THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT

Program Air Date – 7-21-13

LESSON TITLE: “TEST YOUR RELIGION.”

WELCOME

Welcome to the Living Word Program on this wondrous Lord’s Day morning. We thank God that you have chosen to be with us today, as we commit this time to our wondrous Creator. What a great privilege we have today to join in this opportunity to praise our God and glorify our Savior. May we each do our part to make this time acceptable in His sight and according to His Will. Now, let’s approach our Father’s throne in prayer.

(Prayer)

What a wonderful privilege we have as Christians to lift up our voices in praise to God. Furthermore, what a sweet smelling savor the fruit of our lips is to our Creator. So, this morning won’t you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together our first hymn of the morning. The name of the song “Softly And Tenderly Jesus Is Calling!”

(SONG # 1)

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

I often think about how spoiled we are today. We generally forget just how easy we have it. You don’t have to look very far back in history to see those who struggled, sacrificed, suffered and died so that you and I could have the freedoms we do today. For the most part, it seems like younger generations today just don’t seem to realize or understand the great sacrifice that was made by others so that they could enjoy the blessings of today.

Isn’t it the same when we talk about religious things? Think about it for a moment. Throughout religious history many have also struggled, sacrificed, suffered and died. But why? For the very same reasons, so that you and I could have the freedom and blessings in Christ which we do today.

Whenever we start talking about sacrifice, the obvious one is the great event when Jesus went to the cross. It is only because of this the greatest of sacrifices that we are able to be in Christ today. Without the shedding of Christ’s blood we would not have an opportunity to be saved, nor could we receive forgiveness of sins. In Colossians 1:14, we read, “in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Once again we see that the blood of Christ is the cleansing agent! How often do we remember the great sacrifice that Christ has made for all men?

Besides Christ, we have so many during Bible times and since, who have been willing to pay the necessary price to bring us to today. One event that sticks out in my mind is found in 1 Corinthians 11:24-28. Notice what Paul said there, “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness; besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.”

How many of us would even accept one of these trials or persecutions and still stand strong for God. Brethren, let’s always remember the great sacrifice and love that has been demonstrated time and time again, by those who love God enough to prove it through actions. Let’s thank God for those examples that we have that give us the abilities and freedoms we have today to be able to serve God in peaceful times. We need to all count our many blessings.

Today we will be continuing our new series of study entitled, “Test Yourselves.” Our specific topic this morning is “Test Your Religion.” So please continue with us this morning and after our next song together I return with this lesson from God’s Word.

It’s now time to join in our second hymn of the morning, the name of the song, “Soldiers Of Christ Arise.”

(SONG # 2)

LESSON

By Ray Sullins

We are so glad you are continuing with us this morning and as we now go to God’s word yet again in another lesson concerning those things which test us to make ourselves better servants in the kingdom of God. So our series has been entitled, “Testing Ourselves,” That we might again make sure that what we are doing everyday, what we are saying, is according to what the Bible says. Therefore when we know we accomplish the will of God according to the Bible through obedience we know that we passed the test and God is certainly pleased with us and when he is please with us as any parent He blesses His children.

This morning then we want to ask another question in relationship to the text. This question really is in the context of religion as a whole and we might begin to ask ourselves the question do we really at times test our beliefs or our religion? There is not any one of us I would say who at one time or another have not questioned what we believe or what we think. Maybe it is at a time when we are thinking about a great miracle of the Bible or we are considering maybe a situation of life, or maybe we are going through a very dear trial and we begin to question our faith or maybe even the things of God or even what it is that God is doing for us at all. Now I believe that’s quite normal actually but it’s normal also to study the word of God and to find those answers again and be reassured. What is not normal is to turn away from God and to forget God altogether certainly knowing the things that you and I do about such a magnificent and wondrous creator. But as we again test ourselves and we begin to say but we know this about God, and we know that about God, and here is what the Bible says, and here is the proof of Bible itself, and the unity of the Bible, and the age of the Bible, and the ability for it to stand strong for thousands of years now. So many things again come to our minds and our hearts that we might be assured by the fact that we believe what is real, what is right, what is acceptable, and what is really Godly. Therefore we again are found acceptable in the very sight of that same creator who has made us. But in relationship to religions sometimes it is good to question what we do because what we want to make sure, and what I desire always, is that I want to do what God says. It doesn’t matter what I think, what I like, or what I feel and it frankly doesn’t matter what you think, or what you like, or you feel because what we are about as servants of God is serving God not someone else and certainly not ourselves. So I think it is very healthy for us at times to make sure that what I am doing in my daily life, and the way that I again talk, and the things that I do in my actions, that in my worship to my God, everything that I am doing that I make sure I am passing the test. It is what God has asked of me as a faithful child and really that I have not become caught up in perhaps something that I like or something that I have justified in my own mind or something that someone else’s life or really they have helped me to justify in my mind. Because again, who do we serve? We serve God.

