I suppose the title might be confusing for the message today. After all, we as Christians should have hope. I want to focus on attitudes this week. As salvation is a journey and not a one time experience we often find ourselves in the wrong places if we have taken our eyes off the Shepherd. We might experience something in life and adjust our hearts in a certain way just to get by, but we’ll be in error. I suppose that it’s human nature to do what we have to do in enduring something. As an example, we can have a loss in life where a loved one is taken and set our heart against God because we refuse to admit that He is Sovereign. God’s Sovereignty is something that we all must accept if we are to have a relationship with Him.
We might also resolve to set our heart on complacency where we believe we have done enough and that we’ve reached our spiritual peak. God will not leave us in one place very long. It is not to our benefit but to our detriment to get settled in. Just look at the Old Testament (a shadow of things to come Hebrews 10:1) and at how God moved the Israelites constantly. When Joshua fought battles he went from place to place. He never stopped short of defeating the enemy and then progressing on to the next one.
Our family went through a study some time ago of the battles of Joshua and it was amazing at how each one was a different challenge. There were great spiritual lessons that we saw in these battles and no two were the same. We saw tactics of the devil that practically slapped us all in the face at how we’d seen them before. After all, he doesn’t have any new material. You and I are like Joshua. We have a constant need for being alert and diligent in motion. We need to be ready for anything.
Yes, there are many attitudes that we can get into. But of all that you go through you need to focus on one thing-hopelessness. As always, bear with me and let me explain. I believe that the church as a whole has forgotten who we are. There is an attitude prevalent and even preached that we are King’s Kids. The facts of our Royal standing are thrown out to the congregations week after week and all members get pumped up about who they are now. Just as the devil told half truths when he deceived Eve he still uses that tactic today. Half truths are believable statements that we might fall into for one of many reasons. We might want something to be true and therefore it agrees with what we’ve been looking for. Or, we might not be educated in total truth and so we are misled on counterfeits. If a cashier handed you Monopoly money at the store you would give it back. But if she handed you counterfeit money you might readily take it unless you really observed what you got. Not paying attention gets us into trouble.
Truth is like that, too. We should examine what someone teaches and see if it agrees with the Bible. So I want you to really think about what I am saying today. Read the Word and see if it agrees with me, your preacher or someone that you have been listening to. As I stated, there is a doctrine of Hell that is pushing the Body of Christ into spoiled, selfish children instead of humble servants that we need to be. The prosperity doctrine is just part of it. It is also the mindset that you have to do nothing as a Christian and that God will take care of it all. Another part of it is that as Christians we can do nothing to change our destiny. In following this we may actually be missing out on Heaven.
Now, I’ve said a mouthful and I’m sure that some of you are stirred up by now. Good! I want to stir our thinking and make us all dig in the Word. Let me look at each thing I accused of above as being false and half truths. The prosperity doctrine is leading people into believing that the most important thing is being physically comfortable and even worry free. If you have children you obviously want them to be safe and sound. You want them to prosper and be in health. But when we really think about it we realize that happiness doesn’t come from money or even health. There are many people who are happy but have poor health or no money. Also, we know people who have committed suicide that were wealthy and healthy. Money and health are temporary and will never bring your happiness.
We are told over and over to not put faith in wealth. John told us to not love this world or the things in the world (1st John2:15) Surely this includes wealth and health. Peter even refers to wealth as a corruptible thing (1st Peter 1:18).The rich are warned that their monies are temporal (James 1:11, 5:2 1st Timothy 6:5-11 and v 17). We are warned of false teachers in 2nd Peter chapter 2. Peter tells us how these false teachers make merchandise of people (v3). How much clearer description do we need to stay away from those who teach prosperity and in the same breath ask for you to send them money so that you can get more?
Just as I explained that no decent parent wants their child to be sick and poor we know that God is a good God and doesn’t want His children to suffer. However, He is also above us and we need to recognize that there will be many things we don’t understand. Peter reminds us that we will suffer in this world. He explains that if we are going to suffer it should be for righteousness instead of sin (1st Peter3:17). As we are told to take on the humility of Christ (Philippians 2:1-8) it goes to reason that we should not think of ourselves in a haughty or high-minded manner. Can you imagine the Lowly Jesus we read of in the Bible telling God that He was owed something? And yet we see people of faith who do just that. They demand the best seats on planes and hotel rooms. They get angry when they are not mentioned in events. Surely we can see that this is a false doctrine.
