Disciples and Scripture

Scripture: John 5:39, Luke 4:1-12, Matthew 12:3-8
Date: 01/04/2014 
Lesson: 1
"How can we make sure that our study and reading of the Bible help us to come to a better knowledge of Jesus and what He has done for us?"
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Good morning. Welcome to Sacramento central seventh day adventist church. We're so glad that you're tuning in. If this is your first time you're in for a great treat today. And, of course, if you are a regular and you are joining us every week right here in Sacramento, California, you're going to be blessed today.

I absolutely can guarantee that. Behind me you see many smiling faces. They're smiling, yes and they're awake. And this is our central church choir and they have prepared two songs that they're going to sing for us today and they're a wonderful group of people. We have been working very hard for the last three months in getting ready for today.

Today is our Christmas concert so, of course, if you're watching this on television and it's already in January, we record three weeks ahead so it's okay. You can still be in January but we're in December right now. And so, today is our Christmas concert. If you're watching live on the web right now, tune in at 4:00 pm pacific and 7:00 pm pacific and you can join us for our Christmas concert on our website this afternoon and evening. The two songs that they will be singing for us are 'our Lord emmanuel' and 'angels we have heard on high' conducted by handerson pontel who is our wonderful and most favorite choir conductor.

Let's sing handerson - are you ready? Emmanuel, emmanuel, his name is called, emmanuel. God with us, revealed in us, his name is called emmanuel. Christ by highest heav'n adored, Christ the everlasting Lord! Late in time behold him come, offspring of a virgin's womb. Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail the incarnate deity, pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus, our emmanuel. Emmanuel, emmanuel, his name is called emmanuel.

God with us, revealed in us, his name is called emmanuel. O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray; cast out our sin and enter in; be born in us today! We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell; o come to us, abide with us, our Lord emmanuel! Emmanuel, emmanuel, emmanuel, emmanuel, emmanuel, his name is called emmanuel. God with us, revealed in us, his name is called emmanuel. O come to us, abide with us, our Lord emmanuel! O come to us emmanuel. Amen! Angels we have heard on high sweetly singing o'er the plains and the mountains in reply echoing their joyous strains.

Gloria, in excelsis deo! Gloria in excelsis deo! Shepherds, why this jubilee? Why your joyous strains prolong? What the gladsome tidings be which inspire your heav'nly song? Gloria, in excelsis deo! Gloria, in excelsis deo! Come to Bethlehem and see him whose birth the angels sing; come, adore on bended knee, Christ the Lord, the newborn king. Gloria, in excelsis deo! Gloria, in excelsis deo! Joyful hearts with one accord, spread the tidings far and wide. Born to us is Christ the Lord, at this happy Christmas time. Gloria, in excelsis deo! Gloria, in excelsis deo! In excelsis deo deo! Amen! Good morning everybody and welcome to central study hour. I feel a little bit above everybody this morning but I assure you we're all down on the same level - spiritually and in God's eyes.

But we're up here because we have a special event this afternoon. It's our Christmas concert. So we're glad you're here this morning in good time and I also want to welcome those that were looking on on the streaming live video and those that see it on abn and hope. I'd like to welcome you also. Before we begin, we've got a free offer: 'the ultimate resource' and you can get this if you call 1-866-study-more or 1-866-788-3966.

It's a little booklet. It's offer #104 and contact Amazing Facts. It's written by our senior pastor, Doug Batchelor who, as we speak, is in romania but he sends his greetings to you all. This book that Pastor Doug has written - it's simply about the Bible. A little book - how can it say so much about the Bible? But it's a good little book and I think you'd enjoy it.

You would appreciate it. So call Amazing Facts. Give them a drop on the line and they will send this to you absolutely free. That said, if you don't know I'm going to tell you. We're starting a new quarter today.

This is called 'discipleship'. It's the adult guide for the next three months and I have the pleasure and honor this morning of opening up on lesson #1. But if you have your quarterlies with you - those of you looking in - who see this after the fact - you notice in the introduction we read the following - read - the topic of our quarter is discipleship, as I just mentioned, and it says, "though the term has many facets. In this study we will look at discipleship as the process by which we become followers of Jesus and, as such, better soul winners." And across on the other page it kind of crystallizes it again. It says, "the comprehensive understanding of discipleship is incomplete" - and that's true.

