11th February 2024

The Radical Authority of Jesus

Passage: Mark 1:22; Matthew 7:28-29, 5:21
Service Type:

Automatically Generated Transcript

If you were listening in the announcements to the Bible reading, you might have noticed the large collection of verses in Matthew 5, which is where we're up to in the Beatitudes, and you may be fearing that that's going to take a long time to go through the various, there's six, I think, separate little sections. But can I set you at rest that my aim this morning is not so much to go through the content of all six, but it is rather to see something about Jesus' method of delivery, and about the issue of authority, whether or not there's a place for tradition. And so to talk this morning about whether you're traditional, whether you're a conservative, whether you're someone who's a radical, it's a very difficult thing when you're growing up and people consider you a radical. They used to of me and David Andrews and my little team. Getting up. Getting around. And then when I went overseas to a university that was very conservative, they thought I was a charismatic and told me that I couldn't do my doctorate there, but I had to go somewhere else because they were meant to be people who were conservative and I didn't fit. And later on, when I tried going to another place to start my doctoral work, and they were too liberal, meaning they didn't believe the Bible very much, I knew I couldn't. I couldn't get on in that place, because they saw me as too conservative. So I rang up the original seminary and they said, come on down, join us, we'll take you through the admission after the facts. We don't mind letting in charismatics now, they said. And then I come here to Australia again, and I'm teaching at the college, and there's students and there are churches who say, oh, Jim's got the theology spot, but we're charismatics and we don't like what he's saying. So this business of whether you're traditional, whether you're conservative, you've got to be cautious of those terms, because it depends on who's looking, and it depends upon the measuring sticks that they're using and exactly what they mean. Because in fact, I think there's something about being non-conservative, which should mean that you're willing to think again. And there's something about being someone who is conservative that means that you're never going to stray from what God says. And exactly where is the line of authority, and what it means to read the scriptures and trust them, and be a biblical person, is at stake on this issue of understanding about traditionalism. And where that springs from, and whether or not we should not be traditional, but should always be radical people to think again, in order to go back to see what the Bible says. All right, I hope I haven't confused... I hope I haven't confused you before we start. But we're talking here about the way that Jesus did not get accepted amongst those of his audience who had the role in Jewish society to keep people on the straight and narrow. And you may not know that you might say, oh, Jim, you're talking about the Pharisees. Do you know that the Pharisees themselves, a hundred years before the coming of Christ, the group that were to become the Pharisees, they led a bit of a... a rebellion or political fight against the people who ran the temple, that is, the people who were the priests. And there was a squabble as to who was to be the official interpreters of Judaism. And the Pharisees' aim, this will surprise you, was to democratize the Jewish religion. But I'm meaning by the word democratize that they wanted to give it back to the people and let anybody who's read the law be able to be an authority on it. That meant, of course, that you had to study the law to be such an authority, but they saw themselves and they took on very often not just the name of Pharisees, but also scribes, depending on what part of looking after the law, the writing it down, or the one of actually teaching it. But they got known in their teaching side as rabbis, R-A-B-B-I-S. Jesus himself often got called rabbi, which was because people saw him in the role of being a teacher. And so the question at stake here is that when Jesus was getting around teaching, immediately he came up against the interpretations of those who had set themselves up, though they had no right like the people who worked the temple did, like the high priest and all, but they had no claim other than that they had the law. And so they were always people who saw, their role as defending the truth of the law. But the truth of the matter is that the moment you get people interpreting, as happens in our modern theological circles, then they're interpreting their reading of whatever it is that they're talking about. And the question of traditionalism comes from when you have a bent or you have a disposition to come out with the interpretation that has been, we use the word traditionally, been the case. So traditionalism, traditional actually means looking back to something that's been held as precious in the interpretation and not willing to be different from what that has always been. So ask yourself the question this morning, are you a traditionalist? Or are you a radical? In which generation is that true of you? And what about your attitude to the interpretation of the scriptures? For very often, that which makes the biggest difference to where we stand in our understanding and behaviour as Christians is not just we say we got it from the Bible, but it might be because there is a tradition that we've been brought up in, nurtured in, and never saw it any differently until we were confronted by suddenly a group of