are not talking about bad people and good people, for we all start out as bad people, according to Eph 2:1-3. But God has had mercy on a group of bad people who in Eph 2:1-10 are called “us” and “we”. And so, what do we see in Jer 17:5-8? The first parable in verses 5-6 deals with people whom God left alone, and as a result they will develop their own works gospels, such as trust in the words of man, and trusting that man can deliver them, and trust in all kinds of idols that man can invent, and in their heart they move away from the God of the Bible. The second parable in verses 7-8 deals with people who are like trees planted by the waters. Who planted them? God did. Their leaf shall be green all the time and they shall not cease from yielding fruit. Who caused these plants to be so productive? God is the Lord of the harvest; He controls our harvests. And so, we see that those who begin to trust in Jehovah are only doing so by the grace of God. Salvation is a gift and it is by grace alone. And when we say “by grace” we refer to the definition of grace, which is unmerited favor. It is unmerited. It is free! Do not trust in any other “arm” than the “arm” of the Lord Jesus on the cross, for any other “arm” is a man-made imitation. And what do we see in Eph 2:8? “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”. What is the gift of God, grace or faith? Well, the definition of grace already defines that it is a free gift, and so when we say that it is grace that is the gift of God we utter a redundancy, and we have not said anything. Therefore it must be faith that is the gift of God. And what is that faith for? We are saved by grace, we are saved as a free gift, and salvation is communicated to us through faith which is also a gift from God. No one can be saved without faith, for faith is the medium through which God communicates with us. That is why believing is the sign that God has done a wonderful work in us.
And so, Eph 2:8 establishes that our salvation is a full and free gift of God. To be sure that we do not miss this, God added in Eph 2:9, “Not of works, lest any man should boast”. God hereby emphasizes that it must be a free gift: We are saved by grace, and not by our faith, for if salvation was a reward for our faith then salvation is not free. We are not saved by any efforts on our part. We can only be saved by Christ’s efforts, which are then imputed to us, for then it is a free gift. The fact that we are here in this church today is by the grace of God, it is a gift from God. The fact that we believe the whole Bible is a gift from God. The fact that we believe that Christ paid for all our sins the full price is a gift from God. The fact that we desire to give our life in service to Christ is a gift from God. And look at the results. We read in Eph 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Yes we do good works after we have been born again, but all those good works are only by the grace of God, for we are His workmanship. That is glorious! We do not understand why anyone would want to change this Gospel of grace into a gospel of works. Only a depraved mind would do such a thing. Let us be grateful that God had mercy on us and did away our depraved mind. AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.