Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on July 5, 2015
Open Your Bibles to Psalm 1. Today we begin our journey through the book of Psalms. We will be working our way through it for the next three months with periodic Sunday’s where I will step away and cover a specific topic. What I have decided to do is to preach the Psalms as they come. So today will be Psalm 1, next week Psalm 2, and so on and so forth. The reason I am doing this is to protect you from my sinful desire to cherry-pick. I believe cherry picking is one reason we have so many immature Christians today. They have not been taught the whole counsel of God.
It will be my intent to periodically preach from the Psalms in the years, and perhaps decades to come, God willing. This means that if we get through 10 Psalms this summer, my hope is in the next year or two, we will pick up where we left off, until we eventually work our way through 150 Psalms.
Before we begin I want to give you a road map of how today will go. First, I want to explain how I will preach the Psalms. Second, I want to give us some general insight into the Psalms. Third, with the time we have left we will examine Psalm 1.
First, how will I preach. There are two ways to preach, the right way and the wrong way. The wrong way is for me to use God’s Word as a vessel for my opinion. The right way is for God to use me as a vessel for His truth. True preaching is taking God’s Word, breaking it down, analyzing it, mining it for absolute truth, and then proclaiming IT by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is what we call expository preaching, and this is when the Word of God has its sharpest edges, and God receives the most Glory. This is the way John MacArthur preaches, John Piper preaches, Matt Chandler preaches, David Platt preaches, etc. These reformed guys preach expositionally, and this is the way I hope to preach. For it is the right way to handle the treasures that are in this book, and we will see this as we study Psalm 1 today.
Overview of the Psalms
With that said, let us step into this amazing book. As we begin our journey we should first recognize what this book is. The Book of Psalms is a collection of 150 songs. The Hebrew title for the book of Psalms is “tehillim” which means to make a jubilant sound or praise. The words “Psalms” comes from a Greek word which means the plucking of strings. So as we walk through these Psalms, we must recognize that we are studying God inspired worship music. This is interesting because these songs are abundantly rich in Biblical truth. In this day in age we have a tendency to think about songs as being emotional and separate from the mind and intellect, but that is not the case when examining the Psalms. In God’s book, deep knowledge of God and praise are inseparable.
So let us talk briefly about the book itself. As I said, it is a collection of 150 separate Psalms. This makes it the longest book in the Bible. Another odd fact is that it contains the shortest chapter, Psalm 117, and the longest chapter, Psalm 119. Another thing that is odd is that, depending how you define middle, the middle of the Bible is Psalm 118:8. The book itself is actually a collection of five books. Those who originally compiled this hymnal for Israel chose to break it into five parts. Perhaps some of you have noticed this as you read through the Psalms.
The psalms are written by a variety of men; the most prominent of those being David. Quite often it is referred to as the Treasury of David. It is believed David wrote nearly half of the psalms. Other authors include, Moses, Solomon, Asaph, the Sons of Korah, Ethan and Heman. In addition, some 50 psalms are attributed to no one. Because the book of Psalms is a collection of separate songs, written by separate men, its coming together took approximately 1000 years, from Moses (1400 B.C.) to the Babylonian exile (500 B.C.).
The last thing that I want us to understand as we begin is that the Book of Psalms is a book about Jesus. Jesus is the Word. Jesus says it himself in Luke 24 that all Scripture points to him, this is true for every book in the Bible including the Psalms.
The pointing to Jesus comes in two forms, prophecies and foreshadowing. Regarding prophecies, the book of Psalms contains more prophecies about the coming of Jesus than any other Old Testament book. More than 90 specific prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus. Regarding the general foreshadowing, we will need to be more intentional as we dive into the text, for shadows do not always catch our eye, unless we are looking for them, but it is interesting to know that the book of Psalms is quoted more by New Testament authors more than any other book in the Old Testament. It is referenced in one way or another approximately 112 different times in the New Testament. So with that, let us now read our text, pray and then unpack it.
In this text we see the comparison of two individuals, the righteous and the wicked. In these two descriptions falls every man. In the eyes of God, you are either one or the other. There is no such thing as a middle ground when it comes to your standing before God.
