Faithlife Sermons

State of the Church 2020

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An interesting article in Christianity Today. Stephey Belynskyj, a pastor, starts each confirmation class with a jar full of beans. He asks his students to guess how many beans are in the jar, and on a big pad of paper writes down their estimates. Then, next to those estimates, he helps them make another list: Their favorite songs. When the lists are complete, he reveals the actual number of beans in the jar. The whole class looks over their guesses, to see which estimate was closest to being right. Belynskyj then turns to the list of favorite songs. "And which one of these is closest to being right?" he asks. The students protest that there is no "right answer"; a person's favorite song is purely a matter of taste.
Belynskyj, who holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Notre Dame asks, "When you decide what to believe in terms of your faith, is that more like guessing the number of beans, or more like choosing your favorite song?" Always, Belynskyj says, from old as well as young, he gets the same answer: Choosing one's faith is more like choosing a favorite song. When Belynskyj told me this, it took my breath away. "After they say that, do you confirm them?" I asked him. "Well," smiled Belynskyj, "First I try to argue them out of it."
Several years ago we all received a report from Ligonier Ministries (RC Sproul). They surveyed thousands of people and released, publicly, their findings concerning in the state of theology report. What was found is virtually in accordance with what Paul is anticipating in the Scripture we will look at today. The indifference toward doctrine. Some don’t want to hear it today? Some don’t want to learn it today? Some deny that it is even important anymore? Rather have bad teaching no matter how absurd or unbelievable the teachings may be… today, many would rather hear that, then sound and wholesome teachings. I always wonder… Why is that?
What was found is virtually in accordance with what Paul is anticipating in this Scripture. The indifference toward doctrine. Don’t want to hear it today? Don’t want to learn it today? Deny that it is even important anymore? Rather have bad teaching no matter how absurd or unbelievable the teachings may be… today, many would rather hear that, then sound and wholesome teachings. Why is that?
I had a conversation with a Pastor in the Islands who actually told me when I mentioned the importance of doctrine in ministry. He said, “Doctrine? What is doctrine? Who needs it? There are other things more important. I don’t have any doctrine at all.” I said, but doctrine is only statements of what we believe. Do you believe in a Trinitarian God? Yes. Do you believe that God is the creator of the universe? Yes. Now watch what happened. Do you believe that the Bible is the Word of God? Some of it. Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins? No, we are not sinners the way you think. Do you believe that we are sinners by nature? No, not at all.
I said all of those answers to those questions is called doctrine, theology, what you believe? And you my friend have false doctrine. This is what Paul is saying…Listen up. No one is free from Doctrine or beliefs… we all have them. Its either going to be good ones or its going to be bad ones… again we all have them.
- Listen up. No one is free from Doctrine or beliefs… we all have them. Its either going to be good ones or its going to be bad ones… again we all have them.
Sure there are disagreements when it comes to some doctrinal issues, but that does not mean you throw it out altogether. If to Drs disagree about something that does not mean you throw out all medical practice. But watch this… You are saying that you believe that since there are trivialities or disagreements that doctrine is not important… guess what, that is a belief and therefore doctrine. In the survey by Ligonier, everyone believed something. Everyone had a doctrine. Everyone had an answer. It showed good doctrine or bad doctrine.
Why do we not care about this important issue. We seen this past year how important faith is. Trusting of believing that what Jesus said is really true and what He did really happened. Correct believing. There is no such thing as not believing anything. Its about good believing or bad believing. So since we all believe something… don’t you want to make sure it is true? Hence the problem. Sin causes us to rather hear from those who are going to tell us what we want to hear. Not the truth. No matter how obvious the lie is. We don’t want truth.
So since we all believe something… don’t you want to make sure it is true? Hence the problem. Sin causes us to rather hear from those who are going to tell us what we want to hear. Not the truth. No matter how obvious the lie is. We don’t want truth.
