Thesis: Faith and obedience take precedence over ritual.
1. Tonight we conclude our study of "WHO IS A CHRISTIAN?"
2. In this last lesson we want to turn to 2 Chronicles 30 and the story of Hezekiah's celebration of the Passover.
a. We will discern an important principle in this text.
b. We will apply this principle to our present situation.
I. READ 2 CHRONICLES 30 < Pausing after these verses to comment ... >
A. Verse 1--Background.
1. Days of Divided Kingdom--Israel & Judah.
a. Much hostility between two kingdoms.
b. Both had wandered far from true worship of God.
2. Hezekiah king of Judah (South) just before Israel (North) was taken into Assyrian captivity (ca. 700 B.C.)
a. Hezekiah sought to bring unity to a divided people.
b. Means: a return to the true worship of God.
B. Verses 2-4.
1. God commanded that the Passover be celebrated on the 1st month (Abib), 14th day (Lev. 23:5; Deut. 16:1).
2. Are these folks disobeying the commandment of the Lord?
a. Yes (technically).
b. However, they were following the precedent of a specifically authorized deviation from the norm (see Numbers 9:6-14).
c. Still, large numbers ate the Passover without being purified (v. 18).
C. Verses 6-9.
1. What is the point of this letter Hezekiah sends out?
2. RETURN TO THE LORD!
a. Isn't it good news that wherever we are, whatever we've done we can always return to the Lord!
b. We cannot change the past, but we can change the future if we RETURN TO THE LORD!
D. Verses 18-20.
1. This is incredible considering:
a. This is the God who zapped Nadab & Abihu (Lev. 10).
b. This is the God who zapped Uzzah (2 Samuel 6).
2. Why did he not zap these folks? < Could it be that their hearts were right? >
3. READ THE REST OF THE CHAPTER.
a. Unprecedented joyous celebration of Passover.
b. Even celebrated it another 7 days (v. 23)--no authorization for this in Law of Moses. Were they sinning?
II. THE PRINCIPLE: FAITH & OBEDIENCE TAKES PRECEDENCE OVER RITUAL.
A. The principle explained.
1. Whenever there is a conflict between faith & obedience and ritual (doing the right things at the right time in the right way), FAITH ALWAYS WINS OUT! Every time.
a. 99% of the time there is not going to be a conflict.
b. Doing the right things at the right time in the right way is part & parcel of what it means to be faithful and obedient.
c. However, when the two do conflict or when one of the two elements is missing, there is no question in Scripture about which is the most important.
2. The precedence of faith & obedience over ritual.
a. Cain & Abel--performed the same ritual--Cain's was not offered in faith (Heb. 11:4).
b. Samuel to Saul in 1 Samuel 15:22--"To obey is better than sacrifice ..."
c. Matt. 12--Jesus's disciples eating grain on the Sabbath.
1) Jesus defended their actions, citing a story about David.
2) Quoted Hosea 6:6--"I desire mercy, not sacrifice."
B. The principle applied.
1. There are a lot of people who have put their faith in Jesus who may not have performed the ritual of baptism in the right way or at the right time. What do we have to say to those folks?
a. Baptized Believers: To those immersed with a simple faith in Jesus but imperfect understanding of baptism:
1) Mark 16:16--belief & baptism essential; belief in what? "the gospel" (Mk. 16:15).
2) Baptism, received in faith, is sufficient.
3) Already done deal--like eating the Passover without being ritually pure--"May the good Lord pardon all
who sets his heart on seeking God!"
b. Unbaptized Believers: Get baptized!
1) Ideally baptism is received when you first believe.
2) It still needs to be done! It is not an option!
2. God takes people where they are at. We need to also.
a. God did not tell Hezekiah that his technically incorrect obedience was unacceptable and that he would have to wait
till next year and start all over.
b. We have no authority to invalidate a believer's prior experience--only to take them where they are at and "explain the way of the Lord more adequately to them" (Acts 18:26).
1. What I believe (maybe you believe this also):
a. Baptism is by immersion, not sprinkling or pouring.
b. Baptism is for adults, not children or dead people.
c. Baptism is a part of God's will for saving sinners.
d. When a believer is baptized in obedience to the Lord's will, God forgives his sins (even though he may not know that his sins are forgiven or the Holy Spirit is given at that time).