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True and False Disciples

Sermon for Sunday, December 3, 2017

True and False Disciples

Matthew 7:

[21] Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

[22] Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?”

[23] Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!”

A lot of people pretend to be something they are not.

Many people like to pretend to be doctors and some get away with it for a long time.  Imagine that!  Just playing the part!

Some people pretend to be counselors, police officers, etc.

I saw a man one time at a restaurant who looked who looked just like Magic Johnson.  Later I was told this man was an imposter.  Actually, he never claimed to be Magic Johnson but he tried to look like him in the way he dressed and acted.  I just assumed it must be him.

In the same way, a lot of people actually believe they are something they are not.

Some people say, “I believe I am saved because God knows what is in my heart.”

Yes, but what God knows about your heart may not be what you think.  For example, God may know that you have:

1) a deluded heart:

2 Thessalonians 2:

[11] For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie [12] and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

2) an unbelieving heart:

Hebrews 3:

[12] See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.

3) an unexamined heart:

2 Corinthians 13:

[5] Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

Remember, the Bible warns us there is a way that seems right to people but it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12).

Note verse 21 of our text:

[21] Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

What do people think when they say, “Lord, Lord”?  Do they really believe it or do they pretend to believe it?  Jesus does not say, but I would think it is both.  That is, some really believe they are saved when they are not and some just pretend.

Several years ago, a survey of Americans revealed 86% believed in God or a supreme being of some kind.

Seventy-seven percent believe in life after death.  Fifty-one percent do not believe that humans evolved from lower life forms.

On the surface, this seems encouraging in that people say they believe in heaven and hell and God.  However, the poll also revealed that 10% still believe that Elvis is still alive!

Polls are not always accurate because some questions encourage people to say what they think you want to hear, or what they would like to believe about themselves.

US News & World Report also did an article on religion in America.  They said 60% of Americans attend some kind of religious service on a regular basis.

Only 9% of Americans profess no religion at all.  Nine out of 10 Americans still pray.  More than 80% believed the Bible to be from God.

We look at statistics like this and it sounds like some kind of religious revival in America is happening.  This sounds encouraging but there is something wrong.  We must beware of the ambivalence of people.

Ambivalence: The coexistence of positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object, or action, drawing a person in opposite directions.

What this means is that people will answer a survey one way but they really do not believe or practice what they say.

Likewise, people often have conflicting desires when it comes to sin:

Romans 7:

[15] For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

What is ambivalence to sin?  Ambivalence is the simultaneous and contradictory desire to do something and not do something.  It is being attracted and repulsed at the same time.

Romans 7:

[21] So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.

[22] For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; [23] but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.

What this suggests is that the Christian is destined to struggle with sin.  This is what I believe Romans 7:7-24 is all about.

In some of our translations there is a heading for these verses that says “Struggling With Sin,” which fits nicely with the point now being made on these verses.

The language of Paul in these verses can be difficult to understand, especially the “sold as a slave to sin” comment in verse 14, but I agree with those who interpret his words as a struggle against sin in general, or the sin principle, and not a specific act.

Note, for example, that he says earlier,

Romans 5:

[12] Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—

The use of sin in this verse is something more than the act committed by Adam.  It refers to the sin principle that exposes us to temptation and the vulnerability to sin.  Jesus delivers us from the sin principle which requires his sacrifice.

Sin takes advantage of my knowledge of righteousness:

Romans 7:

[10] I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.  [11] For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.

This is why self-examination is always in order for every Christian:

2 Corinthians 13:

[5] Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

Note again verse 22 of our text:

Matthew 7:

[22] Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?”

I have wondered if the people Jesus refers to actually did these things or had they deceived themselves into believing they had done these things.

Sometimes people claim to do things they did not do.

Sometimes people who were once very faithful and useful to the kingdom become unfaithful.

What this means is that there are a lot of folks today who think they are Christians and are not!

Luke 6:

[46] Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

[47] As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like.

So, how can we tell if we are Christians?

Matthew 7:

[15] Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

[16] By their fruit you will recognize them.  Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

Am I a Christian because I am preaching this sermon this morning?  This might be a good indicator but you have to look at more than just the preaching of a sermon.