We want to hear how we can have our cake and eat it to. How we can sin and fulfill all our fleshly desires and still go to heaven. How we can be rich and successful no matter who we hurt on the way. How we can overcome a bad self image even with lies, how we can get along with others in the workplace while still stepping on them for that promotion, how we can deal with our parents and teachers when we believe they are unfair, how to overcome all that is negative even if it is true, how to deal with injustice in your life even though you deserve it. The list goes on and on. And the whole time the real problem called sin is not talked about. The true Gospel of Jesus is not preached and if you thought you had problems now… What happens when you die and have to stand before God to be judged? Sin Sin Sin family!!! Sin just in case you missed it. And we don’t hear it cause we don’t want to hear it. Knowing its true, we want those who do not preach it. Lie to us to make us feel better.
This is the glorious truth of the Gospel given by all of the apostles. The faith, once and for all delivered to the saints. Do we care?
Hebrews 3:12–13 NLT
Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.
There is still hope. All is not lost. Though sin pollutes and deceives us, it is the power of Christ who will deliver us from condemnation, free us from its grip, and will enable us to see the real treasure we hear and possess in our hands today. The Bible.
Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.
- There is still hope. All is not lost. Though sin pollutes and deceives us, it is the power of Christ who will deliver us from condemnation, free us from its grip, and will enable us to see the real treasure we hear and possess in our hands today. The Bible.
Paul had just instructed Timothy of the importance of holding on to the Scriptures as he had been taught and how very important it is. This is how we are going to guard against the deceptions and evil in the world. Now he instructs Timothy as to how he is to be faithful in preaching the Word. Why?
2 Timothy 4:1–3 NLT
I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.
- I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.
The grass withers the flower fades but the Word of our God stands forever.
I. The Data
- What did they find?
A. Beliefs about God. Conclusion: While the majority of Americans believe God is perfect, the answers reveal that Americans want God on their own terms.
1. 37% do not believe God is perfect and cannot make a mistake
2. 40% do not believe that Jesus is Divine or that He is fully God
3. 64% believe that the Holy Spirit is a force and not a person
- This is all heresy! Like condemning eternally heresy. The Trinity is one God in three persons. Jesus has to be God… if He is not then we are committing idolatry. Messing this up or not being able to affirm this has grave consequences. Dire consequences. If this is you… fix it. Fast.
B. Beliefs about goodness and sin. Conclusion: Actually, the majority of Americans perceive goodness to be a better description of people.
1. 67% agree “everyone sins at least a little, but most people are by nature good.” - Comparing to each other not against God’s Law
2. 4-in-10 agree “God loves me because of the good I do or have done.” Good? Compare your good to the Law of God. Filthy rags
- We believe we are good because we compare ourselves to other people. Compare yourself to the law!! Also, Believing that we are inherently good makes the whole message of the Gospel confusing. If we are essentially good and not sinners, then the news that Jesus came into the world to save sinners makes no sense!! The Gospel is for other bad people in this world but not for me. Grave consequences because you will not repent nor seek forgiveness. No salvation is the consequence. If this is you fix it. Fast.
C. Salvation and the Bible. Conclusion: As with the views of God, Americans, whether evangelical or not, want salvation and the Bible on their own terms.
1. 45% agree that “there are many ways to get to heaven” and 3-in-10 agree “people will have a second chance to follow God after they die.”
2. 71% of Americans agree “an individual must contribute his/her own effort for personal salvation.”
3. Only 43% believe that the Bible is 100% accurate
4. 45% agree “The Bible was written for each person to interpret as they choose.” Who cares what the Pastor says
5. What the Bible has to say on ethical issues is blatantly rejected by 42% of those surveyed.
- There are not many ways to get to Heaven. Jesus is the only way to the Father. Wide is the road that leads to destruction!! We cannot do anything to contribute to our salvation. There is nothing that we could bring to the table. If you believe that it takes your works to be saved then you don’t believe that Jesus work was enough. Lack of faith in God’s word therefore the works that you bring in sin. All of the scriptures declared that he saved us, not make us savable. Where are the mistakes? Who is deciding them? Sinful man is. If this is you…fix it. Fast
D. Heaven and Hell. Conclusion: Two thirds of Americans believe heaven exists and almost as many agree hell is real. But, the majority of Americans think people are by nature good and that God is not that wrathful at all.
