How Fools Take Down A Church
January 12, 2020 | Randy Smith
How Fools Take Down A Church
Sunday, January 12, 2020
Pastor Randy Smith
For me, working out is always the easiest when I have a goal I am trying to achieve. Many think that way as well. The desire to fit into a certain outfit. The desire to reach a certain weight. The desire to look good at a high school reunion. The desire to overcome a poor medical report. For me, it’s the desire to train for a competition. Sometimes I make-up a competition just for added motivation. Like I have a prize fight with Mike Tyson scheduled for this summer. And you thought the pickle juice story was weird!
This year the competition is genuine, and the race is scheduled for July. Since we are in January, the hardcore training will come later. For now, it’s just a desire to consistently attend the gym and eat healthier. In other words, I am looking for minor gains and seeking to avoid anything that won’t set me back in the wrong direction. Each month I make-up a new motto. So, this month’s motto is “Nothing Foolish.” My daughter made a sign for my office that I get to look at every day. “Nothing Foolish.”
I’d like to take that sign and post it all over the church. As I have mentioned repeatedly in the past, the greatest enemy to the American Evangelical Church is the American Evangelical Church. That is foolish! Coming up on twenty years here and 99% the problems we have encountered did not come from other churches or even unbelievers, but rather the very people that call Grace Bible Church their home. Christians are masters at crushing their own people and hurting their own cause. Of course, there is sin often involved, but the primary culprit is our own foolishness.
A few upfront statements: This lesson will tie into what we spoke about last week – the need to be shrewd. And this lesson will be more practical and less exegetical than my traditional sermons. And my comments will be directed to the Evangelical Church in general. How they specifically apply to you and this church will be left for you to decide.
Shrewd With Our Money (verse 14)
Verse 14, “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him.”
We know the Pharisees were the opponents of Jesus. Two descriptions of the Pharisees are presented in verse 14. One, internally they were “lovers of money.” And two, externally they were “scoffing at [Jesus].” This is the practical application of the prior verse. “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Love money and you will hate Jesus.
Last week we studied how Jesus praised the unrighteous manager (verses 1-9). You remember that guy, right? Just before the manager lost his job, he devised a way for those indebted to his boss to become indebted to him. It was a crooked plan that would have been shunned by the Lord. But it was a shrewd plan and that was praised by the Lord.
Our Lord’s point? The unjust manager used money that was not his (it belonged to his boss). He had his greatest self-interest in mind – me! His goal was to secure his earthy future in a home. He acted in a very shrewd way to accomplish it. In verse 8, this is how “sons of this age” (unbelievers) act.
Application to us (“the sons of the light”)? We too have money that does not belong to us (it belongs to our “Boss”). And we too should have our greatest self-interest in mind – not in selfishness like the manager, but rather in our greatest good of putting God and others above ourselves which will bring us the greatest blessings. We should focus on our future home, not on this world, but (verse 9) on our “eternal dwellings.” Therefore, we should be more diligent, wise, shrewd in the use of money to accomplish those means.
Here’s the point. So, if unbelievers are shrewd with money, how much more should the “sons of the light” be shrewd with their money? In a sense this is a lament from Jesus. Why is it that children of this world have more zeal and passion and thoughtfulness to use money (verse 9 – in a way that will ultimately fail) to further an agenda that is only temporary than the sons of light do in a way that is eternal and successful?
So, what is the first way we hurt the cause of Christ with our foolishness? We either rob God with our offerings or we use God’s money in a foolish way not storing up for ourselves treasures in heaven.
Our debt to the building has been paid. Thankfully, we have a surplus of money. I’ve been asking you to pray how it should be spent. I believe the three major investments need to be this building (upkeep and additional room for our growing church), an appropriate supply of staff pastors and missions. In two weeks, I plan to share a snapshot of what the leaders are proposing and at the Congregation Meeting on 1/29 a full presentation.
We covered money last week, so let’s move on.
Shrewd With Our Worldview (verse 15)
Verse 15, “And He said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.’” Let me ask you, what did the world think of Jesus? They hated Him and they killed Him.