Christian people who thought differently or did things differently. I can remember going through the stage, so brought up always in Baptist circles, that what it was to have a proper worship service, meant that you either sat down or you stood up. And then someone took me to an Anglican service and I remember having a heart saying, what a stupid lot of bunch this is. They kneel down and jabber a bit and they stand up and then they sit down and you're not sure what's happening next and down you go. And I thought that was quite a ridiculous way to go to church. But really it was just the traditions I was used to and then in the church I was attending with my parents, it was a sort of common conversation, a common practice that when you got in there you'd bow your head and pray and ask the Lord to give you wisdom and understanding of what would happen and help you to be reverent. It was actually a very good idea. But the way it was treated was, if you weren't seen as bowing your head and praying for God to bless you at the church and then look up, smile and wave at people. If you didn't do that, you looked at someone who sort of wasn't prepared for worship. That actually was giving authority to a tradition, that might have been a good one but it still was a tradition that was being rested in as to how you worship and when you went to another type of denomination how you thought uncomfortable doing what they did. All of us are people who by dint of our humanity cannot escape the fact that you have a traditional background of some sort and it's affected you more than you realise. And one of the things that I think the Scriptures bring to bear on us is to be able to look at what we do and think again as to whether you've got the Spirit of Christ. And so we're going through some of these passages but what we're doing is not so much to get into the content of those little snippets, but to look at how people reacted to Jesus. And so the first one we'll have will be from Mark, Mark's Gospel. And that is, if you put that one up, Mark 1. After Jesus had finished teaching, now I have told you earlier that it's mainly Matthew and Luke that you get the Beatitudes in, but it's not that Mark doesn't have some snippets. This is one of them. After Jesus has been teaching and it's just some of the various spots where he's teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, it's just not worded as the Sermon on the Mount. It says, And they were astonished at his teaching for he taught them as one who had authority. The Greek word for that authority is exousia. And it has a very special application by the Pharisees, exousia, and not as the scribes. The scribes are the Pharisees, as I told you a hundred years previously, they had wrestled the lead for Judaism away from the people in the temple to be these ones, anybody who could quote the law. And then there rose up these interpreters of the law and there were different styles of it who used to argue backwards and forwards and one type were conservative and the other type were more wanting to think again. And that's what was going on amongst the scribes and they called themselves rabbis as they got around as teachers. Well, Jesus was different from them. And what's the difference is that not like them, the scribes, because the way they cast their teaching was that rabbi so-and-so says this and rabbi so-and-so, another one, says that. And the scriptures say this. This one has some other verses to talk from or maybe a reinterpretation of the ones the other ones interpreted. And it was happening back then to them just the same as it happens to us and it's really amazing in Christian circles when you listen to people telling you what God says in the Bible that you have to be aware you're getting there from their interpretation. Now, often we quote the different places and try and back up our interpretation but Jesus was quite unique and he shocked his audiences. It says he taught them as one who had authority. If you read a non-conservative commentary that'll describe that Jesus' authority was one where he could accept what was written or he could deny what was written. I disagree with that commentary but here we go. Because I think Jesus always took to heart and saw himself as a conservative but what he was a conservative to was the actual meaning of the verses and he didn't lay on top of them an extra meaning or a divergent meaning. And Jesus certainly had authority and where that's expressed to the audiences who are listening to him is that the scribes all be saying oh but so-and-so says and the other one says and they use a phrase you know, it has been said. When they say it has been said it means the general traditional sayings are all there and we're telling you something from a vast well of wisdom that we all know is true. Now it's really interesting that Jesus didn't say anything. The Old Testament prophets often said thus saith the Lord but what did Jesus say? I say unto you. And actually he was doing something more dramatic than we realize. I've often seen the little words verily, verily that's the King James verily, verily I say unto you or a more up-to-date version truly, truly just the same meaning I say unto you. But Jesus is assuming that he has the authority to be the absolute interpreter of those scriptures. So he is laying on top of them laying himself down as the chief interpreter of the scriptures indeed the scriptures themselves teach that it's Jesus who stands behind the very writing of the scriptures. He's the author behind the scenes through the Holy Spirit he's the one and it's his word. And when we talk about the word of God we can mean the scriptures but we also mean that