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"Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me that ye might have Life" [John 5:39.]

Ministry Given by: Evan Loats.

At: Oak Flats Christian Fellowship.

Date: Sunday Morning 6th. September 09.

Written By: Evan Loats.

 

Everybody has a favourite recipe.  Recipes are good - anyone can follow them and so long as you have the right ingredients and you follow the  you end up with the delicious dish you wanted.  However, following a recipe is a long way from being a cook.  Although you produce a wonderful dish, and it looks like you know what you are doing, you are a long way from being a master chef.

 

What about flat pack furniture?  Again you have to follow the instructions - sometimes rather complicated and in another language - but at the end you have a nice bookshelf, entertainment unit or piece of furniture.  You made it, and it all looks great, but are you any more a carpenter that you were beforehand afterwards? 

 Consider your car.  Newer cars now have yellow lids on the oil, water and other fluids, and the instructions tell us you should check and top up your oil, check our water etc.  Some of us even go as far as to change the oil ourselves and maybe the filter as well.  You end up covered in grease and oil but do you have any knowledge of how the motor works and does this make you a mechanic of any sort?

 We love instructions because they make it easy for us to do something - something we don't know how to do.  They save us time and money and it makes us look like we know what we are doing!  Further, they mean we don't need to have to think much, we just do it step by step.  How often parents have asked for instructions for raising their children!

 In Churches today we seem to have a trend to reduce a lot of things to a set of    - even the Gospel.  Salvation is now an alter call, praying the "sinner's prayer", signing the back of the conversion card and coming along to church every week.  Ideally we should also read the Bible and pray everyday, quit smoking, drinking and anything else that looks bad, and avoid anything "unchristian".  Switch to Christian music, send your kids to a Christian school, get involved in the Church run club that corresponds to your hobby. 

 Christianity has been reduced to a   of "you should do this" and "you can't do that".  Fellowship is reduced to a precise program of pew sitting, singing songs for 15 minutes, partaking of the Lord's table, listening a 30 minute sermon and then having a cup of tea and smiling and shaking hands.  Serving the Lord is now rostered and every so often you may have to greet people at the door or clean up.

 So often we can be following the instructions, but is there any real change in our lives?  A lot of people call themselves a Christian these days - but to them being Christian is just following the Bible - which they view as a set of   complemented by the Churches program which leaves us looking like a Christian.  Is this really how deep Christianity is?

 I've heard preached many many times over the years that the Bible is the instruction book for our life.  It was written by the Creator and who better to give us instructions on how we should live.  But did God really set out to write us a book of instructions?

 The Bible definitely contains instructions.  Let us be clear -     2 Tim 3:16 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness".  I'm not saying there are no instructions in the Bible - but should we treat the Bible as an instruction book?

 The Apostles and the Early Church didn't have the bible as we know it today.  They only had the Old Testament.  So what instruction book did they follow?  When Jesus was down here, did he gather all his Disciples and have them write down the   of instructions that they needed to be following?  On occasions he gave them direct commands - for instance "love one another"; "go ye into all the word and preach the gospel".  But did he make out that they should be following a set of instructions?  Was he following a set of   Did he constantly reprove them against some set of spiritual standards?

 Well Jesus actually told us what the purpose of the Bible was.     John 5:39,40,46,47 "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.  And ye will not come to me, that yet might have life." .... "For had ye believed Moses [the first 5 books of the Bible], ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.  But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?". 

 Firstly the Lord encourages them to search the scriptures - there is much profit in us getting into the Bible.  But what you are looking for when you read the Bible makes a huge difference.  The Jews thought that eternal life came by keeping the scriptures - following every last little instruction and direction to the letter.  So they read them to find out what they needed to do and to not do.

 But Jesus tells us clearly what the purpose of the Bible is - it testifies - or points you   - HIM!  Remember that he's talking about the old testament here, as well as the new - although the new hadn't been written!  All scripture - instructions or otherwise - is designed to point you to a person - Jesus Christ, not to point you to a set of instructions that you need to do. 

 Unfortunately though, here they would not come to him - they would only go as far as following the instructions, not knowing the instructor and his power and help. 

  

There is a huge need today to come to Jesus, not to come to a set of  

 I'm sure you've heard the catch phrase "what would Jesus do" or WWJD.  It's an interesting question, and I've found myself asking it from time to time in certain circumstances.  However, have you really stopped and thought about where that question leads you? 

 The question is meant to make sure that you don't do something Jesus wouldn't do.  You ask WWJD in this circumstance, and then you try and figure out - ok is there any instruction in the Bible about this circumstance?  Was Jesus ever in this circumstance?  What did he do?  Would he have done this, or perhaps that?

 Immediately you have a problem - you - yes you, who are not God - are trying to figure out what Jesus - who is God - would do.  His ways are not our ways - he never sinned and we sin plenty.  Even if you you can figure out what he would do - are you able to do it?  In every circumstance, every time, are you able to do it?  Hold on, this would mean it is possible that you could do the right thing every time and never sin!  Think about that for a second.

