Looks are Deceiving

While reading for an upcoming sermon over Matthew 23, I came across the following application to the two woes pronounced on the scribes and Pharisees in verses 25-28 that challenge our current model of and participation in church.

Looks are Deceiving

Avoid looking pious while living lives of greedy self-indulgence. The fifth and sixth woes describe a life of hypocrisy and typify much of Western Christianity, building huge luxurious churches whose members on Sunday look worshipful while they live lives of extravagance.

The members live above their means, yet give little to God in terms of both time and money. It has been estimated that only 25 to 30 percent of the average [members in an] evangelical church are actually involved in that church’s ministry. The rest attend regularly but live self-centered lives.

There are only two possible destinies for them: to squeak into heaven “as one escaping through the flames” (1 Cor 3:12–15) or to have Christ say, “I never knew you” (Matt 7:21–23). It is a terrible thing to play games with one’s eternal destiny!

Question for Reflection

  1. What in your mind is worship? Is worship attending service? Serving God? Or a mixture of both?

Resource

Grant R. Osborne, Matthew, vol. 1, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 859.

What the Statistics Reveal About Evangelicals

White Church

I recently read a Pew Research study reporting on the beliefs and practices of the religious. The results were shocking.

Pew Research Study

Narrowing the results to Evangelical Christians – Not liberals or Catholics or anyone else. Here is what they report:

  • 90% of Evangelicals say they believe God exists.
  • 79% of Evangelicals say religion in one’s life is very important.
  • 78% of Evangelicals say they pray daily.
  • 58% of Evangelicals say they attend services once a week.
  • But only 36% of Evangelicals believe their religion is the one true faith leading to eternal life.

What Does This Mean?

It means we believe there is a God. We believe religion, prayer, and church matters, but we don’t know why Jesus matters. That’s a problem! If we don’t know why Jesus matters, we don’t really have True Faith. We aren’t really Christians.

What Does Salvation Require?

Salvation requires we recognize Jesus as the only Savior. Faith defined as complete trust and confidence in Jesus as our Savior based on certain fundamental truths found in God’s Word, means we can’t believe there are other ways to God. We either have complete confidence and trust Jesus is the Savior of the world, or we don’t. We can’t have it both ways.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you believe there are multiple ways to God?
  2. Do you believe Jesus is the only Savior of the world?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon What is True Faith?

Pew Research Study

Respectable Sins: 4 Manifestations of Selfishness | Part 4

In my last post in this series, I discussed how we are often selfish with our money. If you would like to read that post, you can do so by clicking here. Today I will deal with our selfishness regarding our consideration of others.

Our Consideration of Others

Those who are inconsiderate are really being selfish because the only consideration they have is for themselves. We see this in Philippians 1:15-17:

“Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.”

What are some areas in which we can be inconsiderate?

Being inconsiderate manifests itself in a number of ways, here are just a few:

  • Always being late When we make others wait, we are being inconsiderate of their time.
  • Talking too loudly on our cell phones – When we talk too loud on our phones in public, so that it disturbs those around us, we are being inconsiderate.
  • Being rude or indifferent to our waitress When we are rude or indifferent to others, we show that we do not care about their feelings. We only care about our own feelings. It takes almost no effort at all to say, “Thank you.” [1]

The Greatest Example of Unselfishness 

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the greatest example of unselfishness. In Philippians 2:5-11, we are told that He did not hold onto His position as God for His own selfish gain. Rather, He gave up certain privileges when He came to earth as a man. He then gave up His life, dying on the cross for the sin’s of mankind, so that we might have eternal life.

How do we Mortify Selfishness?

In order to kill selfishness, we need to reflect on the gospel. We must realize that we would not have a restored relationship with God or eternal life, if Jesus had not thought others more important than Himself and humbled Himself on the cross. Thinking on Jesus’ actions should spur us on to be selfless. So then, we should pray that the Holy Spirit would show us how we are selfish and give us the power to rid that sin from our lives. We should also preach the gospel to ourselves, reminding ourselves of Christ’s selflessness.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Does your daily interactions tell you that you are inconsiderate of others?
  2. What does Christ’s sacrifice tell us about how we should act?
  3. What form does selfishness take in your life?

Resources

[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 105-106.

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