If Jesus were Pastor

Scripture: Matthew 15:8-9, Luke 4:18-19, Matthew 7:13
Date: 12/09/1987 
What if Jesus were our pastor today? Would we have followed Him and done anything He asked us to do? The Bible demonstrates how the heart of people to follow traditions above Scripture, not only through the centuries but in Jesus' time as well when He was on this earth.
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Early in the ministry of Jesus a scribe came to Him and said, "Master, I will follow Thee withersoever Thou goest." Jesus could see through to the heart of this man. Perhaps He perceived that the man was looking only for temporal blessing and advantages, for Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head." In other words, the Kingdom of God is not merely worldly gain. There must be sacrifice and concerted effort on the part of the follower of Christ.

I suppose most of us have said to ourselves at some time, "I would certainly have loved to have been living in the days when Jesus was here on this earth. If I could have been there then, I would have done everything He asked me to do. I would have gone any place and done anything." Well, today I wonder just how it would have been with us, friends, if Jesus were actually our own pastor today in our own church. What if He were right here in this earth now and He could stand up in a pulpit and preach, what would He say? Would we listen to His words? Would we gladly and freely follow His advice and teachings. Jesus' comment on the religious conditions of the church and the people in His day may reveal something to us about our own times. In Matthew 15:8 and 9 we read, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Now those were the words of Christ, Himself.

Now we know that during the Dark Ages tradition and pagan practices became the rule of the church. As the reformers brought out certain truths that had been hidden from the knowledge of the people, multitudes followed that truth. However, many denominations still are holding on to doctrines and practices which have been handed through tradition and are not fully in accord with the Bible itself. Friends, how much we need to examine our own hearts and our practices of life. Does every doctrine of our church and life measure up fully with the plain, "Thus saith the Lord"? If Jesus were to stand in your church today, could He proclaim His full gospel, His full truth, just as He did when He was here in person? If the answer is "No" then we need to examine ourselves and the truth of God's Word and determine that we're going to stand only upon the Bible and the Bible only and never upon the traditions of men. Jesus pointed out that traditions had taken over as truth in His day, and He could do no other than to point out the same spiritual condition today. Far too often the truth of God is laid aside for some more popular doctrine, one that's been handed down all the way from Roman paganism. Such traditions have been accepted in Protestant Churches who profess to believe in and teach the Bible and the Bible only.

You know, friends, this principle of the Bible only is a pure Protestant principle but unfortunately it is being neglected today and traditions have actually come in to take root in some great Protestant organizations. In fact, no church in Jesus' day would have Him for their pastor. Let me call your attention to the story found in Luke 4. You can read the full story in your own Bible, but this tells how Jesus had come home to His own hometown church. On the Sabbath, in accordance with His weekly habit, He went to the church. He was asked to preach to the people that day. His fame was already spreading in the region about and here was an opportunity for this popular young preacher to preach at home. How glad the people should be to hear His words. Luke 4:18 and 19 gives us the text that Jesus used as a basis for His sermon that day in the church at Nazareth, His hometown church. After reading the verses taken from Isaiah 61, Jesus began His sermon by explaining that He was the exact fulfillment of the prophecy made by Isaiah. But when the people heard that claim of Christ to be the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, they were filled with anger and were about to throw Him off the hill on which Nazareth was built. Jewish law permitted the slaying of anybody who was caught in blasphemy and the people accused Jesus of teaching error and blasphemy. Even His own hometown church would have nothing to do with Him as a leader in His day.

I wonder if Jesus were a pastor today, friends, would people's hearts be any different than they were in that time? When Jesus stood up there and told the people the truth in His day, they were not willing to accept it. Yet today we find the majority of churches who profess the name of Jesus, teaching doctrines and practices that are not from the Bible while ignoring many of the words which Jesus spoke while He was here. Friends, here's a very serious thought for all of us who profess the name of Christ. Jesus said, "Why call me Lord and do not the things which I say?" Can we be true Christians while we do not follow His teachings fully and completely? Of course not. Reason and logic testify to the fact that we cannot be true Christians without following Christ.

Now there were probably several reasons why Jesus was not accepted in His day. I want to point out two or three of them. First of all, Jesus' teachings were not popular. He said in Matthew 7:13, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." So the teachings of God and truth have never been popular. In the days of Noah, when God sent a special message through Noah to the world, he was not accepted nor was the message which he proclaimed. Noah had the true message and the world listened but would not accept the truth, therefore they were lost.