We are foolish when we believe we are right with God because we are approved by the world. Quite often it’s the contrary. As Jesus said, “That which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.”
It is very easy to justify yourself in the sight of people. Just stand for what is trending in the world. Be informed of the celebrity gossip. Champion abortion and sexual perversity. Proclaim a God is only loving, nonjudgmental and tolerant. Never judge any behavior. Mock Christians and our President. Be a lover of alcohol and gossip. Revise our nation’s history. And by all means refrain from ever using the name, Jesus. It is very easy, but it is also very foolish. You will be esteemed by man, but detestable to God.
If you need an example, the actions and philosophies of Hollywood. Although I did not watch the show, just mimic the “talking points” from the recent Golden Globe Award. It’s possibly the greatest visual display of what Jesus called “the world,” apart from a few remarks made by Ricky Gervais.
Here is what we read in Scripture: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever” (1 Jn. 2:15-17).
The people in the world are passionate and shrewd to fight for their agenda. How passionate and shrewd are we to fight for God’s agenda?
Think about this. Who are your children’s heroes? As Jesus said in verse 8, are they the “sons of this age” or the “children of the light?” Why do we allow their worldview to shape our children’s minds or our minds for that matter? And worse off, why do churches allow the philosophies of the world to shape the way they determine truth, make decisions and do ministry?
The world is so shrewd. They avoid the church like the plague. They don’t even consider reading our literature. They mock us at every opportunity. But we roll out the red carpet for them. We support their causes with our money, time and affections. And we invite their hating-Jesus and hating-Bible culture through their movies and songs and television shows right into our very homes. The solution is not necessarily no Spotify or television – though it could be. The solution is wise discernment! Don’t be foolish!
How is their system working for them? Drug addictions, broken homes, rebellious kids, depression. Do we want that too? Is it helping our testimony for Christ to reach them? It’s so ironic! They tempt us with their beliefs and actions. We go along in a desire to be happy and accepted. And then they mock us for being unholy hypocrites.
When will the church be shrewd to really hate all evil and really love all people? Only then will we have a powerful testimony for Christ.
Shrewd With Our Gospel (verse 16)
Verse 16, “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.”
This is perhaps one of the toughest verses in Luke to interpret. Jesus did not replace the Law and the Prophets (the Old Testament). They still have value. Jesus simply fulfilled them, supplemented them and brought them to completion. We are now preaching, verse 16, “the gospel of the kingdom of God.” That is our mission. Forgiveness from God, reconciliation with God is possible through the work of Jesus Christ. It is not an option for any of us. It’s a command for unbelievers to repent and turn to Jesus and it’s a command for believers to proclaim that message. That is our primary mission. And we should do that in a way with urgency, passion and love in obedience to God and for the best of the unbeliever.
So, if that is the case, everything we do should keep that as a priority in our minds. Do our personal actions and words (both formally and informally) turn people toward Jesus or turn people away from Jesus?
If you really believe this and keep it forever in the forefront of your mind, so much of what you do in your life revolves around this concept – is this helping or hurting our cause?
Some simple examples: How is it helping the cause of Christ if your neighbors know you are a Christian, but you play loud music at night, don’t bring in a barking dog, refuse to take care of your property and allow your floodlight to shine in their living room?
Why will people want to listen to our message if we have disrespectful children in school, dysfunctional marriages or public fighting on social media among ourselves (see 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 regarding the Corinthian lawsuits)?
How does it help our cause when we leave a tract for the waitress, but go chintzy on the tip? Or excessively hold up a table in a restaurant when others are waiting, and a waitress is losing tip money because we are conducting a three-hour Bible Study. Or praying so loud before we eat that the we annoy an entire restaurant around us.
How about internally? How do we shoot ourselves in the foot? Teaching that is either unbiblical, superficial, unprepared or outright boring. Music that lacks quality, passion, creativity and appropriate song selections. Prayer meetings that focus entirely on covering mundane topics or certain people that don’t know how to keep their prayers short, so others have an opportunity. When people come here, do they see everything done with excellence? When people come here, do they witness grace among one another? The disastrous stories I have heard when congregations offer an open mic at a church business meeting.
