THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 1-9-05
LESSON TITLE: "FROM HEAVEN OR MEN: RELIGIOUS NAMES AND TITLES"
Nehemiah once proclaimed, "This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." On this Lord's Day morning, no truer words have ever been spoken. Thanks be to God, for He is our strength on this holy day! We are glad you are with us this morning to give this time to the things of God. And what a privilege it is to once again assembly before our Creator and to Worship and praise His Name. May we each focus our thoughts on God at this time and give this time fully to His remembrance.
At this time may we start our devotion to God by talking with our Father in prayer. Bow with me please!
Let's begin immediately with our songs of praise this day. The first song of the morning asks us about the condition of our heart. So, won't you do your part in worship to God at this time and join in with the congregation as we sing together, "Is Thy Heart Right With God!"
(SONG # 1)
Earlier we mentioned a verse which reminded us of the great strength our Lord gives us. Another such passage is found in 1 Chronicles 29:11-13. Consider with me in these verses just how our God strengthens us. There we read, "Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, And You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all. Now therefore, our God, We thank You And praise Your glorious name." Truly it is in the power and might of God that we are able to receive strength in this life. No doubt this is why the writer here proclaims his God to be glorious. I hope we are as thankful to God for all the strength He gives to us as the faithful.
Now I would like to consider a final point on strength which comes from Peter's words in the New Testament! There we read, "But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you," 1 Peter 5:10. Wow, notice all that this verse confirms. We are promised grace, eternal life, and that even though we suffer God has confirmed that He will perfect, establish, strengthen and settle us. Oh, how much our Savior Loves us and how much He proves this through His constant protection and care. Thanks be to God for the strength He promises to those who obey His Will.
We are glad to have a guest speaker with us on this Lord's Day. We welcome brother Curt Nelson to the program. Brother Curt is one of the instructors at the Bible Institute of Missouri, as well this brother preaches for the Leesville church of Christ. We are certainly pleased to have brother Nelson with us today to lead us in our main study from God's Word.
As far as our series, we will be concluding the series entitled, "From Heaven Or Men!" The specific lesson of the day will deal with the, "Religious Names and Titles!" So, please stay with us this morning and at the appropriate time brother Nelson will be leading us in this study from God's Word. Now let's join together in our second song of the day. The name of this hymn, "In The Land Of Fadeless Day."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Kurt Nelson
At this time if you would like to open your Bibles to Matthew chapter 23, we're going to be looking at verses 5-12. In the context of this chapter, our Lord is dealing with the condemnation and the actions of the scribes and the Pharisees. Rather than practicing the Jewish religion to be in compliance with the Will of God, these Jewish hypocrites sought the praise of men rather than the praise of God. As we see in Acts 4:19, our Lord wants us to do those things that are pleasing in His sight and not pleasing in the sight of men. These Jewish hypocrites wanted to achieve self glory and they wanted to put on different items which promoted how religious they are in the sight of God, and of course they wanted to broaden their clothing, and also they wanted to wear the scripture on their forehead, and the more scripture they had on their forehead, well that indicated how religious they were. Of course our Lord was against these things. They would seek to be called "rabbi." They would seek to be called "scribes and Pharisees," for the sect in which they were in and they wanted to promote themselves above man, or other men.
If you would, look with me at this time in Matthew 23:5-7 and we notice our Lord's attitude about these things. "But all their works they do for to be seen of men. They make broad their phylacteries and enlarge the borders of the garments and they love the uppermost rooms at feasts and the chief seats in the synagogue, and greetings in the markets, and to be called "rabbi, rabbi." There are instances which we see where the Lord had at various times condemned this type of attitude, but they still insisted on being called "rabbi." Of course, we know that God was not pleased with this type of behavior for God is no respector of persons as we find in Acts 10:34. God is to be the Almighty God and He is to be reverend as such, but as for men, we see a pseudo-type of humility in which they profess to be humble, but in fact they are promoting themselves above other men.
The first point that I would like to look at is those seeking religious titles and self glory today are just as much in violation of Jesus' teaching as were the scribes and Pharisees of that day and time. If you would look with me at Matthew 23:8-10, we notice some things that were stated by our Lord and Savior. Of course, they were recorded by Matthew, but he was inspired by the Holy Spirit. "But be not ye called rabbi, for one is your Master even Christ and all ye are brethren and call no man your father upon the earth, for one is your Father which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters for one is your Master even Christ." We see here in verse 8 that he emphasizes that we are to be called brethren and not masters. How many in the secular world want to promote themselves above others? As a matter of fact, they will step on each other trying to get to the top. Just like rats trying to climb to the top of the heap. But the problem with this is whenever we try to step on one another to get to the top, we leave out the two most important things, that is the love of God and the love of our brethren. He instructs them to be called brethren not in a secular way, not in a way that is describing brethren as a title, but it is our relationship with one another in a family of God.