You see this reality mentioned a number of times throughout the Bible. In fact, last week we briefly looked at one of those text, Matthew 25, where Jesus talks about the coming day of judgment. Jesus says that on that day he will separate the sheep and the goats. The sheep will come into the Kingdom of God and the goats are sent to “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
We see it again in Matthew 13 where we see Jesus talking again about the final judgment and he uses the comparison of wheat and weeds, and he says this, “Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” (Matthew 13:30). Just a few verses later we see Jesus again talking about the final judgment before God in verse 47.
The word righteous as used in this passage, does not mean sinless. The reason we know that is also in the Psalms 14 and Psalm 53 it tell us that no one is good, no one is righteous. We know that it is only Jesus who is truly righteous in a sinless sense. The Psalmist in this text is not talking about being sinless, but by having a right position, or standing before God. So how is someone righteous in a Psalm 1 sense. It is only through faith in Jesus Christ. It is by believing in God, we can stand in the congregation.
The Psalm begins with the word “Blessed.” Interestingly, this is what Jesus called Peter in Matthew 16:17 after Peter confessed that Jesus was the Son of God and the Messiah, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven”
It is how Jesus began the greatest sermon ever preached, the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…blessed are those who mourn…blessed are the meek…blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…blessed are the merciful…blessed are the pure in heart…blessed are the peacemakers…blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.” I do not think it is a coincidence that the book of Psalms begins the same way.
The word blessed in Hebrew is esher and if you were to look up the meaning in a Lexicon it would say happy. In fact, the Holman Christian Standard Bible translates this verse as “How happy is the man…” Having said this, I think there is a reason why this word is commonly not translated to happy. Happy doesn't quite do this word justice. It doesn't have enough depth to it. For to be esher (blessed) is to be happy as a result of receiving. Esher is just not a feeling, it is a feeling that is produced by grace. This makes sense in light of how we tend to use it. If you were to ask me, how do I feel and I said “happy” that would be different then if I said that I feel “blessed.” By saying blessed I am saying, I am happy, but that my happiness springs from something unmerited.
So who is the blessed in our passage? The Pslamist starts with the negative, then moves to the positive. First he says that a blessed person is one, “who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.” With each one of these descriptions you can see an escalation of evil, or an increase in the hardness of ones heart, walk, stand, sit.
So what does it mean to walk in the counsel of the wicked? It simply means seeking advice from the fallen, broken, sinful world. Unfortunately, this is a common characteristic of most people, even Christian people. When in uncertain, where do you seek advice? Oprah, Dr. Phil, an unsaved Psychologists, celebrities, magazines, unsaved coworkers, and unsaved friends. Each one of these people, if they have not received Christ in their life, are spiritually blind, and have no hope in giving you Christ exulting counsel. Jesus said it well in Matthew 15:14 when he said, “Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
Which leads to our next phrase “nor stands in the way of sinners.” This is the faliing into the pit in which Jesus spoke, for it is the implementation of the wicked advice. Another way to think about it is the taking the wide and easy path that leads to destruction that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 7. Or the “following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—“ that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 2. It is standing against God and with sinners, those who miss the mark.
Lastly, the Pslamist says, “nor sits in the seat of scoffers.” This is the final act of rebellion. Not only does this person seek advice against God, and implement that sinful advice, but they then mock those who don't follow suit. They begin to teach others and ridicule those who do not accept their sinful opinion. They become a teacher and preacher of sin They want more wicked people to jump on their bandwagon of rebellion. This was the case for the Pharisees. Jesus said this to them in Matthew 23:15, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”
Regarding these three positions of walking, standing and sitting, I can't but help see the connection with the current status in America regarding homosexuality. Many self-proclaimed Christians, and self proclaimed Churches have sought counsel from the world, chosen to stand with the disobedient, and now they scoff at those who do not join in with their sinful ways. They mock those who have read and have accepted Leviticus 18, Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, 1 Timothy 1, and the dozens of other implicit scripture on the subject. The people who reject these text are like our psalmist says, chaff. They are blown about with the ever changing wind of this fallen and broken world. Today it is homosexuality, tomorrow it will be something else. As scripture clearly teaches, this is not the pathway of blessedness, it is not the pathway of happiness, love doesn't win. It is trampled on and destroyed. This walking, standing, and sitting with sinfulness leads to one destination...perishing.
