Rejoice and Be Renewed In HIS Image

Message for Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church:           

‘Rejoice and Be Renewed In HIS Image’

© September 23, 2018, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Message Shared with BLCF on August 9, 2015

 Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                    Opening Hymn #25: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee; Choruses                             Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayer Requests                     Responsive Reading #667: Humility and Exaltation (Philippians 2 and Matthew 23)                                                                                                                               Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Rejoice and Be Renewed In HIS Image’

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service.

Our lesson this morning is entitled:Rejoice and Be Renewed In HIS Image’, where we will have an opportunity for some self-reflection upon our personal walk with the Lord. We will look at the pitfalls of hypocrisy in our faith practices when we reflect upon God’s Word, primarily using today’s Scripture verses, .

It is through the Bible, along with the Spirit’s guidance, that we may understand not only the path God has set for us but examine our behavior as a true reflection of God’s grace. Let us first look at Psalm 119:57-64, which happens to take from not only the longest of the Psalms but also happens to be the longest chapter of Scripture found in the Bible, comprised of some 176 verses:

Psalm 119, verses 57 to 64 indicate the importance of attitude over actions as an expression of our faith which is pleasing to the Lord:

Psalm 119:57-64 (ESV)

Heth

57 The Lord is my portion;
I promise to keep your words.
58 I entreat your favor with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
59 When I think on my ways,
I turn my feet to your testimonies;
60 I hasten and do not delay
to keep your commandments.
61 Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me,
I do not forget your law.
62 At midnight I rise to praise you,
because of your righteous rules.
63 I am a companion of all who fear you,
of those who keep your precepts.
64 The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love;
teach me your statutes!

Our second Scripture verse contrasts that from Psalm 119, where Jesus gives a litany of failings in the faith practices of the Scribes and the Pharisees, Matthew 23:1-36 (ESV):

Seven Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees

23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear,[a] and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi[b] by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.[c] And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.[d] 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell[e] as yourselves.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah,[f] whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 23:4 Some manuscripts omit hard to bear b. Matthew 23:7 Rabbi means my teacher, or my master; also verse 8 c. Matthew 23:8 Or brothers and sisters d. Matthew 23:13 Some manuscripts add here (or after verse 12) verse 14: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive the greater condemnation e. Matthew 23:15 Greek Gehenna; also verse 33 f. Matthew 23:35 Some manuscripts omit the son of Barachiah

Henry’s Concise Commentary helps us understand the Lord’s concerns found in today’s second Scripture verse, Matthew 23:

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary: Matthew 23 Chapter Contents:

Jesus reproves the scribes and Pharisees (1-12); Crimes of the Pharisees (13-33); The guilt of Jerusalem. (34-39):

Commentary on Matthew 23:1-12

(Read Matthew 23:1-12)

The scribes and Pharisees explained the law of Moses, and enforced obedience to it. They are charged with hypocrisy in religion. We can only judge according to outward appearance; but God searches the heart. They made phylacteries. These were scrolls of paper or parchment, wherein were written four paragraphs of the law, to be worn on their foreheads and left arms, Exodus 13:2-10; 13:11-16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21.

{The phylacteries are illustrated on the inside of today’s BLCF Bulletin.}

They made these phylacteries broad, that they might be thought more zealous for the law than others. God appointed the Jews to make fringes upon their garments, Numbers 15:38, to remind them of their being a peculiar people; but the Pharisees made them larger than common, as if they were thereby more religious than others. Pride was the darling, reigning sin of the Pharisees, the sin that most easily beset them, and which our Lord Jesus takes all occasions to speak against. For him that is taught in the word to give respect to him that teaches, is commendable; but for him that teaches, to demand it, to be puffed up with it, is sinful. How much is all this against the spirit of Christianity! The consistent disciple of Christ is pained by being put into chief places. But who that looks around on the visible church, would think this was the spirit required? It is plain that some measure of this antichristian spirit prevails in every religious society, and in every one of our hearts.

Commentary on Matthew 23:13-33(Read Matthew 23:13-33):

The scribes and Pharisees were enemies to the gospel of Christ, and therefore to the salvation of the souls of men. It is bad to keep away from Christ ourselves, but worse also to keep others from him…

The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was like the ornaments of a grave, or dressing up a dead body, only for show. The deceitfulness of sinners’ hearts appears in that they go down the streams of the sins of their own day, while they fancy that they should have opposed the sins of former days. We sometimes think, if we had lived when Christ was upon earth, that we should not have despised and rejected him, as men then did; yet Christ in his Spirit, in his word, in his ministers, is still no better treated. And it is just with God to give those up to their hearts’ lusts, who obstinately persist in gratifying them. Christ gives men their true characters.

