Thesis: Faith and obedience take precedence over ritual.
1. Tonight we conclude our study of "WHO IS A CHRISTIAN?"
a. We will discern an important principle in this text.
b. We will apply this principle to our present situation.
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).
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).
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).
c. Matt. 12--Jesus's disciples eating grain on the Sabbath.
1) Jesus defended their actions, citing a story about David.
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?