Please find, in your Bibles, Gen. 45. We receive a lot a mail. Some mail is more unusual than other mail. Here is a letter I want you to listen to:
I had to write to let you know what effect your ministry has had on my life. Many times I sat and listened your program and thought what you said was stupid. How you expressed Christ was a joke. I laughed at your God by ignoring Him. He really wasn’t there. I was a Satanist, as well as a member of the Nazi Party Movement. As bad as it seems, Christians were nothing more than lower-life forms to my friends and me. I didn’t need your God. I sold my soul to the devil. I signed a pact with my own blood. And after doing so, I read the small print. I tried to get out of the group. I could be killed. I got a Bible and read and reread it. God was reaching out to me and soon I was giving my life to Him. He saved me. Today I am amazed He did. Because why would He want to do that? I was so evil and hurt Him so badly. I had been living together with my boyfriend and doing so many wrong things. When I accepted Christ through baptism and started to live differently, my boyfriend saw the changes. They finally influenced him and after he laid his life at God’s feet, he was immersed and we finally got married. We both love the Lord so much. Jesus can save anyone. He saved me. Thanks for your ministry.”
Now folks, that’s God’s grace. That is amazing grace! What we said, so many times, is illustrated here. There are none so bad that they cannot be saved and none so good that they need not be saved. And God wants us saved so much that He has given many wonderful illustrations in the Word of God and one of those illustrations is the life of Joseph. Now, what we are studying today, from the Book of Genesis, happened twenty-five centuries ago; but it just as fresh as fresh, baked bread for breakfast. I want you to listen now to what God says about salvation; because in this chapter, we are going to see a glorious and wonderful illustration of salvation. God wants us saved so much that He gives us many, many illustrations. And the life of Joseph is a picture, a prophecy, a portrait of Jesus, who is to come. Joseph’s life could be put into four major categories:
Looking carefully, there are five salvation similarities; which I am going to call principles:
I. The first is the principle of revelation.
Here’s a truth. God’s love is greater than all our sin. Listen to these verses. Read Gen. 45:1-3. Now folks you’re going to have to let your imagination work a little. Can you imagine those three words? They look at him and he says, “I am Joseph.” Read again Gen. 45:3. Now in order for us to be saved, God must reveal Himself to us. We love Him because He first loved us and He revealed himself to us. Now Joseph had been giving his brothers a hard time. I mean he acted roughly towards them. As a matter of fact, go back to Gen. 42:7 and look at it. He speaks roughly to them, and he is jerking them around. Why did he do that? Was it because he didn’t love them? No. It was because he did love them. In that same 42nd chapter we read in verse 24, that Joseph, after speaking roughly to his brothers, excuses himself and then goes out to weep. He cries. Then he goes back and speaks roughly to them. Listen friend; learn this about God. God, in love, causes us problems. All the way back to the Book of Genesis, what did God say to Adam and Eve after they had sinned? “Cursed is the ground, for your sake…” - not for your punishment, but for your sake. The worst thing that could happen to hell-bound sinners would be to live a life of ease - without difficulty, pain, or problems. What was it that brought these boys to Egypt in the first place? They had a hunger; there was a famine in the land of Canaan. Did you know that if we never had any needs we would never come to our Lord. Listen, God allows us to have heartaches and pains. If we only knew how much pain He has when He sees us with pain. There he was speaking roughly to them and so overcome with emotion that he had to leave the room and literally weep. Are you having troubles? Are you having heartaches? Are you having difficulties? Are you having disappointments? Is there pain in your life? If there is, that is the silver cord that He is using to draw you to Himself. He loves you! No matter what the appearances may seem, I’m telling you that God loves you and that God’s love is greater than all our sins. What a time it was when he said, “Look, I am Joseph.” They didn’t know this gospel song but they could have sung “Once I was blind, but now I see.” Joseph is weeping now, tears of joy, because he is able to make himself known to his brothers and there is joy in heaven when one sinner comes home. Is there not?
Alright, now that’s the first principle. God loves me, because of it He revealed himself and proved His love towards us in this. That while we were still sinners Christ died for us. I can tell you without study or stammer or apology that God loves you. I don’t care what you have done. Some will think that God only loves some of the people of this world, but God loves them all. Red and yellow, black and white, people are precious in His sight.
