Summary: Examines the folly of syncretism and universalism from a biblical standpoint.

1. Title: Do It Yourself Religion

2. Text: Acts 4:12 et al

3. Audience: Villa Heights Christian Church, AM crowd., February 12, 2006, 3rd in the series “A Clear and Present Danger”

4. Objectives:

-for the people to understand the danger of trying to make God fit us rather than ourselves fit Him. And to understand the impetus this gives us for proclaiming the truth of the gospel.

-for the people to feel concern for the lost, little tolerance for false teaching, and compassion for people who have been deceived

-for the people to deliberately not accept universalist attitudes and for those who are currently lost to respond to the invitation to accept Jesus as the only Way

5. When I finish my sermon I want my audience to respond to the gospel, to take a greater urgency into our propagation of the truth, and have less tolerance of falsehood about salvation.

6. Type: topical

7. Dominant Thought: Jesus is the only way to God and the time to accept Him is right now. Period!

8. Outline:

Intro: I realize that the business of fear is what keeps some people in business. I’m intrigued by these commercials that have a new medication out for something you didn’t even know you had. But now, there’s a prescription for it, and you’re supposed to check with your doctor and see if you need it. I ran across a book this week called I’m Afraid, You’re Afraid : 448 Things to Fear and Why.

As many phonies are there are, I hope that doesn’t make you skeptical of the reality of the real threats that endanger our generation.

This morning I want us to consider the clear and present danger that comes from one basic problem, but that shows itself in 2 “isms” – one is Universalism. Universalism is the belief that ultimately, everyone goes to heaven. The basic reason that’s assumed is because God is a loving God, and a loving God wouldn’t send anyone to hell. So, everyone goes to heaven. After all, all dogs go to heaven, why not all people too, right?

The 2nd “ism” is Syncretism. Syncretism isn’t so much a belief system as it is an approach to religion. It means “a union of communities.” It’s a lot like a Mongolian BBQ. You take all the raw meat and vegetables you want, add the sauce you want, put it on the ledge, and this guy takes it and cooks it for you, so that it’s just what you wanted. Syncretism is like that. You just peruse what you like in various belief systems and take what you want. Then, you put them all together into your own, self-made religion. You see, if everyone is going to heaven anyway, then how you get there is really kind of an optional thing, isn’t it?

Both of these dangers are a reflection of one attitude: Let’s shape God to fit me and let’s do it my way. Do it yourself religion. You’ve already guessed that I’m not going to speak very well of that attitude. In fact, I’m going to do my best to show you how the Scriptures teach something quite different, and how important it is to understand that.

Ill - I’ll never forget it. We were living in Indiana, and my folks lived a few hours south of us. There was a presentation of the Nutcracker Ballet in Ft. Wayne, and Carrie really wanted to go. We decided to invite my folks along to. So, for Christmas that year, we bought the tickets and we all saw the Nutcracker. We were sitting in our seats, waiting for it to begin. My wife has this big grin on her face – she loves this kind of thing. I look over at my mom, so does she. You know, big stage, costumes, guys in leotards, all that stuff. My dad, clearly out of his element, looks over at me and says, “C’mon, son, let’s you and I go see a John Wayne movie!” He just didn’t “fit” there! So, in a family letter a week or 2 later, my dad is telling about our experience there, and he says, “Everyone should go to the ballet just as often as they can…and I have!”

I love those kinds of ironic sayings – the ones with a dot dot dot – a pregnant pause – in the middle:

• You don’t have to change the oil in your car…unless you want your engine to run!

• Ignore your teeth…they’ll go away!

• She’s as pretty as she can be…of course, most girls are!

• Yes, it’s all you can eat…and that’s all you can eat!

• Falling from the 50th storey won’t kill you…it’s the sudden stop at the bottom that does!

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