Acts Series #26
Back to the Beginning:
When Church was Church
Christ Alone is Enough?
The World is full of people who will tell you what you need.
If you have a problem if you want their opinion, they will give it to you.
If you DO NOT want their opinion they will give it to you.
If you cough in public or sneeze someone will probably be there to tell you what you need to do to get rid of that.
You might say "I've been to the Dr. and I've got my medicine, he said "this or that" and they will come back and say, "well that's all well and good, but you need to do this too. You know, 'the dr. doesn't know everything'"
"Oh … I don't trust dr.s they will say"
I heard of a guy who heard he only had six months to live and they recommended his treatment and course of action and he went for a 2nd opinion … this one said "Move to Arkansas, buy a Hog Farm and marry a woman with 15 children". The guy asked is that going to make me better, or increase the quality of the time I have left?" "No," the dr. replied "but it will be the longest six months you have ever lived!"
Well … people out there are sure like that aren't they?
But we are different here in the church aren't we?
Are you kidding … go to any gathering of Christians and tell them your life story and people are going to give you a whole series of prescriptions for what spiritually ails you.
"Well, yes you need to receive Jesus, AND
- - You need to be in Sunday School
- - You need to memorize scripture
- - You need to be here on Wednesday Night
- - You need to serve in a ministry
- - You need to stop watching television and movies
- - you need to stop … this … that
And THEN Christ can work in your life … Then you will truly be a Christian … Then Jesus Can Change your life
That brings us to the question that they were faced with in this early church …
IS JESUS ENOUGH?
IS CHRIST ALONE … ENOUGH?
They were saying that he was enough in their preaching but NOT in this teaching.
There will always be someone in every church that is a full-on legalist.
Usually they are GOOD people
Usually they are GODLY people
Usually they are Strong GIVERS and Generous with their money and possessions
And they are Faithful to the Church
They are Faithful to the Things of God
That's what we have here … these men were Pharisees, who had come to faith in Christ … and were still bound to the Old Covenant Teaching … It was precious to them, special to them, it was powerful for them and they wanted to make sure that EVERYONE followed what they followed.
Is Jesus Enough? REALLY? Do we Believe That? REALLY?
Well there are two sides to this and both work together beautifully
If Jesus is Enough … Where should we be telling people to Look?
To Jesus … not to the Church Covenant or to your Neighbor, to your Sunday School Teacher, to the Pastor,
Look to Jesus
Behold - I love that word … It means LOOK …
it means "Check this Out"
it means Stop looking at THAT and Look at This
it means This is what You Need
Paul had the audacity to go out into the world, the Gentile, Pagan world mind you, and simply say …
Look to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Believe in Jesus
And word got back to Jerusalem
What was Paul thinking? He Obviously didn't go to seminary, hey wait a minute Paul IS a Pharisee, trained by the best, Gamaliel, well we need to just talk with him.
So first they decided to go UP to Antioch … we would say UP because it is North and West, THEY would say DOWN because EVERYTHING was DOWN from Jerusalem because Jerusalem was on a Mountain AND because Jerusalem was the Height of everything, religiously and in life so they went DOWN, to anywhere else, they condescended to travel anywhere else and anyone else would go UP to Jerusalem.
That in itself gives you an idea where these people were coming from.
When they came to Antioch and started teaching that "Unless they be circumcised you can't be saved" -
lets say that got Paul and Barnabas riled up
NIV says "sharp dispute and debate" the KJV says "no small dissension / disputation"
And verse 6 says that back in Jerusalem, they met to consider the question.
What question? Is Jesus ENOUGH
Yet throughout Scripture God's call has always been
A. Behold …
Look At Me …
Turn to Me …
Repent … means exactly that turn around and Look at me
Isaiah 12:2 - Behold, God IS my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid … the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song and he has become my salvation
Remember the Angel said
Luke 10:2 behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which shall be for all people --- LOOK
John the Baptist saw Jesus and said Behold the Lamb of God who takes way the sin of the world
Isaiah 45:22-24 Turn (look) to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. 23 By Myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. 24 they will say of me, ín the Lord alone are righteousness and strength."
But WHY? Why Christ Alone? Won't all those other things help? Was their a time, is there a picture in the OT of turning away from the traditional and the God commanded law to be saved alone?