the ultimate expression of the word of God is well we'll turn to our final verse if we can I'm going to go this way but the verse I had for the last one is Hebrews and in Hebrews chapter 1 it dramatizes how there have been these various authorities down through the years long ago I'm going to get to the long ago in a minute but long ago and many times and many ways God spoke to our fathers by the prophets but in these last days we're in the last days now ever since Jesus came by the way in these last days he's spoken to us by his son whom he appointed heir of all things through whom also he created the worlds the one who started it all through whom the world sprang into existence is the one who when he speaks it is God's final saying in these last days he's spoken to us by his son and the speaking of God through his son is the final interpreter of all things. Now that's the verse I had for my final verse today we'll go back and see that Mark's statement about Jesus having authority is backed up if we go to Matthew you'll find the same thing is the case Matthew 7 28 to 29 when Jesus had finished these sayings now these are some of the core ones to do with the Sermon on the Mount when he finished these sayings the crowds were astonished at his teaching for he was teaching them as one who had authority not as the scribes Pharisees the ones who were busy scribbling and writing down were more scribes and the ones who debated might get called rabbis as they travelled around but they're the same group of people basically but when they taught they had no authority meaning it was this idea and that idea and we think this and there's nothing worse than when you go to church and all you get is some person's version of it I find it very hard going on holidays and go to another church if the person gives me their opinions instead of what the Bible says because they're not understanding something and that is that authority comes from Jesus and until the preacher has been on his knees and has discovered what the scriptures wanted to be said by the Lord Jesus then there is no authority but if you often wonder why is it some places you go and it's all wishy-washy and there's no authority it's because they haven't understood it they haven't understood that Jesus is the only one who has the ultimate authority that when he speaks he doesn't need to say thus saith the Lord he just speaks and it has that authority one of the notions one of the things about the little word exousia that means authority it means it comes with its own proof it's a self-fulfilling statement when Jesus speaks to you it's something that happens that you come across when you're involved with people coming to Christ and evangelism that every now and then when you ask them why did you come forward they said while that meeting was on or they might say while that preacher was going they said God spoke to me and they explain themselves that they've been running away from God or they've been unknowing about God they came to a meeting out of the blue and God spoke to them there is something about the authority of Jesus that when he turns up you know you're listening to something more than just a human preacher we preachers have to know this because sometimes we get caught out not getting the word of the Lord and then we're barren and dry a young man in the church in Sydney sat in front of a group of widows they were our merry widows lost their husbands but they loved the Lord and met together they used to pray for everybody including all the young people and he came to church and sat in front of them then when the invitation was given at the end I think it was an evening service he responded and I got to counsel him out in the vestry and when I asked him why did you come forward he says I heard a voice behind me and it said young man go forward and he came forward and he came to Christ God led him he eventually went off to theological college but I said oh he's sitting in front of those widows they'd be busy again so I went to see them so I went to see them did you whisper to him that he had to go forward because they were really they loved to help people and they were always trying to help God as well and they said no we didn't say a word how is it that there are times when you come to church I've had this happen that doesn't happen every time but every now and then you go sometimes you decide to go as I did when I was worried about Michelle in West Australia and we were taking on all these different places to go most of whom gave us a little bit of money but we were desperately poor sometimes I had no money to even help her go and get some women's stuff that she would need and it was a difficult thing to not have that much money and I was praying about leaving West Australia and going across to South Australia to find a better scenario where our family would be able to get by and so I was praying about it and wanting to know what does God want me to do so what I said to the Lord I said Lord I need you to tell me and I'll tell you what I'll do Lord I don't know that the Lord likes us to test him it depends on whether your attitude is I guess but I said Lord I'm going to go to the worst Baptist church I know the one that's usually in the city where not the same as our in the city one that's pretty good but the one that's in the city where they're very formal and usually more liberal than me less conservative who want the more recent traditions rather than the original Bible and I'll go where I don't expect to hear a sermon from the Bible but I want you to speak to me through it and I went to that particular church and the fellow who gave the message gave the very best exposition