It's incomplete - "until it incorporates a passionate desire to follow Jesus and, as a supernatural result, a passionate desire to lead others to Christ as well." So I trust you can say 'amen' to that. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, he was born into a nation that was eagerly looking for the long-expected Messiah - the one who'd been promised even from the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3:15. But anyway, Jesus arrived - he came - and that was all well and good, but we must remember that when Jesus arrived there had been countless others who had preceded him, all claiming to be the Messiah. And after Jesus left, others got in line to come along and claim to be the Messiah. 'I'm the Messiah.

' 'No, I'm the Messiah.' Well, you know the story. And Jesus warned us in Matthew , 'there will arise false Christs and false prophets; inasmuch as it were possible they would deceive the very elect.' So, you know, which claimant are we to believe? Well, of course, we know it's Jesus, don't we? But let's think about that. Why do we say that Jesus truly is the Messiah? Well, you might say he was kind. Yes. He was Godly.

Yes. He worked miracles. Yes - even raised the dead. Well while all that is, of course, very noteworthy, miracles were just - the outflowing of his love and mercy and really were to be expected. But Jesus never wanted people to accept him on the basis of miracles or even that he was kind.

Jesus wanted people to accept him on the basis of truth. See, even satan can make miracles. Satan can blind people with kindness. Satan can deceive people and they'll just open themselves up to be deceived. And so Jesus wants us to know, for our own safety, that we need to know for certain which Messiah, which Christ we are following.

And that's why, for good reason Jesus said - and it's our key text this week - John 5:39 - he said, "search the Scriptures; for...they are they which testify of me." It's true. Our only safety - the only safety in Jesus' time to know if he was the real disciple - sorry, the real Messiah - was on the basis of this. But in the book 'Desire of Ages' we've been told that satan is ten times more able to deceive now than 2,000 years ago. So it's even more pertinent and crucially necessary that we are guided by this book and this book alone to know who is the real Jesus. And although Jesus is in heaven, who are his real representatives? Which is his real spirit that is going to be working - his true spirit which will work profoundly before he comes.

But also another spirit that will pull out all the stops and unless we know one spirit from the other we will - we'll be deceived. So it's with good reason Jesus said 'search the Scriptures'. Now when Jesus announced the beginning of his ministry - I want to turn to Mark chapter 1, verses 14 and 15 - Mark 1, verses 14 and 15 - just give me a moment here. Even based upon Scripture, Jesus announced the commencement of his ministry. Mark 1:14 and 15.

The context is: Jesus had been baptized. He'd been in the wilderness. He'd been tempted. He'd been through all that terrible test of his faith and fortitude, but now he comes down from the wilderness and he begins, now, his preaching ministry. Let me read this - verse 14, "now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, 'the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel.

'" Now, for those jews who were on the ball when Jesus said the time is fulfilled, they should have realized that he was declaring that a certain time had been fulfilled. You know what that was? It was telling people who understood - who were savvy - and they should have been - that the sixty-nine weeks of the seventy weeks in Daniel chapter had expired and we're beginning now the last week of seven prophetic days or seven literal years. And it was in that first sixty-nine-week - sorry - ad 27 - Jesus was baptized. And that was the beginning now. And so he says, 'the time is fulfilled' and that's exactly right.

It was based upon Scripture. And then he declared the nature of his ministry. We're still in Luke - Luke chapter 4 - we find Jesus here in the synagogue in verse 18 and - sorry, I'm in Mark. Beg your pardon. We're in Luke chapter 4 beginning in verse 14 - sorry, verse 16 - it says, "and he came to nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written," - and it was in - you'll find this is Isaiah 61 - Jesus said, "'the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.'" And then he said - a little further down there it says "he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him." - It means there were eyes fastened upon him - verse 21 - "and he began to say unto them, 'this day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.'" Well, they didn't take too kindly to that. They were ready to do away with him. But, nonetheless, he was declaring that the Messiah had arrived, this was the nature of his ministry and it was based solidly upon what had been declared previously, 700 years before, by the prophet Isaiah - that the Messiah would do these things: preach the Gospel, heal the brokenhearted, and so on.

