What is Scripture and Why Does it Matter? - July 10, 2022
Pastor Mike (00:00):
Hebrews chapter four, verse 12 to 13 for the word of God is alive. It’s not a static book. It’s not a manual. It’s not, it’s not the rule book. The word of God is alive and it’s active. Word of God is active.
Hannah Hunter (00:23):
Hey, beautiful people. Welcome back to Sundays with the gathering. I’m Hannah Hunter, the director for digital reach here at the gathering place in Palm beach gardens. We’re excited to have you back with us as we continue our study in Colossians three this week, pastor Mike walks us through one of the foundations of our faith, the definition of the word of God and what that means for our lives with so much doubt and debate surrounding scripture. We hope today’s message helps illuminate the word of God for you as you continue on your spiritual journey.
Pastor Mike (00:50):
So today, uh, what we’re looking at is just things that, that influence our lives. Okay? And so one of the big things that should influence the life of all Christians is the Bible, right? I mean, I think we ought agree about that. I mean, that’s our book. So I wanna ask you just to do a little soul searching, which of the following statements comes closest to describing your views of the Bible. So this is just an internal exercise. You don’t have to raise your hand. I don’t wanna divide the room, but, but ask yourself these questions. So the Bible is the actual word of God to be taken. Literally the Bible is inspired by God, not all to be taken. Literally the Bible is collection of fables history and moral precepts recorded by man. These questions were actually asked in a poll that was, uh, given this past may and, and it was actually published in an article this week, uh, by Gallup news in an article called fewer in the us.
Pastor Mike (01:50):
Now see the Bible as the literal word of God. And so this is the findings of that poll. So 20, 20% of Americans believe the Bible is the actual word of God to be taking. Literally, in other words, like every single thing needs to be literally or in other, um, traditions there say the infallible word of God. You probably heard that before 49% believe the Bible is inspired by God and therefore not all of it needs to be taken literally, but some things are symbolic, some things to be interpreted. Um, you know, there’s, there’s a big, big picture in that. And 29% of Americans believe the Bible is a collection of fables. It’s a history, uh, of, and it contains moral precepts recorded by men. Why is this important? Because what we can see here in this and this just a simple poll here is that the majority of Americans have some kind of opinion about the Bible. They have some type of opinion about the Bible, and also more importantly, um, that opinion of the Bible influences the opinions of how Americans understand their private and public life. In fact, a lot of policy decisions today in the world and moral values are determined by one’s interpretation of scripture.
Pastor Mike (03:11):
And some people are like, no, does the Bible really have that much play? Absolutely. In fact, the way Americans understand issues like nuclear war, overpopulation, conservation, women’s rights, gay rights, racial equality, church, and state separation, sex, education, science, abortion, contraception, censorship, capital punishment, all of these questions and policies that are enacted today in our society are determined by how most Americans understand the Bible. Now there’s a lot of talk about, you know, different churches, like which church has the right understanding of the Bible. You know, how am I supposed to understand, or, or even you might ask, how does this church understand the Bible? Well, the gathering place, I mean, we stand in the United Methodist tradition and, and when one thing that is, I don’t see changing anytime soon, cuz it’s just part of who we are, is our understanding of the sufficiency of scripture.
Pastor Mike (04:14):
And so our understanding of the Bible is actually found in our book of discipline can be found in the articles of religion and article five. And I’ll just, um, have the full text right there of the sufficiency of the holy scriptures for salvation, the holy scripture. In other words, AKA, the Bible contain if all things necessary to salvation. So that whatsoever is not read therein nor may be proved they’re in, is not required of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith or be thought, uh, requisite or nece or necessary to salvation in the name of the holy scripture. We do understand the canonical books of the old, a new Testament of whose authority was never of any doubt. So as you can see, despite what people are talking about, you know, on and try to sensationalize on the news, the U the United Methodist churches, uh, understand the Bible has not changed much.
Pastor Mike (05:05):
I mean, our, our book of discipline still even uses the words, contain it. And just to put it in our modern day words is we’re saying that the Bible contains everything that is actually necessary for salvation. And that means that things that cannot be proved definitely proved in the Bible and things that are not required. Um, you know, if they can’t be proved, if they’re not read into the scripture, if we don’t see this consistent message throughout it, they’re not required for salvation. Those are not essentials for salvation. And yes, here’s that other thing that’s really important. We do have a can in the scripture, we’re not just getting our doctrine and beliefs from, you know, any other sources. Our primary source is the scripture and, and how we define the scripture or the Bible is the 66 canonical books. In other words, what, what we believe is a closed Canon, like many Christian traditions.