The cause of Christ is not popular today either. Right now only about 30 per cent of the world's population accept the name of Christ and profess to be Christian at all. Seven out of every ten individuals living on this earth do not accept or even profess to believe in Christ. Surely the cause of Christ is not popular today but may I speak even more frankly with you, friends. Take all who do profess the name of Christ. How many churches and denominations are there following the teachings of Jesus without adding tradition or without leaving out some of the things He said. I'm afraid that you could almost count them up on your hands if you think of that kind of church. Now why are not Christ's full teachings accepted today? They're not popular, of course. That's why. Many feel that some of His teachings are inconvenient or hard to follow. Others feel that they're not important or necessary. Yet, since the Bible makes it clear that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, we must surely all know and admit that Jesus would not have any different doctrine or teaching for His followers today than He had when He walked here upon this earth and spoke personally to them. We can never measure truth by popularity or by who may or may not be following it. Truth must be accepted and followed because it is the truth and anything that is not in the full truth and in full harmony with Christ and His holy Word cannot be the truth at all.

We find another reason why Jesus was not accepted in His day. A reason, by the way, why His teachings are not generally accepted today also. I read from Matthew 10: 34-38. "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me." In these verses, Jesus outlines the reality of service to Christ. He points out that if we follow tradition merely because our families have done so, or now do so, we can't be called the children of God for we're not even worthy of His name.

Christ wants us to be saved as unbroken families; however, the matter of salvation is an individual matter. No husband can save his wife; no wife can save her husband; no parents can save their children. However, the reverse is also true.

Just because a husband or wife or son or daughter or mother or father or anyone for that matter does not agree with the Bible and thus is not willing to follow Christ all the way, does not excuse us from making the important step of serving Him fully. We must each stand up and be counted. Salvation is an individual matter. Many people will be on the outside of the Kingdom of Heaven who profess the name of Jesus but who did not do what He taught in entirety. You can read that in Matthew 7: 21-23, when Jesus says in part, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."

Long ago when I reached the age of manhood I came to realize that I must decide once and for all whom I would serve. I wanted to be a Christian but how could I do so? I began to study the doctrines and teachings of various teachings and denominations, wanting to find what I could do in order to be saved. And friends, God led me by the study of the Bible to take that Bible as the great basis of all truth. So with this in mind, there comes to us this question-how can we have so many denominations in the world? It's evident that most of these denominations profess to teach the truth. Most profess to believe that the Bible is divine authority for truth, yet a listing of the many denominations in the world would reveal a list of around 250 separate and distinct denominations. Most all of them accept Christ as Saviour and most all of them accept the Bible too, yet most of them disagree with one or more points of basic doctrine concerning the Bible and its teachings.

The question arises then-Can all of them be right? Even the casual observer must readily see that when two denominations teach separate views on a specific doctrine of the Bible, both cannot be right. Thus, we can see that all denominations cannot be right on all points of doctrine and Christian teaching and practice. Then there comes another question, can any denomination be fully right? The answer must again come from God's Holy Word. God says that He'll have an everlasting gospel that will be preached in all the world right up until Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven. The everlasting gospel is none other than the pure unchanged gospel that Jesus taught and lived with nothing added to it and nothing taken away. It will be the full gospel as Jesus taught it and it will be taught and lived in this world until the time of the end and the return of Jesus.

Perhaps another question may also come into mind. Does it really make any difference after all? Friends, did it make any difference whether Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden? Did it make any difference what the people thought and did about the message of Noah at the time of the flood? The answer to both questions is a very positive "Yes." It made the difference between life or death. And just so it does today as well.

Friends, if Jesus were pastor today, He would have no new truth for the world. He would once again point the world to Calvary and the faith of Jesus. He would once again say to the people, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." He would once again say that even though His teachings were not popular, yet they were the saving truth and that all who would accept them and follow them would be saved in His kingdom. He would once again say that merely saying that we're a Christian doesn't count for very much for many will say that and be lost. We must honor Him with more than lip service. The heart and life must be submitted to Him and we must do the will of God through the power of Christ in us. And that means studying the Bible, friends, to find out the truth for ourselves.

Do not take any man's word for the truth, I don't care who the preacher is; whether he's a radio evangelist or whether he's a pastor of one of the largest churches in the land, you must test that word by the Bible itself and only then can you be sure that you have the truth. So the Word of God is the great criteria, the great measuring rod, by which all truth can be judged.

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