Seeking a Sign? PIII

Matthew 16:1-4

Do you look for other signs, or do you take His precepts as your sign and roadmap for life? Do you know this is destructive? 

The Pharisees and Sadducees were clouded the Truth with so much rhetoric and tradition they could not see the Truth. They put forth so many other regulations and insights that the main insight and rule was unseen. We, too, can be experts in interpreting trivial matters such as the weather, but unable or unwilling to apply God’s Word into our lives. We, instead, focus ourselves on minor, trivial matters such as a particular Bible version or an obscure doctoral point that becomes our god; then we become unconcerned with the bigger picture of His real truth.

We are to keep our eyes on important matters such as His Word, and how to apply it, and not be concerned with the latest trends. Ask Him for wisdom and His insights so your ideas and the ideas of others do not cloud His truth from your eyes.

Jesus was getting their attention, but they refused to listen. Some first century Jewish commentators said false doctrine is like poison water. And Jewish teachers often spoke figuratively, as Jesus did. Also, the Israelites had a long history of forgetting who God is and His provision-from just a few months of wandering in the desert, to the next generation after Joshua, to all the good kings compared to the failed kings. Thus, God had to remind them of who He is on numerous occasions (Duet. 8).

Here is a couple more key words:

“You of little faith” was one of Jesus’ favorite nicknames for His Disciples (Matt. 6:30; 8:26; 14:31). Ouch! They had some faith, but still needed to learn and grow into maturity.

You do not understand”, another ouch, as the Disciples once again misunderstood their Lord. Jesus spoke plainly, but He also taught in figurative language to draw people deeper into the meaning, to think through and apply His teaching. The Disciples only saw the face value, and either were not listening or did not want to think. The Disciples should have started to see the signs, especially after so many unprecedented miracles, the most seen since Moses.

“Just do it” requires a process-from the signal to enter the brain, it is categorized, implemented, and then the info is sent to the hands and feet. So it is with faith and our spiritual growth. Plain speech instructs, and to a good listener, it can be applied. But, metaphors require thought and a process to hone and own the precepts-to be a changed person so behaviors can be changed. This just does not happen; it requires the wrestling of thought and the work of the Spirit.

“No bread” is the sign that the disciples were over-concerned with material matters and not spiritual ones, as they should have been. We need to be aware that we do not slip into superficial ideas of Christianity; rather, we look deeper and apply His depths to our hands and feet.

The Disciples had so much testimony and wonders before them to still be stuck with superficial notions. It would take another miracle in the next chapter to cement, in their hearts and minds, Who He is (John 3:4; 4:11; 6:52; 6:63).

Have you ever seen the evidence of how false doctrines can be destructive? Consider, it gets people excited, which is not bad. Then gets peoples hopes up, still not bad. Then, the zinger, it turns out to be false and then the hope is dashed into disillusionment and frustrations and then once active people in the church give it up. False teaching destroys and hides the Work of Christ and poisons what He is doing in the lives and ministries of real Followers of Christ!

Do you understand who you are in Christ? What does that mean to you?

How can you know when you are unable or unwilling to apply God’s Word into your life? How can this awareness help you apply His truth?

 

Seeking a Sign? PII

 

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away. Matthew 16:1-4

The over-concern with appearances or trivial matters can get in the way of seeking Truth! 

Jesus made use of the Pharisees as examples of what not to do, as they were preachers of false doctrines. Just as there are so many today, chasing feelings and desires and not real true Truth. That they were wrongly teaching what the Bible plainly contains may seem small and insignificant to some, but we have to realize when we teach something as His Word that is not in His Word, or skewed, we are being Pharisees. We would be the ones clouding people from God’s revealed truth.

This is no small matter. It is like yeast; only a small amount makes its way through all of the dough, affecting the entire outcome. Essential Truth is essential. False doctrines are destructive and will ruin people, churches, and skew His plan from unfolding in us.

The Pharisees and Sadducees were “Testing Him” these two groups who were diametrically opposed to one another. The Pharisees were traditionalists and popular, while the Sadducees were liberal, denied an afterlife, and held the political power. They disagreed on many doctrinal points and customs so that each one hated the other. Yet, they were united in their joint hatred of real Truth. They both liked to interpret and apply their own rules as Law, and the One who is Truth was their chief opposition. Does this sound familiar? (Matt. 15:2-3; 22:23; Acts 23:6-10)

Let look at a couple of these key words:

So, what does the “Sign of Jonah” mean? It referrers to our Lord’s resurrection to come, not to some deluded prediction of a false teacher that will not come true. How do we know? Look at the context! Also, Christ alludes to His coming suffering for their redemption. A people who refused to acknowledge or accept Him and will put Him to the death, are given ultimate forgiveness and salvation if only they will believe. Jesus offers His life to redeem them from their sin. (Acts 2:22-36). Jonah was at the door of death, and God kept him alive with a miracle (Matt. 12:39).