Pastor Mike (05:57):
In other words, like these are our limits with open interpretation. Another thing that you’ll hear very common, uh, with us, um, that a lot of Methodists like to quote a lot of Lutherans like to quote a lot of Catholics like to quote is from St. Augustine. He said in the essentials unity in the non-essentials Liberty and in all things charity, we know this, we’ve heard this. I’m sure it’s not the first time you’ve heard this. Okay. But, but sometimes we don’t act like this at all. Sometimes, you know, we think that everything’s essential. And if you don’t believe exactly on everything, even on the non-essentials, then there’s no unity that we cannot possibly work together. That we have to be a little bit sectarian, but that’s not part of our Christian tradition. Our Christian tradition says that on the essential things, the non-negotiable things, we, there should be unity.
Pastor Mike (06:53):
There must be unity, but then there are things that are non-essential. Do we dip our communion? Do we take communion out of the little buttercups these days? You know, like all those kind of things, that’s non essential, but in everything there needs to be love. Now, what is apparently obvious though, is that even though we have these like really, I think good understandings of, of the Bible and its place in our lives, even in, in one denomination, there’s a lot of misunderstandings, a lot of divisions, and even it can happen in, in the same church. We can use the Bible to hurt each other. And in fact, what’s even worse about this is when we have these other kinds of understandings instead of the scripture being good news, it’s used as a weapon to cause harm. Here’s some warnings I want to give to us that, that I think that we need to, to just really keep in mind when we are thinking about the holy scripture.
Pastor Mike (07:56):
And when we think about the Bible, first of all, there’s this danger of biblical illiteracy, and this is prevalent throughout, throughout the, I mean, mainstream church, people are good at quoting little passages and, and parts of scripture, you know, their favorites, you know, John three 16 for God’s. So love the world, but they don’t 17. And then, and I challenge you read 17 and you’ll see what I’m talking about. I’m not gonna tell you everything today, but what happens is, you know, people, they just don’t read the Bible and what’s even more dangerous about biblical illiteracy is this, this is what scares me the most is that when you are not literate in the scriptures, in words, when you are not intentionally reading the scriptures regularly and allowing the scriptures to read you, it’s almost impossible to have biblical imagination. Now think about those of you who are educators.
Pastor Mike (08:54):
You know, how important imagination is for the development of a child, right? I mean, imagination is key for a child’s understanding of self, of, of really having a, a right way of understanding the world. I mean, this is, it is essential. And somehow when people just minimize the Bible and they only just read a few passages or focus on a few doctors that have been extracted and they’re not reading the scripture regularly, and then maybe they even substitute reading the scripture in our devotion with just religious activities, because, you know, we could go through worship services, we could do the calls for worships. We could, we literally walk you through like robots sometimes through a church service. And you can kind of just go with the flow because the current is so strong here and have no personal engagement or transformation. That’s why we need biblical literacy.
Pastor Mike (09:49):
Because when we have biblical literacy, we start having biblical imagination. And then what happens is we, when we read the scriptures, encounter the scriptures, the scriptures are reading us and it’s not some foreign removed story or fable or history that was written thousands of years ago. But when I’m reading this, I’m saying, wow, this is my story. And I see myself in this place and maybe I’m called to be that good Samaritan, or maybe I’m the person that was beaten and left beside the road. And somebody needs to pick me up when we don’t have this biblical imagination. I’m telling you what happens is our faith is just static. It’s like it is without color. It’s without beauty. And it becomes legalistic. It becomes harsh and what’s even scares me more. We don’t have that biblical imagination. It’s really hard to see that God actually created you with a purpose in mind.
Pastor Mike (10:44):
It’s really hard to see that, that, that I am not an accident, but when you have that biblical imagination, when you have that, that understanding that yes, that I am called to live in the scripture, new scriptures called to speak to me and I have a purpose. And that, and that when God was creating me in my mother’s wound, that that God was outlying steps, that, that God was giving me the choice to walk in. It changes everything. The other danger that we have, and this happens with a lot of people who think they’re biblically literate. And again, this is one step in, they read the Bible a lot, but they read the Bible with a closed mind and heart. Now, this is very dangerous for us who have been raised to the church or have been in the church for quite some time. Maybe you had a season in your life where, where you diligently studied the Bible and that that ly study, the Bible might have been, you know, in Sunday school, it might have been in a smaller class.
