INTRO.- ILL.- A little boy told his mother one day that he was 7 feet tall. She questioned him, saying, "You know better than that! You shouldn’t fib!" He said, "I am 7 feet tall because I just measured myself with this little ruler that I made!"
Any time we measure ourselves with our own little rulers we will be taller and better than we really are!
Sometimes in life we may imagine ourselves as being better than we really are! BUT BY WHOSE STANDARD? Generally, it’s our own standard. Depending on the day, in our book, by our own standard or rule we can look pretty good! But if we had a Judge Judy or perhaps a Simon Cowell of American Idol fame doing the judging none of us would fair so well!
ILL.- A man named Stephen Bilynskyj 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. Bilynskyj 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.
Bilynskyj, 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, Bilynskyj says, from the old as well as young, he gets the same answer: Choosing one’s faith is more like choosing a favorite song. WRONG!
What does this say about what most people think in regard to proper doctrine or teaching? It means that doctrine means very little to them. It’s not what is right or what the Word of God says that is important to most people, it’s just what is important to me.
In other words, I am my own judge about doctrine or teaching or what is right and what is wrong in life. AND THAT’S WRONG! We are not God! We don’t know everything. We don’t see all the sin and evil in this world. God is all-holy, completely holy, and He alone knows what is truly right and wrong, good or evil. And that’s a matter of doctrine or teaching. And His will should be our will in life.
PROP. - In this message, we need to consider two areas: 1- Whom we believe 2- What we believe
I. WHOM WE BELIEVE
I John 4:1-3 "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world."
Don’t believe every spirit or every person who comes along in life because there are many false prophets, false preachers, and false teachers in life! They could even be in your own backyard!
ILL.- A small boy told a Sunday school teacher: "When you die, God takes care of you like your parents did when you were alive — only God doesn’t yell at you all the time."
Someone said: "Don’t try to make children grow up to be like you, or they may do it."
Children are interesting little creatures. We adults were one once upon a time. And much of what we are today is a result of the people around us.
Whom do you believe in life? Whose words do you trust? Mom and dad? Hopefully, yes, until proven otherwise. We all were raised in homes that we thought were correct until we learned some things differently.
ILL.- For example, my dad smoked all his life. I didn’t know until I was older that smoking was bad for a person other than when I heard him coughing. I thought that didn’t sound right. But a little child knows no different at first. Dad also cussed and sometimes used the Lord’s name in vain. And of course, I didn’t know that was wrong until I started attending Sunday school at the First Baptist Church and learned that it was wrong.
Most of us start out in life thinking that our parents are doing things right and teaching us to do right. And blessed were you if you were raised in a Christian home where your mom and dad took you to Sunday School and church and tried to teach you about the Christian life.
And what about school teachers? Some of them were very good.
ILL.- Take our Miss Billie Van Horn, for example. I’m sure that because of her age and the era in which she lived and taught that she did right and taught right. In fact, I would bet that she was a tough teacher. She told me one time about a boy than ran away from her class and climbed up a tree. And she went after him! Wow! What a teacher!
Thank God for Christian school teachers who go the extra mile to help their students! What about your boss at work? Again, some of them you might believe or could believe.
ILL.- My first boss, Paul Nichols, was the Foodtown Grocery store manager in Webb City, MO. He knew his business, was a good manager, had a great family and was the son of a preacher. Whatever he taught me about life in the grocery business was right on. One day, however, I saw him get very angry. He came to me in the aisle where I was stocking shelves and said, "Follow me!" And I could tell he was angry about something and I was hoping it wasn’t me.
He took me to the back room where he had a kid whom he had caught shoplifting and he wanted me to witness what he had to say to that boy. And wow, did he ever let that kid have it! With both barrels, he warned him never to do that again. In fact, I think he told the kid never to come back in his store again.
What did my boss teach me that day? He taught me that it was wrong to steal and that we didn’t put up with shoplifters, regardless of their age. Was he right? Yes, I would say so.
What about close friends while in school? Were they "good" friends or the kind that would drag you down? I know that there some kids that mom and dad didn’t want to run with.
And what about your Sunday school teacher? Hopefully, yes. Preacher? Yes. I sure had a great SS Superintendent when I was a kid. Her name was Nola Anderson. I also had Mr. Gentry as my SS teacher and he was also my Driver’s Ed teacher in high school. What a great guy and example he was!
ILL.- I mentioned recently that the reason my son-in-law, Chris Santasiere, is in the ministry today because the good, positive influence of both his youth minister and his preacher in Virginia Beach, VA. YES, SOME CAN BE TRUSTED!
But some teachers/preachers can’t be trusted.
ILL.- There is the preacher named De Jesus from Puerto Rico. In the eyes of his flock, Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda is, in fact, the second coming of Christ. As the head of the Growing in Grace International Ministry, he presides over a sprawling organization that includes more than 300 congregations in two dozen countries, from Argentina to Australia. At least, a part of his doctrine is that under a new covenant with God, there is no sin and no Satan, and people are predestined to be saved.
