Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 5 Study # 3
Thesis: God is actively opposed to "ecumenical evangelism".
Introduction: Last week we raised the issue of why Jesus would indiscriminately heal and deliver everyone in Capernaum and not do the same thing today. We raised that issue because of the active corruption of the glory of God by those who declare that the Church ought to actively expect healing today as an integral part of the Gospel. In fact, there is an entire movement called "the full gospel" that has made this lie the foundation of their doctrinal formulation. By doing that, they have set themselves up as those who are not only not preaching "the full gospel", they are not preaching the gospel at all. And the result is that the clarity of the Gospel has been significantly reduced so that people often do not know what the crucial issues of the Gospel are.
There is another massive movement in our culture that our text addresses with censure. It is the movement that claims that we ought to cooperate together with all who give lip service to "Christianity". In this movement, there is one fundamental thesis: we ought to cooperate together with all who claim that Jesus is the Son of God because the message is more important than the messenger. There have been two significant results of this movement. On the one hand, there has been a serious decline in the clarity of the Gospel itself -- so much so that a great number of "leading lights" actually signed an agreement called Evangelicals and Catholics Together in which evangelicals obtained the description of "separated brethren" and Catholics obtained the description of "members of the Church". And, on the other hand, a great host of those who call themselves "believers" are decidedly and determinedly carnal and godless.
But, our text is clear: Jesus Himself authoritatively rejected the idea that "the message is the only thing that is really important." This morning we are going to consider the meaning and significance of the divine rejection of what has become our cultural norm.
December 17, 2006
Why, do you think, Christmas has lost its impact? As long as we have the wicked selling CDs of Christmas hymns and people buying them, the faith will continue to disappear from our culture.
- I. The Text in Its Context.
- A. The text is about Jesus being identified in respect to His relationship to God.
- B. This thesis of Jesus being identified by others is sharply addressed by Luke.
- 1. The major "identifier" in Luke's record is John the Baptizer.
- a. Of this identifier we are told that he would be exceptionally "godly" (1:15).
- b. In this exceptional "godliness", he would go before the Lord his God to prepare the people for the coming of his Lord and God.
- c. The obvious question is this: why does the messenger need to be so exceptionally godly?
- d. This question should not be answered without a careful consideration of the fact that his father, acting as a prophet, said that his task would be "to give knowledge of salvation to his people" (1:77). Compare that to John 1:7.
- 2. The lesser "identifiers" in Luke's record are Simeon (2:25) and Anna (2:36) and both are characterized in terms of their godliness.
- 3. Those identifiers who are characterized by ungodliness are absolutely rejected by Jesus.
- a. The first instance is in the synagogue where the "identity" is "the Holy One of God" (4:34).
- 1) Jesus absolutely rejected the "identifier" -- not the identity.
- 2) He refused to allow the ungodly demoniac to bear witness regarding His identity.
- b. The second instance is before us this morning -- with the same situation and result.
- II. The Significance of This Text.
- A. It clearly declares that God is absolutely opposed to the witness of the wicked.
- B. The question is: Why?
- 1. Because there is a massive problem.
- a. From the beginning of the Bible to the end, the problem is identified as an unwillingness to be faithful.
- 1) The problem here is not just in the lives of those who live in the world as the creatures of a faithful Creator.
- 2) The problem is magnified by the reality that even those enormously blessed by God are relatively easily turned away from Him.
- 3) And the problem grows even more when we realize what Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy: "all in Asia have forsaken me".
- b. From the beginning of the Bible to the end, the problem of unfaithfulness is directly tied to two fundamental issues -- a serious lack of love/loyalty and an unremitting attack upon Truth.
- 1) It is no accident that the very first element in the "turning away" is always some kind of contradiction of the Truth.
- a) These contradictions are often not blatant: more often than not they are subtle.
- b) These contradictions are often sown as a tiny element of leaven: harmless enough in initial appearance...
- i. Like "personality ministry" rather than "elder directed ministry".
- ii. Like "women preachers" because "the men will not be responsible".
- iii. Like "ecumenical evangelism" because it is easier to get a crowd.
- 2) Nor is it any accident that the word of God attributes these contradictions to the demons (1 Timothy 4:1 and 2 Corinthians 10:5).
- 2. Because there is only one solution.
- a. Interestingly the "solution" is not the "truth of words".
- b. In the Bible, the "solution" is always the "truth of the life".
- 1) Note, first, that the demons were telling the truth in words.
- a) Jesus is, indeed, "the Son of God", "the Christ".
- b) But the intention of the demons was not to provide a basis for faith in those that heard them [see Acts 16:16-18 in context].
- c) The demons know something we refuse to admit: the one bearing witness has more to do with the generation of "faith" than the words of the witness.
- 2) Then note 1 Corinthians 15:34 and its obvious meaning...
- a) Every time the truth is presented in a context of contradiction, the conclusion is that the truth is not "true".
- b) Every time there is a legitimate basis for the conclusion that the truth is not true, people gravitate toward a say-so faith that is an out and out lie.