Commentary on Matthew 23:34-39 (Read Matthew 23:34-39):

Our Lord declares the miseries the inhabitants of Jerusalem were about to bring upon themselves, but he does not notice the sufferings he was to undergo… There is nothing between sinners and eternal happiness, but their proud and unbelieving unwillingness.

http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=40&c=23

The Bible refers to Christ, Jesus as the “Word made flesh.” But what is meant by this description of our Lord?

Question: “What does it mean that the Word became flesh (John 1:14)?”

Answer: The term word is used in different ways in the Bible. In the New Testament, there are two Greek words translated “word”: rhema and logos. They have slightly different meanings. Rhema usually means “a spoken word.” For example, in Luke 1:38, when the angel told Mary that she would be the mother of God’s Son, Mary replied, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word [rhema].”

Logos, however, has a broader, more philosophical meaning. This is the term used in John 1. It usually implies a total message, and is used mostly in reference to God’s message to mankind. For example, Luke 4:32 says that, when Jesus taught the people, “they were amazed at his teaching, because his words [logos] had authority.” The people were amazed not merely by the particular words Jesus chose but by His total message.

“The Word” (Logos) in John 1 is referring to Jesus. Jesus is the total Message—everything that God wants to communicate to man. The first chapter of John gives us a glimpse inside the Father/Son relationship before Jesus came to earth in human form. He preexisted with the Father (verse 1), He was involved in the creation of everything (verse 3), and He is the “light of all mankind” (verse 4). The Word (Jesus) is the full embodiment of all that is God (Colossians 1:19; 2:9; John 14:9). But God the Father is Spirit. He is invisible to the human eye. The message of love and redemption that God spoke through the prophets had gone unheeded for centuries (Ezekiel 22:26; Matthew 23:37). People found it easy to disregard the message of an invisible God and continued in their sin and rebellion. So the Message became flesh, took on human form, and came to dwell among us (Matthew 1:23; Romans 8:3; Philippians 2: 5–11).

The Greeks used the word logos to refer to one’s “mind,” “reason,” or “wisdom.” John used this Greek concept to communicate the fact that Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, is the self-expression of God to the world. In the Old Testament, the word of God brought the universe into existence (Psalm 33:6) and saved the needy (Psalm 107:20). In chapter 1 of his Gospel, John is appealing to both Jew and Gentile to receive the eternal Christ.

Jesus told a parable in Luke 20:9–16 to explain why the Word had to become flesh. “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.

“Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.”

In this parable, Jesus was reminding the Jewish leaders that they had rejected the prophets and were now rejecting the Son. The Logos, the Word of God, was now going to be offered to everyone, not just the Jews (John 10:16; Galatians 2:28; Colossians 3:11). Because the Word became flesh, we have a high priest who is able to empathize with our weaknesses, one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin (Hebrews 4:15).

http://www.gotquestions.org/Word-became-flesh.html

The Bible reminds us that God created us in His image. And while the sin of Adam and Eve separated us from the image of God spiritually, which removed from us the immortality of this Godly image, Jesus, by way of his death on the cross to remove the death penalty, which is the expected judgment for sin and restores in us the promise of immortality to those who are not fettered by condemnation of sin.

Genesis 1:27 (ESV)

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

Having been freed of the judgment of sin, we are baptized by the Holy Spirit and born again into a new self, redeemed and sanctified by Christ, Jesus, being a new creation through him. No longer are we judged by the Law, but redeemed by the one who has fulfilled that judgment, by his own sacrifice on the cross.

                                   Colossians 3:9-11 (ESV): Put On the New Self

Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self[a] with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave,[b] free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Footnotes: a. Colossians 3:9 Greek man; also as supplied in verse 10 b. Colossians 3:11 Greek bondservant

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #177: Rejoice, the Lord is King

Benediction:  – (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17): Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

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The Word by Name is Jesus Christ

BLCF;Word became flesh John_1_14

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘The Word by Name is Jesus Christ’

© April 3, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on July 14, 2013

BLCF Bulletin April 3, 2016

BLCF: Word became flesh

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading  #631 (Incarnate Christ – from John1); Prayer         

Opening Hymn #155: “Man of Sorrows,” What a Name; Choruses                                                                       

Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers                                                                           

Scriptures: John 1:1; John 1:14; Acts 20:28-31; Matthew 21:23-32; Colossians 2:16-22 

BLCF: Word was God

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church, on this the first Sunday of April 2016, and being the first Sunday of the month, happens to be Communion Sunday. This Tuesday also happens to be BLCF’s turn at hosting a community prayer walk, where five other area churches participate. So spread the work and join our walk.