Now, I want to move on here. Looking at how Jesus called his first disciples. You see, again, it was based upon - he didn't want them just following him because he seemed a nice guy or because at the riverbank John the baptist had said, 'behold the lamb of God'. Well, John and andrew stood by that riverbank and they were there when John were baptizing and they saw John point at Jesus and say, 'behold the lamb of God'. So they looked and the Bible tells us that they followed Jesus.

We're going to go to John chapter 1. So they followed him, you see, and - what did I say? To 51 - well, let me start it again. And again, the next day, after John stood and had two of his disciples and looking at Jesus as he walked he said, 'behold the lamb of God' - this is John declaring this - verse 37, "and the two disciples heard him speak and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, 'what seek ye?' They saith unto him, rabbi, (which is to mean master) where dwellest thou?'" - They said, 'where do you live?' Verse 39, "he saith unto them, 'come and see.'" - It seems that Jesus had a little apartment of some sort - at least at this point in his life - "they came and saw where he dwelt and abode with him there that day for it was about the tenth hour." Now it was about two hours before nightfall and so he told them, you know, stay here. And so they did.

Now, we see that the next day John - sorry, andrew, went to get his brother Peter and he goes to Peter and he tells him, he says - and you see this in verse 41 - it says - andrew - it says, "he" - that is, andrew - "first findeth his own brother Simon and saith unto him, 'we have found the messais, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.'" Okay, so andrew and John have spent a night with Jesus and the next day andrew just can't wait to find his brother Peter and say, 'we found the Messiah, the Christ.' Well, how did he know? Well, my guess is this: that as Jesus accommodated them for the night I don't doubt that he probably gave them quite a revealing Bible study, don't you think? Wouldn't you have liked to have been there in Jesus' little apartment sitting there with John and andrew as he opens the Scriptures? Because he didn't want them following him, as I say again, because they heard John the baptist say, 'behold the lamb of God.' He didn't want that. He wanted them to accept him on what tHis Word says. So for this reason - I think that's safe to assume. And so, that's what happens. And then we find, a little further on here in verse 45, "Philip findeth nathanael," - so Jesus calls Philip, okay, he calls him to be a disciple.

Then in verse 45 Philip realizes there's something going on here on the basis of Scripture because - we'll read verse 45 - it says, "Philip findeth nathanael, and saith unto him, 'we have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus of nazareth, The Son of Joseph.'" So again, it seems pretty obvious that Jesus here was opening the word of Scriptures to the ones he called and those that followed him. He wanted them to accept him on the basis of Scripture and not because he seemed like a nice guy. And, of course, we don't have time to read it, but in Luke :27-32 - and it gives a reference here in the lesson. When Jesus was crucified and two disciples, you know, are walking down to emmaus and, you know, they weren't feeling too good and this stranger pulls up beside them and they don't recognize it's Jesus. And on the way he starts talking about Scripture and they still don't recognize it's Jesus, but they're telling him, 'you know, we had these big hopes about Jesus and he's gone, you know.

It's pretty depressing.' But he starts to talk to them and then they get in the house and are ready to break bread and he breaks the bread and prays and then - pffft - he's gone! And then they realize, 'whoa, that was Jesus!' And then they ran off, did they not? To find the others. And remember what they said when they recounted how they had this Bible study and Jesus had revealed himself to them as the Messiah and explained that it wasn't a big failure - it was all meant to be - if they'd read in Isaiah 53 and so on and so forth. They would have understood he didn't come to establish an earthly kingdom, he came to be a suffering servant and would die to be a sacrifice for the sins of the world. And as they got that, they said - remember what they said? What did they say? They said, 'didn't our hearts burn within us as he opened the Word of God and explained to us the things concerning himself?' And so Jesus wants us also, as we consider this theme of discipleship to want to be his disciples and follow him. Not because he's this, that and the other - not to speak lightly of the things he did - but because he is the Messiah based upon tHis Word.

That is the only right thing. It's the only wise thing because we need to be sure and Jesus wants us to be sure that we're following the right Messiah. I want to move on to Monday. We've got about half an hour left. 'Authority of Scripture' - the authority of Scripture.