Pastor Mike (11:35):
It might have been in the university. Sometimes, even in university, you, you study the Bible and you’re exposed to biblical criticism. And you, you say, and in both cases, whether you’ve been in the small group class, or in, in the biblical literature class of your regular university, here’s what happens instead approaching the Bible as something that is living and, and asking, God’s holy spirit to speak to us. You say, you know what, I know what the Bible already means. Andwhen you begin to read the Bible with a closed mind and closed heart, you kind of expect the meaning to come as soon as you’re like, okay, I know the, the story of the good Samaritan or I, or, or I know the, the story of, of, of how Jesus fed them, the multitudes, or I know the story of Easter, you know, I kind of expect, I already know the meaning and you’re not open to anything else. And the other danger is that when you read the Bible with a closed mind and a closed heart, you only find what you’re looking for. You know, because like, you’re like, oh, I know this is what it is. And you see the world, you know how you want to see it. And you make the Bible say what you wanna say. And that is dangerous. The third thing that is, that is to me, that we just gotta keep in mind, is that preachers don’t do their homework.
Pastor Mike (12:56):
And, and I’m saying this dish, honestly, okay. I mean, I I’m, I’m in this, I’m in the, I’m in the, I’m speaking to my category of people. There’s a lot of preachers and mainstream media. There’s a lot of stuff. I mean, I mean, we have Christian television that you have a, a different variety of, of Christian teaching out there. We have Christian radio, we have pamphlets and we have books and we have all this stuff and they all have scripture in ’em they, they, but, but what happens is sometimes written by people that didn’t do their homework, that didn’t study deeply, that didn’t allow the, the word of God to penetrate their lives. Did, did it make, hold themselves accountable to the faith community to make sure that what they’re teaching is in alignment to, with the historic teachings of the church. And so, sadly what happens is a lot of people have been, been conditioned to attend worship, attend church, and, and, and they, and the preachers that are up there, the message are giving.
Pastor Mike (13:53):
They’re not done with a lot of thought. And a lot of homework they’re done with a lot of cliches or a lot of, lot of things with pop culture. And there’s nothing wrong with integrating that. We got to integrate our faith with life, but sometimes it’s so much more generic life that you can come to church and say, you know what? I don’t even need my Bible because the preacher’s not gonna use it. I don’t need to, to study and reflect on it further because you know, the preacher didn’t do his homework. So why should I do my homework? You know? And so when you’re coming here today, as we worship maybe part of our devotion, even as you’re listening to this message, maybe part of your devotion is to pull out the scriptures and actually test and verify that what is being said is actually written.
Pastor Mike (14:35):
And that it, that it’s also within context. Sometimes we just assume that everything’s so easy and then we take it so lightly. And you know what happens when, when the preacher doesn’t do their homework and we’re given these light messages, and it’s more feeling based than just substance based, you leave that behind and you go into, into Monday and, and you forgot what you heard on Sunday. You felt good on Sunday. You felt like you’ve been in church, but it doesn’t have any weight. It doesn’t stick with you. And that’s a danger that the church face that we face. The other thing is that sometimes we forget that we need to read the Bible with the help of the holy spirit. And, and also when, when I’m saying this is that this might like shock a lot of people, but while I always challenge you to read your Bible on your own, the scripture wasn’t meant to just be read and private.
Pastor Mike (15:34):
It was meant to be like reflected on and repeated in public. In fact, many, a times, if you look grammatically whenever, even a new Testament and an old Testament, when you see the word, you it’s a plural, you, I guess if you were a Southern it be you all kind of thing. It was meant for all of us, that it was meant to be engaged. It’s meant for us to wrestle with. And it kind of aligns with what Jesus said. He said, when two or more are gathered together in my name, I am with you, my presence is there. I’m revealing myself to you. And you know, it, it, it ticks me off. When I hear these Christians that have such a spiritual pride and arrogance, and they’re like, yo, I’m good with Jesus. They haven’t, they haven’t walked. They, they have not shared their life with anybody.
Pastor Mike (16:18):
They haven’t been in church at ages. And the only time they came to church was because they wanted to be a consumer and they wanted to get something for them. And they’re like, you know, I’m good with Jesus. I know the Bible. And they start quoting scriptures. I do my study, I do my devotion and they didn’t make any meaningful connection with anybody for a really long time. And they’re living a pretty lonely existence. And if we, and if we pull that religious shroud back, we can see that most people, when they say that, like, I’m good with Jesus, but I don’t need the church. And I just connected in nature and I don’t need the church, or I just need my home Bible studies that I don’t need the church. And I don’t need to be usually what happens is man, there’s a lot of brokenness in life.