Speaking of Word, I would like to begin this morning’s lesson, which is about another type of Word, by repeating verses 1 and 14 from Chapter 1 of John 1:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

We read in this short passage, consisting of only two relatively short verses, John using the proper pronoun ‘Word’ no less than four times. Or should I say more precisely ‘the Word’.  The Word was there in the beginning, that is to say, existing at the time of Creation. And the Word was there with God, the Creator of everything.  That is because the Word was God. Then the Word became flesh and dwelt among us as the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Sounds a little like the Game of Jeopardy, where the players are given an answer and must phrase a question to match the corresponding question. In this case, our question might be phrased as: “Who was Jesus Christ?”

Yet, there are many people, including many Christians, who would incorrectly attempt to match with the definition of the Word, the question: “What is the Bible?”

When you stop and think about it, it seems quite silly to imagine that a Book, inspired by God, created for humanity just happened to be there, existing before Creation. That the Word is God was really the Scriptures or Bible, we must then view Godhead Trinity as a quartet of sorts: Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and Bible. And finally, if “the Word became flesh” meant the Bible, then we have a description of a sort of ‘Illustrated Man of Scriptures’, to dwell amongst us, which is really twisting God’s message.

I believe that it is safe to conclude that the Word in John Chapter 1 does not refer to the Holy Scriptures. Besides, we need the presence of the Holy Spirit, to admonish and to convict us of the truth of the Scriptures, not vice versa. And this conviction will only happen after we have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, with the help of the Holy Spirit.

What we can say about the John 1 passage is that Jesus, not the Bible, existed in another form at the time of the creation, and before the creation. And that the Word is part of the Holy Trinity, who was with and is   God. It was later, that the Word took the form of human flesh, as Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who ministered to us, fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament, ultimately becoming a living sacrifice for all of humanity on the Cross and after ascending to Heaven sent a comforter to all who believe in the form of the Holy Spirit. The Bible did not send us the Holy Spirit.

By contrast, we have the Scriptures, or the Bible, as the inspired word (spelled with a lower case w) of God. So let us see what our Wiki bits, from the Wikipedia, say about the Greek word Logos, which we translate in English as the Word:

Logos – Word

BLCF: Word - John_1_1_2

The Old Testament has given an essential contribution to the New Testament Christological message for Christ as Logos, translated as the Word. The Word is with God from the beginning (Gen 1:1 John 1:1), powerfully creative (Gen 1:1-2:4 Isa 55:10-11 Ps 33:6,9;107:20 Judith 16:14) and God’s personified self-expression. Like wisdom, the word expresses God’s active power and self-revelation in the created world. Solomon‘s prayer for wisdom takes word and wisdom as synonymous Even so, John’s prologue does not open by saying: “In the beginning was Wisdom, and Wisdom was with God, and Wisdom was God” (cf. John 1:1).

Despite the fact that, in the literature of pre-Christian Judaism, wisdom, word, and, for that matter, spirit were “near alternatives as ways of describing the active, immanent power of God”, there are several considerations to understand why John chose word and not wisdom. First, given that Sophia (Greek for wisdom) was personified as Lady Wisdom (e.g., Proverbs 1:20-33;8:1-9:6 Wis 8:2), it could have seemed awkward to speak of this female figure “being made flesh” when Jesus was male. Second, in Hellenistic Judaism the law of Moses had been identified with wisdom (Sir 24:23 Bar 4:1-4) and credited with many of her characteristics. To announce then that “Wisdom was God and was made flesh” could have been felt to suggest that “the Torah was God and was made flesh”. Within a few years Christians were to identify the Son of God and Logos with law or the law, but, neither John nor any other New Testament authors identified Christ with the Torah. Third, Paul, Luke (especially in Acts of the Apostles), and other New Testament witnesses prepared the way for John’s prologue by their use of logos for God’s revelation through Christ.

Both in New Testament times and later, the Johannine “Word” offered rich Christological possibilities. First the possibility of identification and distinction. On the one hand, words proceed from a speaker; being a kind of an extension of the speaker, they are, in a certain sense, identical with the speaker (“the Word was God”). On the other hand, a word is distinct from one who utters it (“the Word was with God”). Therefore, Christ was/is identified with, yet distinct from, YHWH. Second, God has been uttering the divine Word always (“in/from the beginning”); the Word “was” (not “came to be”) God. In this context “Word” opens up reflection on the personal, eternal pre-existence of the Logos-Son. God has never been without the Word.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Christ_the_Logos

 By definition, then the Word, like wisdom, expresses God’s active power and self-revelation in the created world. And to obtain wisdom and understanding in the Scriptures, we need the help of God, the Holy Spirit.