about God's leading and I've actually got it as one of my sermons he did so well I've got that in my quiver as well and God spoke to me and it was very clear it was to go so I packed up the station wagon and I went across to South Australia and one thing led to another what led us to the church at St Mary's where we ended up and God had spoken God doesn't offer to necessarily speak every time you want him to but it is a feature of Christianity that he is the God who speaks and Jesus is the ultimate authority and when you heard from Jesus he comes with that authority you're like the dog who's hearing his master's voice you know that little thing on those radio sets back in the old days there used to be radio sets with his master's voice and it had about the idea was that just as an animal knows the master's voice so we the humans know the voice of God when it comes or when we the Christians who've come to know Christ as saviour and he speaks you don't need anybody to tell you it's Jesus and there is nothing more fantastic than having a Christian life where you place as the highest command for you what Jesus tells you to do and if he chooses to say nothing which is his prerogative then you'll do the best to look up principles in the scriptures and you'll get advice from godly people but nonetheless you never put anything above the word of Jesus though it's quite possible in your humanity you can imagine it and sometimes you have to test and see was that really Jesus but when he speaks you generally know it because of the authority the intrinsic spiritual authority with which the word of Christ comes and when Jesus was here on earth this one who is in the last way that God has spoken to us this one called the word because he is the ultimate expression of the eternal God he's the one whose very person has the dynamic and authority that when Jesus speaks the whole earth trembles when Jesus comes again at the end of the age and he announces the judgement there won't be anybody who can hide behind the rocks hide away from him we'll all be called into account because Jesus is the ultimate accountability that we face and he speaks and the whole world trembles because he's Jesus and when he taught them his teaching as gentle and as loving as Jesus was nonetheless came with that obvious self-fulfilling authority or self-evidencing authority do you know that Jesus? some people in the middle of their Christian lives and I'm inverted commering their Christian lives because at the middle time they say there are people who've woken up to the fact that it hasn't really been yet a Christian life because it's been about Jesus it's been studying Jesus it's been following his ways it's been having something on your wrist what did Jesus do? nothing wrong with that good thing, yes but if that's all it is if you don't know what I'm talking about that when Jesus speaks you know his voice because you're his sheep my sheep know my voice says Jesus they go in and out of the safety of the collective that he has he makes himself the door but he lets people in and out we've got to the stage where our cat's like that because we used to stop him getting out because he wanted to go over the roof and down the street and now we've been training him and he knows he's not to do that though he still tries every now and then but he'll come and meow at the door and we let him in he has a bit more bite to eat then he comes back he looks up with that sad forlorn face and meows again we let him out now we can let him out we bring him in we let him out because he's been trained and Kieran can go outside when he's been outside and call him and he'll come trotting over and come in then he'll come trotting over and he'll let him in it's because there's something even in the animal world where they know the master's voice and Jesus used that as an illustration about sheep they know the master's voice and he can let them in and let them out there's something about you and Jesus my sheep know my voice said Jesus about his real sheep do you know his voice? or are you just living a religion? or is it that you need to seek Jesus and say and say, Jesus, I don't know what it is these people are talking about, but I want to be one of your sheep that knows your voice. It's one of the most beautiful things to know that the Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. That's Jesus and the sheep that belong to him. And being Christianity is having come to the place of recognising the need that he really should be your shepherd. And every now and then there's someone who's always assumed that they knew the shepherd, but they were following a good religion. And then Jesus speaks to them. And they come into a relationship with him that's prefaced, is based on, is founded in, founded on the fact that his voice has come to them. His voice has come. They hear his voice. As Jesus spoke about it, well, the scribes didn't hear his voice. And they contended with him and tried to argue with him. But the people recognised, even if they hadn't yet responded, but they recognised the authority with which he spoke. Now we'll go on to another verse. And I want to talk about tradition. So perhaps we should go to Matthew 5. I think it's the third one I gave you. Matthew 5. Now, this is the passage that has a whole lot of verses. I'm not wanting to take us through the content here, because it's about things like anger, about marriage, about divorce. It's about lust. Anyway, there are a lot of things like this. And we're not getting, I can't keep you here that long. But just the opening statement, you heard that it was said to those of old. Now, I discovered something exciting during the week