A lot of crazy people preach sermons.  Some become preachers because they think it provides them an opportunity to control others.

What kind of evidence?  The evidence should be
1) what we believe about Christ (theological)
2) and the application of the gospel to our lives (practical).

To be a Christian you need to follow Christ in your beliefs and practice.  If we took a survey in this city about who is a Christian, what kind of answers would we get?  Is a Christian one who goes to church?  Is a Christian one who prays?  Most people pray when they are in trouble and need God.  Many pray even though they are not religious.

If you asked members of this church who is a Christian, most would probably say that those who are baptized are Christians.  This is because we rightly preach the necessity of biblical baptism.  However, it is possible to be baptized and not be saved.  Note that it is possible to be baptized and not repent.

Notice what John said to those who wanted to be baptized without repentance:

Luke 3:

[7] John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers!  Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?  [8] Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”

The point: Salvation involves knowledge of God’s word, internal commitment, and change reflected in one’s life.

Although polls reveal the majority of Americans are religious, Christianity is having less and less impact on our culture today.

Law of Silence

Sermon for Sunday, November 26, 2017

Law of Silence

On several occasions, the priesthood described in the Bible teaches us about God’s Law of Silence.  The Bible says things in the Old Testament are there to teach us (Romans 15:4), so what does the Old Testament priesthood teach us?

Some people say there is no such thing in the Bible as a “Law of Silence.”  They say the Bible does not say “Law of Silence” anywhere.  But notice God does not say “Law of Gravity” anywhere in creation and yet the law clearly exist because what goes up must come down.  Or, if you jump off a tall bridge, you will die.

The point: The Law of Gravity is demonstrated in nature and this is why we call it a law.

The Law of Silence is demonstrated in Scripture and this is why we call it a law.

The priests were to be of the tribe of Levi:

Numbers 3:

[1] This is the account of the family of Aaron and Moses at the time the Lord spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai.

[2] The names of the sons of Aaron were Nadab the firstborn and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.  [3] Those were the names of Aaron’s sons, the anointed priests, who were ordained to serve as priests.

[4] Nadab and Abihu, however, died before the Lord when they made an offering with unauthorized fire before him in the Desert of Sinai.  They had no sons, so Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests during the lifetime of their father Aaron.

[5] The Lord said to Moses, [6] “Bring the tribe of Levi and present them to Aaron the priest to assist him.  [7] They are to perform duties for him and for the whole community at the tent of meeting by doing the work of the tabernacle.  [8] They are to take care of all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, fulfilling the obligations of the Israelites by doing the work of the tabernacle.  [9] Give the Levites to Aaron and his sons; they are the Israelites who are to be given wholly to him.

[10] Appoint Aaron and his sons to serve as priests; anyone else who approaches the sanctuary is to be put to death.”

The Law of Silence is illustrated twice in this text:
1) Once regarding who can be a priest (verses 6 and 10) and
2) regarding the deaths of the two priests, Nadab and Abihu (verse 4).

Last Sunday we studied the sins of King Jeroboam.  He led Israel astray because of the many changes he made regarding worship:
1) He changed the place of worship.
2) He changed how they were to worship.
3) He changed the time of worship.
4) He changed who could lead in worship.

The “who” is a reference to the priesthood.  Jeroboam changed the priesthood:

1 Kings 12:

[31] Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites.

A crucial point: God’s law of silence becomes operative only when he speaks about a matter.

This point about the Law of Silence is illustrated in the sin of Nadab and Abihu:

Leviticus 10:

[1] Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command.

[2] So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.

[3] Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke of when he said: ‘Among those who approach me I will be proved holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.’ ”

All worship in the Old Testament was carefully regulated by God.  This ought to tell us something about worship in the New Testament.

God gave the Israelites instructions about a place of worship that served as a model for the construction of the tabernacle.  We know this because God said, “See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain” (Exodus 25:40).