I'm glad you asked me that
B. Why? - A Picture of Why
In John 3:14 - Jesus is speaking to another Pharisee named Nicodemus and Jesus said … Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up … What did Jesus Mean?
Do you know this story?
Turn with me if you'd like to Numbers 21:4-9 READ
What do we Do about the Snakes? ---
You can be sure they had tried everything … shooing them away, beating them, running, moving away from, ask God to take them away … but God says
Make a Snake … Put it on a pole … Look to the Snake on the Pole.
HUH? You aren't going to take them away
But those who in their sin looked to the image of their oppressor, found LIFE
WHY? Because God said that this was the only way
Moses I'm going to look to the Pole just as soon as I get rid of this snake biting my leg
Moses I'm going to look to the Pole but first let me take my anti-venom
Moses I'm going to look to the Pole, but I don't think the pole is going to do anything for me
V9 then anyone who was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived
Our snake, our affliction that is venomous and will take our lives is SIN, it is the result of our OWN disobedience and turning up our noses at the provision of God
SO, God sent his Son Jesus to BECOME Sin for us. And Just as Moses put up a SNAKE on the pole while snakes were taking their lives …
Even so, Jesus BECAME SIN - So if we, under the poisonous effects of our sin will LOOK to the Cross where Christ hung as sin for us then we can become Righteous before GOD
2 Cor 4:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God
NOT so that in Christ and IN the Church and IN a Good Life and IN Right Living, and IN America and IN whatever we become Righteous but
IN CHRIST ALONE
Jesus plus ANYTHING = BONDAGE
Jesus plus NOTHING = Freedom/Liberty / Salvation
But we are concerned the Jesus plus nothing might lead to libertinism or reckless freedom … Paul would said in Rom 6:1 - God Forbid - NO WAY
So, why did these guys have a problem with that?
Why would someone have a problem with preaching that the WAY is Jesus ALONE?
Write this WORD
I don't think that these Pharisees believed that Jesus Alone was enough.
Paul believed Jesus was ENOUGH
The Pharisees wanted to sell Anti-venom and Snake Repellant and include it alongside Jesus
They were attempting to create an obligation for the people apart from Christ
We are very guilty of this in the church at times. We give people Jobs and responsibilities NOT because they are called, NOT because they are gifted, but because we feel obligated to them or more likely like these Pharisees we want to give them a responsibility so that they will be obligated to being faithful
Our obligation should be to God in Christ ALONE …
Our job in the Church is to point people to Jesus Christ, the only one they are obligated to
I had a Pastor, whom I love, and in staff meeting he was feeling disappointed because a prominent young family was leaving our church because they had moved to a different part of the city and were finding a church closer to them and this pastor said to us "well you think they would be more obligated to this church, they came to Christ here, they met each other here, they were married here, and now we are losing their monthly tithe" NO … I know he meant well and was NOT verbalizing what he really meant, but people … if they are obligated to US we are missing it
I don't want you to attend this church because we have good music, or good preaching, or because you have a job to do that you can't get out of,
I don't want you tithing or giving an offering because we've done something for you or it's what you are obligated to do
I want you to attend, follow Christ, give to the church, serve in ministry because you are obligated to Christ because I believe that HE is the ONLY hope you have for life and eternity and you are, I am, We are Obligated to Him
1 Sam 12:24 - Be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you
2 Cor 5:13-15 if we are out of our mind it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you 14 For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again
If we believe that it is Christ Alone we need to shout it, tell it, live it, proclaim it, trust it
Paul said Ro 1:15-17 … I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome … 16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation of everyone who believe: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from FIRST to LAST, just as it is written; 'the righteous will live by faith.'
Paul said I am EAGER to preach the Gospel
WHY? Because I Believe that it can CHANGE the WORLD and the HEARTS of Men
Paul was convinced that the Gospel live up to and exceeded what it promised and what he expected
When we ADD to the Gospel, as these Pharisees did, it is evidence that we do not believe that it is ENOUGH
You see we are not calling people to
Look to Jesus out of FANCY or CURIOSITY but BELIEVING in FAITH
Eph 2:8,9 For by Grace you are Saved through faith and that is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast
God forbid we should ever believe in word or in action that Jesus is NOT enough by himself to give eternal life and make us right with God
God Forbid that we would believe that Jesus can lead us to Heaven's Gates and build us a home there but that Christ alone cannot rebuild a broken home and put a life back together
These Pharisees doubted Christ's Sufficiency, Do WE?