II. The second principle is the Principle of Conviction
No one is truly saved apart from the conviction of sin. Now notice what he is doing with these boys. He brings them to a point where they are in great conviction. Notice verse 3. One translation says that they were terrified. Well they might be. Another one said that they were afraid and another translation, that I read, said they were stunned. Well why should they not be? Joseph was the one that they had treated so dreadfully, so hatefully, so hellishly, and so awfully. They had misused, abused, and refused Joseph. And now, here he is - the one with absolute authority. The one who could put them to death if he wished and they are in his hands. And now they tremble at his presence.
Do you know what is missing in the average church today? It is the fear of God. The Bible says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And I want to tell you that it is my conviction and I believe the Bible teaching that no one has ever been saved who has not been convicted of his lost state before God. Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners. You have never been saved unless you’ve seen yourself as a hell-deserving sinner.
Jesus gave a parable about a man, who stood praying by himself and said, “Lord I want to thank you that I am not as other men are.” But then Jesus said that there was another man. A tax collector was there who would not even so much as lift his eyes to heaven; but he fell upon his knees and smote himself upon the breast and said, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” And in the Greek language he literally said, “God be merciful to me, THE sinner.” I mean I am the one. I am a sinner. And Jesus said of that man who failed to admit his own need, that he went home not saved. He went home dignified. The other man went home justified.
Have you ever said, “God be merciful to me, a sinner.” Have you ever seen yourself under the conviction of sin? Now folks, you can admit that your wrong and never really be convicted of sin. A court may convict me of crimes; conscience may convict me of wrongdoing; but, only the Holy Spirit of God can truly convict of sin. People join churches like they join a country club, as if they are doing God a wild favor. They have never seen themselves as sinners in the sight of a righteous and holy God. What is the salvation principle we have here? It is the principle of conviction! Conviction! You must be convicted of sin in order to be saved.
III.The principle of conversion
Now here is the third principle - the principle of conversion. His compassion causes Him to love you even if it seems
like He is treating you roughly. This is meant to bring you to conviction of sin and then the principle of conversion.
And what is the principle of conversion? In order to be saved, we must come to Him yielding to His lordship.
The brothers of Joseph did this in their own way with Joseph. Look in Genesis 45, verse 4. Now at that moment they have a decision to make. Here he is the exalted sovereign. Here he is, saying, “Look, it is all a part of God’s plan. My suffering is for your benefit and your welfare. God meant it for good. God loves you, now come.” Here they are. The bible says in that verse, “and they came to him.” They took that step of faith. It is almost as if Joseph said, “Come unto me.” And they said, “Just as I am, without one plea, we come!”
How were we saved? Well you know Eph 2:8-10. Now what does that verse tell us? First of all, the Bible tells us that it is by... Are you listening? It is by grace. Calvary was the greatest tragedy in man’s dealings with God's son; but, it was God’s greatest triumph in God’s dealings with man. When they misused and abused Joseph, that was wickedness. But over it all and behind it all was God working it all together for His glory. Calvary, the greatest tragedy that this world has ever known was God’s greatest victory - When Jesus, God, The Mighty Maker, died for man, the creature.
Now, if you’re not a Christian, let me tell you about Jesus. Jesus is not now a baby in a manger. Nor is Jesus a man nailed to a cross. He is the exalted King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And he invites you to come to him, with stretched arms on the cross. How do you come to Him? You come to Him with a repentant heart in the waters of baptism. You come through faith. You come unto good works to bow the knee and serve the Lord, Jesus Christ.
IV. The principle of the great commission.
Now, here is the next principle and this is principle number four. It is the principle of the great commission. First, we looked at His revelation, secondly, our conviction, thirdly, our conversion, and now, our confession.
