No Room For Cowards

How Did I Get Here?  Where Do We Go From Here?

These are questions that are often asked by philosophers and answered in a theoretical form.

The habits we learn in childhood and thoughts are firmly embedded into our lives and we often don’t even realize that they are not necessarily truths.

Richard Noel

I grew up in a church where they talked about “truth” all the time.  They even said, “we have the truth”.  Then they would say we have “the testing truth for the world”.  We professed to base all our practices and beliefs on the Bible.  It was only after years of teaching what I had been taught that I discovered that we have much to learn and much to unlearn before we will really measure up to the standards of God and His word.

I find it still is emotionally difficult to examine everything I believe according to the Bible.  This is a continuous and present need for all true Christians.  Jesus warned us that deceptions would increase until the end of all things as we know them.  Why is this warning so prominent?  Jesus began is answer to the disciples with, ” 4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you”. (Mat 24:4 NAS)

Download (right-click and choose Save Link/Target As)

Sermon. Audio. MP3 format. Duration 47 minutes.

Sabbath, May 16, 2009

Adria Advent Christian Church

He continues in verse 11 “And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many. (Mat 24:11 NAS)

He repeats this warning in verses 23,24,26 by saying THREE TIMES “do not believe them”.

Why would so many be mislead?

One prominent reason is what I call “yes, but” religion.

Another reason is “I’ll try” religion.

I grew up with both of these lies around me.  Both of these errors are based on personal pride.

KJV  Proverbs 13:10 Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.

It is common in American society to disagree and lie to people about our actual beliefs. A common method is to say, “I’ll have to give that a try”.  This statement actually means that we believe we are the final one to determine truth and there is no authority higher than ourselves.  I hasten to say there are proper places to use this answer.  When we use it in response to the Bible, we are simply lying.

We are used to hearing liars and laughing as if it means nothing.  Politicians lie. Preachers lie. Salesmen lie.  So… do we all lie? This is not a laughing matter.  The Bible says that all liars will end up  in the lake of fire.(Rev. 21:8)  Does God lie?  Absolutely not!!

Yes but, religion denies truth in another way.  They say yes, but I don’t think it is that important.  Or, Yes, that is your interpretation, but mine is different.

My personal search of the Bible began a few years ago when in the middle of a lesson quarterly I read the following phrase, “Seventh day Adventists teach”.  This was written by an SDA scholar. I sat up in my chair and read the phrase again.  I had never noticed that expression previously in over 50 years of reading quarterlies. It was like the “shot heard around the world”. If we have to assert a belief with the prefix “we teach”, we should be fully providing a Bible exposition of that teaching. No such full exposition was provided.  Mind you,… for years I had taught what the writer was stating as a church belief.  I realized I had taught it by assertion, not by careful Biblical study.

I believe the Holy Spirit was leading me to find out the truth from the Bible.  Thus began my odyssey in the Bible.  I have spent some six years at this point on this study process. I am slowly writing a book about the subject that caught my attention.

As a person who discovered that what I taught as truth for many years was partly error was a severe trauma.  I have discussed these discoveries with others and received a mixed group of responses.  Those responses range from “you are wrong” to “I’m not interested” to an openness that is encouraging.  Recently, a church leader spoke with me about his desire to have an open and honest environment to search the Bible seriously.  Then, he said I was not to discuss these matters openly among his congregation. I am praying that he will come to live by his expressed desire.

I consider banning open honest Bible study a rejection of truth.

When I met Pastor Elswick, I was immediately impressed by his desire to follow Jesus even in the face of opposition.  His spirit was clearly subject to the Bible and Holy Spirit.  There is nothing artificial in him.  Otherwise, he would be crazy to go against the traditions of his own congregation.  I personally know some others who have suffered from persecution by those who professed to be their brothers in Christ.

You all are aware of someone who is famous in Christianity for suffering persecution for his faith by his own people.  He was originally known  as Saul of Tarsus. It took Saul 3 and 1/2 years with Jesus in the desert and 11 more years out of sight fore he was “ordained” by the Christian church in Antioch.  He was a fervent believer and teacher the entire time of 14 years before the Holy Spirit designated him to the work that lasted the rest of his life.

Today, I stand before you as a work in progress. The Holy Spirit is still digging out the garbage from my past. I am still mostly “fill dirt”. God is working on me and I am listening and doing what He says.

We all have times of decision that stand as landmarks in our lives. A recently deceased friend of mine (A former Roman Catholic) described the Roman Church members.  He said most of them only attend church three times: 1) when they are hatched; 2) when they are matched; and 3) when they are dispatched.  It is obvious to us that this speaks to very low levels of loyalty to the church and no real loyalty to the God they profess.  Elijah dealt with an apostate nation after three and a half years of famine. He did not call the people to that meeting.  He told a desperate king to bring them to the meeting.  That was about the only day when a heathen king set up the meeting for a great revival.  The story is in 1 Kings 18.  I will only refer to one verse because it is so full of meaning for us today.  I will present it to you in my own translation.

I Kings 18:21 Then Elijah came to the people and said, how long will you limp on two crutches? If Yahweh is God, walk behind Him.  If Baal, walk behind him. And the people answered him not a word.[Noel]

Who here has used two crutches at the same time?

You know that two crutches make you completely dependent .  The people were using Yahweh and idols as crutches.  If they really believed in one they would walk behind the one they believed in without any need of crutches.

In my struggles with the Bible, I have learned that I cannot lean on other people when God says to go another way.  If I trusted in man, I would have quit studying and trusting the Holy Spirit. This would have guaranteed that I would not be here speaking today.