Pastor Mike (16:56):
And there’s a lot of fear in life because when you living in fear, you wanna hide your junk. When you live in fear, you know, you’re embarrassed, you’re ashamed and you’re, and you wanna keep everything in the closet. You don’t want anybody to know what’s going on. And usually people who are not in community are, are, are living in fear because they don’t know that when you are in community with Jesus, that it’s okay to let your jump show. It’s okay to say, Hey, I’m struggling. It’s okay to say I have doubts. It’s okay to say, I am afraid. And you can still know that you are loved and accepted, and you can still know that God is not done with you. And that God is working in your life. You see, that’s the difference. When the danger with having all this stuff, that’s so accessible, you know, remotely and all that kind of thing without community is that we can, we can live a delusion.
Pastor Mike (17:41):
You know, we, we, we, we could be living this delusional life and thinking that we’re mature and all this stuff. And we have nobody, we don’t have anyone holding the mayor in front of us to say how we really are. And that’s the danger of what we have. But when things are put in right perspective, we start living out what is, what is said, like in, in second Timothy chapter three, verse 16, I’m giving these verses so you can take note, okay. Um, all scriptures inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true. And to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. You see, this is one part of what the inspirational scripture does. It shows us what is true. And we need to know what is true. Cause there’s so many lies out there, but also what is wrong in our lives.
Pastor Mike (18:25):
It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. So, you know what, if you want to be a good person, good people do good things. Okay? Like the, but it’s not because they, they want to be good. It’s because of, out of their identity of who they are. But if you want to be equipped to do good, the scripture is your source. It teaches you. It inspires you to, to live and, and to do every good work. So let’s go a little bit further. Although we have this like, you know, understanding, I mean, at least this is my understanding that I’m sharing with you and I’m hoping that you’ll buy into it, that the scripture’s inspired by God. We still need to have a foundational understanding because you could take the scriptures inspired and you can pull like one, one piece of doctrine out, or one, one historical text that’s written where like, maybe God says, I, well, I hate these people.
Pastor Mike (19:28):
And you can. I mean, there’s, there’s parts of scripture that says that, you know, when Israel writes, right, and it says, God hates these people. You know, we hate these people. So God hates these people and, and you can use that to legitimize a lot of racism in the world. And that’s why we need, somehow we need a foundational understanding. We need to see there’s this meta NA narrative throughout the scripture. That there’s a true north when we read the Bible. Cause without that true north, I mean, um, we can re really get off on that. We can, we can really get off track. And Jesus is our true north. Jesus is the living word of God that made flesh and actually lived with us. Just think about that for a moment. Jesus lives with us. Now, if you live with a person, either with child, as a child or adult, you know what happens when you live with people, you see everything, you see the messes they leave behind.
Pastor Mike (20:28):
You see like whether they make their bed or not. You see whether they put their toys away, you watch what they watch on TV, or at least you hear it. If you, if you don’t wanna watch. I mean, like when you live with people, you really share life and Jesus is God almighty sharing life with us. And why do we need the Bible? Why is the Bible so important? Because out of everything that is written and collected throughout the world, the Bible is a source that has, I mean, is the largest and most authoritative reference of the life of Jesus. It is the largest collection of any place in the world that has the, the recorded, like words that Jesus spoke and deeds and why it’s part of our Canan canonical scripture is because it was written by eyewitnesses of Jesus, eyewitnesses of the resurrection, why it was part of the, the can and why the new Testament that we have is, is part of, is considered holy is because as people started believing in Jesus and a lot of people started writing about how to live out their faith.
Pastor Mike (21:41):
And there were a lot of writings, not just by apostle Paul or Peter or John or June and all that. There were other writings out there, but those particular writings that were selected were ones that were read in Israel. They were read in Asia minor. They were read in Rome. They were read in Alexandria or, or, uh, Northern Egypt. And, and what they found was they had the marker of the holy spirit. And here’s the marker of the holy spirit. When people read these things, they had the same effect. They became aware of their need for God. They also became aware of God’s love for them. They had a assurance of salvation and they had the fruit of loving God and loving neighbor. Now think about this, you know, like, I mean, would I describe those geographical regions? Have, I mean, they’re, they’re completely different values.
