Sermons

Summary: An exposition of Colossians 2:9-10 dealing with the believer's sufficiency in Christ.

{Not a manuscript: a transcription from audio cassette}

Introduction

Well let’s take our Bibles again and turn with me to the book of Colossians. Colossians chapter 2, and believe it or not, we’re going to get through verse 10 this morning, (unless I have a heart attack or something!). Colossians chapter 2, let’s read together verses 8 through 10. The apostle Paul’s warning to the church at Colossae and to us as well:

"See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority".

Today’s Contemporary Churches: Entertaining

If you’ve ever visited London, or if you ever do visit London, you should have no problem spotting St. Paul’s Cathedral. It’s considered to be among the ten most beautiful buildings in the world and it dominates the city’s skyline. This big, venerable structure stands as a monument to its creator, astronomer and architect Sir Christopher Wren. And while St. Paul’s is his best-known achievement, there’s an interesting story connected with a lesser-known building that he also designed. Christopher Wren was given charge of designing the interior of the town hall in Windsor. This was just west of central London. And his plans called for large columns to support the high ceilings. When the construction was complete, the city fathers toured the building and expressed concern over one problem, and that was the pillars. You see, it wasn’t that they really had a problem with the pillars; but there weren’t enough of them. They wanted more pillars. So Wren had a solution, a solution that was as devilish as it was inspired. He did exactly what they wanted and he installed four new pillars and by it met their demands by doing so. Those extra pillars remain in Windsor Hall to this day. And they aren’t difficult to identify. You see, they stand out from the rest of the pillars, the original pillars. The four pillars that Wren added support no weight. In fact, they don’t even touch the ceiling. They’re fakes. Wren installed the pillars to serve one purpose, to look good. They’re an ornamental embellishment built to satisfy the eye. In terms of supporting the building, in terms of fortifying the structure, they’re about as useful as the paintings that hang on the walls.

That, my friends, describes what’s happening in many contemporary churches today in much of their worship. Lots of looking good, lots of ornamental embellishments, lots to satisfy the eye, but little substance, little true worship. This past week, Ben and Renee shared with me that they met with a couple that purchased their home out in the foothills. And they found out that this couple was looking for a church in the area. But when the discussion turned to what exactly they were looking for, they expressed that they were looking for a church where entertaining skits and music were a high priority. They came to find out they came from a church, a large church in the Chicago area, where that indeed was a very high priority.

Now that’s indicative of the church today. How do you gauge success? By numbers, how many people you can get in the door. It’s not gauged by Biblical knowledge. It’s not gauged by Biblical integrity and true growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Well, many would claim that it is; but in reality it isn’t. It’s kind of like those four ornamental pillars. It looks like it on the outside, but in reality, worthless.

As I was thinking of this this week, I thought of the prophet Jeremiah. Do you realize that if the prophet Jeremiah was to be evaluated by today’s standards, he would be considered an abject failure. He didn’t generate numbers. He wasn’t very entertaining. He simply spoke the truth.

I love this quote by John MacArthur. It’s in the bulletin today:

"Worship services in many churches today are like a merry-go-round. You drop a token in the collection box. It’s good for a ride. There’s music. There’s lots of motion up and down. The ride is carefully timed and seldom varies in length. Lots of good feelings are generated. And it is the one ride you can be sure will never be the least bit threatening or challenging. But though you spend the whole time feeling as if you’re moving forward, you get off exactly where you got on."

That is so true. It’s the one ride you can be sure will never be the least bit threatening or challenging. You spend the whole time feeling like you’re going somewhere. But when you get out, you ended in exactly the same place you started. Going to church has become like going to a theater. Maybe that’s why so many churches nowadays are held in theaters. You come to be entertained and you usually leave amused, but nothing’s really changed. You get off where you got on. Lots of bells and whistles. No substance. Now what’s the message? What’s the message in all this. And I’ll admit it’s a subliminal message. Nobody’s going to admit to it. But it is a message. And it’s a message that God’s grace really isn’t sufficient, that God’s Word really isn’t sufficient, that Jesus Christ really isn’t sufficient. You want to build a church nowadays? What do you do? You certainly don’t do what we’re doing. This is what you do. You embellish the Word of God. You embellish the grace of God with human ingenuity, with sales and marketing techniques and entertainment. You make it appealing. You draw the masses. You build a church. It’s like adding a drop of water; you have two hundred people overnight. You want to build so-called Christians up in the faith. Here’s what you do. You embellish the all-sufficiency of Jesus Christ with mysticism, experientialism, humanistic psychology, maybe a deliverance ministry or two. And that’s how you "build people up". "Whatever you do, don’t just teach and practice the Bible. Don’t rely on Christ alone. That’s archaic. That’s not cutting edge. Listen, we want to be on the cutting edge of ministry." Folks, that’s not the cutting edge of ministry, that’s the cutting edge of compromise.

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