No, the blessed ones are those who “delight in the law of the Lord.” What is the law of the Lord? The word used here is actually torah, which is commonly used to reference the first five books of the Bible, but torah in Hebrews means instruction. So a good reading of this text is to say “delight in the instruction of the Lord.” Which of course includes more than just the law, or the first five books of the Bible, but all of the Scripture.
For the man that is blessed this treasuring of God's Word causes him to think about God's instruction day and night. Reading the Bible is not about a check list. It is something that he soaks in, thinks through, works out, analyzes, and clings to.
As the Psalmist says, the man that is blessed has been planted next to the Word of God. He has made the intentional decision to live life in accordance to God's Word. It is his standard of truth. It is his sustainer. As Jesus said in Matthew 4:4, this man is living “on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
And what is the result? Fruit. The man planted in God's Word is guaranteed to yield fruit. What kind of fruit? Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control”
Imagine if I came up to you and said, I have a sure fire way that you can have experience love and joy and peace and in every situation you will have he capacity to rise above it, and be outside the fray, would you want it? Of course you would. And folks you can have it if you want it. If you want to have a blessed life, the answer is not found on facebook, or magazines, or doctor Phil. It is not found in the counsel of the wicked. It is found in God's Word.
This is why we at Cornerstone are Bible people. This is the way that God has designed to pour his Grace out upon you, through His Word. And what is wonderful, is that each one of you have it in your hands in this moment. Spiritual prosperity is literally within you grasp, so make the intentional decision to be happy, and plant yourself in the living Word of God.
Think About These Things
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on May 24, 2015
Open your Bibles to Philippians 4:8-9. Today we continue our journey through the book of Philippians. Over the last several weeks we have slowed down somewhat due to Paul closing his letter with a series of short commands to the Church in Philippi. Today we continue examining Paul’s commands and we will focus our attention on focusing our attention. Let us read our text, pray that God would cause us to pay attention, and then let us think together.
To begin I want us to focus our attention on the end of verse eight. Paul tells the Church in Philippi to “think about these things.” The Greek word for think is logizomai. From the root of this word we get the word logic. Logizomai means to think, dwell, reckon, to take into account, reason, conclude. Paul is asking the Church to use their minds.
Most likely, very few of you have thought about thinking and how it relates to God. So let us begin there. First, we should recognize that humanity is like no other created thing.
The answer to this question is one we have covered many times before. We exist to glorify God. (Isaiah 43:7). Therefore, God gave us a mind so that we can glorify God. In one way, this is what separates us from the beasts. Animals glorify God in their way, and we glorify God in our way. So at the basis of who we are, we are created to think.
With this in mind, let me ask a question, what was the name of the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden? The name was “The tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:16). Likewise, Satan when tempting Eve in Genesis 3:5 said, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” And finally, God when casting Adam and Eve out of the Garden in Genesis 3:22 said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil.” The tree that led to the fall of humanity had something to do our minds.
So what happened to Adam and Eve upon eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
Mind of Christ
I am guessing that many of you don’t think about your conversion in these terms, but you should, for this is how scripture speaks of what happens when you place your faith in Christ. Listen to these text:
To be a follower of Jesus Christ is to think rightly about existence; to think rightly about who we are; to think rightly about who God is; to think rightly about Christ; to think rightly about our purpose; to think rightly about our mission.
Renewal of Your Mind
This mind of Christ that we have been graciously given at our conversion, however, is not a perfect mind. It still has flaws. Because we still live in the flesh, and still battle with sin, we at times, think wrongly. This is why Paul says to the Church in Rome,
Church is not to be primarily about rituals and entertainment, as much as it is about pursuit of the knowledge of God and the renewal of our minds. All Christians are called to think, young and old, rich and poor, A students and D students, male and female, professors and ditch diggers.