Once we give our lives to our Lord, then it’s our job to confess Him openly and publicly. Begin now, in verse 9. Here is what Joseph says to his brothers. “Look, I have forgiven you and restored you. Now there are others who I want to bring to my glory and I am commissioning you and commanding you to confess me to them.” You see in verse 4, he says, “Come.” But now look in verse 9. In verse 9, he says, “Go.” Did I tell that the entire gospel could be summed up in these two phrases? “Come unto me.” “Go yea into all the world." That’s it. “Come,” he says. "Come to me." They came. He said, “All right, now go and tell others.” What right do we have to call ourselves the Children of God if we fail to obey Him? Our Lord has given us a great commission. We are to go into all the world and share the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Did you know that you can’t spell the word gospel without spelling the word “go”? A little boy had a toy car that he got at Christmas. It wouldn’t work. His dad said, “What’s wrong with it”? He said, “I think the ‘go’ is broke.” I think that is what is wrong with the church. Listen, we are to go, to go! To say that all Christians are missionaries is to say that all Christians are Christians. What were they to share? What was the message they were to share? This is what the message was:
Now how do we communicate Jesus message? First of all, we communicate by our love and he also says, “See to it that you don’t fall out by the wayside.” Don’t get in some silly argument! "By this, all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another." don't you remember what Joseph told his brothers as they went? Gen. 45:24. You see he must have known those boys
Listen folks, the devil would rather start a church fuss then sell a barrel of whiskey any day. Did you know that? One of the greatest means we have to convince the “Jacobs” of this world is "by our love". And then not only, "by our love", but, by our lips. They told him the words of Joseph. We are to take the message. If you want people to believe you, you have got to give them something to believe - by our love, by our lips and the main thing, by our lives. Jacob didn’t believe. It was too much to take in. But then, he looked up and saw the wagons. Now these were paupers who went away - boys in famine. Goodnight! They have all these wagonloads of stuff that Joseph had sent. And when he saw that, he knew that they hadn’t done it by themselves. This is a true story. You see, it is by our love, our lips and our life. Do you know what is going to convince this world? It’ll be when they see us united with wagonloads of God’s grace. I mean with wagonloads of God’s grace! It’ll be when they see something in us that they can’t explain apart from the good hand of God upon it. I long for that. Now here is the next principle.
V. The principle of communion.
What is the principle of communion? You have been redeemed and you have been forgiven and you have been commissioned to fellowship with your King.
Look in verses 14-15 of this chapter. It reminds you so much of the father in the story of the prodigal son, doesn’t it? Can you imagine the scene? I mean, look folks, use your imagination. This is not a fairy tale. Here is Joseph. They are terrified; and he says, “Come on, come to me.” And they come, and he forgives them, and then says, “Look, it is all by the grace of God. God meant it for your good. God sent me to be your deliverer. Come to me! Now go tell others what you’ve seen and heard. That I am risen, I am reigning, I am rich. Go tell the message.” Then he says, “Come, come here, Benjamin. Benjamin, I love you. Come here, Judah. Judah, I love you.” Judah says, “I love you Joseph.” And He is hugging them. And then, it says that he talked with them. Can you imagine that? Would you like to have a tape recording of that? What did they talk about?
I tell you one thing. God has saved you! Jesus loves you; that He might hug you, weep with you, and talk with you. Oh what a fellowship! And you know there has been that classic argument that there is one hymn that people say, “Well we don’t want that. It is full of sentimentality. 'I come to the garden alone when the dew is still on the roses. And the voice I hear, is falling on my ear. The Son of God discloses. And He walks with me and He talks with me. And He tells me that I am His own." Some people say, “Oh, that’s just sentimentality." No! That is one of the greatest songs in all the hymnals. "And He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own." And He wants to hear you talk with Him. And He is interested in the little things, as well as the big things. He loves you! And He wants fellowship with you. And why has He redeemed you? He wants more than servants. He wants us to know Him and love Him and to fellowship with Him. There’s the principle of communion. Now here is the next principle.
I tell you these are five salvation principles. OK, now let’s go back to the first one again. God loves you; the same God that saved that woman, who wrote that letter, is the God that will save you today. I don’t care what you have done. You probably haven’t been a Satanist. You probably haven’t signed a pact with the devil in your own blood; but God will save you. You may be a businessman. God will save you. You may be a young, married couple. You need Jesus in your family. Come to him if you need to in order to be baptized.