Monday, November 30, 2009

Commanding Fruitful Religion

Yesterday we saw 3 fruits that Christ commands from His disciples that were absent in Israel's (as illustrated in the fruitless fig tree and the fruitless worship in the temple):

1. The Fruit of Faith

Mark 11:22-25 22 And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. 23 “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.

“And Jesus answered saying to them”—this is a major tip off that Jesus is not beginning a new subject, but what he is saying is in response to Peter’s comment concerning the fig tree which was related to the fruitless religion in Israel as evidence by swapmeet taking place in the temple.

“Have faith in God”—present active imperative; it is a command; it is not a suggestion; present tense suggests be continually having faith in God.

Trust—I think it would be better translated as trust or dependence;

Everyone has faith because everyone is trusting or believing in or depending upon something.
J. Gresham Machen says “Faith is only as strong as the object.”

According to Jesus, what must be the object of our faith or trust? v.22 “in God.” This will help us to understand everything that follows.

23 “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.

“whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ . . . will be granted”—What this does not mean—it does not mean that you have the decreetive power of God.

God, on the first day of creation said, “Let there be light” and there was light.
Also, Jesus is not telling us to do rediculous things.
Also, Jesus is not advocating the positive confession the Word-Faith teachers:
Do you know anyone in the history of God’s people who has ever moved a mountain?
The Word-Faith teacher can ramble on about a verse like this, but when push comes to shove, there are a whole lot of mountains on God’s green earth and I haven’t seen any of them move any of them.
But what does Jesus mean?

“this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea’”—this mountain moving must be speaking of a seemingly insurmountable task.

But the question is, “Is Jesus calling us to believe in something that He hasn’t promised?” I don’t think so. I believe Jesus is assuming that belief or faith includes a promise from God or the character of God.

If the object of our faith is not God or His promises, then what is the object of your trust or faith? Yourself, your own words, or possibly as Kenneth Copeland says, “You must have Faith in Faith.” But who is the object of faith according to v.22? “HAVE FAITH IN GOD!!!”

Ryle says, “Do we desire to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ? Do we wish to make progress in our religion, and become strong Christians, and not mere babes in spiritual things? Then let us pray daily for more faith, and watch our faith with most jealous watchfulness. Here is the corner-stone of our religion. A flaw or weakness here will affect the whole condition of our inner man. According to our faith will be the degree of our peace, our hope, our joy, our decision in Christ's service, our boldness in confession, our strength in work, our patience in trial, our resignation in trouble, our sensible comfort in prayer. All, all will hinge on the proportion of our faith. Happy are they who know how to rest their whole weight continually on a covenant God, and to walk by faith, not by sight.”

2. The Fruit Faith-Filled Prayer

24 “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.

Objection—see, this just means that if we believe it and ask for it and believe enough, then we’ll have it. This cannot be true. How do I know that?

Mark 14:35-36 35 And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. 36 And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”

Mark 14:39 39 Again He went away and prayed, saying the same words.

How did John who was there when Jesus said this, pass along Jesus’ teaching:

1 John 5:14-15 14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

How does this look?

When praying for unbelieving friend or family—Lord you have said in your word
Ezekiel 18:32 32 “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live.”

You invite sinners to come to you “If any man thirsts let him come unto me and drink.”

You are glorified in the salvation of the lost. So God I beg you to save my parents. God I beg you to save my sister. God I beg you to save my friend.

When praying for Sexual Purity
1 Thessalonians 4:3 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality;

God You say that it is your will that I be sexually pure in my actions and in my thought life. So God I beg you with a believing heart to enable me to grow in this area. God help me to detest sexual immorality and may thoughts that invade my mind be driven out like an enemy who crosses the border.
3. The Fruit of Forgiveness

25 “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.

“if you have anything against anyone”—someone has sinned against you and you are still holding it over them. There is bitterness in your heart towards them.

“forgive”—btw, this is the passage that won’t allow me to believe that forgiveness cannot take place if there is no confession and repentance.