In tackling another of the false doctrines I mentioned above I believe that Christians will be judged by their works. (I just heard screeching tires!) Look at Revelation 22:12, 1st Corinthians 3:8-15, and James 2:19-24. Saying that you are a Christian doesn’t make you one. Doing the works of a Christian is proof that you are one. Yes-there will be people doing good works who aren’t Christians and will go to Hell. But Christians absolutely do good works. It is in them to do so. Their actions testify of their faith. As I have said before, I don’t do loving things for my wife to be married. I do loving things for my wife because I’m married. My marriage was a commitment. Your salvation is also a commitment. It was a promise to give up your old ways and start following the ways of God. My vow to my wife was to forsake all others and to be dedicated to her only. Your vow to God is to forsake the world and it’s ways and to pursue Him and His Righteousness.
These doctrines that I speak of today are nothing more that the old lie of Satan saying I will exalt myself above God (Isaiah14:12-16). Our attitude should be that of humility. Ok-I can hear many of you saying “I agree with all of that, Brother Paul. But where does hopelessness come in?” I agree that Christians, above all people, are the only ones that have hope. There is no hope for the lost after they leave this world. There will be no purgatory for anyone to pray them out of. It simply isn’t in the Bible. Follow me now-I believe that Christians have missed out on just remembering that without Christ they have no hope. Instead of teaching that we are Royalty we need to remember that we are saved by grace, not of ourselves lest anyone should boast.
There seems to be a problem with Christians getting to a point where they think they no longer need Jesus. It is as if they think are now finished in what they need to reach perfection and just want Jesus to stand back while they show the world what they can do. Oh, they say that Jesus did it all for them in a false humility. But their actions dictate otherwise. Look at the parable that Jesus told about the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:23-35. This illustration gives us the reminder that God forgave us of the fifty-two million dollar debt. The unmerciful servant refused to forgive the fellow-servant of a forty-four dollar debt. We must never forget where we came from! We came from a lost state that we had no hope of being delivered from. By just asking for mercy we were forgiven of the entire debt. Yes-God has washed away the debt as far as the East is from the West. But we must never forget that we did owe it.
By teaching that we are King’s Kids we simply push aside the debt we had. We present the Gospel in a manner that says we were lovable and God chose us because of some good in us. He did not. In Romans 5:8 we see that while we were still sinners He (Christ) died for us. God loves us only because of Jesus.
The hopelessness I want you to see is the one you had before Jesus. I want to remind you of where you were. Jesus took Passover with His Disciples and told us to do this in remembrance of Him (Luke22:19). We call this Holy Ordinance “Communion”. It has been forgotten in the modern church. When it is done it seems to be only a religious service that doesn’t recall the crucifixion. Our family will be taking Communion this Sunday in our Homechurch Service. It is a time of reflecting on how much Jesus paid on your debt and the horrible suffering that He went through. If you chose to have Communion (and I hope you do) I want you to be reminded that it is a solemn time. It must reflect His crucifixion, His pain, His suffering and that it should have been you and I there on the cross.
Yes, Friend, we are so lost aside from Christ that it took a miracle to save us. Whether we were raised in church in the midst of the Gospel or were born in a family of atheists-we were still so deprived of good that God said our righteousness was as filthy rags (literally meaning dirty menstruation cloths) Isaiah 64:6. We must not forget where we came from.
There is no place of goodness where we graduate from needing Him. We will not become so righteous that we will be equal to Jesus-ever. We must always remember that we are sinners saved by grace. Think about this-no man of God in the Bible ever became so high-minded that He didn’t fall on his face when he stood before God. Pick one-anyone. The most Godly of men felt so unworthy when they looked on Him face to face that they trembled.
Do you remember what life was like before Jesus? Do you remember what it was like when you first came to the reality of your lost state? I do. I remember crying for days because I realized who I really was apart from God. I also remember later falling for the attitude of being a super-saint that stood solidly because I had reached a certain point in spiritual maturity. I felt as if Jesus probably spent more time with others because they needed Him more. In reality I heard the Holy Spirit so seldom because of my attitude of self-righteousness. Now, God continually reminds me that I need Him. Life has a way of being challenging enough that if we try to do it without Jesus we will fall.
Remember where you came from, Friend. Without Christ we all are hopeless. But, in Him there is hope. You need Him. You always will.
Prayer-Father, I pray for everyone who studies Your Word this week because of this message. May Your Spirit lead them into truth. If we have become so self-righteous that we believe we are good may we be brought down into humility. If we have forgotten our wretched state before Jesus saved us, help us to go back to that day when we came to the cross. I pray for Your Church today that we will become so much like Jesus that the world will see the difference in us and will be lead to You.
In Jesus’ Name I pray today-Amen
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