Pastor Mike (22:30):
Even though a lot of this was spread through the Roman empire. I mean, there was a lot of culture embedded there, but yet the truth of Jesus was transcending all that. And so, you know, the, the church fathers realize they go, there’s something significant about, there’s something holy about these writings, and this is why there are holy scripture today. Now let’s focus back. We wanna talk about the Bible, but now we’re, we’re going back to that, that foundational principle today, we’re, we’re jumping into Colossians three verse 16, a first part of 16. Let the word of Christ. Well in you richly this, let that sit with you, let the word of Christ. So the message of Christ dwelling, you richly teach and admonish one another in all wisdom. Sometimes I think the reason why church sucks is because we don’t let like the word of God, you know, dwell in us, richly the word of Christ.
Pastor Mike (23:24):
We, we just kind of like, you know, like we we’re, we’re just so used to like this superficial stuff that, that we’re not allowed to challenge and shape our lives. I like the message. Translation says, let the word of Christ the message have run of the house, give it plenty of room in your lives. You see that’s, that’s what, letting the word of Christ. Well, which richly are you G letting Jesus’ words have plenty of room in your life, or you just kind of, you know, limitate it to sitting on the shelf, let it have plenty of room in your lives, instruct and direct one another using good common sense, man. What would the church look like if we actually use good, common sense? <laugh> I’ll tell you one thing. We wouldn’t make a lot of stupid budget decisions. <laugh> I’m just saying, you know, I mean, there would be a lot of things.
Pastor Mike (24:19):
I mean, we wouldn’t be wasted our time on arguments that don’t really don’t matter, but we would be actually seeing the needs of brokeness our community and saying, how can we love our community if we use good, common sense. If we’re not letting the word of Christ dwell on us richly and we’re not teaching and admonishing one another, what happens is we’re living without the revelation of Jesus Christ. And when you start using the Bible without the revelation of Jesus Christ, we do a lot of harm. We misuse Jesus’ words, and I’m gonna show you a few examples of how we can cause harm when we don’t have the revelation of Jesus Christ front and center, or the message of Christ dwelling in us richly, or overflowing us taking full dominion. Then what happens is we use the words of Christ. We use the scripture to condemn people.
Pastor Mike (25:14):
We use the condemn people instead of letting it the good, the, the, the gospel be good news and life giving we’re using it to condemn people, push people away. I mean, we’re, we are condemning people to, to death. We’re limiting people, we’re putting labels on them. We’re separating people. It is dangerous. And, and what we see, you know, sometimes we think that we’re, we’re doing right because we’re legalistic and we’re holding onto the words of God. But our God is full of mercy. Scripture defines our God as, as being one that has like this endless patience and that is longing for every child to come back home. And so if we are pushing people away and condemning people and just saying, you don’t belong, it goes against the heart of Jesus. Another thing the Bible could be misused to manipulate people. You know, the scripture, everything that, that, that we are called to teach and live is to proclaim the glory of God, the goodness of God and the goodness of God.
Pastor Mike (26:15):
When it, when it flows, it causes all creation to flourish. In other words, there’s, there’s harmony. There’s that piece. There’s that Shalom that we talked about. And another message. And so when a scripture is used to manipulate people, then what happens is we’re using a scripture for an agenda. How many times have we seen the Bible be used as an agenda or a weapon, whether to condemn people, whether to decide what people have rights, which people don’t, which are we receive the benefits and the goodness of the land and which ones don’t even as a church. Sometimes, you know, if we don’t have a proper understanding of scripture, we can think that all of our activity is used to preserve the building or the institution of the church and not be a gift to our community, not be, you know, extending God’s redeeming love. And I got news for us.
Pastor Mike (27:05):
We’re not called to preserve the franchise, you know, but we have to internalize the mission of God inside of us and live by that. Another point is that we Canus the scripture in a way that misleads people, in other words, instead of leading people to that good pasture, lead people in ways. And, and, and we, we actually condone things that are harmful and that, and then what we read in Colossians, you know, we’re taught that, you know, if you need to forgive, you must forgive yet. How many times in a religious organization or institution you’re part of a collective body, a decision was made and you didn’t like it, and you were dead set against it because you felt that God was doing something else. And the whole body went a certain way. And instead of saying, okay, I’m gonna humble myself. Maybe there’s something I don’t see, or for the sake of unity, I’m gonna try to keep on going.