Think about What?
So what are we to think about? Things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, worthy of praise. Let us quickly unpack each one of these.
Where would we find things that are true? John 17:17 Jesus prays to God, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” Absolute truth will not be found in the World, it is found in the Word. And it is the Word that points to the greatest truth, the holder of truth, the standard of truth, Jesus Christ, who said of himself in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth and the life.” So where do we see truth? The Bible.
Where do we find things that are honorable? Revelation 4:11 says, ““Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” There is only one being that deserves honor, and it is God. To dwell upon what is honorable is to dwell upon God himself, and where do we find the attributes of this honorable God? The Bible.
Where do we find things that are just? Romans 3:23-26 – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” The greatest display of justice is the death of Christ. For at that moment we see God holding both sides of the bargain. He demands payment that is due his name, and then he pays the debt with the blood of His son. He is truly just and the justifier. So where do we find justice? The Bible.
Where do we find things that are pure? 1 John 3:3, “And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” There is no purer thing than God. He is unapproachable light and in him no darkness dwells. Jesus Christ is the exact imprint of God and in him there was no sin, no blemish. He is the only person who has ever walked this planet as pure as Jesus. He is the perfect picture of purity. So where do we find things that are pure? The Bible.
Where do we find things that are lovely? One place we find the word lovely, somewhat frequently, is in the book of the Song of Solomon. Which is a an intimate love poem between a husband and wife with each partying gushing over one another. Saying things like this in Song of Solomon 4:3, “Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely. Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate behind your veil.” This fawning, however, points to the greatest love story in the Universe, Christ and his Church. There is nothing more lovely than our Bridegroom laying down his life for the sake of us his bride, so were do we find what is lovely? The Bible.
Where do we find things that are commendable? This word in the greek means to have a good report. To have done something gracious. With this in mind, 1 Peter 2:19 says, “For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.” The NIV uses commendable instead of gracious. If this is an example of something that is commendable, there is no higher commendability than the perfect Son of God sufferring on the cross and absorbing the wrath of his father, despite not committing one sin. Why would he do such a thing? Because his Father asked him. So where do we find what is commendable? The Bible.
Where do we find things are excellent? 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us toc his own glory and excellence. As Paul said earlier in Philippians, the worth of Jesus far surpasses anything we could ever imagine. Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God. And the Jesus is the Word who became flesh, and it is Scriptures that testify about Him, so where do we see things that are excellent? The Bible.
Where do we find things that are worthy of praise? In Revelation 5:11 we are given a glimpse into heaven and what do we see, “Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” It is only God who is worthy to be praised. This God has chosen to reveal himself in his inspired Word. So where do we find things worthy of praise? The Bible.
So in conclusion, God created you to think, not about anything, but about Him. His desire is that you would set your minds upon his glory. If you do this, you will experience a satisfaction that your soul craves. I will leave you with a Bible serve that hangs on my office at work. Psalm 1:1
Great Will Be Your Fall
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on September 28, 2014.
Turn with me to Matthew 7:24-29. Today we are winding down the Sermon on the Mount. and we are examining the closing words of Jesus as he wraps up the sermon. As I stated a few weeks ago, we have been walking through the Sermon on the Mount since January 5th. We have soaked in the Words of Jesus. We have meditated on them, and rolled them around in our mouth. At times they have been sweet and at times that have been bitter, but no matter what they have been medicine to our souls.
I want to, once again, invite you to turn back with me and look at the teachings of Jesus that we have drenched ourselves with over the last 9 months. In this sermons Jesus has taught us about the characteristics of the Kingdom, Living as salt and light in this tasteless and dark world, Christ the fulfillment of the law, the issues of anger, lust, divorce, oaths, retaliation, the radical love of Christ that pours form our heart onto even our enemies, giving to the needy, God glorifying prayer, fasting for the reward of God's, laying up treasures in Heaven, battling anxiety with God's sovereignty, grace soaked judgment, the good and wonderful gifts of God, the narrow gate of salvation which is Christ alone, the war against false teaching, and eternal treasure of knowing Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. This sermon is overflowing with relevant teaching. There sermon is comprehensive in its scope and covers every area of your life, from eating food to world missions, and everything in between. So how does Jesus wrap it up? Lets read our text and fine out.