looking up this. The word of old is tus. It's in the Greek language. It means the ancient ones. And it's tus akeous. And if you have a, don't spell it exactly the English way we translate the Greek words, change a letter here and there, you'll get akeous. With a u in it. And guess which group of people or group of things use that word akeous for ancient. In fact, they call it ancient legends. Put your hand up if you know anything about ancient legends. Isn't there anybody here who's interested in Pokemon? Because Pokemon have this category of really strong and authentic, authoritative little creatures, whatever they are, called akeous. And their legendary, powerful, the most powerful one is called akeous. And it's in that game. I did write down somewhere here that there's something like 4.7 million copies of the game Pokemon which has, you know, Pikachu and then other ones. And they're all varying points of authority. But the, the ones that have the most authority, akeous is one of them. Well, what do they call these things? Well, first of all, they call them ancient legends. And akeous is an ancient legend. Now, I always never fully understood the word legend. The only place I'd learned it from was from football and the AFL. And when someone is retired, if they're good enough that they'll stay up in the upper echelon of respected players, they're called legends. So, I thought the word legend just meant that you're so good that you're not ever going to have your records passed. Okay, that was what a legend was. But actually, the word legend has to do with your power. So, it wasn't totally wrong, but it has to do with your being so ancient. So, the legends are all people who've really passed out of present sight, but they get to be in the Hall of Fame nonetheless. And if you're a young person, you can go along and see who are the legends. And you're quite amazed at some of the people who are legends because you didn't know anything about them. And here it says in our translation in Mark, in chapter 5, verse 21, it says, to those of old. But other translations will say to the ancients. And in some cases, you can track down and have a guess. I don't know how accurate it would be. But they're referring mostly to the generation that witnessed Moses, giving of the law. And the miracle of his leadership of the children of Israel out of Egypt, which for the Jewish people that there followed, there would never be as big a miracle of God. They were legends in the sense that they'd never be surpassed. The ones who got out of Egypt and then they had the business of following Moses and they get up to the Red Sea and Egypt's Pharaoh are coming with his horses and chariots after them. And Moses puts his rod into the water. And the water parts. The children of Israel go over. And those silly Egyptians follow. But the water's walls comes crashing down on them. And their chariot wheels get stuck in the mud. And the water's overcoming and they all get killed and drowned. And they end up, the Israelites on the other side, having been absolutely released from Israel. Sorry, not from Israel. From Egypt and its armies. And so the people of old, that generation who saw that, their authority from what they'd seen was something that they thereafter was always going to trust in their interpretations. So if you trust in the interpretation of the generation that came out of Egypt and particularly when Moses gave his laws and the interpretation thereof which the Pharisees were able to do when they were known as rabbis and scribes, when they came teaching, they basically, they placed their authority on what Moses said. And so when it came to Jesus and his teaching, they'd often say, but we have Moses. We believe Moses. Who are you? And they rightly recognized that Jesus' authority seemed to not necessarily go along with, listen to it, their interpretation of Moses. If you look through Jesus' quoting, the Old Testament, the Old Testament law, you'll find he backs it up. It even says in this Beatitudes box that Jesus in no way is undoing the law and nor is he teaching anybody to disagree with it. Jesus quotes the law to prove his points even when he's resisting the devil. The word of God says, or he quotes the Bible and the Old Testament and that's the law of Moses. So Jesus is not against the law. He's not against the law of Moses. But as an interpreter, what is the truth? He comes, as the book of Hebrews I quoted to you shows, he comes with a newer interpretation. These last days, God has spoken through his son. So Jesus is the one who legitimately has an update and you can't just stick to the authorities that you have because they're the ancients. Now I discovered in looking through all this, that we can't just stick to the authorities that you have because they're the ancients. But we human beings I think have got a predisposition to often give ourselves an interpretation of life that comes from sometimes family, sometimes uncles, aunts, people who have had long lives and have always told us when we were children this means that and that means this. They've always been people to interpret. And that there's a sense in which most people in any culture, and I'm not just talking about our culture, but our culture is probably weakest on this because we don't have that much of a long culture and we have certain attitudes not to necessarily believe it if it's just from Britain. I won't give you any examples but we are people who very smugly think we're not going to listen to any authority sometimes. But even though that is the case about Australian, the way we are and we resist authority, but nonetheless we do take to ourselves some sense of tradition. And