I want to read from Matthew 28, verses 18 through 20. Let me just read it here. This is where Jesus - right at the end of the book of Matthew - and he's commissioning them here, but notice what he says. And I'll comment on it in a moment. "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, 'all power'" - all authority - "'is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,'" - or in the margin it says 'make disciples - or Christians of all nations - "'go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of The Father, and of the son, and of the holy ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.'" When Jesus commissioned his church - and it was just a fledgling little fluffy little thing if you like, what a risk to take. I mean, these - so imperfect - and we're really no better. But this was his church. He placed everything - he'd given them his authority - he'd given them a sacred trust. But notice these four things I want to mention.

When he commissioned his church he equipped them with four things. #1 - His power or authority - that's in verse 18. Also, as well, he equipped them to do this in the authority of his name - that's in verse 19. He equipped them with His Word which they were commanded to teach - that's in verse 20. And also in verse 20, he equipped them with the assurance that his presence would go with them at all times - even unto the end of the world.

And so they went forth. They went forth in the name of Jesus Christ, exalting the authority of Scripture and that's the theme in Monday's lesson here - remember that - exalting the authority of Scripture. They went forth exalting the authority of Scripture and building upon that solid foundation and as they did - would you believe it? What did they do to that first century world? What did they do to it? They turned it upside-down, didn't they? Did it take them a hundred years? No. Paul said - I think it was Colossians - forgive me, the memory - the verse slips my mind. I think it's Colossians.

Paul wrote Colossians about -something ad so we're looking about 30 years - ballpark 30 years here from Jesus commissioning his disciples and Paul says the Gospel has been preached to every creature under heaven. Quite amazing, isn't it? Now in Revelation chapter 6, verse 2, we have here the first seal in the book of Revelation, which equates to the first church in Revelation, chapter 2 - the ephesus church, which was the apostolic church. Let's see now, in symbolic language here, how this is described because they exalted the authority of Scripture. Revelation 6:2, John says, "and I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer." That apostolic church was a power to be reckoned with and they had such success because they exalted the authority of Scripture and they lived by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God though it cost many of them their very own lives. What did they do? Well, they were simple enough - simple enough - and we need to be simple-minded enough to be able to pick up God's Word and open it and what you read - unless it's symbolic - you need to find out the interpretation of it or if it's a parable.

Other than that you need to believe what it says, right? In other words, Genesis tells me that God made the world in six days and rested on the seventh. Well, you know, I'm simple enough to believe that. And so the people - and, you know, Jesus was simple enough to believe it as well, because he spoke of creation. And so this church had power because it took God at His Word and it preached it. So if such loyalty to the authority of Scripture was the reason why the apostolic church was so successful and why such fidelity to the authority of Scripture was necessary for it to succeed in the opening of the Gospel commission, then how much more important is it for us to exalt the authority of the word of God and to accept it and preach it and teach it just as it reads.

How more important is it for us if we are going to succeed in the closing of the work? Doesn't that make sense? Did you follow that? But sad indeed, my friends, is the realization that the exalting of Scripture in Christendom in general, and even very close to home, it's not what it used to be. And in Monday's section there's a little statement I'm going to read here and as I read it, don't just be looking outside the boundaries of the remnant church, be looking in the remnant church as well. It says, "contrast Christ's exalted understanding of Scripture" - meaning he exalted Scripture and so did his disciples - "contrast Christ's exalted understanding of Scripture with the prevailing attitude often exhibited even among professed Christians today. Entire denominations have come to deem the Bible as interesting but, basically unreliable historical manuscripts. Everything - the six-day creation," - which I mentioned - "the Exodus, even the bodily resurrection of Jesus, much less a literal second coming has been called into question or even relegated to the status of myth.

" So, again, coming a little closer to home regarding this statement here, we can cite those. You may also question and even relegate to the status of myth such biblical pillars of present truth such as the sanctuary and the investigative judgment, Daniel 8:14, the third angel's messages of Revelation chapter , the remnant church - what constitutes the remnant in Revelation 12:17 and in there, of course, the Spirit of prophecy. How many relegate the Spirit of prophecy to irrelevance? And tied in with all this there are other issues but a major one too is, we believe, the post-fall nature of Christ and its implications regarding the ultimate victory of God's people over every sinful practice. As they understand this version of Christ's nature - that he came with a post-fall - he came with a fallen nature, as we understand this, of necessity it opens to us a rich understanding of this subject, which we glibly call righteousness by faith, which is a subject we need to grasp and understand more such as never before in the whole history of Christianity. But because we quibble at Scripture and relegate certain pillars of truth to the area of mythology, we are short-changing ourselves and just hollowing out the truth that God has given to us that we might be ready to receive the Holy Spirit in turn to go out and preach the last morning message to the world.