Several years ago at Growing in Grace’s world convention in Venezuela, he declared himself Christ. And recently, he called himself the Antichrist and revealed a "666" tattooed on his forearm. His explanation: that, as the second coming of Christ, he rejects the continued worship of Jesus of Nazareth.
And most of us don’t have to worry about being taken captive by such false teaching and false teachers but some are!
ILL.- In Ellen DeGeneres’ stand-up comedy act several years ago, she included a joke about getting to heaven and finding that God is a woman named Oprah.
DO YOU BUY THIS? No, but millions of people do!
I John 4:1 "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world."
II. WHAT WE BELIEVE
What do you believe? Or what do you believe in?
ILL.- An American scientist once visited the offices of the great Nobel-prize-winning physicist, Niels Bohr, in Copenhagen. He was amazed to find that over Bohr’s desk was a horseshoe, securely nailed to the wall, with the open end up in the approved manner (so it would catch the good luck and not let it spill out).
The American said with a nervous laugh, "Surely you don’t believe the horseshoe will bring you good luck, do you, Professor Bohr? After all, as a scientist -- " Bohr chuckled, "I believe no such thing, my good friend. Not at all. I am scarcely likely to believe in such foolish nonsense. However, I am told that a horseshoe will bring you good luck whether you believe in it or not."
This professor Bohr was saying, "I don’t believe this nonsense about this horseshoe but I guess there is still a possibility." That’s nonsense!
What you believe about horseshoes means little in life. Or a Rabbit’s foot. But what you believe many other things can make a difference in your life. WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE BELIEVE IN? If a person isn’t raised to believe in the Word of God what do they believe in? Anything and everything.
ILL.- For example, I read about a girl named Sheila. She said, "I believe in God. I am not a religious fanatic. I can’t remember the last time I went to church. My faith has carried me a long way. It’s Sheilaism. Just my own little voice. It’s just try to love yourself and be gentle with yourself." And as one preacher said: This is fast becoming the dominant religion of America: the worship of self.
What are your basic beliefs about life? And where did you get them? Hopefully, from the Word of God.
II Tim. 3:13-17 "While evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
I Tim. 4:15-16 "Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely..."
Watch your doctrine closely? Do these words apply to preachers only or to all of us who believe in and follow Christ? I think they apply to us all.
I Tim. 6:3-4 "If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing."
II Tim. 4:2-4 "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths."
In our Acts 18 text, Apollos taught accurately about Jesus but he knew only about John’s baptism. So Priscilla and Aquila invited him into their home and did what? THEY EXPLAINED THE WAY OF GOD MORE ACCURATELY (or more adequately) TO HIM.
What was wrong with knowing only about John’s baptism? His baptism was no longer in effect. Apollos’ knowledge of baptism needed to be updated. He needed to be taught about the baptism of the Great Commission, which is what? Baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We don’t baptize people today with John’s baptism but rather in the name of the Godhead or in the name of Christ.
I think when it comes to baptism and many other subjects some people need to be taught the way of God more accurately!
ILL.- A Presbyterian and a Baptist minister were discussing baptism. After a beautiful dissertation on the subject by the Baptist minister, the Presbyterian minister asked if the Baptist considered a person baptized if he was immersed in water up to his chin. “No,” said the Baptist.
“Is he considered baptized if he is immersed up to his nose?” asked the Presbyterian. Again the Baptist’s answer was “No.”
“Well, if you immerse him up to his eyebrows do you consider him baptized?” queried the Presbyterian. “You don’t seem to understand,” said the Baptist. “He must be immersed completely in water—until his head is covered.” “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you all along,” said the Presbyterian, “it’s only a little water on the top of the head that counts.”
No, this is not true. Not according to scripture. And this is where some people like Apollos need to be taught the way of God more accurately. Bible baptism has always been immersion! That’s what the original Greek word means: to dip, plunge or immerse. And according to Romans 6:3-4 and Colossians 2:11-12 we are buried with Christ in baptism. The picture of baptism in scripture is very clear! And we need to teach it!
Of course, some people never seem to get it or else they want to deny the truth of scripture.
ILL.- I am reminded the story about the four preachers who were discussing matters of faith and one of the preachers said, "I know that’s what the Bible says but that’s not what it means." A little girl standing nearby said, "Sir, if Jesus and His apostles didn’t know what they wanted to say, how did you find out?"
Do we dare question the Word of the living God? Some do and some who should know better question it!
What it boils down to is this: There can be a big difference in our thinking and doing and the doctrine of God! Our thinking and doing are not necessarily true or accurate UNLESS they line up with the Word of God!
Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith’s door
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime
Then looking in, I saw upon the floor
Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.
"How many anvils have you had," said I,
"To wear and batter all those hammers so?"
"Just one," said he, and then with twinkling eye,
"The anvil wears the hammers out, you know."
And so, thought I, the anvil of God’s Word,
For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
Yet though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed....the hammers gone.
Mark 13:31 Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away but my words will never pass away."