What was authorized was only what was found in the instructions.  The seriousness of God’s instructions can be seen in the sin of Nadab and Abihu.  They were consumed by fire because they “offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command” (Leviticus 10:1).

In the case of Nadab and Abihu, aromatic spices were dropped into a fire pan or censer filled with burning charcoal.  The source of these hot coals was supposed to be the altar:

Leviticus 16:

[11] Aaron shall bring the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household, and he is to slaughter the bull for his own sin offering.  [12] He is to take a censer full of burning coals from the altar before the Lord and two handfuls of finely ground fragrant incense and take them behind the curtain.  [13] He is to put the incense on the fire before the Lord, and the smoke of the incense will conceal the atonement cover above the tablets of the covenant law, so that he will not die.

God did not say specifically that this is the only source and that all other sources were forbidden.  He only says this is the source.  In Scripture we cannot find another source, and the deaths of Nadab and Abihu indicates it was the only source God mentions.

It also illustrates the principle that when God speaks the law of silence becomes operative.  Because God said the priest was to fill his censer with “burning coals from the altar,” the law of silence eliminated all other sources of fire.  The severity of punishment in this case should be a warning to those today who are opposed to pattern theology.

Another example of the pattern principle regards the instructions about how to carry the Ark of the Covenant.  The Scriptures reveal that God’s wrath broke out against Uzzah because he was not authorized to handle the Ark

1 Chronicles 13:

[9] When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled.  [10] The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark.  So he died there before God.

In verse 11, the Bible says David was angry because of what God had done to Uzzah.  Why did God do this to Uzzah?  Apparently, neither Uzzah nor David bothered to check God’s instructions on how to carry the Ark of the Covenant.

Later, David corrected this mistake when he said:

1 Chronicles 15:

[2] “No one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, because the Lord chose them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister before him forever.”

Not only was Uzzah not qualified to carry the Ark, it was being transported improperly: “And the Levites carried the ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the LORD” (15:15).

Did God say anywhere that Uzzah could not carry the Ark?  Did God ever say it could not be carried on a wagon?  Did God ever forbid Nadab and Abihu from offering a fire from somewhere else?  No.  Then why did these men perish?

The reason is because God’s instructions were being disregarded.  Respect for the authority of God’s pattern is expressed in the principle, “speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent.”

In other words, when God speaks on a matter the law of silence forbids other action.

Remember, God’s Law of Silence becomes operative when he speaks on a matter.  God had spoken about who was to carry the Ark and how it was to be carried.

Like a lot of folks today, many in David’s day did not respect God’s Law of Silence.  Perhaps they argued, “God did not say that Uzzah could not carry the Ark!”

This law is not a human principle of interpretation but a principle instituted by God.  However, the silence of Scripture by itself does not forbid something.  It is only when God has already spoken on a matter, or given us certain instructions, that the law of silence becomes operative.  If our action is an addition or substitution to what God has already said about a matter then our action is in violation of God’s law of silence.

The point is not that silence on many things that we are free to do.  The law of silence applies only when God has stated his will concerning a matter.

Hebrews 7:

[11] If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?

[12] For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also.

[13] He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar.

[14] For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

In verse 14, the writer of Hebrews uses the law of silence to show that the priesthood of the Old Testament could not belong to the tribe of Judah.

As God’s spokesman concerning these matters, Moses did not say anything regarding the tribe of Judah.  He did not say they could not serve as priests; that is, there is no specific prohibition by Moses concerning the tribe of Judah.  The writer of Hebrews argues, however, that the tribe of Judah is prohibited because of silence.  Therefore, Jesus would be a priest “in the order of Melchizedek” and not “in the order of Aaron” (v. 11) because Jesus was of the tribe of Judah and not Levi.

The writer of the book of Hebrews argues that because the tribe of Levi was authorized and Moses spoke nothing concerning priests of the tribe of Judah, then priests were not authorized from Judah.  If this does not prove that silence prohibits, then how could you possibly state it any clearer?

The silence of Moses in this matter is sufficient argument to prove the priesthood did not belong to the tribe of Judah.  Notice that he chose to argue from silence rather than prohibition.