Still many people have the misguided impression that the Scriptures are the Word and therefore must be revered or worship. It is almost as if the Bible is worshiped by itself, which could be viewed as idolatry. Without faith and the Holy Spirit, the message in the Bible which is the gospel of Jesus Christ is meaningless to non-believers in the resurrected Christ. The verses which support this statement (and some people, again, mistakenly believe refer to the word of Scriptures instead of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh are, 1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV):

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God 

BLCF: 1Corinthians1-18    

 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV)

     BLCF: 1corinthians_2_14-nonchristianscantunderstand      

 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

The world is filled with many who, through memorization, can recite Scriptures, but who as non-believers lack the understanding or discernment, provided by the Holy Spirit, to appreciate the Gospel message of Salvation or anything else that is of the Spirit of God.

While you recall from recent sermons, it was discussed how Satan distorts and twists the words of God, as he did to Adam and Eve in the garden promoting a desire to be on the same level of God. Sin was passed on to their descendants, which manifested in their son, a jealousy so strong that it led to Cain killing his brother, Abel.

But, Satan is not satisfied with destroying the faith and trust of non-believers. The devil seeks to destroy churches by creating dissension amongst the body of believers, as demonstrated by the zealots who follow the King James Only, treating one English translation of the original Greek and Hebrew Scriptures as the only true Word of God. Anything after King James is considered by this group to be heresy or the work of the devil. Sound familiar? You may recall that how the Pharisees used the Scriptures to promote their agenda and challenge Jesus, who after all being the Word made flesh is God.

There are many intelligent reasons why we need to have the Bible translated into other languages, including modern English, it goes back to that Tower of Babel that we discussed a few Sunday’s ago. Regardless of the language, the translation is foolishness to those who do not have the Holy Spirit to understand them. And considering Jesus’ Commandments to love God and love our neighbor, any theology that renders discord and division among the members of the body of Christ’s Church cannot be of the Spirit. By its very nature: to promote one group of people superior over others sounds very much like the temptation of the Garden of Eden all over again. The negative emotions it generates is like what Cain felt as described in Genesis 4, where God warned Cain that sin is crouching at the door:

Genesis 4:6-7 (ESV)

BLCF: Cain_sin

6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

The devil loves to see Christians preoccupied with precious time in debate and dissention instead of building the church body. But like the lesson of the Goats and Sheep in Matthew 25:31-46, we will be judged by how we behave to others. That is why we use Matthew 25 as the Mission Statement for our BLCF Cafe Community Dinner.

Those of you who have attended Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship for the last few years may recall such a zealot proponent of the King James Only disrupting sermons of Pastor Andrew, Pastor Don and me over the last couple of years by interrupting the message in an attempt to launch a debate with the speaker regarding his KJO campaign. Fortunately, by the Grace of the Spirit, the speakers were not drawn into transforming a service intended to worship and praise God into something that does neither. Our KJO friend attempted again to initiate a debate at the end of my message at last Wednesday’s Community Dinner. Realizing that a debate draws me from serving the Lord at the BLCF Cafe, I disengaged from Mr. KJO who wanted to disrupt Terry’s ministry in music.  But what does the Bible say about those who focus on debating theology over actions that help demonstrate the love and compassion of the Lord?

James 1:22-27 (ESV)

BLCF: Jesus_in_mirror

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

It is not surprising to find Satan attacking the body of believers in Christ’s own Church. The Apostle Luke gives warning in Acts 20:28-31 (ESV):

BLCF: wolf_in_sheepsclothing

28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.

But the danger is not only from such fringe groups, who seem happier with destroying God’s Church, rather than doing something constructive. The danger lies in the fact that members of these groups and those whom they draw into their debates are both body of the Church, which has Christ at its head. This brings us to the lesson taught by the Parable of the Two Sons, Matthew 21:23-32 (ESV):

The Authority of Jesus Challenged

BLCF: Matthew_21_23-32

23 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

   The Parable of the Two Sons

BLCF: Parable of Two Sons

28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

The lesson of this parable is that tax collectors and prostitutes who are judged by the chief priests and elders as sinners will go to the kingdom of God because they have believed. And the self-righteous chief priest and elders will not because they lack the conviction of faith to back their words.

The final bit of advice, comes from the epistle which scholars generally believe to have been authored by the Apostle Paul, found in Colossians 2:16-22 (ESV):

Let No One Disqualify You

BLCF: walk_by_faith_not_by_sight

16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings?

As born-again believers in the resurrected Christ we must turn away from old beliefs and habits that do not glorify God or edify the body of believers. If we do find some aspects of our Christian walk that is not in line with Christ’s Commandments, like the Son who said that he would not work for his father and then changed his mind, we too can change by the grace of our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ and with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray…

BLCF: Last_Supper

Communion: Responsive Reading  #626: The Last Supper (Mark 14)

Closing Hymn #240: Marvelous Grace of Our Loving Lord                       

Benediction – (Romans 1:7):                                                                                                                                                             To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

BLCF: Word_Made_Flesh