The one thing different about these apparently similar houses is what was underneath them, specifically, there foundation? One house was built upon sand and the other was built upon a rock. Everyone here knows how important a foundation is. It is what gives the house strength; the higher the building the deeper the foundation must go.
Currently, there is a building being built in Los Angeles that will be the tallest building west of the Mississippi. This structure will be 73 stories tall and reach 1,100 feet high. In order to have a building this tall that was able to withstand the earthquakes of southern California they had to construct a massive concrete foundation. According to USA today More than 2,100 truckloads of concrete were poured continuously for more than 18 hours. This totaled 21,200 cubic yards of concrete weighing 82 million pounds when dried. Why was this necessary? So it wouldn’t fall over. Therefore, before building up, they had to dig down. They had to dig and dig and dig and dig. This was a lot of work. It took time. It took effort. It took discipline. It took sacrifice, but it was necessary.
Imagine if they would have not dug down before building up. Imagine if 73 stores towering 1,100 feet were built up hastily without counting the cost and sacrifice of digging deep. Shortcuts were made and walls leaned up against each other so as to find their strength not from the foundation but from themselves. Imagine if it was simply a house of cards built upon the beaches of California. Everyone knows what would happen. They next storm or earthquake that would come, would cause everyone to gather not to watch it display it’s strength and withstand the storm, but to watch it crumble. Seems foolish doesn’t it? That is because it is. However, what Jesus is speaking about is far more foolish then what I just described.
For these two builders and these two buildings represent those who hear the word and do it and those who hear the word and ignore it. Jesus has just spent three chapters of Matthew speaking eternal truths into the lives of these listeners and he closes his sermon with a warning. He says if you have sat here and listened to me and you walk away and don't implement this into your life, you are a fool. Why can Jesus say that?
Authority of Jesus
I think the answer lies in verse 28 and 29. The crowds that sat on the side of the Mountain picked up on something fundamentally significant.
We are Fools
The question is, are you a fool? Do you trust in the Word of Christ? Is your life built upon the rock of God's Word, or are you just fooling yourself?
Absolutely, and amen! There is no doubt that the Bible is crystal clear that it is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. But we want to see evidence of your faith.
Storms and THE STORM
Lets first talk about the storms. How do you know if your Christian life is built on the rock of hearing and doing God's Word, or on sand? The answer is the storms. The storms of this life are the test of your faith. God sends trials and tribulations into your life to test the strength of your faith in His Words. To see if you really trust what he says.
Jesus tells us plainly that in this life we will have tribulations. It is guaranteed, What isn't guaranteed is that you will make it through. Only those who hear the words of God and build their lives upon the Words of God will weather the storm.
Having said that, there is a Greater Storm that is coming. We talked about it last week. There is no rainbow after this storm, for it is the storm of God's wrath that comes at the end of the age. When this day comes, it is too late, for your house is built. The question is, will you be standing in the presence of God or will you be swept into the lake of fire?
Once again, I am struck by the love of Christ in his final words to us. They are words of warning. Proclaiming to us words of life. We have no excuse. We have heard the words of Jesus. He has warned us of the narrow and hard way, they need to know Jesus, the need to hear his Words and build our entire lives upon them. Not just on Sunday mornings, but every moment of our lives. We must be like Peter who proclaimed,
So the question is simple, today as you sit here in this room, are you a fool or or you wise? Underneath the facade of Christianity is their sand or the rock of Jesus Christ and the Word of His power? Do you trust this book? Do you eat this book? Do you treasure this book? For they are all the Words of Christ.
Jesus words today is a call to dig and to examine. Dig around your life and look to see what is underneath the house you have built for you life. When you do, you may find sand. You may find that your Christianity is based on tradition of man, culture, the American dream, a false Gospel. If this is what you find, you will need to tear down your house and start all over.
