Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The Word of God P4 (02-15-21)
Why is it that we are so slow of heart to believe? I know I was, and at times, I still struggle to trust Christ to provide for my daily needs. But God initiates His love to us. That is when our hearts become softened and He gets our attention. Have you ever asked that question, “Why would God love me?” But He does.
So you have been in the religious world all your life. Then some guy comes along and tells you strange things you have never heard before. He comes right up to you and asks, “Are you saved?” You reply, “What are you talking about?” Then you hang out with these people who identify themselves as Christians. (Now, in today’s world that word has lost value and everyone calls themselves a Christian.) But, you are thinking to yourself, “Who ever calls themselves a Christian?” But you see something in them that draws you. These guys seem genuine and real. They speak often from the scriptures, explaining how this word of God has application to life. You are intrigued.
Now, think about the disciples. Here is the living Christ, telling them all these things, quoting from the scriptures. He even tells them that the Son of man must suffer and die and then He will rise again to appear in glory. These are strange sounding words. “What is He talking about? Isn’t He going to restore Israel, free them from the Romans?”
There are so many things we do not understand. But God takes us right where we are, gently leading us to the place of understanding what He really wants us to know and understand. He wants us to have a personal relationship with Himself, the living God, the living Word. What keeps us from that relationship? Is it not our sin? No. Not anymore. Why not? He already died on a cross to take care of that problem.
Then, what is the problem? Ask yourself, “Why am I so miserable inside?” Is it because you need the same life that is in Jesus living in you? Yes. That is what Jesus always said repeatedly. “Come to me for life.” He was raised from the dead so that the same life that is in Him can be living in you. That is a life of total trust and dependency on someone who perfectly loves you. That is a life of joy and peace in the midst of trials and tribulations. That is a life of compassion and grace, that tells a person his sins are forgiven and then heals the blind man. He is lavish in His grace towards us, giving us far more than what we even ask for or think of and giving us what we really need.
So have you ever encountered the living Christ, that you would ask, “Lord, give me what I see in you?” See, God is about changing the hearts of men, taking care of that deep pain you have been carrying for so many years. So you learn to allow God to renew your mind to walk in a new way of the Spirit. We love because He first loved us.
So there are all kinds of people in this world. Jesus spoke to them all. We read about Jesus’ testimony to Satan, to the masses, to the religious leaders, and to traditions of men. He exposes error with truth, often quoting from the scriptures. He spoke firmly with the Pharisees, who sought a righteousness of their own, steeped in religious tradition, and therefore, failed to come to Christ. Jesus often exposed their hypocrisy in the hopes they might wake up. Very few of them ever did. He spoke to the masses, telling parables, capturing their attention, healing the sick and raising the dead. The downtrodden, those considered sinners in the eyes of the world, the tax collectors and prostitutes, those whom the Pharisees looked down on, they came to Christ first and their lives were changed.
Then the disciples, having the advantage of being with Christ for three solid years, yet slow of heart to believe. All but one came to understand. But the fuller understanding did not happen until Jesus rose from the dead and the promised Holy Spirit came to dwell in them on that day of Pentecost, just as Jesus had promised.
While on earth, Jesus explained to them what was going to happen concerning Himself, what had to be fulfilled as spoken through the prophets. Jesus fulfilled the just requirements of the law for us, something we could never do. Not only did He perfectly obey the law, not by following rules and regulations, but by love, for love is the fulfillment of the law, but He also met the requirement of death for sin, our sin, for He had none of His own. He did this in order that, after being raised from the dead, since sin has no hold on Him, that we might have life, eternal life, His life, placed in us. That is, He came to restore fallen humanity to its original design, to have the Holy Spirit living in man. So today, will you receive what Christ Jesus came to give you?
People did not believe then, even seeing the empty tomb. They could have walked up to it. The Pharisees, they saw the body put in it. They saw the stone rolled, the guards on it, and three days later they saw the stone rolled away, and the guards gone, lying about it, and the body gone. There is no explanation except the resurrection. Yet still refuse to believe.
As I said before it was job security that killed Jesus. Recall what the Pharisees had said.
48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”
The same is true today. I will have to give up on my job. I might have to give up on whatever I have been saying. I might have to give up on my fun. We will come up with any excuse we can in order to say, “I do not believe.”
Again, we read about Jesus talking to the religious leaders in Matthew 21:42.