Pastor Mike (28:00):
You start seeing that person as a different opinion of yours as an enemy, and you don’t wanna be around them. You don’t wanna sit at the same table with them and you start harboring unforgiveness, maybe someone did you wrong and there’s, and there’s no apology for it. They did you wrong. You’ve been hurt. Jesus says, we must forgive why it’s so that we can be free. And so many times we allow things in the church and we’ll justify these little sinful behaviors. We’ll justify being a jerk biblically, and we lead people astray. And what happens is that actions and behaviors we do is not life giving. The other thing, how the Bible is misused, is that we can actually excuse people for their responsibility. Yeah. You have every right to be offended. You have every right to, to not tithe because we don’t know exactly where that money went.
Pastor Mike (29:04):
You know, I remember putting three bucks in the offering and no one gave me an account where that went. I don’t know if I could trust that person because you know what, that person offended me. And I don’t know, I don’t, they on the finance committee. And, and I just don’t know if I could. I, you know, I just have I ever in fact, you know what, it’s my money. You know, I’d rather give to this other charity over here. In fact, you know, God understands I’ll ti to there, even though I’m getting spiritually fed over here, you know, sometimes we forget about our responsibility. You’re not making that up where you’ve heard, listen, I’ve, I’ve heard this. Phil just said, I’m not making this up. This stuff is in every church because we’re people and we’re people that are in the process of being saved, being made more and more like Jesus.
Pastor Mike (29:53):
But what is important here is that the scripture holds us accountable to something that something greater. And a lot of times, because we take our freedom. We don’t want responsibility and we want responsibility to be on someone else. But there’s things that we are called to. So today, what I’m really talking about is a mature faith. It’s a, not only just a mature faith, but we’re getting very specific about a mature understanding of scripture. I’m, I’m, I’m mature understanding of what it means to have the, the words of Christ dwell in us. And in order for us to, to have this mature understanding for the words of Christ to dwell in you, richly, you need to have an encounter with Jesus is if, if Jesus is not dwelling within you, if he is not a part of your life, he’s, if he’s not living with you.
Pastor Mike (30:49):
And again, I use that analogy of living with it’s impossible to have this richness and teaching and, and wisdom with it. If not, we yo, we, I mean, we, we have like this, this superficial, generic faith, you know, this copied faith, you know, this, this playing the games. And that’s why, you know, if, if you’re living your life right now, and Jesus is not dwelling with you, you gotta stop right now and say, Jesus, I’m done running. Forgive me and come in. Maybe that’s the prayer. You need to pray right now. Jesus, I need you. Jesus saved me. I believe in you live with me, teach me, guide me. You see, that’s what Jesus is all about. Dwelling with us, the word of God, living with us, you know, when he lives with us, you know, it’s out of abundance. You know, the, the scripture also teaches us that what’s the what’s inside your heart.
Pastor Mike (31:46):
That’s what you talk about a lot. Right? And so just, just measure your words, see what’s going on inside of you. What are you getting focused on? What are you getting agitated? What what’s occupying your attention, letting the word of God live, live with you, but live with you richly. You see the difference. Like there, there, this description here of richly, no words, it’s, it’s flourishing in your life. It’s integrated in how you, you live and breathe and what you eat. I mean, you’re you realize that you’re part of God’s plan. You realize that that everything you do is for a purpose. You don’t just exist out there. Jesus says this, this stood a little bit in Matthew, uh, John 15, he says, and John 15 versus seven through nine, he says, if you remain in me and my words remain in you. So you see, you see the relationship part, you cannot possibly remain in Jesus, unless his words are remaining in you.
Pastor Mike (32:40):
He said, if you remain in me and my words remain in, you ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. Why? Cause you’re living together. Your, your values are, are, are, are becoming cohesive. They’re getting aligned with, with God’s eyes, your, your principles, your joys there’s things that you hold onto dearly are becoming more like, like God’s. And Jesus says, this is to my father’s glory. In other words, this is like, like letting God shine that you bear much fruit showing yourselves to be my disciples. So I wanna ask you without the t-shirts, without all the Christian flare, without the bumper, does your life show that you’re a disciple of Jesus? Jesus says, as the father has loved me, so I have loved you. And he gives us this invitation remain in my love back to Colossians. Let the word of Christ dwell in you.