it's impossible to be in any culture without having absorbed ways of thinking that were handed down to you. And the people back in those days were recognizing that some of that came from the law era, the era of that, but some of it also came from even earlier. And they might quote some of the records of the Old Testament before the giving of the law. And so they would realize that they have been the beneficiaries of tradition handed down. And even if it wasn't from a Bible spot that you got those traditions, sometimes there's a family interpretation. Or it might be that you had a family that got brought up, if someone punches you on the nose, you're meant to go and punch them back, make sure they won't do it again. And it could well be that there's something in your interpretation that sounds very much like an eye for an eye, or a tooth for a tooth. And the people of Jesus' generation was quoting that. And I went looking up to try and find where it was in the law. It must be there somewhere, I thought. I haven't found it yet. If you can find that and tell me later, that'd be great. But the idea is that people tend to develop a personal tradition that you follow, but you haven't necessarily worked out where it all came from. It's just something told of old. And that's actually what happens in these verses. In verse 21, you have heard it said that it was said to those of old. It's actually in the Greek, to the ancients. And somewhere back there now, there's another set of ancients, even prior to the Biblical revelation through Israel and through the church. And that's talked about in the book of Galatians. And so if we turn to the book of Galatians, please, and it is, see how quick he is today. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. A previous message, I wrestle with what on earth are the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of women, born under the law. Note that Jesus is born under the law. To redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons, escape from just being under the law, but now sons instead of just slaves. And because you were sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, trying, Abba, Father, so you are no longer a slave, but a heir, son and heir. So this idea that the book of Galatians is giving is that there is a sense of having a tradition that may not just be looking back to the Old Testament law, but it might be looking back to something so ancient that people have lost sight as to where it was first said. But in the case of this, of calling the elements, basic elements of the world, it's things that people believe but have no reason to believe. This depiction of the Vikings that our television presents, which is not very wholesome of all the sword work that go on to people dying and the things that happen, but they have got a sense that there is some deity that whispers. They've given him a name. And they're under the subjection of this God who actually is either the real one by the name they give him, or else it's a demon masquerading, letting him believe what they like. But these would fit being elementary elements of the world. For where there is not any knowledge by revelation, but where there is sometimes a dull memory that's come through culture because of the original creating of the world that was actually what happened, and there's memories of that that come down to different cultures, often all twisted around. But nonetheless, where there's something that people remember because it's one of the elementary principles of the world, but they stick to it because their family line have always had certain sayings, this is what you do, this is how you do it. And here in Galatians he's talking about the coming of the revelation of God and his law and then the coming of Jesus trumps those other things. So we ought not to be people who are run by certain assumptions and traditions that we've set up for ourselves to make us able to handle our lives because we may actually be setting up legalisms or we may be setting up ideas, traditions and teachings that don't come from Jesus. He's the one whose authority they use to test everything. And if you're not sure how to interpret because it's Old Testament and it says something about you've got to give tithes, should I give tithes or not? Go and pray to Jesus and ask him what he wants you to do because his exousia, his authority, is that of a right that he has the right to say what goes whether it's new or old. He's the one whose authority nothing else can stand against and he's the one who can say others have said or it's written of old or the ancients think or something else, but I say to you. And the Christian life is lived out by learning how to let Jesus say to you. I know that introduces an element of subjectivity by which you need to learn. You need to test and see whether you're convincing yourself. It's very easy. Michelle and I went through when we were first married that when she realized that I wanted something to happen and it wasn't her preference, she'd come up to me and say, Oh, the Lord's told me. And I think I probably could do the same. And it's a very handy thing to say, Oh, the Lord's told me and so you can't have your way. But we both had to realize that you can't quote the Lord has told me to your spouse quite like that. I think you can share. I think the Lord has been speaking to me that you should invite them to pray and see if the Lord tells them. And what you do in a marriage is that the two of you together seek the Lord and you wait till he confirms where to go and it might be one way and not the other. And there are many things in our lives where one of us has been the way that we went