Who Is The Enemy
Title: Who Is The Enemy?
Text: Mark 9:38-41.
CIT: Christ’s guidance on the ministry of others not of their group.
Theme: The right attitude of other’s ministry in the name of Jesus.
It is said that when the British and French were fighting in Canada in the 1750s, Admiral Phipps, commander of the British fleet, was told to anchor outside Quebec. He was given orders to wait for the British land forces to arrive, and then support them when they attacked the city. Phipps’ navy arrived early. As the admiral waited, he became annoyed by the statues of the saints that adorned the towers of a nearby cathedral, so he commanded his men to shoot at them with the ships’ cannons. No one knows how many rounds were fired or how many statues were knocked out, but when the land forces arrived and the signal was given to attack, the admiral was of no help. He had used up all his ammunition shooting at the “saints.” (Daily Bread, October 6). In the same way, Christians, churches, and denominations spend so much time fighting one another, that when its time to fight the real enemy, Satan, most have run out of ammunition. This has been especially true of our Southern Baptist Convention over the last twenty years. We have been so busy fighting one another that our witness for Christ around the world has been damaged. Our mission of cooperatively reaching the world for Jesus has suffered greatly because of it.
In our Scriptures for this morning, Jesus teaches about this very subject, sectarianism. As we look at God’s Word, first, I want us to see:
I. The Improper Response to Ministry (v 38).
Now John answered Him, saying, “Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.”
Jesus and His disciples had been having an argument while traveling to Capernaum about who was going greatest among them in heaven. John interrupts Jesus, and tells about a man whom they had opposed because he was casting out demons in Jesus’ name but wasn’t a disciple. John says, “We would have hindered him, because he was not our follower.”
Evidently, they had not succeeded in their effort, but that was no credit to them. Here is a man who, evidently, had faith in Christ, and was doing an eminently good work, and yet because he did attach himself to the apostles’ group, they made an effort to stop his work.
This is an age old evil, and it stains almost every page of church history. In fact, it set up the inquisition of Spain. It kindled the fires in Smithfield. It drove the Pilgrim Fathers across the seas. It silenced the great Richard Baxter. It flung John Bunyan into the Bedford Jail for twelve years. It drove John Wesley from the pulpit to the fields, and it is still at work today. It is the spirit of narrowness, exclusiveness, bigotry, intolerance, sectarianism. It is the view of those who say: “We are God’s people,” and those who do not think as we think, and do as we do, must be wrong and aught to be condemned. It is the view that says that whoever cannot pronounce our “shibboleth”, our test word or party phrase should be condemned and opposed. Let me say it is pathetic and tragic. If a person is Christ’s follower, what does it matter whether or not they are of our group or our follower!
What does Christ teach on this subject? That is what we see as we study:
II. The Immediate Response of the Master.
But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is on our side."
Jesus said, “That man should have never been hindered, and must not be hindered.” The reason is in two parts. First, Jesus refers:
a. To The Man In Question.
As far as the man is concerned, Jesus says the man could not work a miracle in His name and at the same time oppose Him. Because of this, there was no grounds for the apostle’s attitude.
A warning is necessary here. Jesus is not saying that just because a man performs a miracle doesn’t mean he is a follower of Christ’s or that he was of good moral character.
Second, Jesus refers:
b. The Ministry in Question.
When testing someone’s ministry the principle is: “he that is not against us is for us.” As we read this principle , I want to relate it to Matthew 12:30; “he that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathers not with Me scatters abroad.” These verses are not contradictory. They are two tests in quite different circumstances. In the Matthew passage, we are to test our own devotion to Christ, and by the Mark passage, we are to test the judgments we are apt to pass on others. In the Matthew passage neutrality is denounced as enmity, while in Mark it is thought of as friendship. In the Matthew passage, the reference is to one’s relationship to Christ, but in the Mark passage, it is one’s relationship to other professed believers.
If one is not with Christ, of course he is against Him; but it does not follow, if one is not with us, that therefore he is against Christ. We cannot claim, as Christ did, to be the norm of truth and the test of reality. He that is not with us may be closer to Christ than we are. In one rule Jesus says “he and Me,” and in the other “he and us.”
Look at the verses again, John did not say, “because he did not follow You,” but “because he did not follow us.” Jesus is saying, let God’s work be done, whoever does it. Charles Ryle says, “Better a thousand times that the work of warring against Satan be done by other hands than not done at all.” Usually, it is those who are doing nothing that complain. The Apostle Paul said, “If Christ be preached I rejoice, even thought He be preached in contention.” I believe that many surprises await some folks when we get to heaven. Jesus said there would be. He said in Matthew 7:21:
Not everyone who says to Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.
Then in Matthew 25 beginning with verse 41, Jesus says much the same thing. Listen:
He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’
Beware of intolerance and bigotry, cultivate Christian charity. Christ is the bond of universal brotherhood of the saved, a bond which overleaps all distinction in nation, race, and class. God help us be more like Jesus. Last, I want us to see:
III. The Impressive Rewards For Ministering.
For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.
Jesus is saying it doesn’t matter the material value of the gift does not determine its spiritual significance. They had been discussing “casting out demons in Jesus name.” Jesus now expands the subject base to include “giving a cup of water in Jesus’ name, because we are His” will be rewarded. Not everyone is called to cast out demons but everyone is called to minister in Christ’s name.
We are to help people, not hinder them. We are to help, not criticize. Ministry is not Fussing and Arguing 101. Ministry is an act of love and devotion to God. We are to embrace all who are believers in Jesus Christ and confess Him as their Savior. We are to minister together in Jesus’ name.
How about you this morning, have you ever received Christ as your Savior? Jesus purposely came to earth to die in payment for your sins. It is God’s gift to you. But, like all other gifts, you must receive the gift before it is yours. In a moment, we are going to be singing a song of invitation, during this time, we invite you to come and receive Christ.
Christian, what has been your attitude towards other people who believe in Jesus Christ and confess Him as their Savior. What is your attitude about ministering with them to reach Hughes and our community for Jesus? Is your attitude the attitude of Christ? If it isn’t, why not take care of that this morning by coming and doing business with God and asking forgiveness of your sin.
You might have some other reason you need to come this morning. You might need to follow the Lord in believer’s baptism and church membership. If that is your need, we invite you to come also as we sing. Whatever it might be, we invite you to come.