We have discussed many challenges that young people face in our current sermon series. So far, the main emphasis has been the challenges that our young people face out in the world. But what about the challenges that young people face among God’s people? Are there ways we can drive young people away?
The answer to these questions is: YES!
It is interesting that when you study surveys of young people who turn away from their faith, the many of the responses that young people give as the reason why are things like:
Jesus says, "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to fall away—it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42, CSB)
QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT
Have you ever wondered what the earliest Christians after the time of the Apostles believed about water baptism? Did they believe it is when we receive forgiveness by God, or did they believe the "faith only" doctrine that many denominations believe today? Here are some examples of what they believed:
Barnabas wrote in 70 AD, “Blessed are they who, placing their trust in the cross, have gone down into the water; for, says He, they shall receive their reward in due time…we indeed descend into the water full of sins and defilement, but come up, bearing fruit in our heart, having the fear [of God] and trust in Jesus in our spirit.” (The Early Church Fathers: Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 1, The Epistle of Barnabas 11:114-16)
Irenaeus wrote in 120-205 AD, “As we are lepers in sin, we are made clean from our old transgressions by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord. We are thus spiritually regenerated as newborn infants, even as the Lord has declared: ‘Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.'”(Irenaeus, “Fragments From Lost Writings”, no. 34, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, pg. 574)
The proof text that early Christians used for baptism was John 3:5!
In 110-165 AD, Justin Martyr wrote “they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, ‘Except ye be born again, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.‘ Now, that it is impossible for those who have once been born to enter into their mothers’ wombs, is manifest to all… And for this we have learned from the apostles this reason. Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed” (Justin Martyr, “First Apology,” Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, pg. 183)
In 140-230 AD, Tertullian wrote, “Baptism itself is a corporal act by which we are plunged into the water, while its effect is spiritual, in that we are freed from our sins” (Baptism 7:2).
In 140-230 AD, Tertullian wrote, “Happy is our sacrament of water, in that, by washing away the sins of our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life! A treatise on this matter will not be superfluous; instructing not only such as are just becoming formed in the faith… The consequence is, that a viper of the Cainite heresy, lately conversant in this quarter, has carried away a great number with her most venomous doctrine, making it her first aim to destroy baptism. Which is quite in accordance with nature; for vipers and asps and serpents themselves generally do affect arid and waterless places. (On Baptism, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3, pg. 669.)
Interesting in the prior quote is that there was a false teaching coming about that was denying baptism!
Tertullian also wrote, “The prescript is laid down that ‘without baptism, salvation is attainable by none’ chiefly on the ground of that declaration of the Lord, who says, ‘Unless one be born of water, he hath not life.'” (On Baptism, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3, pg. 674-675)
In 150-200 AD, CLEMENT wrote, “when you are regenerated and born again of water and of God, the frailty of your former birth, which you have through men, is cut off, and so at length you shall be able to attain salvation; but otherwise it is impossible. For thus hath the true prophet testified to us with an oath: ‘Verily I say to you, That unless a man is born again of water, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ Therefore make haste; for there is in these waters a certain power of mercy which was borne upon them at the beginning…Betake yourselves therefore to these waters, for they alone can quench the violence of the future fire; and he who delays to approach to them, it is evident that the idol of unbelief remains in him, and by it he is prevented from hastening to the waters which confer salvation.” (Clement, “Recognitions of Clement,” Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 8, pg. 155)
Our media and our culture here in the United States has tried to fill our minds with pictures of what the ideal person should look like. The person that is attractive and beautiful is one who is "skinny" and not overweight. This has led to a lot of problems. People (especially women) who feel like they are not meeting the ideal picture that our culture gives them of how they should look, start to feel too self-conscious, and this leads them to starving themselves and developing eating disorders so they can get back to the ideal weight. These eating disorders are dangerous.
We looked at anorexia and its spiritual counterpart last week. Today looks look at bulimia.
Bulimia (The Physical Disorder)
Bulimia is an illness with recurrent, compulsive episodes of binge eating followed by self-induced vomiting and/or purging with laxatives. This disorder is also very dangerous. It can lead to stomach and esophagus problems, dental problems, and death in about 1% of cases.
This disorder is caused by not using the most important bible translation. Let me explain. Do you know what translation is the most important one? The best, most important bible translation that we must have is the translation from the written page into your life!