So as we test ourselves in relationship to religion I might begin to ask you a few questions that you have probably have heard before. In fact maybe you have asked others this before, where is your church? A question for instance, where is the head quarters of your church? An idea we might think about in saying who founded your church? Those are all great questions; they are all great questions because when we look at so many religions the answers are different. You might look to one group and they might say well a man named John Wesley founded our church. You might look to another group and they might say that a man named Martin Luther founded their church. You might even ask when they founded that church and they say in the days when they did this, or that, or a, b, c, d or whatever those aspects are, and when they accomplished this task, or when they wrote this, or when they had that thing. That is what I want you to think about for a moment. Who founded the Church? Who alone has the ability the right to be the founder of the Church? So who established your church, the church you go to? By the way it wouldn’t be your church and it wouldn’t be my church for it is only God’s Church. But the church that you attend who founded it? When did it start? Where is its headquarters?

Let’s look at a few things the Bible has to say about such things in relationship to what we should believe as those who love God. Turn with me first of all to the book of 1Corinthians, there in 1Corinthians 3 we actually begin clearly through the Holy Spirit as He led Paul to understand the one alone who founded the Church of God. And if you might note with me there in the text you are going to find with me that it is God himself. Read with me the text, 1Corinthians 3:11 the Bible says, “For no other foundation can anyone lay that that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Now we often use the ideas as we read in Scripture of all and every well there is another concept here, no other. Well, what does it mean when I say no other, no one else? What does that mean? Well, it means there are no exceptions; no other foundation can be laid than that which has been laid which is Jesus Christ. Who is the founder of your church again? Is it Jesus Christ? For Jesus alone is able to found the church for He is the Christ, He is the one who alone did what was required in order that one be saved. So I say who founded the church that you are apart of and by whom are you saved? You are not saved by any man, not by any man who is simply a man of this earth if you want to consider the fact that Jesus lived as a man however still God in the flesh then certainly that is another discussion. But no man, no simple man, is able to be individual who not only founded the church for they are not God, but no man is able to proclaim that by their name you might be saved. How do I know that again? The Bible says so. Turn with me to Acts 4 guess what it is that we learn here concerning the name by which we must be saved. Here is what Peter and John told them, he said in verse 11, “This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.” And by the way if you go back to Psalm 118 there is a quote where David was actually referencing the coming of Christ. Well then in verse 12 He says, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Whose name are you saved by? Is it God’s name? Jesus alone can save, do you know why? Jesus alone was willing to go to the cross and die for your sins. He alone is qualified, no man has ever come and died for the sins of the world all be it those who are faithful, lovers of God, or even those who are haters of God.

I also want you to notice with me something else about that concept found over in the same book but Acts 20. If Jesus is the founder and He alone is the one who would be capable of building the church how did He accomplish that goal? Well we have just identified it but there in Acts 20:28 he says that the shepherds were to shepherd the flock of God which is the church and he therefore also adds this, “…which He purchased with His own blood.” What makes Jesus uniquely qualified to not only establish the church, to be the alone founder of the church, but to also have a name by alone which one might be saved. Well, He gave His life on the cross, He shed His blood. In fact the blood of Jesus we learn here purchased the church, it established the church. No wonder we read early on in the Gospel accounts such as what we find in the book of Matthew 16:18, when there we learn that Jesus speaks of the desire He has to build His church. In fact if you notice with me there the confession has just been made by Simon Peter in verse 16 and He says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God…” That is what made Jesus uniquely qualified to be the one who had founded the church. He goes on to say verse 17, “Flesh and blood Peter has not revealed these things to you but alone my Father in heaven and on this I will build my church.” There is no such thing as the church of Ray, thankfully Ray hasn’t died for you and Ray has never been and will never be God. But Jesus is and Jesus was and He loved you enough to die for you and to shed His blood to purchase a church that you now call by the name of another man. That you now look to the name of another man in order to be saved, that you now look to the words of another man rather than the words of God alone found in the Bible. What I would say is how sad. How sad that you cannot look at the church you are a part of and see the purity that is found in it because it is simply the church that Jesus established in the New Testament. That He alone was uniquely qualified to build and to be the founder of, Jesus God in the Flesh.