42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
That would be something to say to someone who was a total student of the scriptures. Have you ever read these things? It looks like you are reading them, but have you ever read them?
“‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’[Psalm 118:22-23]?
Have you ever read that scripture? He is quoting from the Old Testament. Have you ever read about the stone the builders rejected? Obviously pointing to the Pharisees as the builders. “That stone that you builders have rejected, has become the capstone, the cornerstone, and the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”
2 Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
Again, people always try to have a smokescreen. When someone is getting too close to truth, you try to attack their behavior some way, and see if you can cast a dispersion on them. So they were asking, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” Jesus again answered from the word of God.
3 Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” 5 Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
You are supposed to remain spiritual and remain hungry. Jesus is saying, “Is the Sabbath made for you or you for the Sabbath? You missed the whole idea.” People today are still hung up on a day. They are still looking at a Sabbath day as a day of a week instead of the rest that God called us into as a Sabbath rest. The day of a week was the shadow just as all the rest of the law. It was a shadow, not the reality itself. The day was a shadow. The reality is Christ. The rest was on a day of the week. The rest is in the person of eternity. There is a world of difference in the two. Yet man will still want to hang on to their tradition and to their own little area of doctrine in order to deny the truth of what Christ Jesus came to say.
Doing something unlawful? The Pharisees had all kinds of laws on top of laws. As an example, on the Sabbath, you could not work. That is part of the Sabbath in their understanding. Still to this day, you go over to Israel and you try to catch a cab on Saturday and you are in tough shape. There is one working. They are still looking for that day.
Then they have all kinds of rules and regulations as to what it means to rest on the Sabbath and then develop all kinds of things to violate that and still be within the law. They had all kinds of things. You could not spit on the ground on the Sabbath because that would be construed as work. You can spit on a rock but not the ground. For if you spit on the ground and it would make mud and that would be constituted as work and therefore you would be in violation of the law. So if you spit, go find a rock.
Remember the day when Jesus went out and spit on the ground and made mud. He did not just spit and let it get there. He made mud out of it and put it on that blind man’s eyes and told him to wash that off and then he could see. Do you think mud made him see? Do you think that is how you heal the blind? No. Nothing at all to do with that. What was He doing? He was driving the Pharisees crazy. Here is the Sabbath and you are not allowed to spit on the Sabbath. Here is Jesus who spit on the Sabbath and not only that he stooped down and made mud. So it could not be called an accident. You could hear the apostles saying, “Lord. He is doing it again. Lord, could you not wait until tomorrow? Just one more day.” The Lord was showing the hypocrisy of the Pharisees on their tradition and of their law upon laws. Why? Because He was saying, “I am going to show you your hypocrisy to show you that you have no clue as to what the word is talking about. If you did, and you could put your blinders off in regard to all these rules and regulations that you are trying so desperately to be holy with, that you would see that this is pointing to Me, the one who is going to have to do for you that you could never do for yourself and that is to make yourself righteous.”
That is a terrific lesson for us today. He was speaking to people who are students of the Old Testament. So let us ask ourselves today. Can I literally say I believe in Jesus but say I do not believe in the Old Testament is true? No. How can you say “I really believe in Jesus” any more than you can say “I believe in Moses”. But He said, “No, you do not believe in Moses, for if you did, Moses wrote about Me. So if you believed Moses, then you would have to believe in Me. So how can you say ‘I believe in Jesus’ yet say that the Old Testament is a fairy tale, when Jesus quoted out of the Old Testament as absolute truth?” If Jesus is God and He said that the writings we hold today in our hands, known as the Old Testament is true, then it is true. If it is not true, then throw all of it out, including Jesus, because the Old Testament wrote about Jesus.
Jesus was talking about the law and now He is talking about man’s tradition. That is applicable today as it was back then.
9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!
13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”
The scripture says a little leaven spoils the whole loaf. It only takes a little error to spread into many things like that. It is like sin. If you do one, before long you have a couple of them. It multiplies itself, 2 becomes 4, 4 becomes 8 and 8 becomes 16. A person goes out and commits adultery. After that, he has to lie about it. After that, it could even end up, as in the case of King David, in murder. Sin multiplies. It does not go backwards. It multiplies. It is the same thing with the infiltration of error. Tradition is error. It is not something you can hang onto. Man tries to keep it, sustain it, and keep it active forever. That is my tradition. The mafia has a phenomenal tradition that they kept going for years. People so often worship at the feet of tradition.
