The Crowd versus the Christ
* What words comes to your mind when you hear the term “Radical?” (I.E. drastic, thorough, sweeping, extreme, militant, fanatical, revolutionary, uncompromising)
* What are you radical about? Every person in this room has something about which you are radical. Some are radical about their families, jobs, making money, sports, hobbies, avocation, and much more. I suggest that being radical could involve ‘flags on your vehicle’ or ‘logos on your car’ stating which sports team you support. Perhaps radical is one who wears clothing which bears the name (or number) of a race car driver. The list can go on and on.
* The interesting thing is that bias what is considered radical seems to be subjective. While I suggested that flags, logos, and clothing, could be termed as radical support for a team or a person, many of us would counter, “That’s not radical, but rather, it’s just being a fan.”
* In this sense for the last 5+ years, my heart has been to challenge every one of us to become a ‘fan’ of Jesus. To do the same things for Jesus as we do our ‘sports heroes’, is to not be called fans, but fanatics. Why is that? Why is it that the church is losing her influence, that believers are losing their witness, and that the hunger for Christ is waning? To honestly look at the modern day, Americanized church, is to ask the question, “What is different about us today as opposed to those believers of the past?” I have wondered until recently.
* Dr. David Platt, Senior Pastor of the Church at Brook Hills, has written a book entitled, “RADICAL” (show cover). Within the pages of this book I have discovered some sobering “Bible” principles which cut at my heart because of the ways we have seemingly rationalized, ignored, & even dismissed some of the principles which Jesus taught & expected. If we are honest before our Lord, some of the things which the church in America today thinks are important, Jesus despises; and conversely, some of the things that Jesus thought important the church despises.
* Over the next couple of weeks, let’s take a hard look into God’s word, accept the fact that HIS BOOK contains some hard teachings, & let’s discover God’s plan for us, both individually & collectively.
* In Matthew 27, we read the sad story about Pilate, the crowd, and Jesus. The mob has gathered, Jesus is before them, & Pilate wants to release Jesus. Verse 22 gives us THE QUESTION each of us needs to face. Pilate listened to the crowd. To whom will you listen? READ
* What a startling question! “What should I do with Jesus?” That question has echoed throughout time. The crowd is still yelling, “Crucify Him”, the religious still incite crowd to get rid of Him, and the Pilates of the day are still afraid to stand for right. Through the years preachers, teachers & theologians, have all denigrated Pilate for his lack of courage and yet, like Pilate, too often we hear the ‘cry of the crowd’ instead of the call of Christ. Today, consider this question; “The Crowd or the Christ, who will I hear, listen to, & believe.”
* I ask you two questions that will become your decision point for today. 1) Will you believe Jesus? & 2) Will you obey Jesus? If we refuse to obey, then we really don’t believe. Let’s discover who we follow.
1. What the Crowd declares to be ‘optional’; Jesus declares ‘essential.’ -
a. Saved – While most in this room would say, “DUH”, the world says, “You can do it on your own; you can find God, just do your best.” Candidly, inside the American church, we discover a creeping universalism which supports this philosophy. Please hear this; you cannot attend enough, volunteer enough, work with kids enough, give enough money, sing enough, witness enough, or preach enough to earn to your way into a relationship with God the Father or into heaven. Your best is simply not good enough. The Bible teaches that we are DEAD in trespasses & sin. This means we are separated from the life of God. How about an extra snippet which Dr. Platt startled me with. God detests sin –but hear this, “HE ALSO DETESTS THE SINNER.” He hates or detests those who choose to live apart from Him & in sin. Why do I say this? Simple, the Bible. (Lev 20:23, Psalms 5:4-6, Proverbs 6:16-19, Hosea 9:15, Matthew 7:23, Matthew 25:41) This flies in the face of what the modern day crowd says. Jesus says, “You must be born again!” In fact, unless you are born again you will perish! When Peter was asked about responding to the gospel of Jesus, he responded, “Repent!” When Paul was asked, he said, “Believe.” There is no other way to know God, miss hell, & make heaven. You must be saved, saved from eternal death, eternal punishment, and eternal hell; and saved to eternal life, eternal worship, and an eternity with God. This is essential.