You may not be spiritually anorexic. You may read and study the bible every day. You may be a scholar. But if you are not applying it, you have spiritual bulimia. You may feed yourself full of scripture to your hearts content, only to vomit it up a short time later by doing things that are contrary to what you studied. You completely waste all of the knowledge that you gain of God's word if you do not apply it.
There are Christians that hear about how we need to have our minds and bodies holy and pure at worship, and then in their spare time fill their minds with most obscene things (ex. secular music, and improper movies and television shows) and compromise their purity physically by doing things with the opposite sex that are sinful.
We feed ourselves with the scriptures that say we need to be patient and not let our anger lead us to sin, only to go home, vomit up the word of God, and then act impatiently and sin in anger. This does not please the Lord.
We need to realize that gaining bible knowledge is not our goal as Christians. We should NEVER stop there. We need to obey the word.
James says that we need to not only be hearers of the word, but DOERS of the word! If we do not obey the word of God, we are deluding ourselves into thinking that God is pleased with us! We need the heart like Ezra. Probably the most well known verses in Ezra: "For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it" (Ezra 7.10)
Both of these "Spiritual Eating Disorders", just as their physical counterparts, have serious consequences. If you are not getting the spiritual nutrients that you need from God's word, and not applying it's truths, you will develop (if you don't them already), heart problems. Only when we let God's word penetrate our hearts and lead us to action can this be prevented. In all cases (100%) if these disorders go unchecked in our spiritual lives, they will kill us!!
They have an app for just about everything these days. Those who make apps for tablets and smartphones think about just about everything. This at times can be a bad thing, though. Often, the more apps we put on our phones, the more we can waste the precious time the Lord has given us. With this said, there are also many good uses for apps that are made for our smart-devices. Lately, one thing my phone has helped me to do is pray. I had an app recommended to me awhile back that I have started using frequently, and I would recommend it to you. It’s called, “Echo”.
Here are some things you can do in the app:
1. Create a prayer list in the app.
It is simple to add a new item to your prayer list. You can even add a description to the prayer item. For instance, you might add, “Scott” and then in the description, type, “Really has some issues... He needs wisdom in dealing with them.” With this feature, you can make your prayer list as in depth as you would like, and you can update it as much as you would like.
2. Create reminders to send you notifications throughout the day.
This is a good one if you would like to pray for specific things at specific times throughout the day. You can set up reminders to pray at any time during the day.
3. Check answered prayers off your list.
You can indicate when a prayer has been answered and this will move it from your active prayer list to your answered prayers list. You can use your answered prayers list to thank God for specific things he has done in answering your prayers.
The best thing about this app is that it is FREE! You can improve your prayer life for free! Can't beat that!
You can learn more about the app here. You can get it for your Apple and Android devices.
Our media and our culture here in the United States has tried to fill our minds with pictures of what the ideal person should look like. The person that is attractive and beautiful is one who is "skinny" and not overweight. This has led to a lot of problems. People (especially women) who feel like they are not meeting the ideal picture that our culture gives them of how they should look, start to feel too self-conscious, and this leads them to starving themselves and developing eating disorders so they can get back to the ideal weight. These eating disorders are dangerous. Let's look at two of them for a moment.
Anorexia (The Physical Disorder)
Anorexia is a serious, potentially deadly medical disorder characterized by self-starvation, eventually leading to significant energy and nutrient deficiencies, cardiovascular problems, bone problems, and muscle and organ wasting. About 10-20% of people (most women) that suffer from this disorder will die because of the complications it brings.
We may understand how dangerous this disorder is to our physical bodies, but unfortunately, it would surprise me if many Christians have anorexia's spiritual counterpart. Let me explain:
What is our food spiritually? It is God's word. It is described in the scriptures as something that we need to hunger for, and it is described as meat and milk. It is as sweet as honey. How often do we look at the scriptures as something that we must feed upon if we want to be healthy spiritually? That is why I am convinced that there is a spiritual counterpart to this eating disorders, and many Christians have suffered from it, including myself. The enemy has been incredibly successful in spreading it.
Everyone can get Spiritual Anorexia. This spiritual disorder has led to countless families falling apart; and countless Christians falling away from the Lord. So what is it?
Spiritual anorexia is an aversion to reading the Scriptures.
We have all seen tragic pictures of starving children in third world countries. Many of them don't have the strength to even stand up. Anorexic Christians are the same spiritually as those children are physically. Why? They both lack nutritious food!
The words of Jesus in Matthew 4:4 make the point about the scriptures that "Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."
