(Excerpt from the sermon)
Sermon Series: Four God So Loved
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. -2 Timothy 4:1-5
Once you go away from the truth of God, you will fall for legends and myths.
Those legends and myths will not propagate the sacredness of humanity but ultimately will work together to bring humanity to its demise. Think about it, if there's no God, then life cannot be sacred. Life becomes expendable. Nature is red in tooth and claw and we eliminate the weak so the strong will survive. But Jesus said, love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you.
Though, myths continue to grow. Now, we believe in a culture that exclaims sex is no longer sacred. That biology is irrelevant and as a result, our children are coming home, asking their parents, “Why did the teacher tell me that I could be a girl? When I'm a boy?” I thought we were supposed to follow the science. I thought biology was king yet we are hearing from parents that young girls are kissing on the playground to see if perhaps they may be lesbians, but nobody comes along that care about them enough to tell them that 82% of the transgender community seriously contemplate suicide. The suicide rate is incredible among this group of people. Where's the compassion to say, wait a minute, let's stop? Let's go back to the word. Let's go back to the truth. Let's go back to Judeo, Christian values, and stop believing these myths. However, it's not the secular world that Paul is writing to. He's writing to Timothy as a preacher of the gospel. The secular world is not the only world that embraces myths that coincide with a pre-commitment to a certain worldview. The church has been fighting off the temptation to do this from its inception. The Ephesian Christians also wanted their cake and to eat it too.
They said, “We like the gospel, but we have a pre-commitment to the flesh.” That was basically their response, “We like Jesus, but we like him on our own terms. We need something more mystical, more experiential, more fleshly. Yeah…. We are like Jesus saved by grace through faith. We love the gospel. We love the cross, but we also want something more.” One of the most remarkable temples ever built by humanity, I believe at one point it was the eighth seventh wonder of the world, is the temple to Artemis in Ephesus. They would worship Artemis & Diana and would worship through religious hysteria, formulaic magic incantations, sorcery, astrology, and sexual acts. It was the ultimate superstition of myths and mythology. Again, they would say, “We want mercy, grace, and forgiveness through the cross, but we want to engage God through the middle ground of sex and hysteria.” You have to understand that under Greek mythology, and contrary to belief, it is mythology, the idea is that when you engage in sex and the more you engage in sex, the more you go into that middle arena, the euphoria to where you become closer to God. So the Ephesians said, “We want the cross. We want forgiveness of our sins, but we want this great experience where we're reaching up to God,” but Paul said, no because Christ came down. The ability to go into the presence of God is through the sacrifice, and the bloodshed of Jesus Christ. So now, we can come before the throne of God, courageously with great boldness, but for the Ephesians, they said, “We want to experience. We want the hysteria of it. We want something that is out of this world.” So the question for today that we should apply from 2nd Timothy 4, is what does the modern church refuse to give up? What part of our culture says, we want Jesus on our terms therefore, we want to continue to do this.
Now you've read about the primary one and that is the god of sex. The sex god is the most powerful god in modern culture. So you have Christians living together before marriage, even though Genesis 2:24 says, “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife. And the two are united as one.” Marriage assumes that you leave your parents, that you’ve been living with, and then when you make the marriage commitment, the covenant, when you commit to each other emotionally, psychologically, economically, when you've made all those commitments, then you marry and then you live together. That is the word. That is the truth of the word of God. But you have plenty of people in the church that ignore it because they're more interested in the flesh than they are in the spirit and they've separated the two. In John chapter 4, Jesus has encountered a woman who has committed adultery in verse 17 “The woman replies. ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her,’...right you are when you said I have no husband for you've had five husbands. And the man you're living with now is not your husband.’ Jesus said, ‘You said this truthfully.” I've heard from people today “Well since we're living together, we're married in God's eyes.” No, you're not. Just because you're living with someone does not mean you're married in the eyes of God. Jesus said, “The man you're living with now is not your husband.” Marriage is a sacred ceremony, but even in the church, we've decided to separate what we say, “We believe spiritually and we live physically.”
We're doing the same thing that was happening through Gnosticism at the church of Ephesus and the very reason Paul writes the word to Timothy, “Preach the word.” Even when it's popular, when it's unpopular, even when it costs you something and when it doesn't cost you something. If I can be honest, I think it's time for the church to be honest with the secular world and stop catering to it. Here's the honest truth, it's not easy to follow Jesus. It's downright hard. It's not easy. In Jesus' day, you would have rabbis who would have a certain way of applying the Torah, the first five books of Moses, to everyday life. There would be considerable agreement on what the text taught, but it would be applied in various ways. So one rabbi would say to keep the Sabbath means you do this and that. Another rabbi would say, well, I see your point but I think if you're truly gonna keep the Sabbath, it should include this and that. So each rabbi would have his own particular set of rules and regulations that would be lived out of the Torah by his disciples.
This set of particular rules and regulations were called his yoke, not yolk, not the middle of an egg. The wooden harness that allows two animals to work together side by side. Yoke meant the precepts and the applications of those precepts working together in your everyday life. So that when you followed your rabbi when you walked in the dust of the rabbi, you would take the rabbi's yoke upon you. His understanding of the Torah, his biblical precepts, and how to apply them pragmatically into your life. The ultimate rabbi, Jesus Christ, the Supreme rabbi said in Matthew 11, “Take my yoke upon you. Learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest under your souls for my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” but it's still a yoke. Yeah, it's easier and it's a lot lighter than the yoke the Pharisees gave, the reams and reams of legalism on how to keep every law. It still requires coming out of the control of the Lordship of Jesus. That's the yoke. There is freedom. The truth will set you free, but there's still a yoke, which is why Jesus in Luke 9 said “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back as fit for the kingdom of God.” If you get involved in the kingdom and you realize, wait a minute, this is too hard. “I don't want to give up on these things.” “I don't wanna live by these precepts.” “I don't care if it does bring life.” “I want to be my own boss.” “I want to be the captain of my ship.” Jesus says, if you get involved in that and you turn back, you're not worthy.
You're not fit for the kingdom of God. Luke 9:23 says, “Then he said to all of them, if anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.” There's a denial of fleshly things because there's a trust in the precepts of God that he will fulfill the greatest desires of your heart in ways that are consistent with your design. Then in Luke 14, finally, verse 25 says “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus and turning to them. He said, ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes. Even their own life, such a person cannot be my disciple.’” Wait, I have to hate my mom and my dad and my brothers? No. The word in the original language refers to a lesser love. In other words, yes, you love your parents, but you love Jesus more so that when you have to choose between the two of them, you choose Jesus, and whoever does not, carry their cross.
That means you're gonna have burdens that come with being a disciple, being a follower of Jesus. So whoever wants to follow Jesus, they have to carry that cross. If not, they cannot be his disciple. Then he goes on through the rest of that passage and says, “If you're gonna build a tower, don't you count the cost. If you're gonna build a city, don't you count the cost. If you're going to war, don't you count the cost?” and finally says, “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything, you cannot be my disciples.” What does this mean? He means, unless you value me above and beyond every other thing, you cannot be my disciple. It's time we are honest with the world. It's time we tell them that it's not making Christianity palatable to everyone so that everybody can find it easy. It's not easy. There's a calling to be distinct. There is a calling to hand your flesh over to the spirit of the living God and be governed by the one who made you
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