The joy of the Lord is my strength(Neh. 8:10).  I am blessed with a believing wife. God has been teaching me not to depend on the arm of man. I have learned to trust the same method that the Apostle Paul used.

4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:

5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

(1Co 2:4-5 KJV)

Even Nicodemus recognized God’s power in Jesus. (John 3:2)

I believe it is time for us all to take the promises of God and apply them to our lives. I was taught pessimism and ultimately failure when I trained to be a dentist. All physicians are trained the same way.  They are not taught “health” they are taught sickness.  Thus we have become the “priests of sickness”.  We were taught to dispense treatments and medicines like “magic bullets” to hopefully help the patients get well. The media propagates this like while suggesting that researchers are getting closer to a CURE for one or another malady of man. While the treatments and medicines are not necessarily evil in and of themselves, the real danger is in believing that only the doctors hold the way to health, while they themselves are dying of the same diseases they try to cure.

David wrote about this issue in Psalm 25:

4 Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths;

5 guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. (Psalm 25:4-5 NIV)

I have found that trusting completely in God for health and healing is more reliable than spending money on doctors. Besides that, it is free.

Jesus taught methods to his disciples that the Christian church has largely overlooked for centuries.

Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them two and two ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come.

2 And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

3 “Go your ways; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.

4 “Carry no purse, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way.

5 “And whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’

6 “And if a man of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him; but if not, it will return to you.

7 “And stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house.

8 “And whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat what is set before you;

9 and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’  (Luk 10:1-9 NAS)

The first instruction is almost totally ignored and the second is misunderstood.  The Body of Christ has decided to ignore divine healing, but Jesus made it the prerequisite to the message of God’s kingdom. You can’t have an effective message unless you give it the way God specified it.

I grew up in a denomination that runs medical and dental schools as well as hospitals around the world.  They have the second largest parochial school system in the world.  How did they get off track?  Probably like most people.  We tend to not do what doesn’t get our attention. They were busy about other good things and overlooked the better things as Jesus told Martha.

The disciples certainly did not forget this formula from Jesus.  Just read the Book of Acts and you will see that healings and miracles were a large part of the Apostles ministry. These divine acts of healing were the credentials of the believers.

The second part needs more examination as well. For our message following our credentials as witnesses must be equally according to God’s instruction

All the English translations have missed the most obvious meaning of that second command. They chose an easy alternative to the actual text. The actual text reads,”The kingdom of God has come upon you.”

When we exercise the authority given to believers to heal the sick, it is obvious that God has acted directly upon those who are healed. If we don’t know what is meant by the “kingdom of God”, we will not know what else is important.

The Bible uses two distinct phrases that we need to recognize and employ accurately. They are: 1) kingdom of God , and  2) kingdom of Heaven.

The “kingdom of God” divine control in the believers on this earth. A kingdom implies a king.  The king is our creator and redeemer. The king is the boss inside us when we are born again. It is impossible for created beings to function without recognizing either directly or indirectly that they are not God.

The “kingdom of heaven” is in heaven. (2 Timothy 4:18)  God’s plan is to merge the two when sin and sinners are eradicated and this earth is recreated free from sin as it was before Adam fell.  Jesus instructed us in what is called the Lord’s prayer to say, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)

When Jesus comes these two separated parts of God’s kingdom will be united forever. (Rev. 11:15)

“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Rev 11:15 NIV)

Over my lifetime, I have heard sermons encouraging us to seek the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. However, there seemed to be a gap between recognizing the need and receiving God’s special anointing. The church people gave lip service to believing the prophets, but they seemed not to want to face a live prophet.  We all were like the Pharisees whom Jesus condemned.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,

30 and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’

31 “Consequently you bear witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.

32 “Fill up then the measure of the guilt of your fathers.

33 “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell?

34 “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city,

35 that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.  (Mat 23:29-35 NAS)

We had lots of lip service to the prophetic, but didn’t want a live prophet to upset our comfortable institutions and habits.

When I first met a living prophet I forced myself to sit back and listen to see if he was actually in agreement with the Bible. To my amazement, I found no conflicts with the Bible.  Instead, I heard him repeatedly encourage those who found problems with the Bible to trust the Bible. His life is one of total dependence on God and obedience to the Word of God. I have also met several of his associates who also have the prophetic gift as described in 1Corinthians 14:24,25.  He has related how when he received the gift of the Holy Spirit, he was given the ‘left foot of fellowship’ by his own people.  As he grew in his knowledge of God and His word, God spoke more frequently and directly to and through him.

He tells of being in Jerusalem in a hotel on Sabbath. As he was praying Jesus asked him, “are you willing to die for me?” he answered “yes Lord” then Jesus said, “are you willing to keep the Sabbath for me?” His immediate reply was “yes Lord” and he has kept and taught the Bible Sabbath ever since.

I have personally experienced Divine healing and revelations since I welcomed the Holy Spirit into a controlling position in my life.

Jesus promises the same for all believers.

10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.

11 “Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; otherwise believe on account of the works themselves.

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father.

13 “And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

14 “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

16 “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;

17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

19 “After a little while the world will behold Me no more; but you will behold Me; because I live, you shall live also.

20 “In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.  (Joh 14:10-20 NAS)

Not only does Jesus promise signs and wonders, he includes teaching us to know all truth.

12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.

13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

14 “He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you.

15 “All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose it to you.

(Joh 16:12-15 NAS)

Lets trust Jesus to work these things in all of our hearts and lives.

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. (Psa 119:11 KJV)

We must practice putting the Word deep inside us not just intellectually, but in practice.  If it is in our hearts, not just in our heads, we will not sin against God.

—-

Translation of this sermon into Russian is at (Перевод проповеди на русский язык см.) http://noelrt.com/?p=1208