So how? How do you get this type of faith? How do you get a faith that is alive? A faith that is able to weather storms. A faith that is unshakable?
The Wide Gate of False Prophets
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on September 14, 2014
Turn with me to Matthew 7:13-20. Today we are going to examine what I believe to be one of the most important admonishments, or warnings, in the entire Bible. It has to do with the war that wages between deception and truth. So let us get right to work and read and then equip ourselves for the battle.
The Narrow Way
In verse 13 Jesus commands us to enter by the narrow way. What is the narrow way? The answer to this should be obvious to us. The narrow way is Jesus Christ. Jesus explicitly tells us this in John 14:6.
However there is another way that Jesus is the narrow way, and it is the means by which you walk through the door. In order to be saved by Jesus you must lay down your life. You must surrender completely to Jesus. You must love him with all your heat, soul, mind and strength. He must be your greatest treasure. Him must your all in all. This is why Jesus not only proclaims that the way is narrow, but that it is hard. For the hardest thing for a us to do is to let go and trust in Christ to be our savior and our Lord.
On Wednesday nights we are going through a study named Radical by David Platt. In that study we are being forced to examine some of the hardest passages in the Bible. These are text that we we tend to ignore because they make us feel uncomfortable. Listen to some of these text.
This is why Jesus says in verse 14, few find it. Very few people will have a faith in Christ that rises to that magnitude. Very few people will have the chains broken that enslave them to the sin this world. Therefore, very few people will walk on the narrow way, but instead will take the easy way out, the wide gate.
The Wide Way
Many people instead of renouncing all that that they have to follow Jesus will instead try to sit the fence. Instead of being all in with Jesus, they will only be half in, or 75% in, in 99% in, but not all the way. Renouncing all that they have is just too uncomfortable, it is too extreme. They want to hang on to the world, whether it be their stuff, ambition, money, relationships, dreams, reputation, tradition, you name it. Those things are just to hard to sacrifice. Therefore what they do is trust Jesus some, but also trust in themselves or something else.
This is what Jesus calls the wide way. It is the easy way. The comfortable way. The worldly way. The popular way. And this way is full of people. In fact it is everyone else that is not on the narrow way. You see, there are only two groups of people, those on the narrow way and those on the wide way. The question that I pose to you today, is what path are you walking on? And it is the most important question that you will be asked.
Because those who are on the wide way, the easy way, the popular way, they are on the road to Hell. These people are selling their soul to the devil to gain the world. As I said last week, they are playing Russian roulette with their eternity. For Jesus plainly says that those who are on the wide way is condemned to destruction. So what does this have to do with false prophets?
The Wide Gate of False Prophets
It has everything to do with false prophets, for false prophets stand at the intersection of the narrow and wide way and point you to Hell. For false prophets do not speak for God, they speak for Satan. They are Satan's mouthpiece and sow seeds of lies into your life, hoping to draw you away from the narrow way of Jesus Christ.
Now I want you to understand something. The false prophets that Jesus is speaking of are not false prophets like those in the old testament who claimed to predict the future and worshiped the false God Baal. The false prophets that Jesus is speaking of are those whom we would more readily call false teachers.
And I think you would agree with me that the world is replete with false prophets claiming to have some special life changing knowledge. Some of them are easily recognizable like Muhammad, Joseph Smith, or David Koresh, but most of them are subtle. Jesus, in fact, tells us that they will be subtle. He tells us that these false prophets are wolves in sheep clothing. Meaning that they look and smell like a sheep, but inwardly they are the opposite of a sheep, they are sheep killers. This is a common strategy of Satan.
And this moment in American History, it seems to me that we are at an all time high when it comes to false prophets, and they are not just in the 2:00 a.m time slots on AM radio, but they are in Churches all over the Country. It seems they have infiltrated the institution of the Church. Listen to this text.
