Summary: The final sermon in the Kindred United Series, this sermon shows the difference between "religion" and "relationship", and shows how we should do more than just sit in a pew on Sunday; we should serve others in need, and do so in love.
Beyond The Church Walls--Just For The Religious
This week, we wrap up the teaching series "Kindred United". This series, nine messages in all, ended up going much longer than I had expected. We have learned, first of all, that the overarching thought of "loving God, loving others" starts with God and if we love God as we should--being in first place--that loving others will follow.
Since then, we have discussed how, after loving God in first position, we are to love our families (spouse first, then children including the discipline of children), then the church brethren, then our "neighbors", which includes all others. We also saw how God puts us in places to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others (some folks we know, others we don't) via "divine appointments". We saw how God trains us, then uses us to accomplish His will in even the craziest circumstances.
Today, we are going to wrap up this series by looking at "the religious". Folks, there are going to be a lot of religious people in Hell. That may shock you, but it shouldn't.
There are three categories of "religious" people, if you think about it. There are the religions of the world such as Islam, Hare Krishna, Buddhists, Hindu and so, and that is pretty much a no brainer to understand as they are devout in their belief but Jesus is not included. The second are those that have a quasi-Christian faith, that looks at face value that they are Christian (believe in 'Jesus", do good works, have similar terminology, etc) but have flawed views of Jesus (as a mere man or created being) or flawed views of grace and the "path to heaven" being one of works or merit.
The last category is, well, quite scary. You will find them in the pews of churches across the globe, churches that are often orthodox in their beliefs. They attend church every Sunday, and may even attend Bible study and other church events. They know the lingo, they know a whole lot about Christianity but there is a key difference, which we will study this week.
Before we get started this week, I have a question for you. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah in the book of Genesis because of their wickedness. What was that wickedness? Sexual perversion, including homosexuality as it's most prominent? That would be the common answer, but I can tell you that while that was perhaps the most visible sin seen in the Genesis account, Ezekiel tells us another story--it was more than just sexual immorality
Talk The Talk, Walk The Walk
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22
Lip service. It's something we hear a whole lot of in our culture. As a pastor, I have heard a ton of it in the past 15 years in my pastorate. People are long on words, but short on works. They will not "put their money where their mouths are", or even "put their elbow grease where their mouths are". James obviously saw this, and was inspired by God to write about it. Today's modern church is filled with a lot of talk and little work.
"But be doers of the word" carries the thought of continual action. In other words, when God tells us to do something, we don't just do it once then stop; we start "doing" and "keep on doing". In fact, it also carries this thought: "but keep on becoming" (Robertson's Word Pictures). In other words, we are to keep on becoming whom we are supposed to be in Christ, and also keep on becoming a person of works in Christ. While we are not saved by works, our faith with works proves we are saved (...faith without works is dead, James 2:20b). Jesus Christ died on the cross not to just save you from hell and damnation forever, but also to begin a process of saving you from your sins and out of the world system. We follow the word, the Holy Scriptures.
"And not hearers only". Here's a question for you: when you hear a sermon on Sunday, what do you do with it afterward? Do you take the time to go over it a few times, ponder it, read the Scriptures mentioned again? Really, you don't have an excuse, if you think about it; in your hands every week you are given this very devotional which is the entire message broken down in to bite size pieces you can take a few minutes each day to review. But further, do you apply what is said to your life both here and in our Bible studies? Again, Jesus gave of Himself not to just save you from Hell but to save you from the world system.