See we all have a role to play and we have a role as His servants. We are to seek to be called by some, or if we seek to be called by some religious title, it is like seeking the honor of deity or the godhead. Now do we want to be God or do we want to allow God to be God? See God gave us a free will. We can choose what we do in religion. We can choose what we do in life. But what we choose isn't necessarily sometimes the truth or is it going down the right path? We see in our society today people taking the wrong path all of the time. We try to counsel them. We try to help them to do those things that will help them to live a better life, and we donate a lot of money in this endeavor. But in the final analysis, they will do what they want to do. We are all self-willed and we can choose the path that we take, not only in the secular world, but also in the religious world.
The second point that I would like to look at is rather than trying to exalt ourselves, we should seek to be servants and to serve. That is what our Lord and Savior wanted us to do. He practices this very thing on the night He was betrayed in the book of John in which He goes in and He has His disciples to sit down and He begins to wash their feet. Well the disciples rebel at this at the beginning, but then after He ascends, they understand what He meant by being servants. Those that want to be greatest are to be servants.
In verse 23:11, we see that, "He that is greatest among you shall be your servant." That is what we seek to do is to serve others, not for any self glory, not for other men to notice what we do, but we do these things and God sees in secret, He knows our hearts, He knows our minds, He will reward us not only in this life, but in the life to come.
The third point that I would like to look at is in verse 12. "And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted." You know those who exalt themselves shall be humbled and the humble, God will exalt. This is plain language and no doubt you don't need someone like me to explain how simple this is in exhortation, but I appreciate the opportunity to be able to talk to you about the Word of God not as someone that is able to be on TV but to be a humble servant. That is my goal in life and I hope it is your goal in life.
We have a responsibility to teach God's Word. We have a responsibility to teach only God's Word. I am to put God's Word out first. I am to stand behind the cross and proclaim Jesus Christ and all that He taught.
We find in Galatians 1:8-10, "But though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that which you have received let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men or God or do I seek to please men for if I yet please men, I should not be the servant of Christ." Here Paul is explaining in Galatians to the brethren there who were trying to exalt themselves. They had the Judaisers coming in and that was Jews that were halfway converted and there is no such thing as being halfway converted to anything. You either are converted or you're not. So they crept in and they were adding laws where God had not asked them to and they were taking away from which they shouldn't be taking away from. But we notice that they were trying to turn men to their way of religion. Brethren, we have all around us some 30,000 religions and they have various names that they wear such as "rabbi," or "bishop," or "reverent," "most reverent," "most holy reverent," "pastor," "bishop," "pope," "father," and all of these things are religious titles which is very, very wrong in the sight of God for God is no respector of person as we have noticed before, so why do they take it upon themselves to add a name to show that they are different than the ones that they are supposedly serving? We see that this is a pseudo-humility, a false humility and it is a false way of acting, brethren, and of course, when we do not act in accordance to God's Will, we notice here in Galatians that "we will be accursed, though we are an angel (and of course he is talking about the apostle Paul) if an apostle taught any other gospel than that which they had received and taught them, Judas was one that was not to be followed." He was an apostle of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but he was not to be followed because he set the wrong example and he did the wrong thing and he didn't repent in a godly way.
So remember, for do I now persuade men or God? Am I stepping into the place of God? Because I know the book, does that make me a god to men? Many will say, "We are servants but we have chosen a different path." We don't need a different path, brethren. We all need to be going down the same path and we have a handbook that we need in order to travel down that same path. We don't need to exalt one brother over the other. We as preachers are looked up to a lot of times as being the leadership of the church. God has designated how the leadership should be. Christ is head and the headquarters is in heaven, and it falls down to the elders. They are a plurality of elders. No one elder has any more power than the others. There's to be a plurality of them. Then there is deacons. Then teachers, preachers, and then the local members of the congregation. I wish we had more time to study these things through because they are so vital not only to the way that we do things here upon earth and the things that we accomplish in this life, but they are also important for where we spend an eternity.
Again, I would like to thank you for the time that you have taken to watch this and I hope that it is a benefit to you and please study these things and if you have any questions, contact the Kansas Expressway church of Christ and we will sit down with Biblical answers. Thank you.
(SONG # 3 - "Faith Is The Victory!")
May I again take this opportunity to thank you for joining us today. I hope our time together has been an encouragement and thus a blessing to us all. Please remember that you are invited back to join us every first day of the week, at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this time of Worship before God!
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May we never choose to wear the names and title of man which elevate us and puff us up before this world. Rather, may we only use and apply those names and titles which God has given us through His divine authority.