Am I making sense this morning? So let me ask you, if you're of the particular persuasion or mind set that is mentioned there in that statement I just read - those who relegate Scripture to allegory and myth or they try to reinterpret it according to this so-called progressive mindset, if you're of this unbelieving mindset as cited above, can you ever be qualified to proclaim God's last message to the world? No, you can't. How can anybody get excited about or get behind something that they believe is unscriptural, old fashioned and irrelevant? But you know, there's a real danger for those who think it's smart to be like this - to have this so-called progressive mindset that questions the validity of God's Word as it reads. There is a real danger for those who reinterpret Scripture to blend with the contemporary culture rather than accept the truths, principles and standards clearly stated in Scripture that they are eternal and unchangeable as the author of Scripture himself, that is God, the almighty one, and I say that reverently. There is a fearful danger in denigrating the literal meaning of Scripture as it reads and I'll cite that danger now, if you follow me. Jesus said, in John 17:17, while he was praying for his disciples in this prayer - that beautiful prayer - he said, speaking to The Father - praying to the father - he said, father "sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

" So follow me now. So if you've taken truth - if you've taken God's Word and you've cast out and cut out the core elements of truth, especially present truth, along with its values, standards, which are applicable to and needful for the Christian life, if you hollow that out you're left with an empty shell. You're left with an empty shell. There is nothing left to provide the Spiritual sustenance to the mind and heart and therefore, sanctification to you will be an impossibility. It just won't happen.

At least to the extent - the level of sanctification that God intends and requires for this last generation who are to reach moral perfection before probation closes and before the second coming of Christ in the clouds of glory. I hope you're following my reasoning this morning, friends, because this is an issue that we have to contend with and it's very real. I'm here to speak clearly upon these things so we'll have, in no uncertain terms, of how the adversary - the enemy of truth - is seeking to undermine the veracity of God's Word. We need to understand. There's too much at stake to remain uninformed and careless.

The equation is pretty simple but the answer is profoundly far-reaching, with serious and eternal consequences. And I repeat, Jesus prayed 'sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth'. But if you eschew God's truth, you will not be sanctified. There'll be nothing left to sanctify you but the fables and other books and other theologians that you may gravitate toward and think, 'this person is so light years ahead of us as a people.' Fools. Fools.

If you eschew truth and will not be sanctified, you'll be weighed in the balances and found wanting. And here's the thing: when people throw away truth - I think I can kind of use the analogy - not exactly but I think it fits pretty good - you don't - you create a vacuum. Whatever you pull out you create a vacuum and something else has to run in there and fill it in. So when people invariably throw away truth, they invariably replace it with error and this compounds the Spiritual damage that they inflict upon themselves because error will further prohibit the sanctification process. And here's a statement from 5 testimonies, 292, "error is never blameless.

It never sanctifies." Did you get that? Error is never blameless. It never what? It never sanctifies. Now tHis Word does. But error never sanctifies "but always brings confusion and dissension. It is always dangerous.

" Now we have visitors here so sometimes you want to be careful how you word things, but I'll say this: some of you may be aware of an issue that has come into the church recently that has caused a lot of confusion and dissension. Need I say more? But, you notice, the fruits of confusion and dissension that this particular issue is bringing forth - because I don't believe it has a scriptural basis as well, by the way - the fruits of confusion and dissension that this is bringing forth clearly show to me that it is not based upon truth but based upon error. By their fruits you shall know them. And if something is error, by its fruits you will know whether it's truth or otherwise. Okay, now I want to conclude Monday's section on a more positive note here.

I pray today that we can be inspired, challenged, and determined as never before to exalt every word of Scripture as it reads. When it says 'six days and God rested on the seventh' teach it as that. Preach it as that. Practice it as that. Live by it and by the grace of God if we do, the following - I'm going to read you something, it's a wonderful statement - the following will be fulfilled to us beyond measure.