- One Scripture. “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! If this is you… fix it. Fast
E. The Church. Conclusion: Less than half of Americans see the church as a necessity. The majority of adults do not see authority in sermons. One of the most overwhelming responses of the entire survey was the 68% who disagreed strongly that the local church has authority to declare whether they are a Christian or not. In other words… no right to church discipline
1. 52% of Americans agree “Worshiping alone or with one’s family is a valid replacement for regularly attending church.”
2. 56% agree “My pastor’s sermons are not authoritative over my life.”
- Rejecting the church is rejecting Jesus. This is important. This is the law.
And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Jesus is so united with his Church that if you reject the Church you are rejecting Him. If this is you… fix it. Fast
Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit. How many just said in your heart that you are not going to obey. No way
F. Beliefs about authority. Conclusion: ethical issues such as sex outside of marriage being sinful tracks most closely with beliefs about the authority of the Bible. This is interesting…
1. 6-in-10 Americans (61%) agree “God has authority over people because He created human beings.”
2. 51% disagree “The Bible has the authority to tell us what we must do.”
3. 52% disagree “Sex outside of marriage is a sin.”
- We want to follow only the commands that we want to follow and accept God the way we want Him. If not outright rebellion on the part of people… it is obviously confusion with dire consequences. If this is you… fix it. Fast
III. Conclusion
- Growing in grace and knowledge.
A. Fix it… Fast. Unable? Probably. Unwilling? Probably. Don’t care? Most likely. Asleep with your eyes still open? Maybe. Why? Sin.
B. Not only do we have countless Scriptures declaring our sin nature, but I can show you from experience that we have a sin nature. Children. We do not teach them to be naughty. They do it naturally. We have to teach them how to be good. Explain that if you thing we are inherently good.
C. Many times the reason we are “good” is to get something in return. This is not a good work it is an investment. Not to better someone else, but benefit you.
Galatians 6:7–8 NLT
Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.
D.
Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.
E. Picking and choosing which one of God’s laws you will follow…means you do not submit to God’s laws. You submit to your desires. Rebellion. Deciding what God is like and accepting certain things… taking love but not wrath. Taking grace but not justice, is not the God of the Bible, therefore you are worshipping a god that is not God. Idolatry. Not believing Jesus is who He clearly said he is is clearly heresy. Heaven and Hell are real and there will be a judgement and Jesus declared Hell will be a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth… and many of these false and heretical beliefs will send you there. Sin does this to us. But today I will tell you how the condemnation of sin and the power of sin is broken. Its called the Gospel. The wonderful Gospel. We all have sinned all fallen short
F. But through Jesus we can have life and life more abundantly
G. Jesus died for our sins and he was buried and he was raised on the third day
H. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance that Christ Jesus
I. Sure the truth is a wrathful and just God and we all sin and sin alot and deserve eternal condemnation. But our God is loving and gracious and sent His Son to die on the cross to bring us out of darkness and into his marvelous light.
J. The truth is we can’t fix it, but Christ can and as we long and strive to be united with Christ, it will be fixed. Fast. Our confidence is not in our efforts, but in His wonderful work. He will finish it in us. Trust in Him and Him alone.
K. He gave us the Bible… he gave us pastors and teachers to teach us the Bible. I gave up my dream to play center for the Los Angeles Lakers to be your pastor because God called me. He gave us the Lord’s table. He gave us other Christians. He gave us the church, he gave us church services, Bible studies, Sunday morning Bible studies, small groups, music and missions.
L. All to help us grow in the grace an knowledge of our Lord.
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