J B Myers
jbmyers1@gmail.com

Books:
Faith and Addiction
Elders and Deacons
Life Choices

Falling Away From God

Sermon for Sunday, November 19, 2017

Falling Away From God

Departure sequence: Tolerate, Accept, Defend, Adopt.

1 Corinthians 10:

[6] Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.

[12] So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

Falling away is as old as the garden of Eden.  It resulted from the first sin.  From there, the descendants of Adam and Eve fell away.  And then the descendants of others: Noah, Abraham, and Israel, who became the Israelites.

Today’s lesson will show how Jeroboam led Israel astray.

1) He changed the place of worship.

1 Kings 12:

[26] Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David.  [27] If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah.  They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.”

[28] After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves.  He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem.  Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”  [29] One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan.  [30] And this thing became a sin; the people went even as far as Dan to worship the one there.

Solomon tells us that God says the temple was to be built in Jerusalem.

2 Chronicles 6:

[6] But now I have chosen Jerusalem for my Name to be there, and I have chosen David to rule my people Israel.

Jereboam’s inadequate excuse: “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem” (v. 28).

Verse 26,  “Jeroboam thought to himself…”

Verse 33, “On the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a month of his own choosing, he offered sacrifices on the altar he had built at Bethel.”

Proverbs 14:

[12] There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

Ecclesiastes 12:

[13] Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.

[14] For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

(The hidden things would include our thoughts.)

Isaiah 55:

[8] “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  [9] “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Acts 8:20  Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!”

2) He changed how they were to worship.

Exodus 20:4  You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. (NIV)

Exodus 20:4 You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. (NKJV)  KJV “graven image”

Because God has no visible form, any idol intended to resemble or represent God is sinful.

 

 

Deuteronomy 4:

[15] You saw no form of any kind the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, [16] so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, [17] or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, [18] or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below.  [19] And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven.

Notice verse 28 in our text:

1 Kings 28:

[28] After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem.  Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.

It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem.”

He does not tell them it is wrong to go but that it is too hard.  He is seeking a justification for doing wrong.  Notice this is the “D” in the defend stage.

This is the response of the expert of the law who tested Jesus:

Luke 10:

[29] But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Here are your gods…

This was not a change in the object of worship but a corruption of the way they worship.

The Hebrew word Elohim is translated ‘God’ 2,325 times and only 45 times as ‘god’ in the NASB.

The object of worship was not changed in the Northern Kingdom until the time of Ahab and Jezebel about 60 years later.  Baal worship was stopped under the reforms of Jehu.  This is  an example of combining idolatry with the worship of the true God.  Here is the account of Jehu’s reform:

2 Kings 10:

[28] So Jehu destroyed Baal worship in Israel.

[29] However, he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit—the worship of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan.

[30] The Lord said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in accomplishing what is right in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab all I had in mind to do, your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.”

[31] Yet Jehu was not careful to keep the law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart.  He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam, which he had caused Israel to commit.

Note the falling way sequence: T-A-D-A.

Does verse 28 remind you of an event earlier in Israel’s history?  A similar thing happened when the nation began about 450 years earlier:

Exodus 32:

[1] When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us.  As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

[2] Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.”  [3] So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron.  [4] He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool.  Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

[5] When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.”

[6] So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings.  Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

3) He changed who could lead in worship.

That is, he changed who could be priests.

1 Kings 12:

[31] Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites.

The priests were only to be of the tribe of Levi (Numbers 3:5-10).

4) He changed the time of worship.

[32] He instituted a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the festival held in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar.  This he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made.  And at Bethel he also installed priests at the high places he had made.

[33] On the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a month of his own choosing, he offered sacrifices on the altar he had built at Bethel.  So he instituted the festival for the Israelites and went up to the altar to make offerings.

Conclusion:

1) He changed the place of worship.

2) He changed the time of worship.

3) He changed who is to lead the nation in worship.

4) He changed the time of worship.

J B Myers
jbmyers1@gmail.com

Books:
Faith and Addiction
Elders and Deacons
Life Choices