I'm going to read it. Before I read this statement, it's from the book 'Acts of the Apostles' by Ellen white, page 600 - 'Acts of the Apostles' page 600. "The church is God's agency for the proclamation of truth, empowered by him to do a special work, and if she is loyal to him, obedient" - you can put in there 'loyal to His Word' - "obedient to all his commandments which we find in God's Word, there will dwell in her the excEllency of divine grace. If she will be true to her allegiance, if she will honor the Lord God of Israel, there is no power that can stand against her." And page 601, "if the church will put on the robe of Christ's righteousness" - and you need to understand the doctrine of Christ's righteousness and the robe of Christ's righteousness before you can put it on, right? And if you accept that Jesus came with the same - with the same nature that adam had before he fell, you'll never understand the depth and the richness of this wonderful, not just a doctrine, but an experience of putting on the robe of Christ's righteousness. And it says, "if the church will put on the robe of Christ's righteousness, withdrawing from all allegiance with the world, there is before her the dawn of a bright and glorious day.

God's promise to her will stand fast forever. He will make her an eternal excEllency, a joy of many generations." - He'll do that now if we will let him. "TRuth passing by those who despise and reject it will triumph." Doesn't that excite you? Praise the Lord. Okay, I have to move on now. Back to the lesson.

In his proclamation of truth, Jesus brought to life the spirituality of Scripture. In his sermon on the mount he revealed how the law is not just a code but it's a law that is the outflowing of God's - of the love of God, which we are to reciprocate in love to God and love to our fellow fellows. And Jesus revealed that law was this - it was a law of love that relates also - because it's very - the law searches out the intents and the secret motives in the mind and heart. Jesus did this and the people listened to him. For example, he said 'whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already with her in his heart.

' They were looking at the letter but Jesus opened up that the spirit of the law - and he did this in a way that opposed the mindset of the jews - that the Word of God was just like a, you know, a code of conduct. It was a procedure manual of some sort. We find doctrines in here, you know, things to believe and things to live up to. Well, yes, I mean, we need doctrine. Paul spoke of the doctrine of devils to Timothy.

So we need - the devil has doctrines, we need doctrines. So there's a place for doctrines. But if you just have the dry word, you don't have the experience of the word. Then we're just like the jews in Jesus' time. And so they felt that it was to do with externals and the more you comply with these external requirements, the more righteous you became.

Reading from Tuesday's last little statement from the lesson it says, "during Christ's earthly sojourn" and, actually, I've mentioned this - "the ordinary Israelites relationship with Scripture was apparently highly legalistic. They looked to Scripture for regulations and ethical guidance. Upright behavior was considered a payment for eternal bliss." And in all of this - the scribes, the pharisees, the rabbis, the priests - they considered themselves to be the successfully pious examples of following this kind of a mindset - this understanding of Scripture. They thought they had arrived. And, especially in the eyes - and they thought they were - even the eyes of the common people and the common people looked at the scribes and the pharisees and the rabbis and the priests and they thought, 'wow, these men have surely got it all together.

' And so the people were taught - the common people were taught to respect and reverence these religious overLords and accept these so-called spiritual elites - that they were far more righteous than we, the common people, could be or ever likely to be. So with that said, imagine this now. Try and imagine this: Jesus said in Matthew 5:20 - in his sermon on the mount - he's talking to the people. Try and imagine what went through their minds as soon as he said this. "For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

" Some of them probably thought, 'what? If my righteousness has to exceed the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees - well, I don't stand a chance.' They probably thought, momentarily, that Jesus was going to unload on them another detailed procedure manual of tedious rules and regulations necessary for salvation that far exceeded anything that the scribes and pharisees had in all their volumes of tradition. But actually, Jesus was not talking about anything like that. So if anybody had that fear momentarily, as they listened to him speak, they would have realized, 'oh, I don't have to be like the rabbis with all their punctilious little detailed regulations that they have to follow.' Because, while Jesus rightly exalted and proclaimed the written word and not the word of men, at the same time as the people listened to how he expounded Scripture, they found themselves strangely attracted to him who was the embodiment of the living word of the living God. And as people on that mount - as they began to get that, it started to change everything. It was a game changer in the game of eternal life because they saw righteousness and salvation was seen in him who was the living word and not through the rabbinical regulations that were just like a ball and chain.