Matthew 6:12-15 12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]’ 14 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

Spurgeon said, “If you don’t forgive then when you pray the Lord’s prayer, you are writing your own death sentence.”

We must forgive others. Israel religion consisted of paying back and "eye for an eye and a tooth fo a tooth," which was never intended for personal revenge.

May God help us to grow in these areas of fruitfulness.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cleaning House on Fruitless Religion

Three reasons why you should beware of fruitless Religion:
1. Jesus is a Fruit Inspector
11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and came into the temple; and after looking around at everything, He left for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late.

• Jesus comes into Jerusalem and He is doing a kind of reconnaissance. Jesus is scoping out the situation to seek what kind worship of the Father is taking place.
12 On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry. 13 Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.

• “in leaf”—this means that it was the time of year around the Passover when the fig tree would have leaves, but not only budding figs (paggim), not the full blown figs (te’enim). Hence, “for it was not the season for figs.” There were only leaves, but no budding figs. This was evidence that there wasn’t going to be any figs. It didn’t matter how long you waited the fig tree wasn’t going to produce figs.
14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening.

• Was this just about the fig tree? Surely not!
Jesus in the same vein as the prophets of old was using this as an object lesson. God gives Ezekiel all kinds of object lessons to use and teaching tools for the people.

Ezekiel 4:1-3 1 “Now you son of man, get yourself a brick, place it before you and inscribe a city on it, Jerusalem. 2 “Then lay siege against it, build a siege wall, raise up a ramp, pitch camps and place battering rams against it all around. 3 “Then get yourself an iron plate and set it up as an iron wall between you and the city, and set your face toward it so that it is under siege, and besiege it. This is a sign to the house of Israel.

Luke 13:6-9 6 And He began telling this parable: “A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. 7 “And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ 8 “And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; 9 and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.’ ”

• This was an indictment against the fruitless religion of Israel:
Now for 3 ½ years they saw the miracles of Christ, they heard the teachings of Christ, they had the OT Scriptures that pointed to Christ, but were not willing to follow Christ to His death.
• The fig tree had the outward appearance of fruit but upon closer inspection, there was no genuine fruit. There was an outward acknowledgement by some that He was Messiah, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the coming Kingdom of our father David,” but Jesus upon closer inspection is able to see the fruitlessness.
App—the outward veneer of religiosity was unable to fool Jesus. Therefore, you must examine your own fruit
What fruits?
• Fruits of repentance and trusting in Jesus
• Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. (Gal 5)
• Fruits of worshipful love for God and love for others to come to know God.
Ryle says, “Let us take care that we each . . . learn the lesson that this fig tree conveys. Let us always remember, that baptism, and church-membership, and reception of the Lord's Supper, and a diligent use of the outward forms of Christianity, are not sufficient to save our souls. They are leaves, nothing but leaves, and without fruit will add to our condemnation. Like the fig leaves of which Adam and Eve made themselves garments, they will not hide the nakedness of our souls from the eye of an all-seeing God, or give us boldness when we stand before Him at the last day. No! we must bear fruit, or be lost forever. There must be fruit in our hearts and fruit in our lives, the fruit of repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, and true holiness in our conversation. Without such fruits as these a profession of Christianity will only sink us lower into hell.”
What is frightening about Jesus’ indictment of fruitlessness is that it concerns the professing people of God. He is not talking about those outside the body of Christ.
2. Jesus is Angry Against Fruitless Religion v.15-19
15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; 16 and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple.