How Do We Determine Who is a False Prophet
When you are born again, we become a new creation. Everything changes. The old has gone and the new has come. This change takes place in your heart and it manifests itself outwardly. Instead of being self-focused, we are Fhrist focused. Instead of pursuing our glory, we pursue God's Glory. Instead of loving ourselves, we love God and we love others. All of these things can be called Christian fruit. It is the evidence that Christ lives within us.
If we see things that look and sound like Christ, then that is evidence that the Spirit of Christ compels them. If we see things that are worldly , self-centered, sinful, then this should give us pause and we should beware of those people. In evaluating false prophets we should look for two things: words and actions.
First words. When someone is attempting to persuade you of something, you must ask yourself is this what the Bible says. Listen to what Paul warns the Church in Galatia in regards to the Gospel.
Now in order to to answer that question, we must know what is in the Bible. We need to study that authentic in order to recognize the counterfeit. If you don't know what the words of Jesus are, then you are in the dark when it comes to watching out for false teaching. You are susceptible of being taken down by a wolf.
The second way we judge a false prophet is by their works. Do they walk the walk? As I stated earlier, if someone is a true follower of Jesus, it means that Jesus lives in them and compels them to live like Him. If they have been forgiven, they should forgive. If they have been given grace, they should give grace. If they have been loved, they should love. If Jesus is their greatest treasure, then our lives should reflect this. Jesus mission is their mission. Jesus' purposes s their purposes. If those things are absent, then this should be red flags to us in determining if we should listen to them or not.
And as I said to begin my message, this may be the most important admonition that we could here. For we are a weak people. We tend to follow whatever new fad is. We read whatever new book comes out. We get promote every “Christian” movie that is released. We cannot afford to do this, we must be discerning as to what bread we eat, the living bread of Jesus or the rotten bread of this world.
The Word of God
This week at Vacation Bible School the kids learned about the Word of God, the Bible. Why did we pick this topic? Why not pick a fun story from the Old Testament. Why talk about some dusty old book that no in America seems to be reading anymore.
We picked it because their destiny lies in what they think about this book and the truth that it contains. Where these kids spend eternity, whether it be Heaven or Hell, rises and falls upon their belief in the Words found in these pages. This is not only true for our kids, but it is true for all of us. This book, God's Word to us, is the revelation of our salvation. This book has the answers to your deepest questions and your deepest need. This book is the primary key in unlocking the joy your so desperately long for.
The verse that we used to start our week at Vacation Bible School is Pslam 119:105, I will use to start today.
Think about this. If this is really God's Word this means that when you read the Bible you are standing before the throne of your Creator soaking in his presence and wisdom. This means that the words on these pages are not like any other words you have ever come in contact with before. For these words are from a being who is Holy, all powerful, all knowing, and unchanging. If this book is the Word of God, then this book has power. For it was God's Word that created the heavens and the Earth. God said, let there be light, and their was light. It was God's words that brought something from nothing.
I am guessing that if you truly believed this book is the breath of God, you would read it more than you eat food. It would be your daily bread. It would be the source of your life. It would be what you used to nourish your soul when it is famished and longing for satisfaction. If you believe this book was God's Word you would say things like Jesus did in Matthew 4:4.
Our problem is that we don't believe that this book is the breath of God, at least not as much as we should. We see it as just another book on the shelf. We see it as an archaic, historical book that our grandparents built their life upon but it holds little relevance to us in this age. We see this book as something for pastors and priests, but holds no value for the common man. No, Satan has done an excellent job of keeping the lamp of God's Word turned off in our homes.
Satan's desire is to keep you as far away from this book as possible, for He hates the Word of God. Why? Because he knows it power. In Ephesians 6:17 we are told that the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit. The Bilbe is our weapon by which we do battle against the schemes of the devil. Satan would rather you be unarmed when he shows up at your house tonight to tempt you.
In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, not only does it say that all scripture is breathed out by God, but it also says:
Therefore, since the beginning of creation, Satan has declared war on the Word of God. The very first attack was not on Adam and Eve, but on the Word of God. The first words out of Satan’s mouth in the beginning of human history was, “Did God actually say…” And Satan has not changed his strategy. Why? Because it worked then, and it works now. Satan is working overtime attempting to keep you from knowing the truth that is in God’s Word.