Pastor Mike (33:35):
Richly teach. If you want this word of God to dwell in you richly the word of Christ, it has to be taught. It has, there needs to be some instructions and principles that need to be laid out so they can be replicated and followed in, in our lives. That’s why PA PAA. Paul was so bold to say, follow me as I follow Jesus. Could we be so bold? Teach Jesus continues back to John 15. I’m gonna go verse 10 through 11, if you keep my commandments. So in other words, first, we let the, his words dwell in us. But now keep my commands. If you hold onto my teachings, he’s Jesus says, this is how you remain in my love. So everybody’s, I, I hate this like this. Oh, God is so love and, and, and love, love, love. And, and there’s no commandments or teachings that Jesus rooted in that there’s there, there there’s like, no, there’s like no baseline.
Pastor Mike (34:31):
And then people are like, oh, love, love. And then they get all mad when it doesn’t go their way. And they, and then, and they, yeah. How they act. I mean, you know how I act sometimes, you know, you see it. It says, but here at Jesus says, if you keep my commandments, you’ll remain in my love just as I kept my father’s commandments remain in his love. And this is why Jesus tells us this. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you. And that your joy may be complete. How many of us are living with incomplete joy? We want the joy of God to be part of our lives, but, but it’s not complete. It’s not full. And, and the promise Jesus says is if you keep my commandments, this is how you remain in my love. I mean, it’s very specific.
Pastor Mike (35:12):
It’s not a generic thing. And we start digging into Jesus, commandments and teachings and, and all there. There’s some very specific action steps that Jesus calls us to do. So dwell in Christ, richly, teach and admonish. Uh, I love this. We can’t in our study, this admonished and the archaic definition is actually to warn someone of something to be avoided and modern definition will be to warn or reprimand or advise earnestly. Yes. You know, sometimes we have to be told what we’re doing is wrong and not helpful. And we can’t be afraid of that. You know, if we go to a, a religious gathering and our egos are getting stroked all the time, and we just think that we’re, we’re so perfect that we’re not being challenged and we’re not being stretched and we’re not being confronted. We’re not having that mayor. We’re not seeing the blind sides in our, in, in our, in our life.
Pastor Mike (36:05):
Something is wrong. We are called to admonish one other and why. And I think this is important here. Hebrews chapter four versus 12 to 13 for the word of God is alive. It’s not a static book. It’s not a manual. It’s not, it’s not the, the, the rule book. The word of God is alive and it’s active. It’s doing something. It doesn’t sit there. It’s not dormant. When the word of God is in us and it’s wrong as richly it is producing something. It, it is stirring some stuff up. It is making us feel a little bit uncomfortable. Let’s giving us a little tickle and giggle sometimes. And sometimes it’s kicking us in the butt word of God is active and listen, this, it is sharper than any double edged sword. And it penetrates even the dividing, a soul and spirit think about that. It, it separates the division of soul and spirit.
Pastor Mike (37:01):
You know, there are some things that God will speak to you. And, and it’s that, that born again, spirit inside of you, that child of God’s like, yes, this is truth. And, and this is something that Jesus, I’m, I’m called as a child of God to live by. And this is a non-negotiable. And then there’s some things that we get a little soulish. It’s like, I like this, you know, you know, Jesus ordained, you know, this particular hymn or this particular praise song. And this is the only way to praise God. You know, the only way to worship is like this. The only way to worship is that my, my little precious, if you you’re Lord of the rings fans, you know, my precious, you just hold onto it. And it says that the scripture is alive and active and it penetrates it divides. What is soul? And what is spiritual man?
Pastor Mike (37:48):
Are you with me? It separates the joints from the marrow. It, it judges, golly, listen to this. It adjudicates, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. How many times I’ve heard people in my life. And I even said it myself. You know, when, when I get outta line, I’m like, well, God knows my heart, dang. Right? He does <laugh> God does judge. God does see the motives. God does see the purpose. This is what this act of scripture does. He knows the edge of the heart and nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Now there’s two ways of thinking about this. Let’s let’s just dwell on this for a second. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to, we must be given account. Let’s just stop. How does that make you feel? Being stripped naked? God.
Pastor Mike (38:57):
So in the beginning, there were two individuals that were open and bear before God, when their relationship was right with God, there was no fear. There was relationship when things were wrong. When there was disobedient, what happened? There was shame. There was fear. You see the word of God is not here. The words of Jesus, the message of Jesus is not to bring you to a place of, of shame anymore. It’s to bring us to a freedom where we can be our true and God’s judging is, is what it’s doing. It’s it’s, it’s, it’s ridding, it’s purging us of all those things that would make us want to hide and be afraid of the things that God, this is why we need the message of Christ to dwell in us richly, cuz you could read this and we can make this a very critical and judgmental like God’s watching you and he’s gonna show everything and you’re gonna have to give it a count of every little lying, dirty thing you did.