• Remember that this is Passover week. At a Passover week about 35 years later, Joseph says there were 255,600 lambs sacrificed. This doesn’t even include the birds that would’ve sacrificed by the lower-income families. 2,000,000 Jews estimated to here for the Passover.
What kind of fruit did Jesus see here:
a. Outward Preparation for Worship but Inward worship of money
• There was temple tax that would have been charged to each person.
• The priest would tell you that your animals aren’t fit for sacrifice and you must purchase the pre-approved animals in the court of the Gentiles.
• You must only use the currency of Tyre because there was no pagan symbols on it. Therefore, go and exchange your currency with of course a 10-12% fee.
b. Outward veneer of Worship but Irreverence Towards God
16 and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple.
• Evidently people were using the court of the Gentiles as a kind of shortcut to other parts of the city. Jesus puts a halt to this as well. Can you imagine the fear that Jesus must have struck. There would have been 1000’s of people. The court of the Gentiles was 500yds long and 325 yds wide with 150 by 100 yd court within it.
• Once Jesus gets everyone’s attention:
c. Indifference toward Lost Outsiders
17 And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL THE NATIONS’? But you have made it a ROBBERS’ DEN.”

Jesus being the narrow-minded fundamentalist that He was quoted Scriptures:
Isaiah 56:7 7 Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”

• The court of the Gentiles was a kind of “outreach” section of the temple. It was specifically designed for those outside of Israel to be able to come and inquire about and perhaps seek in prayer the true and living God of Israel. But these Jews had no concern for the unbelieving Jews. They were content for them to go to hell. They were content for them perish.
“den of robbers”—this is a safe haven for robbers; Jeremiah said this during a time when the people had put trust in the temple as a symbol of God’s favor:
Jeremiah 7:4-7 4 “Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ 5 “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly practice justice between a man and his neighbor, 6 if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to your own ruin, 7 then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever. . . 11 “Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” declares the LORD.

• Certainly this is bad fruit.
App—Just as Jesus was angry with fruitless religion 2,000 years ago, He is angry with fruitless religion today. Jesus demonstrates His Righteous Anger against their Insatiable love of money, Irreverent Attitude, and Indifference toward the Lost. They heard the teaching of Jesus for 3 years. They saw the miracles of Jesus for 3 years. They had the Scriptures that pointed to Jesus, yet they were still entrenched in their fake religion. How about you? What kind of fruit are you bearing?
Also, what kind of zeal for righteousness do you have?
3. Jesus Curses Fruitless Religion
19 When evening came, they would go out of the city. 20 As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. 21 Being reminded, Peter said to Him, “Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.”

• “the fig tree You cursed is withered”—Wow! What an indictment!
• They were mindlessly offering their sacrifices while the TRUE SACRIFICE was before them and they rejected Him. They put all their hope in the temple as a symbol of their favor from God and yet rejected the TRUE TEMPLE of God that was standing before them.
Mark 4:5-6 5 “Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. 6 “And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.

Hx—within 40 years of the temple would be destroyed, the sacrificial system would abolished, and Israel would be wiped off the face of the map.

John 15:6 6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.

Matthew 3:8-10 8 “Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; 9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 10 “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Matthew 7:21-23 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

18 The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Behold the Humble Servant

In Mark 11:1-10, we see Jesus coming into Jesus on a colt. This is often called the triumphal entry.
In this passage we saw three proofs that Jesus is King so that you would make Him your King:
1. His Kingly Omniscience

1 As they approached Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, He sent two of His disciples, 2 and said to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. 3 “If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ you say, ‘The Lord has need of it’; and immediately he will send it back here.” 4 They went away and found a colt tied at the door, outside in the street; and they untied it. 5 Some of the bystanders were saying to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 They spoke to them just as Jesus had told them, and they gave them permission. 7 They brought the colt to Jesus and put their coats on it; and He sat on it.

• Jesus Divine Omniscience is able to make arrangements for this.
• We observe the same Divine Omniscience put on display in Mark:
Mark 2:5-9

Ill—3 pronouncements that He is headed to Jerusalem to die and rise from the dead: Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:33-34.