 If you could do what Jesus did then Jesus would not have needed to leave glory and come down to earth and do what he did - live a sinless life and die for us.  Let me say it again and read it slowly - if we could do what Jesus did, by following a set of instructions or in any way, then Jesus didn't need to come and die at all. 

 Be honest with yourself for a second.  You know what goes on inside your head.  You can't tell me you've never thought a dirty thought; that you've never hated someone or wanted to kill someone; that you've never lied or cheated; that you've never coveted something or been jealous of someone.  There's something fundamentally   with me and you - you know it.  Despite you wanting to be good and right, these thoughts and actions happen.  If not, why do we have psychologists?  Why is there crime and why do we need prisons?  There is something really wrong with us, and none of us are immune - it is called sin.  If there was any way we could fix it ourself - any set of instructions, any trick or method, it would have been found by now. 

 There's no way that we could live a perfect life - that's why   had to come.  There's no set of instructions that we can keep -   Gal 3:21 - "for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law". Try keeping the most famous set of instructions - the -  The Israelites have tried for thousands of years, but they keep failing.  The Bible, more than an instruction book, is very clearly a history book - it records the history of the Jews and we know they couldn't keep the law despite a whole nation focused on it, despite God being present and doing miraculous things right in front of them day by day. 

 Further on from this passage we are told what the law was for - the law was   "our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ" (Gal 3:24,25).  The instructions in the Bible are not there so that we must try and follow them to the letter - they are there to show us that we CANNOT do it!  They are there to show us that there is no way we can make it on our own, and that we need to come to Christ.  The examples given are not ones we can follow in our own ability at all.

 What about Jesus himself?  How did he live a perfect life - was it through following a set of instructions?  Well he didn't sin, so of course he actually did manage to meet all the requirements of the law but how did he do it?  Was he constantly checking himself and asking "what would God do"?  Did he rigorously make his disciples follow the law?  Did he encourage them to make sure people were keeping a set of standards or instructions?

Quite the contrary - Jesus rebuked and condemned the Pharisees which lived their whole lives striving to keep every aspect of the law.  Instead, Jesus focused on the need for them to change inwardly and he lived his life in an example of dependence on his Father.   John 5:30 "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear I judge: and my judgement is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which sent me"    John 17:8 "For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me".  Jesus was God, yet he gave an example of one dependant upon the Father.  He sought and followed his Father's will.  It was a relationship that empowered him to live a sinless life, not a set of instructions.

 I like to be practical when I preach - I like to be able to give examples and to show how to apply what has encouraged my heart in our lives.  However, there is a danger in this, and we see it happening so much today in Churches.

 If I just preached a set of   for you to following this morning - you'd all be happy - it would be easy to follow, you'd go home, and if you followed the instructions to the letter, you'd end up looking like the cake shown on the recipe picture - a nice Christian cake.  However, your heart would not be changed one little bit. 

 If I just preached examples of what things should look like for a Christian - you will go away and try to mimic that example.  That is how it should be, and you'll try your best to look like that - by whatever means you can.  You may try and try and try, but I guarantee you will run out of steam and fail.  You may even look like it for a time but you are not a Christian just because you look like a Christian, and if you try and try and try to keep looking like a Christian all you will do is burn out and end up finding that being a Christian is too hard. 

 If I went further and just preached the obedience - you must do this and you must do that, you must obey the Bible to the letter - you'll end up in trapped in legalism.  You will be so worried about missing the blessing of the Lord because you're got to obey the word, that you will tie yourself in knots.  Worse still, you'll end up spiritually dead - yes DEAD -  2 Cor 3:6 "Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament, not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit

giveth

So what should we preach?  Let's look at what Paul preached -  1 Cor 1: 23-25 "But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.  Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men."  He preached Christ!  No list of instructions, no set of laws but Christ the   of God and the wisdom of God - instructions don't have the power of God - only a relationship with Christ does!  We don't have enough wisdom to know what would Jesus do, nor enough power to live a good enough life, we need Christ himself!

 And guess what - this is what the Holy Spirit is there to do in our life - if you have truly recognised you sin and asked the Lord into your life, he gives you his Holy Spirit, who will "quicken" or make alive.  He doesn't just offer you righteousness, he gives you His righteousness.  He doesn't just give you a set of instructions but he gives you his life.  He doesn't just give you the power to live the Christian life, he offers to live the Christian life in and through you if you will COME TO HIM and let him.

 If you are treating the Bible simply as an instruction manual, or you think the Christian life is a recipe of do's and don'ts that you have been going up and down trying to live out; Perhaps you feel Christianity is just too hard for you and you are burning out or maybe there is a huge weight of legalistic pressure over you and the life and joy you had when you first came to the Lord is missing; then remember this - Christ didn't come to give you a set of instructions - he came to give HIMSELF that you might have him and his LIFE in youHe is the Way the truth and the life

 Make Paul's motto your own  Phil 3:8b-10 "that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the rightousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his ressurection..." and  Gal 2:20 "I am crucifed with Christ nevertheless I live; yet not I but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."   1 Thes 5:24 "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it".  He will do it if you ask and let him.

                                                      

 

Jesus Loves You.

 God Bless.