In Mark Chapter 4 Jesus tells a parable about four soils and the seed that is sowed on the four soils. The seed in the parable we are told is the Word of God and the four soils are: 1) the path, 2) the rocky ground, 3) the thorns, and 4) the good soil. Listen to what he says about the seeds that are sown on the path.
One of the main ways he has done this is to whisper the lie into the ear of this nation that the Bible was written by men independent of God. That it is not God's Word but man's word. To those who believe the Bible is man's word, I ask, have you ever read it? Have you ever opened up the pages and seen what this book says? Have you ever considered the reality of this book and the miracle that it is that I hold it in my hand today?
To all of the Bible doubters I say with confidence and with full assurance that this is God's Word. It was written by men and inspired by God. Why do I say this? Because the proof is in the pudding. The more I read these pages the more I smell the breath of my Creator. The evidence is overwhelming.
God is all powerful and all knowing and all present and He inspired men to be messengers His truth. The Bible itself is a collection of 66 separate books, written by 40 different men, over a period of 1600 years. God used shepherds, Kings, prophets, poets, doctors, fishermen, Pharisees, and tax collectors to bring His Word to mankind. This alone is amazing. That I hold a book that has parts that were written 3600 years ago is unprecedented.
Despite the age, variety of styles and numerous authors there is a supernatural consistency that runs throughout each and every book that points to one singular truth, our deep and desperate need for Jesus Christ. The consistency of this book is incomparable. It is 66 books, but one Story. It is a variety of men, but one Spirit inspiring them all.
I am always amazed that people struggle with this. Why do people fabricate such a small God? If God can stretch out the heavens with his fingers, then those same fingers can write a book. Not only that but this book testifies that the author is God.
The next way Satan attempts to keep us from this book is to tell us that it is not relevant to our lives. That there is nothing in this book that matters. It is just a collection of boring stories. This could not be farther from the truth, for as I said earlier this morning, your destiny rises and falls upon the pages of this book. Just as Peter says in John 6:68, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,”
In this book God gives gives us the diagnosis of our soul, and the prognosis is not good. In this book God tells us that our hearts are desperately sick. In this book God reveals to us that we are sinners. In this book God warns us of his wrath. In this book God informs us that we are blind, deaf, lost, broken and spiritually dead. In this book that God tells us we are destined to face judgment before a Holy God with nothing to offer him but our filthy rags of unrighteous works. This book is a window into the wickedness of our soul, showing us our depravity and the hopelessness of our state. This book is like scalpel opening up our hearts and showing to us that our condition is fatal.
Having said that, also in this book that we are introduced to the Great Physician who can heal our sickness. In this book we are told of the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the World. In this book God paints a picture of the suffering King who was hung on a cross to purchase a people for His own possession. In this book God bears witness to his obedient Son who loved Him and was perfectly righteous. In in this book the Glory of God is displayed in the face of Jesus. It is in this book we are introduced to the Hero to our Story, Jesus Christ.
Therefore this book, the Bible, God’s Word, holds within its pages the diagnosis of our condition and the cure to our disease. It truly is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. For it points us to Jesus Christ who is the way, truth and the life, and that no one gets to the Father but through him. And off course, Satan does not want you to know any of this. He wants us to be oblivious to the disease we call sin. Listen to what 2 Corinthians 4:4 says about Satan.
At Cornerstone we deeply recognize the power of God's Word. Our desire is for people to be educated, holy, equipped, competent, and able to do the work of God. Our desire is to hand each person the sword of God's Word so that they can do battle against Satan. Our desire is for people to be saved. Our desire is to help people find the door into Heaven, to find the door to joy, and they way we do this is the way God told us to do it, to feed upon every word that comes from His mouth.
So in closing, if you don't have a Bible, we would love for you to take one. If you want someone to read it with you, ask, and we would love to. If you want to study this book, we have several Bible studies that meet throughout the week. But above all, open it up and read it. Let the light of God shine into your life.