and not the other. And that could be me. Well, very recently on something, I won't bother telling you the details, it was something that I thought I should do and Michelle thought it a bad idea and we prayed that we might invite Jesus. He's the Master's voice and ask him to speak. And if it's something very drastic that you don't want to disagree on, then don't do anything until you hear from God. So together, you've heard from the Master. He's the one who leads in marriage and he's the one who leads in churches. In fact, the Baptists as a tradition have got a bad habit of misinterpreting scriptures in a way that they want. We want to democratize church in a way Americans particularly do, but we do it the same. So it's a matter of the who's got the most people agreeing with them. And you go to the members meeting and that's the group that gets to have their way, but it might not be the will of God. I've looked through the minutes of this church. I want to tell you there have been decisions made by the members meetings which I think got proved in the long run not to be the will of God by what happened. And that's possible. Lots of churches have that issue is that we have democratized in the sense that we've made guidance to be what the majority says or what the power groups say or what the individual ones who've got vested interest have. And that's not necessarily the will of God at all. We are to listen for His voice. And actually what is true Baptist doctrine is not just democracy at all. It is that the church gathered together should listen to the Holy Spirit and by them feeling led that the Spirit has spoken, we know the will of God. That's actually the distinctive we're meant to stand for, but many Baptist churches don't do it. And even in the interpretation of scriptures, we don't often put to the test of what Jesus says and what the scripture says when we take on board what might be a tradition. I'm going to finish now, but what I want to finish with you is an illustration. An illustration that comes from someone having done a very good job and I like it and very helpful to our church. I hope it's still here. It is. No, it's not. It's disappeared. But someone puts up these beautiful sayings. I'm not going to ask them to stand up and confess because they're doing a ministry for the Lord. And these are good because it captures Christ in you, the hope of glory. That was coming out of learning from scriptures the word hope in the original is the idea of expectation. And when Christ is in you, he gives you awareness that you're expected in glory and you're expecting the glory. It's the hope in the positive sense. And there was another one I wanted to mention. I'll tell you what it said. It had two arrows on it. And one was coming down and one was going up. And the one coming down said grace. And the one going up said faith. Now where that is exactly the truth is the biggest thing that's happened in there being grace coming down is just what our Hebrews verse says. And we go back to the Hebrews verse in chapter 1 and verses 1 and 2. Long ago and many times in many ways God spoke to our fathers by the prophets. But in these last days he spoke to us by his Son whom he appointed heir of all things through whom also he created the world. Jesus is the final out speaking of God. And what did what was said by Jesus in his coming into the world is what is the gospel. And my other verse that I had the other verse that I had was one that comes from 2 Corinthians. And in 2 Corinthians I think it's chapter 5 did I give you that verse? Yeah. 2 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 21. It talks about what Jesus has done. For our sake he made him to be sin he who knew no sin that we might in him become the righteousness of God. That's the gospel. In the middle of history Jesus Christ came. He came and he perfectly obeyed the law. He attained a demonstration of righteousness. He always was righteous and he demonstrated in keeping the law. And then in his sinlessness he went to the cross and bore on the cross our sin so that we might become the righteousness of God. That is the biggest arrow down of grace. Another verse I didn't list it but another verse is you know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Though for our sakes he became poor that we through his riches we through his sacrifice really I forget these words have become rich. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ was his incarnation where he left heaven where he came down and took on humanity in the greatest humiliation there is. He not only came to be humans but he came to die and died a cross bearing our sin. It doesn't say just there. That he took the punishment of our sin. I had a lecturer when I went to college who said he didn't actually bear our sins he just bore the feelings of them. That fellow's interpretation was all about feelings. And though the verse that speaks that I'm quoting to you is not about Jesus just taking the feelings of your sin though I'm sure he suffered under the rejection of the Father and of the dirtiness of the sin that he became. But when he came to the cross he became sin. He who knew no sin that we might become the righteousness of God in him. That's the gospel. That's the biggest act of grace. And because the gospel has been sounded it calls for the other arrow the little demonstration thing. I don't know someone might be shining it up but the grace came down and what it calls for is the faith yours and mine to go up. And which is why Jesus always called people to believe. Called on them and when they didn't have enough faith he told them off oh ye of little faith. Faith needs God's help for you to do it