Do our actions here at Grace Bible church (both personally and corporately) make Jesus look attractive?
I love Titus 2. Doing all things “so that the word of God will not be dishonored (verse 5).” Doing all things “so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us (verse 8).” Doing all things “so that [we] will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect (verse 10).”
I’ll give you an example. Two weeks ago, I was at the Wall Township annual meeting. The Mayor asked me to open the meeting in prayer. But what impressed me the most was when he took about 10 minutes to talk about what impressed him the most. He went through about 20 specific items. Do you know what the first thing he said was? How Grace Bible Church has served this community. My friends, our service to this community is being shrewd!
Shrewd With Our Bibles (verse 17)
Verse 17, “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.”
The bottom line on this verse is that God’s Word will never pass away. The values in this world change every generation. Deep-seated beliefs can change overnight. However, God’s Word is eternal. So, if you are going to learn anything and live by a certain standard, it is shrewd to know and practice what your Bible teaches.
A few thoughts come to mind here: If the ultimate goal in all this is reaching others for Christ, why is it that professing Christians can’t share an accurate Gospel presentation or defend their faith with any credibility?
What does it say to them if we proclaim that the Bible declares the message of salvation, but we do not practice ourselves what the Bible teaches? We may say we believe in Christ, but do we really believe in Him if we live contrary to the very Scriptures we claim to uphold? How is that shrewd?
Now you are probably thinking that I am talking about the “big sins” – and I am. Profanity. Gossip. Drunkenness. Immorality. Anger. Jealousy. Of course, these will shame Christ and destroy our testimony. But what about the sins that often get a pass in the church? Fear. Worry. Complaining. Addiction. Joylessness. Family strife. Why would people want our Savior if based on our testimonies He is unable to produce peace and love and kindness and self-control and gratefulness in our own hearts and homes? Why would people want to come to our church to get more of the very garbage they despise in their homes and workplaces? So foolish!
Does your life revolve around Scripture? Family times. Personal times. Church times. Are we and our children memorizing Scripture? Do we realize that investing ourselves in the Bible is wise?
Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
1 Peter 3:15, “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”
Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”
Shrewd With Our Marriages (verse 18)
So shrewd with our Money, Worldview, Gospel, Bible and lastly, our marriages. Verse 18, “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.”
Verse 18 ties interestingly into verse 17. Heaven and earth will pass away. God’s Word will never pass away. Marriage will pass away. The marriages we have on earth are only temporary. There is not human marriage in heaven. So why did God invent marriage? What is the purpose of our earthly marriage? I covered it last Sunday in Sunday school, but let me repeat the basics.
God primarily invented marriage to illustrate the marriage bond that He in Jesus Christ has with His bride, the church (Ephesians 5:32). When we understand that, we understand how every command in the Bible directed toward marriage is to illustrate Gospel, is to show the greatness of His ultimate marriage with us. Everything from marriage roles to one flesh to togetherness until death do us part to marriage between one man and one woman to the avoidance of adultery and fornication. It all has a reason and that reason is to show the world Christ.
So, what does it say when two professing Christians have a dysfunctional marriage and they do not do anything about it? How are they showing Christ through their unforgiveness, bitterness, lack of communication, selfishness and general refusal to reconcile?
The primary illustration to show Gospel is marriage! What does it say for the Gospel if we do not stand for God’s definition of marriage and we ourselves are not displaying Gospel for others to see in our marriages? Could we be any more foolish in our outreach?
God has given us His Word, the mind of Christ, the indwelling Holy Spirit, good teaching in our churches, a new heart and… Sweetheart Retreats! We have been equipped with everything to have a God-honoring marriage.
So, let’s be shrewd! Let’s be strategic with our ministries and spending, show excellence in all we do, have our priorities in order, encourage our volunteers, give grace to one another and display wisdom! It will be a joy to us and great testimony to the world!
Personally, believe we are doing pretty well, but as I said in the introduction, I will leave it up to you to decide. How are we doing? Better yet, how are you doing? Maybe our motto for 2020 should be “Nothing Foolish!” Let’s be shrewd!