So, what does Yeast mean, besides being a bakery product? This was, and still is, an essential component to make bread rise and taste better. Yeast also was a colloquialism referring to evil. It only takes a small amount of evil to corrupt the entire batch. Jesus is using yeast to mean false doctrine which is extremely destructive because it hides real truth. It is a counterfeit that quickly penetrates and corrupts and has no value for redemption. So, when you cash it in, you receive nothing but the rotten works of its aftermath (Matt. 13).

The only way to remove false doctrine is to remove the people proclaiming it. First, show them the real truth; if they still reuse to recant, remove their platform and poison from harming others As in do not give them money, do not listen to them and show others what is real true Truth from God’s Word in context and real word meanings (Gal. 5:9; 1 Cor. 5:6-7).

Do you understand who you are in Christ? Do you look for signs, or do you take His precepts as your sign and roadmap for life? The Pharisees were experts in interpreting what was going on in the world with people, motivations, knowing their rules, and even the weather, but they did not know their Scriptures. They only knew what their interpretations were, what others had said, and the passion to follow the concepts they cherished. But, they did not know the facts of what God had plainly told them in His Word.

What do you need to do to keep your eyes on important matters, such as His Word

What does Revelation 2: 12-17 mean to me?

Twisting God’s truths to fit our whims and rationalizing our sin is blatantly evil. Do not allow this in your church! We have to be willing to prevent and discipline, even kick out manipulative and deceptive people in our churches.

Why would a Christian be manipulative and say he or she is serving Christ? Our human condition, our sinful nature, is susceptible to what psychologists call “Cognitive Dissidence.” This Cognitive Dissidence is where we perform one behavior while at the same time harboring a contradicting behavior. This is a common, human characteristic that God desires that we root out. We cannot be healthy, and at the same time harbor contradictory views; this cannot be done. Psalm 10 tells us that we cannot have pride and God occupying the same heart, yet we keep trying! We cannot be a growing Christian, practicing prayer and spiritual disciplines, while at the same time, making judgments on our neighbors and friends or causing others to compromise and sin.

Let us not fall into the trap of putting on a performance—of acting out the Christian life. Let us not play a Christian; let us be a Christian. Let our actions respond to the transformation of Christ’s grace by living honest lives. We must allow Christ’s amazing grace to root out all the evil within us, especially the hypocrisy that causes so much destruction, or else our church will be just like Pergamum.

Questions to Ponder:

1. Why would Jesus take the time to give encouragements and blessings, as well as condemnations to these churches?

2. What are some encouragements, blessings, and condemnations your church would receive from Jesus?

3. How important to you is loyalty to Christ for holding onto the faith?

4. How do our wayward ways pierce Christ, such as living life on our own or running His church by our own means apart from His ways?

5. Why would someone be willing to die for the faith but be not willing to live for the faith? What would cause someone to compromise his or her faith?

6. What would your church look life if most of its people took to heart and practiced the Fruit of the Spirit to their best abilities and endeavors? What can be done to make sure your leadership sets the tone for faithfulness?

In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. Psalm 10:4

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org/


Revelation 2: 12-17

Introduction

“The Church of Pergamum”

Again, John is reminding them and us who Christ is and what He has done. He is depicted here as the One in authority who can look into us, pierce us, and who knows who we are and what we want. Then, Jesus calls us to Him and away from our selves and selfishness. Just as a sword is sharp and piercing, so are our wayward ways when we seek to do life and run His church by our own means, apart from His ways and commands. Such thoughts and actions separate us from God and others, just as our judgment for sin, without receiving His grace, will separate us for eternity. God doesn’t want us separated, but He will do this to protect His other children, just as He will separate those who seek to harm us. This is His protection, and it is our choice to draw to Him or draw to our inclinations and sin.

The people in this church at Pergamum were willing to die for the faith, but they were not willing to live for the faith. They were on a teeter-totter of loyalty, holding on to the faith through persecution on one side, while allowing those who were treating others with deception, compromise, and manipulation to continue on the other. We walk on dangerous ground when we say “faith” with our mouths yet do dastardly deeds with our hands. Even to tolerate those who are being deceptive and scheming to others is sin, and will cause extreme dysfunction in our churches. We can come up with all kinds of excuses why we need not attempt to stop such a person, as did the church in Pergamum. But, we need to take seriously the warning from Jesus, who is our Head. He does not want His people manipulated or lied to. Jesus does not want our churches to be places of contention and hurt. Rather, He calls us to make them safe havens of rest and comfort as we worship and mature in Him, and to be secure in Him and in companionship with others. If we are being manipulated or are manipulating others, worship and healthy relationships cannot be nurtured or grown. How sad that would be for us and our community to have a church of dysfunction rather than a place where redemption and sanctification are carried out.

The church at Pergamum was tolerating false doctrines and people who were scheming against others, causing them to follow sin, trends, compromise their faith, and not reverence or trust in Christ. Even though they were faithful in persecution, their steadfastness was wavering to those who were deceptive. They were being what we now call “politically correct,” that is, tolerating other ideas that were wrong or contrary just to be what they thought was mature and wise. Thus, they were in danger of being judged harshly if they did not repent. We have to see that we can be tolerant to a point, as long as it does not counter our character or the Word.