Pastor Mike (40:10):
But that is not the purpose, the account, why we give it count so that God can redeem, reclaim, heal, restore all things. And I guess that’s why we’re encouraged to let the word of Christ the message of Christ live in us richly. And we’re called to, with all teaching and instruction and all within admonishing in wisdom, you see wisdom is what’s missing a lot in our faith and all of you know, the difference between someone who is wise and has experience and somebody who is just a novice and they know the rule book, I’m gonna digress one that’s moment to tell you just one example. I, I have this Volkswagen Jetta and I took it to a garage to get the timing belt changed on it. I get the car and, and, and it’s one of these garages. They advertise that all their people are ASE technicians.
Pastor Mike (41:20):
I turn on the car and the car runs worse than it ever did. It was all sluggish. And every, I bring it back to him. I said, look, the car’s running worse now than it did before they work on it for another whole day, they say, I think we got it. Now. We got it now. And it didn’t happen. So finally they have my car now for three days and I call an old friend of mine. Big Mike, big Mike is an ASC mechanic. But, but, but he’s a little different kind of ASC mechanic cuz big Mike is four generations mechanic. If you see big Mike you’d call him a shade tree mechanic. And I called big Mike over. I said, big Mike. I said, I got a problem. And he lives another city. I said, these guys have my car and they can’t get it running.
Pastor Mike (42:00):
And he walks over and big. Mike’s one of those guys that like he is, he is his comfortable being in his own skin. He comes to the garage and bare feet and he says step away from the car. And they look at him and, and they’re, they’re measuring him up and he looks at the car and he says, look you fools. I mean, he starts cutting him. He’s like, you didn’t, you didn’t align the timing. You’ve only aligned two points. And then this engine’s three points and you’re out of alignment here. And then when, and they’re like, oh, we can work on. It’s like, no, I can do it this way. And then when then seconds, they said, they’re gonna need the car for another half a day within minutes, the car was running. Right. I think that’s the difference of somebody that has the knowledge and experience the word of God’s supposed to dwell on us in a way that we have the quality of experience, knowledge and good judgment.
Pastor Mike (42:48):
James puts it like this who is wise and understanding among you let them show by their good life by deeds done and humil that actually comes from wisdom <laugh>. But if you Harbor bitter, envy and selfish ambition in your hearts do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from heaven, but is earthly, unspiritual and demonic for where you have enemy and selfish ambition. There you find disorder in every evil practice. Let’s just stop. There. There is an under, there is a world’s wisdom and there is a heavenly wisdom. And we as follows of Christ need to know the difference. We have to be able to distinguish that if not, we get led the wrong way we get off track. Let me continue. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all, pure then peace loving, consider it submissive full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere peacemakers who so peace repay harvest of righteousness.
Pastor Mike (44:10):
You see, this is the standard that God is calling us to. And this is what I think a lot of us long for is a mature faith. And if we see that this is the purpose of, of what the scripture does in our lives, when that, when we, when we allow it to be activated in a life and we allow it to dwell in us and, and we allow, he says, let Christ the words of message of Christ dwell in you. Richness allow it to teach. You, allow it to admonish you, to warn you sometimes and allow it to be done in wisdom. Then I think that we can, we can live into what Paul calls the Christians in Roman to do. And Romans 12 to where he says, don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Pastor Mike (44:55):
Why do we need to renew our mind? Cause he says, then you’ll be able to test and approve what God’s will is his good pleasing and perfect will. You know, I think that’s what you want, right? You wanna know what God’s will is for your life. You wanna know what your purpose is. You wanna make sure that you’re living on mission. And this is how we begin together. Because then when the words of Christ wellness, richly, it shapes our identity, our understanding of ourself, our understanding of who we are to be a church. And we start understanding what the will of God is. We start having a mature and wise faith that is integrated in every part of our lives. And that is our prayer today that you will let Christ’s words dwell in your life and that you’ll trust him with everything. You’ll let him, let Jesus live with you.
Hannah Hunter (45:55):
Hey, beautiful people. This is Hannah Hunter. I’m the director of digital reach here at the gathering place in Palm beach gardens. Thank you for joining us this week. We love getting to share our journey in Christ and community with you. And if you’re in the Palm beach area, we would love to get to connect with you in person at our Sunday worship service at 1115, for more information about our community and faith, check out our website at thegatheringplacefl.org. Thanks for listening.