Deuteronomy 32:46-47 says: "Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today, which you shall command your children to be careful to observe—all the words of this law. For it is not a futile thing for you, because it is your life"
Do we really believe this to be true? Moses here is talking about the Law. If this is the case for the Law of Moses, how much MORE is it the case for the New Testament scriptures? How often do we feed on the scriptures?
One of Satan's greatest tactics that he uses to keep us ineffective is to keep us out of the scriptures. It wouldn't surprise me if this is his primary goal in approaching Christians. He is relentless in giving us reasons and temptations not to read God's word. He wants us spiritually anorexic.
We often say things about the scriptures. We say we hunger for the word of God, that we love it, we treasure it, we respect it. It is a guide for our feet and a light to our path. That is all fine and good, but how much do we actually feed on it. How often do we read it and study it?
Satan doesn't care about how much we say we hunger fo, revere, and love God's word. As long as we are not feeding on it, he has already won.
We would never think of skipping a meal or two each day, but why do we so easily make the decision to skip a meal, or multiple meals spiritually? We skip meals, then we wonder why we are falling into temptation and feel weak, lazy, depressed, and luke-warm spiritually.
We need daily reminders of who God is and what He is capable of. We need daily reminders of what is right and wrong so we can face our battles equipped. We need to strengthen our convictions and evaluate ourselves and where we stand in the faith by feeding on God's word.
The Lord’s Supper is an important time for God’s people. It is a time in which we can remember the work of God in bringing salvation to us. It is a time in which we can celebrate the hope that we have in Christ. It is a time in which we have communion with the Lord and one another, and it is a time in which we remember what we have committed ourselves to as Christians.
There is one other aspect of the Lord’s Supper that we do not think about often as God’s people. This is the fact that the Lord’s Supper is a “sacrificial meal.” I do not mean by this that when we partake of the Lord’s Supper that we are offering a sacrifice to God. The Lord’s Supper is not explicitly referred to as either a sacrifice, an offering, or even as worship that we offer to God in the New Testament. What I mean by this is that the New Testament portrays the taking of the Lord’s Supper using terminology from the Old Testament that would bring to our minds the idea of partaking of a sacrifice. Under the Old Covenant, the priesthood would take a portion of the sacrifices they offered on the altar on behalf of the people for themselves, and they would partake of the meat from these sacrifices. The Lord’s Supper is, in a sense, a fulfillment of what the priests did.
We, as the priesthood of Christ, partake of the “body” and “blood” of our sacrifice as we partake of the Lord’s Supper. Remember that Jesus said when He inaugurated the Lord’s Supper, as He held the bread in His hands, “This is my body.” And when He took the cup, He said, “This is my blood” (Luke 22:19-20). Jesus did not say, “this symbolizes my body,” or “this symbolizes my blood.” I agree that this idea is there, but I think there is more to the language that He uses than that. We take away some of the force of the passage when we insert the word “symbolizes” into it. He could have said “this symbolizes my body and blood,” but He didn’t. He is giving sacrificial language in the passage. He says, “This is my body and blood which is given for you...” then he gives them instructions to take the bread and fruit of the vine and to partake. Whenever we are partaking of this sacrificial meal, we are making His sacrifice real to us. THIS IS His body which was given for me. THIS IS His blood which was shed for me.
Paul also uses priesthood/sacrificial terminology in 1 Cor 10 where he talks to the Corinthians about two tables that they can eat at: the table of idols (Satan) and the Lord’s table (in partaking of the Lord’s Supper). He is trying to show them that when one partakes of meat in the idols’ temples, they were showing their participation in the altar and were having fellowship with demons. When one sits at the table of the Lord, he/she is showing as they partake of the “body” and “blood” of the Lord that they have benefited from His sacrifice and are in fellowship with Christ. He then tells them, “Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?” Those who eat of the sacrifices are participants/partakers in the altar. They are in fellowship with the altar, sharing in the blessings of the altar’s sacrifice, and they are having fellowship with the One in whom the sacrifice was made to.
I don’t believe in the Catholic interpretation of this idea-that the emblems actually become the literal body and blood of the Lord before we partake. I do believe Jesus is using figurative language. He is speaking metaphorically, but I would argue from these passages that we should think about it in the sense of what the passages say. “This is My body,” and “This is My blood.” Our minds need to think of the body and blood of the Lord. As we partake, we are reminded of how this sacrifice is our sustenance as priests, but not like the Old Testament priests who received their physical sustenance from the sacrifices. Christ’s sacrifice sustains us spiritually. It gives us eternal life.