The World Asks? IS there Reason to Believe?
Is the Cross of Christ living up to the Hype?
If you will look to Christ, if I will look to Christ
If we will live in the All Sufficiency of Christ and not be ashamed to proclaim it THEN we give a watching world a reason to believe and Look to Christ alone
"Ok Pastor, this is great and but don't you think it is dangerous?"
Don't you think it is too much freedom to give people?
Look at them … they've been a Christian for days, weeks, months, and they still don't look like Jesus, we better add something to it …
Gal 2:29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise
What Paul is saying is that you might not look like an heir yet but if Christ's blood is in you, you will start to look like him before long
When my boys were born they didn't look that much like me, they were wrinkly and crying, and red faced … so what am I supposed to say?
Bill Cosby says when his first was born he said "it didn't look right, it didn't look like it was DONE and I told the Dr to put it back in and let it cook a little longer"
Well my boys didn't look like me yet but I didn't throw them back, I decided to feed them, spend time with them, love them, train them, and guess what they look like me because it was in their genetics to look like me and God, protect them, they are starting to act like me, because they are spending time with me.
Point them to Jesus … BEHOLD … LOOK …
THIS IS JESUS,
LISTEN TO HIS VOICE<
WALK IN HIS WAYS< KNOW HIS HEART
So are Sunday School, Bible Study, Wednesday Night, Ministry useless … NO … ONLY if they are self serving are they useless … only if they are substitutions for pointing them to Christ are they useless
Guess what Bible Study and Scripture memory, and church attendance, and Ministry help you SEE JESUS and so they are good but only as they serve their purpose
But aren't you worried about telling them to just look at Jesus that they won't learn to put aside other things?
No Because the Call to Jesus and Nothing Else goes on both sides, on this Side of the Cross and That Side it is Still Christ alone
Behold Jesus and Nothing Else
3. Behold Nothing Else
Ps 119:36, 37 = Turn my heart toward your statues … Turn my eyes away from worthless things
You see I am convinced that if we cause people to LOOK to Jesus … If we lift him up and lift their eyes, he will draw them to himself
I Believe that if you will LOOK to Jesus and Nothing Else, You will put aside all the other STUFF … It will become useless … you will have no room because you will be looking to Christ
Our call should be Don't Look to the Snakes
Don't Look to the Snake Charmers
Don't look to the anti-venom or snake repellant salesmen
Look to the Serpent on the Pole
Do you remember what got them in trouble FIRST IN Numbers?
It says they got "IMPATIENT on the way" -
We get impatient when Jesus doesn't work fast enough for us …
Look to the Cross
Without confidence in Anything ELSE
Look to the Cross
Look away from the things you cling to
Let them Go
The things in your life that you think you need
The Crutches that hold you up … They do NOT hold you up they Keep you From Running in the Power and Freedom of God
Do You remember the words of an old Hymn that says
Come my tears forever flow
Could my zeal no languor know
These for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and thou alone
In my hand no price I bring
Simply to thy cross I cling
I must tell you again one of my favorite stories and an uneventful Winter Sunday.
January 6, 1850 a snowstorm shut down Colchester, England and a 16 year old Baptist boy couldn't make it to his church and found his way into a little Primitive Methodist Church, where the preacher couldn't make it because of the storm and a faithful laymen Read Isaiah 45:22 - "Look to me, and be ye saved …" This boy had tried everything to make himself right with God for months and months he was the son and grandson of preachers but salvations assurance escaped him
That laymen said "you need not go to college, to LOOK … he shouted "even a child can Look" … then he looked at this boy and said "young man you look miserable … Young Man Look to Jesus Christ!" And he did and glory flooded his soul with the blessed assurance of salvation … And young Charles Haddon Spurgeon walked home with a new heart as white as the snow that fell on his hat.
Stopping looking here and there
Stop Giving them Jesus plus something else
Stop Trusting in yourself and Christ when all else fails