And, you know, we can be just as legalistic ourselves. But when we come to the word of God and we pray, 'Lord, yes there are things here you clearly said 'do this, don't do that' we need to heed that.' God expects just good old obedience - when he says it, that's it. But behind the one who commands us, who is a righteous God - we need to pray that he will give us a vision of the wonderful, loving, kind, compassionate God that he is who has given us his word to keep us safe - to keep us happy - to keep us protected and blessed. And when we come to the Scriptures - and this is why we have to invest time, my friends. You can't just get up in the morning, 'where's the word? Okay, I'll read this today.

' You sit down - 'okay, I better say a prayer.' Down on your knees, two minutes, out the door to work. Forget it. You might as well just be a pagan. It won't do you any good. We have to invest real time, prime time in the morning.

Turn off the television. How many friends do you need on Facebook? I mean, come on, there's a limit. You don't need to know who's just been to so and so and got this little trinket or that little trinket. We've got more important things to do, my friends. We need to pray that God will give us a Revelation of himself in Christ.

And if we do that, the Bible - the Word of God - it will blossom before our senses as a beautiful rose. Not only that, when you open a rose and you (sniff) what do you get? You get a lungful of - if it's the right kind of rose - beautiful fragrance. This is what this book is. And when Jesus expounded on this book it was like opening a casket of sweet perfume. And if we can find - if we can experience the study of God's Word in that sense, what - what a change it will bring to our devotional life.

But, in turn, as we feed upon this, what a change in our lives and what disciples Jesus will be able to make of us, correct? Now this is why, in his first public sermon - in the first public sermon recorded in the fledgling Christian church there on the day of pentecost, you remember, when the Spirit came down and they went out and they started to preach and 3,000 were converted in one day. I mean, it was just totally amazing here and you see in Peter's first sermon there wasn't one thing mentioned about 'brethren, the law this. The law that. This rabbinical standard subsection 5...' Not at - not a mention of anything like that. What was the theme? It was Christ and him crucified.

It was Jesus - this Jesus who you crucified. He was the one who has been promised to us in tHis Word for 4,000 years. And you got - acts 4:12 - okay, acts 4:12. Here we find again here - we've got the preaching here of the apostles and it says in there - acts 4:12 - and it says, "neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved. Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

" Not with some dry book but with the living word, Jesus Christ. And Paul's testimony - now was Paul a very careful, very precise pharisee? He absolutely was. You should read what he says about himself but we don't have time. He's telling you, 'I was born of this day, circumcised on the eighth day.' He was a student of gamaliel, I mean he had everything - he had the pedigree - he had the whole works if you wanted to succeed in the religious circles of his day. But when he encountered Jesus there on the road to damascus, something happened to that man.

I'm going to read it here in Galatians when I can get there, so bear with me here. Galatians chapter 1, verses 13 and 14. Look what Paul says - he says, "for ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: and profited in the jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers." So he's going on - he let you know what his pedigree was, what he did, and so he was zealous. But here's the one - in chapter , verse 16 he says, "knowing that a man is not justified by" - what? - "The works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." And then he says in verse 20 this sublime statement. He says, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not i, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of The Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

" That was his testimony - from a legalist to a free, born-again Christian and oh what a part that Paul had to play as a disciple of Jesus Christ, did he not? Well, in all our preaching and teaching and writing we are called to proclaim the whole word - the whole truth of God. And may we, as we seek a deeper experience with Jesus and a Revelation of his righteous being, may this shine through as we also follow in the footsteps of his disciples and in our testimony, in our teaching, in our preaching may people look and say, 'you know, those people over there, they belong to a church. I want to know what church that is because they - they stick to every word that proceeds from the mouth of God and I thought that would be a very restrictive life but boy, they're so downright happy - they're so joyous - I think I want it.' People will come looking for you. That's what they did with Jesus. Well, our time is gone, friends, so in conclusion I want to again tell you - for those of you who want the free offer 'the ultimate resource' it's offer #104.

Contact Amazing Facts at -866-study-more or -866-788-3966. You can receive this free of charge in the continental United States of America. So thank you for joining us and may God bless you and we, hopefully, will see you next week. Pastor Doug should be back.

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