App—Jesus sees all that you do. Jesus can see who your King is. Jesus knows what it is that Masters you. You cannot serve “2 Kings ‘lords’ ‘kurios’ you will hate the one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other.”
If Jesus is Your King you can trust Him because He is omniscient.
He said He would died on the cross and rise from the dead and His complete his mission.
Because He is omniscient, you can continue to follow Him, knowing that He will fulfill every promise He has ever made.
Yet, He comes not even with His own donkey, but a borrowed donkey.
Ryle says, “How did He enter Jerusalem when He came to it on this remarkable occasion? Did He come in a royal chariot, with horses, soldiers, and a retinue around Him, like the kings of this world? We are told nothing of the kind. We read that He borrowed the colt of a donkey for the occasion, and sat upon the garments of His disciples for lack of a saddle. This was in perfect keeping with all the tenor of His ministry. He never had any of the riches of this world. When He crossed the sea of Galilee, it was in a borrowed boat. When He rode into the holy city, it was on a borrowed beast. When He was buried, it was in a borrowed tomb.”

• Herein, we see a beautiful combination Kingly omniscience and yet humility.

2.His Kingly Fulfillment

Mark 11:6 6 They spoke to them just as Jesus had told them, and they gave them permission. 7 They brought the colt to Jesus and put their coats on it; and He sat on it. 8 And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields.

• But there is more significance to the colt. It was prophesied many years prior that the future Kingly Messiah would ride a colt:

Genesis 49:10-11 10 “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. 11 “He ties his foal to the vine, And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine; He washes his garments in wine, And his robes in the blood of grapes.

Zechariah 9:9-10 9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; And the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; And His dominion will be from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.

• The crowd also chants a Messianic psalm in the Old Testament:

9 Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting: “Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!”

• Where is this found in the OT:

Psalm 118:25-26 25 O LORD, do save, we beseech You; O LORD, we beseech You, do send prosperity! 26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.

• The crowd had just witnessed Bartimaeus cry out “Son of David, have mercy on me.” And Jesus healed this poor blind man.

Yet even in this fulfillment the ‘stone’ would be rejected.
Psalm 118:22 22 The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.

Spurgeon says, “It is a kingdom, in the first place, in which the disciples are the courtiers. Our blessed Lord had no prince in waiting, no usher of the black rod, no gentlemen-at-arms who supplied the place of those grand officers? Why a few poor humble fishermen, who were his disciples. Learn, then, that if in Christ's kingdom you would be a peer you must be a disciple; to sit at his feet is the honor which he will give you. Hearing his words obeying his commands, receiving of his grace—this is true dignity, this is true magnificence. The poorest man that loves Christ, or the humblest woman who is willing to accept him as her teaches, becomes at once one of the nobility that wait upon Christ Jesus.”

•Have you bowed your life to this humble King?

3.His Kingly Welcome

Mark 11:7 7 They brought the colt to Jesus and put their coats on it; and He sat on it.

•They made Jesus a saddle before He sat on it. Why? Because a King should have a saddle.
•A King should also have a red carpet to walk upon

8 And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields.

•A King also needs some theme music

9 Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting: “Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!”
•They were shouting from Psalm 118, but a specific portion of Psalm 118:
•This crowd already saw Jesus heal Bartimaeus and possible watched Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead.
Yet even in this welcome, there is humility.
•There is no royal red carpet that is laid out for this coming King, but tattered clothes and leaves.
•There was no saddle ornate w/ jewels, but rather they threw their clothes on it.
•There was no garrison or nobility surrounding him, but fisherman, tax collectors, a former terrorist.
It is seriously doubful that the crowd understood all the implications of what it meant for Jesus to be King. They were looking for a political freedom fighter and not a King who would serve them and lay down his life as a ransom for many. When this would become obvious in ch 15 the crowd would not be chanting “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David” but rather “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

Many a person in this World wants Jesus to fix their problems in life. The Jews wanted Jesus to fix their problem of political oppression, but few are willing to admit their real problem of sin and embrace Jesus serving them and giving His life as a ransom on their behalf. Then you become a subject of His Kingdom. What about you? Do you follow Jesus because you think He is your Servant boy to fix your problems in life, or is Jesus to the King who laid down his life for you and now owns you?