Summary: This is part of a series I did on topics my congregation requested. Several of these messages are two parts.
YOU ASKED FOR IT
STRAIGHT LIVING IN A CROKKED WORLD
Sunday May 28, 2006
Scripture Reference: 1 Thessalonians 5:23
A. Today we are going to look at the subject of Holiness. When I began this series and I spoke on the topic of suffering I said that I felt like I was standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon with a teaspoon endeavoring to fill it in. It seemed like a monumental task to share with you all that needed to be said on the topic of suffering in just one sermon and I couldn’t do it. Well if that was the Grand Canyon that I was trying to fill in I am not sure what symbolism to use today for the task at hand today. God is Holy and He calls us to be holy. We are considered denominationally to be a “Holiness” church. What is this Holiness that God calls us to? How do we receive it and what can we expect its impact to be upon our lives? Those are some of the questions I hope to be able to answer for you in this sermon today and then again next week.
1. When we say that God is Holy what we are saying is that God is “Wholly Other”. It means that what God is, is greater than anything our minds could possibly imagine. Do you remember back in Exodus 33:23 when Moses asked to see the face of God? God told him that he could not see his face because no one could look on the face of God and live. Why was that? It is because what God is is so overwhelming to us that we would die. It is also a reminder to us of the fact that what does not measure up to the holiness of God cannot survive in His presence. The holiness of God will always consume sin. *That is a very important truth for you to take hold of today but unfortunately I cannot spend much time there. Just remember that sin cannot survive in the presence of God. Either the sin will be destroyed or the sin will leave the presence of God so that it does not experience the condemnation it deserves.
2. Here is the great dilemma that we as human beings face. God calls us to be holy and yet His holiness is beyond anything we could ever understand so how can we follow His command to be something that seems utterly impossible for us?
B. George Barna a well known Christian researcher wrote a book called “Moral and Spiritual Anarchy”. In this book he said that millions of people’s faith activity is no longer affected by parameters such as church loyalty, respect for clergy, acceptance of absolutes, tolerance of Christianity, reverence for God, a desire to strive for personal holiness, sensitivity to theological heresy, and appreciation for tradition. The rejection of these elements has created a void that has been filled by the customized spirituality that lacks biblical moorings.”
1. When I read those words I was struck by the phrase, “Customized Spirituality”. Because I think Barna is correct, I know that what I am about to say will not necessarily be accepted but as a pastor the bible considers me to be God’s prophet. Not in the sense that Old Testament prophets foretold what was to come but that as a modern prophet I am called to “forth tell”. To proclaim to you without apology the whole truth of God’s word. So in that manner I will declare to you today that I see this “Customized Spirituality” as not only the truth but also what could be the most deadly disease the modern church faces today. We hear a lot of talk about the bird flu and people are worried about what may happen if it mutates and it spreads between humans. Well I can already tell you that the disease of “customized spirituality” is already spreading rapidly among the churches today. We are customizing our faith because we are refusing to accept the claims of the Bible as absolute truth for our lives. If we feel that what the bible tells us interferes with how we want to live or if it interferes with us getting the things we want or the things we want to do then we are rejecting those parts of the Bible and therefore we are customizing our faith.
2. Last week I shared with you a message on gambling. I am sure that some of you did not like what I had to say. My response to you is, “OK you can chose to disagree with me but what I need you to do it show me in the Bible where I am wrong in what I preached.” Don’t tell me what you “feel” or what you “think”. Show me where Jesus ever laid that option out for people! Show me where Jesus asked people to share their thoughts or opinions on what he preached.