Now taking all of those things into account it is also exciting to think about such things because it is such a simple idea or a simple thought but yet again so beautiful in so many ways. Because as we go back to prophecy for instance in Isaiah 2, do you remember with me there in Isaiah 2 where the great prophet again by the Holy Spirit revealed that there was a day coming. He said the later days, “That the mountain of the Lord’s house,” Isaiah 2, “Shall be established on the top of the mountains,” established above the hills, “And all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord.” Under the old covenant we know that God had chosen a specific people this verse is talking about a day when all nations of all the earth including Jew and Gentile will come to the mount of the Lord. And He says the day will take place when we shall walk in His paths and His ways and these things will come forth He says verse 3 from the place Jerusalem. It will happen in Jerusalem.

If I were to ask you when was the church established that you attend? You know the answer that I would give you; I wouldn’t give you any date by man in maybe the last several hundred of years. I would give you the date that is found there in Acts 2 because in Acts 2 which was around A.D. 30-33, whether it was 30-33 doesn’t matter, because the fact is we have the Holy Spirit revealing to us that in Acts 2 that was the day that Peter and the others received the Holy Spirit. Chapter 2 in full measure, they began to speak in tongues where everyone could hear what was being said in their own language, it was such a glorious miracle that that day we learn 3000 souls were baptized. Why were they baptized? Because they had asked the question back up in verse 37, men and brethren what must we do we have just killed the son of God the very son of God who has said He would come as the Messiah and build a church a kingdom and that we will be a part of that kingdom what must we do? Then Peter said in verse 38, “Repent and be baptized.” Repent and be baptized, they confessed their belief, they repented, and they were told to be baptized. Then it says three thousand souls were baptized in the same text and then in verse 47 He goes on to say, “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Who’s Church? The Lord’s church. God alone has the power to save you and to add you to the church and even though I might assist you in some way in knowledge or actually go through the act I have no power in salvation. God alone does and by your faith through your faith when you pass the test that God has laid out and you do those things that He has required He alone has the power to add you to His church. What a beautiful thing. What a glorious thing because then we understand that Jesus Christ alone as the one who established the church, built the church, founded the church. Jesus Christ alone then is uniquely qualified to be the head of the church.

If I were to ask you who was the head of your church I’m afraid that some of you might give me various answers and some of you might tell me a name of a man where you go to church or other men. I’d like to tell you again who the head of the church that I am a part of is, and I will take you straight to the Bible again to understand such. First of all we see the idea there found in Ephesians 1:22, it says, “And He,” the Father, “put all things under His feet,” Jesus, “and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body.” Who is head of the church? Jesus Christ. In the same book over in Ephesians 5:23, it says, “For the husband is head of ht ewife, as also Christ is head of the church.” Then it tells us again why He is uniquely qualified and He is the Savior of the body, He is the one who shed His blood and gave me the opportunity of salvation unto eternal life.

You see what we are talking about today is a test, a test against what we really believe from where we attend church. Do we and are we beleiveing and standing on the church of Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone? Or have we put our assurances in men and the denominations of men? Today I challenge you to test your faith, to examine yourselves to make sure you are right with God. You are right with God if you are doing it His way, if you are a part of His church, if you are loving His leadership, and you know He is King. Will you fully submit to your creator today?

(SONG # 3 - “Sun Of My Soul!”)

CLOSING COMMENTS

Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. I hope and trust, that together we have all benefited from this service to our Lord. Let me also invite you to join us every Lord’s Day morning at 7:30 as we give this time to our Creator.

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Let’s all make sure that we test our religion to make sure that it is truly that which is from God and not from man. For there is only one Way from God above, and that is Jesus and His Word.

(Program closing)