There are so many attacks against the New Testament offered by unbelievers, including atheists, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, etc. that believe the New Testament has been corrupted. They say that men have corrupted the text and have mistranslated the Bible since the Apostles wrote it. One such example that many may bring up is Mark 16:9-20. Some say it does not belong in the Bible. Some say it does. Below are some of my opinions based on what I have read and learned about this issue.
Many people claim that this passage in Mark is not authentic. There seems to be three main reasons why they believe this to be the case:
This point also seems invalid to me. I am sure you could find many books in a bookstore that may contain different words in the last chapter compared to the other chapters that are written by the same person. This really proves nothing.Also, if you provided the same test on verses one through eight with the rest compared to the rest of Mark, you find the same problem. Should we reject verses one through eight also? This is not solid evidence to reject verses that are included in the vast majority of manuscripts.
“And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. 25 ‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ 26 “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. 27 ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. 28 ‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’ 29 “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. 30 “Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt 25:24-30).
In Matthew 25:14-30, the master gave talents to his three servants. One of them received only one talent and he was filled with fear. He wasn’t sure he could accomplish anything with the one talent, so he didn’t try anything. When the master returned, the slave tried to explain that he was doing the master a favor. He could have messed up and lost the talent, but instead he had saved it for him. The master judged the slave.
Too often we have the same problem today. We are so afraid we are going to fail in serving God, and cause more harm than good that we don’t ever do anything. We make many excuses about why so many things won’t work or why we are unable to do something that we never do anything.
Guess what. That doesn’t work. It will not bring the Lord's blessing.
Don’t be afraid to fail. At least do something. Maybe you will fail, maybe you won't. But if you do nothing, then you have already failed, and God is not pleased. Inactivity like this, no matter the reason, is wicked and lazy, as seen in the parable.
Remember, God is with us! He can use us as vessels that will honor Him. So let’s get to work, and show courage. True courage is stepping up in spite of the fear!
I have had many discussions about the subject of baptism with people, and it never fails that sometime during the discussion, they just deny what the scriptures say about the topic. They at times just say, “I deny what you are saying about baptism,” ignoring the fact that all I am doing is quoting verses about baptism. Another response I have gotten is, “You don’t have to be baptized!” Well, to this response I say, you are absolutely right!
Yes, you read the above image right! You do not HAVE TO get baptized! This is a true statement. You do not have to get baptized if you do not want to.
You only HAVE to get baptized if:
So as I said earlier, you really don’t HAVE TO be baptized, but I pray you will be so you can partake of the above blessings that are given to those who are.
We like to think we are independent, but nothing could be further from the truth. We need the Lord, and the scriptures make that clear. We could look at many verses in the bible to show this, but I think that they are all summed up in the fact that we are sheep in need of a shepherd.
Psalm 23 is just so loved by all. It just fills us with comfort and joy. God is the shepherd, we are the sheep. I’ve been thinking about this relationship. Have you ever thought of what this says about us as the sheep? Truthfully, that is not too complimentary! Sheep are weak and helpless. They are natural prey. They have no natural defenses. They constantly are going astray. Sometimes a sheep might fall onto its side, and start kicking and screaming because it cannot get back on its feet. It will dig its way into a bush to get one cusp of grass and then get caught there. It will start twisting and turning to get out, usually making the situation worse. It will get to the point where it is just so exhausted and collapse. Sheep are dirty, cannot clean or take care of themselves. They left to themselves would graze the same patch of land until there is nothing left. They will graze the same streams until they are contaminated and full of parasites. Left to themselves, sheep will kill themselves.
Psalm 23 is a beautiful psalm about our God and our relationship to him, but it also says something about us, we are sheep. It says something about us that few are willing to grasp and embrace and bring to ourselves. We are in need of care and guidance, and without our shepherd, there is no hope! We would left to ourselves die spiritually! We can fall into the danger of thinking we are doing good on our own, and sometimes we need God to give us that little extra nudge to make us better. But that is not what sheep are like. They are utterly dependent, and we need to be also!
We are helpless without our Shepherd!
We just cannot be powerful enough to take care of ourselves against the enemy. Satan will devour us if we think that. We are defenseless and natural prey without the Lord. We need to be honest about who we are. There is nothing that we have that was not given to us by God.
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Hello! My name is Jason Smith. I have been preaching and teaching the Lord's people since 2007, and I started working with the church in Madrid Iowa in July of 2016.