But something equally important for us to see today. For when He said, “You nicely set aside the commandment of God”. If man is going to set aside the command of God, how is that different from setting anything from the word of God? What is the difference in setting aside the commandments and setting aside the word of Jesus Christ that is far deeper and more complex and fuller in its meaning than just the ten laws written on a stone? So setting aside the word of God, whether setting aside the commandments or setting aside the words of God, is setting aside the word of God.
It is man in his arrogance setting aside the truth of God and saying, “I got something traditional that I want to grab a hold of”. In this day and age could it be tradition? As an example, could tradition be put into a category of teaching that man is not sinful but that he is sick? Could that be a tradition that we get into? A tradition is something our mind just automatically flops back to. “This is the way we have always done it.“
So if I establish a habit pattern as “this is the way we have always done it“. Tradition is keeping the way in which you have always done it. So if I can teach long enough that man is not sinful, just sick, and that he just has syndromes, could I not build a tradition on that? If someone does something wrong then he is not sinful but sick, then we are going to deal with him as a sick person rather than dealing with sin? It seems that tradition will be in that same category.
What is the difference between Pharisees putting aside the word of God for their ideas and their brilliance and today, in order to set aside the word of God for our brilliance? Putting aside the word of God is putting aside the word of God. It is saying it is not complete.
Were the Pharisees saying the word of God is not true? No. They would have died for the fact this is God’s word. But they did not understand what it meant. But their tradition was so important to them that they were willing to set it aside. They were adding to the word of God. They were not subtracting from but adding to the word of God. We call people that do that as theological cults. But how often are we adding to the word of God in dealing with the heart problems of man? We are adding to it. We are setting aside the word of God, that it is not complete when God says you are complete. So people are saying, “No, you are not complete. I got a tradition over here. I got a man-made system that is going to work far better than the completeness of the word of God.”
Just as they were doing back then, thus invalidating the word of God. That is another thing. If this over here is true, that man, as an example is sick rather than sinful, what have you done with the word of God that says you are sinful? You have invalidated it with your tradition. What is a mystery to me, but it shouldn’t be, for these were the religious of the day, regarded as the most godly people you could find, what were they doing? Invalidating the word of God. These people are supposedly so godly and people just follow them, when in their own hearts they have invalidated the word of God by their own tradition that was handed down from man to man to man. And it says, “you do many things such as that.”.
You do not stop there. Once you have invalidated the word of God, you have snipped the string on the plumbline, where the weight on the bottom of it is connected somewhere else. You do not have a plumbline anymore. You just have a dangling string with no weight on it, so the string is going all over the place. That is where the word of God is going to go in your own heart when the weight is not on it, when the cornerstone is not on it. You clip the string, the weight off the plumbline, and you cease to have a plumbline.
You take a needle off the compass, and I will defy you to find North on that thing. If you do not have a needle to point to it, that is what we do. We invalidate the compass. We invalidate the plumbline. We invalidate it by our own tradition that has been handed down. That kicks off doing many, many, many such things as that.
So their error has begun. It does not get less. It gets more. You cannot come to the word of God and say, “Well, I will just compromise on this little issue but the rest of it we will hang in there.” It does not work that way. It only takes a speck of lemon to spoil the whole thing. When man has lost confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God, the creator of all things, the one whom all things are created by Him and for Him, has lost confidence in the word of God and comes up with the garbage that the word of God does not deal with the heart problems of man, that we need science for that, we have invalidated the word of God by our own religious tradition and are in the process of doing many, many things such as that.
35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
So we ask, how long are the words of Christ going to endure according to the Lord Jesus Christ? Well, it seems to me forever. If they never pass away, that is a long time. They will outlive me. As long as I am alive, I guarantee you that the word of God is not going to pass away in my lifetime. If that is true, then that means it would be advisable to me to adhere to it during my lifetime. My keen mind picks up on that every time I contemplate on it. In my own life, is the word of God sufficient for me or have I made a decision to put it aside, invalidate the word of God by traditions of man that has been handed down, by the brilliance of man.
First of all, we got some brilliance by Freud, then by Jung. Then it gets handed down and we get something else in Skinner, Lange, then Bradshaw, then in all the Christian counselors and psychologists. Before long, we just got psychological tradition handed down from one generation to the next. Then it expands, just like a piece of leaven does, pushing out truth, invalidating the word of God by our own tradition.