b. Sowing – Peter writes that “God desires that none perish” & Jesus ends His earthly ministry with the command to “Make disciples.” Just as surely as a farmer must sow seed to bring in a crop, so must we sow the good seed of the word of God that people can be saved. The secret is this; EVERY BELIEVER is to sow the seed. (after the storm)
* Jesus didn’t just tell the preacher, teacher, and/or evangelist to sow the seed, He words are; “AS YOU GO, SOW”. He knows what we forget; EVERY DAY WE SOW SEED OF SOMEKIND. Either we sow the bad seed of the flesh (seen in selfishness, unforgiveness, & other works of the darkness) OR we sow the good seed of the spirit (love, joy, peace, etc). Candidly, if we are to meet Christ’s demands of sowing the word, we must be intentional about the seed we sow! You may wonder why & your question is answered in Galatians 6:7-9. As individuals, we must be sowing the seed of God’s word. As a body of Christ, we are required to sow the seed of God’s word. This is not an option.
c. Service – The crowd today tries to tell us that ‘since salvation is a gift, we need not “do” anything. It is true the by ‘grace we are saved through faith and even that is not from US, it is GOD’S gift – not of works – so you cannot brag about it.” (Watts translation). But it is equally true that in His response to Satan’s temptation that Jesus said, “Worship & Serve the Lord God Only!” Paul reiterated the call to serve God in his letters (Romans 1:9, Colossian 3:24, 1 Thessalonians 1:9). The writer of Hebrews speaks of us service Jehovah God. Service is written into the DNA of a born-again believer. Most of us serve something or someone today. Here is the challenge; “Whom do you serve?” To be a servant means you are at the ‘beck-&-call’ of your master! At the sound of the master’s voice, your schedule, priorities, & life are all altered! There are people around you today who need a touch from our Lord, & we are His extended arms. For those who are determined to serve the world as well as the Lord, the words of Jesus are clear; “No one can serve two masters. No one can serve God & mammon (man).” And Jesus went radical on this point by saying, “He will love one & hate the other. Service is NOT an option for the Child of God. (after the storm)
2. What the Crowd declares to be ‘normal’; Jesus declares ‘unacceptable.’ – It was Vance Havner who said, “The church is so subnormal that if it ever got back to the New Testament normal it would seem to people to be abnormal.” What was Dr. Havner talking about? I’ll suggest 3;
a. Compartmentalization – This huge, rarely used word means that we have the ability to ‘separate portions of lives from the other.’ This speaks of people who only speak (or think) of God’s love, grace, gift, and mercy on Sundays. For many, this is the norm. I do my Sunday ritual & am good for the week. “I don’t want to be a fanatic.”
b. Complacency – After fencing in their ‘Christian’ life, the next step is complacency. This is simply an “I don’t care” attitude & it’s killing us.
* One group was asked, “DO you think ignorance and apathy are a problem with us?” A man on the front row said, “I don’t know & don’t care.” The don’t care attitude seems to pervade the church culture in America. We have no passion to see people trust Christ, we won’t even invite someone to a service to hear the gospel, & we’re not going to tell them. My prayer is that we are not like one man Dr. Platt told about. Keeping the man’s name anonymous, the story is related about how, in an American Church, Bro. David was sharing about the victories of helping the underprivileged people when one man said, “I think it’s great you’re going to those places. But if you ask me, I would just as soon God annihilate all those people & send them to hell.” Can you imagine speaking those words? Yet in our complacency, our actions shout those words to the lost every day.
c. Carnality – To be carnal is to be ‘of the world’ – you know, chasing the American Dream. Carnality is the opposite of spirituality. The Greek word pictures the nature of the flesh which is sensual, ungodly, evil & controlled by human nature (sinful) as opposed to the Spirit of God. The crowd tells us that in our lives & in our church families, we can work it out, figure it out, & talk it out on our own. This is carnality at its most exposed & expressed. The crowd tells us to ‘lean on our own understanding” while God says, “Lean NOT on your own.”
3. What the Crowd declares to be ‘radical’; Jesus declares ‘normal.’ – It is true that ‘radical’ is a relative concept. What some deem as radical, others deem normal. Make no mistake, Jesus raises the stakes.
a. Sold Out – Luke 9:57-62 gives a picture of Jesus’ idea of being sold out. He encountered 3 men; one whom HE called out & two who came ostensibly wanting to follow Christ. (Interestingly, Jesus never lowered His standards to keep a crowd; rather He seemed to raise His standards to keep the crowd SMALL). The crowd says, “Jesus will accept whatever you give Him while Jesus says, “All or nothing”.”
b. Reach Out – One of the great lies propagated on the church is the statement that “you are not commanded to be fruitful, just faithful.” Have you read John 15? Jesus counters our modern day excuse with a word truth. We won’t reach out until we sell out.
c. Carry Out – Just before He returned to heaven, Jesus gave us our marching orders. Ask most ‘church members’ about their church, what they look for, want, and expect; reaching lost people barely registers. Why? Lack of vision, sense of mission, & passion.
* The question of ‘will you believe Jesus’ is found in ‘will you obey Him’?