but I want to tell you he does it's not just something he does and you've got no part on. It's something he calls you to have. So take a step. That's why in evangelism often there's a moment when you're talking to a person where there comes a crunch point where they nod their heads and say oh I know you're right but will they make a response is still in their court. And sometimes you think by wisdom that you won't push them because you want them to be their decision and you wait to see what they do and you get a phone call. Jim. And they tell you what happened. Well like my friend my first person that I led to Christ and I kept working on him and it didn't work and some or other and then it came I was going to tell you I was going to a youth rally and I rang him up to arrange the transport and he says but you don't need to what do you mean? It happened. I was under the shower and I gave in to Christ. That fellow came to Christ. Have you responded in faith? Yes you need the Holy Spirit to help you but he's not doesn't do the type of help that you have no part in. He waits on you. He waits on you. He allows you to respond and sometimes there are people in the Bible like the woman who had the issue of blood she had a lot of blood coming out and she couldn't stop it it was wrecking her life. She was someone having all sorts of problems and spent money trying to get cured and couldn't. She got the idea in her head if she just touched Jesus that would fix it. Now there's no way that anybody would make her believe you have to touch Jesus she just believed that Jesus had some source of help and if she could touch him. That was her faith and the trouble was the crowd. So she had to keep pushing herself and what if you're someone who's a bit more demure or someone that always shrunk away from crowds and not wanted to be identified or someone who's afraid of not smelling very nice. And there's a big crowd all around Jesus and a lot of busy people trying to talk to him and she had to push away and last get close enough to reach out a hand and touch him. That was her faith because Jesus is the greatest source of grace. He's the greatest demonstration of grace. He is the grace of God in person coming to the world and available to be your personal saviour if you would reach out and touch him. And Jesus stops and turns around. Who touched me? And the disciples said what are you saying? That people touching you everywhere. Basically and the woman tremblingly owns up and he answers and says go your way. Your faith has made you well. Jesus is the greatest grace. The gospel is the greatest declaration of the grace and the call that the gospel has is for people to respond. Yes God will call. Yes I believe the spirit needs to help you even hear the call. Yes it is the spirit who helps you take the step. You need to take a step to Jesus and let his grace find you. What a fantastic thing. I hope whoever's they're probably doing another one but one that's got grace coming down and faith going up. That's a really deep truth of the Bible. 2 Corinthians 5.21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin so that we in him might become the righteousness of God. Isn't that fantastic? There's a sense in which there's a righteousness is all between God the Father and Jesus the Son and his payment on the cross. Sometimes we call that forensic righteousness. Speak like a judge saying you're innocent because there's not been enough proof to prove him guilty. There's a forensic sense in which when Jesus died for you forensically he'd already dealt with your sin. But there's another way to think of righteousness as the consequence of your trusting in his forensic righteousness to come and become forgiven and you become look at it you become the righteousness of God in him. Is God calling someone this morning to become the righteousness of God? How you can do that? You can do it on your own when you realize what's going on in a moment of prayer just between you and him. Or you can do it responding in a meeting or going and seeing one of the leaders. You can do it with a friend. Or like the little boy in my class I think I've told the story before he put his hand up and I saw him and then later I asked him what did you do sitting there with your hand up and he says I put my hand up to God. There isn't any one way that you have to express that response of having faith. That arrow goes up and you'll find one that suits you and you'll know the tremendous sense of assurance that comes when the grace that came down has been answered by the very little hand of faith that gets put up and you become the righteousness of God. Let's pray. Heavenly Father I thank you. I thank you for the truths of the gospel. Sometimes they make me weep not out of sadness maybe sadness at the cost Jesus had to go through but out of the absolute admiration admiring of what you've done to save us. You've sent the Savior Jesus the Savior. He's always been the Savior as he's always been the light and he comes into the world to shine on us and to invite us to find him as our personal Lord and Savior and my prayer is if there's someone here who's never found Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior that you would lead them to find their way whether it's a little boy putting a hand up or whether it's someone finding a quiet place and saying Lord I really want that to be the case. Whether you take this verse one of these verses from Matthew and say Lord I want to be the person who trusts you not my traditions not what the law says I'll own but I want to trust Jesus to be my personal Savior. I pray that in his name. Amen.

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