Some people come along and say that is so naive, saying “Poor Bob is so naive to believe the word of God is true.” That is not naivety. That is reality. People will come along and say, “Let us get real.” That is getting real. If the word of God will never pass away and nothing is new under the sun. There are no problems encountered by man today that were not encountered back then. When Jesus was on earth 60% or more of the world was enslaved. If you do not think there were atrocities going on by slaves, by owners and by people, then you do not face reality. All you have to do is read the Old Testament and ask, “Has anyone come up with anything new?”. Everything going on today was going on back then. There is nothing new under the sun. There is no new problem of man. Man just says, “I know man better than God knows man. So let me figure man out. Let me.” God is saying, “No. Come unto me.”
That is a decision we have to make in our own lives. That is not something I can force on you nor do I want to. It is not something that somebody can force you to not live by the word of God, and hopefully they do not want to. The fact of the matter is, it is an individual decision.
15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
How many times do we look at that, and that is my household, and possibly that is what it was talking about. But you realize as a brand new Christian that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. My body is the house in which Jesus lives. Being that is the case, can you say individually that for me and my house, the one I live in, we are going to serve the Lord. Or do we say, “for me and my house, I am going to compromise the word. I am going to put it aside. I will invalidate it, and I will hang onto tradition. I will hang onto what man says about man instead of what God says about man.” It is a personal decision, isn’t it, folks? Is Jesus God? If He is, what did He say about His word? To deny His word is to deny Him. We have to come to grips with that. If you want to deny the word, then deny the one who says it is true.
As we come to the end of our first lesson, we studied Jesus’ testimony to Satan, to the masses, to the religious leaders, and to traditions. For the remaining period of time, I want to talk about Jesus’ testimony to His followers. When Jesus was here on earth, there could be some speculation when looking at a human being and you cannot figure out how that human is being the way He is. Here He is claiming Himself to be God. Then that resurrection occurs. You say, “Brother, how can that occur unless that person was God?”
Yet, people do not fully understand that. It is interesting that following that resurrection that Jesus made some appearances. One of his first appearances was to two men on the road to Emmaus. (Read the full account in Luke 24:13-35.) The two men then met up with the disciples and told them what happened, that Jesus had risen and was talking with them. As these men were talking to the disciples, Jesus appears again to all of them (Luke 24:36-49)
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
So he is saying, “everything was written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Everything that was written about me in the scriptures had to be fulfilled.” Remember earlier what Jesus said to the religious leaders.
39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
Now, He is saying, “Remember that I told you this before when I was still with you. Before the resurrection I told you this. Everything written in the scriptures is going to be fulfilled.” And He did that. He fulfilled it. So He tells the disciples.
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”
Jesus tells them that they are slow of heart to believe. “Do you not remember from the scriptures that Christ had to suffer and then enter His glory?”
27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
Now what a bible lesson! Those men on the road to Emmaus were blessed of all men. Here they were by themselves, grieving that the person they put confidence in. They were looking for a nationalistic Messiah, the one to save Israel, and did not fully understand that He came to save men. They thought He was coming to save a nation. Here He was crucified and they were losing all hope, not having a clue He was not still in the grave. Then they are talking with this stranger, acting as if he did not know what took place. The Messiah obviously would not have said “how foolish of heart to believe” if they had not been talking about the scriptures. They were students of the scriptures and the scriptures talked about the Messiah. They were equating that Messiah to a reigning Messiah, thinking, “Here He is dead, and we thought He was to reign. We were convinced this is the one. John the Baptist even said this is the one and we believed He is the one. We saw Him do all kinds of miracles. This was the one who was going to restore Israel and yet He let Himself be crucified.” So totally in a despondent mood.
And Jesus comes back again. He could have said, “How are you feeling about this?” No. He challenged their minds. He did that with scripture. He gave them a bible lesson. Can you imagine someone out of the Old Testament dealing with a bible lesson. He was saying, “These scriptures are all about me.” As they walked along, He gave that bible lesson.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.
Some people say, and I believe that to be true, that when Jesus broke bread and handed it to them, they saw the holes in His hands. Having been enlightened all day long, and can you imagine this man teaching them about scriptures, still not recognizing Him, and then to see the holes in His hands, that then they realized this is the one, the Messiah.
32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”