You Must Know The Message

July 7, 2014

Faith Comes By Hearing—Is Anyone Listening?  Part One

Rom 10:13-17
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. KJV

To say that our world has changed drastically since my birth in 1952 is a major understatement. The advances of technologies more than fulfill the prophecies of Joel concerning knowledge as well as the mobility of the masses. We have gone from nearly toy like satellites in earth’s orbit to sending immensely complex research vehicles past Mars. Jules Verne would be ecstatic.

Many changes have also taken place in the culture. Some have been good such as movements for racial equality, but many more have been disastrous for the culture and this country. The breakdown of the home, easy divorce, abortion, easy access to pornography, excessive and explicit violence in games and movies as well as dark demonic themes in video games and comic books have spiraled us into a pit from which we may not return unless the mercy of God grants a revival like that of the Great Awakening or the revivals of the early twentieth century.

The Church also has gone through many changes and I would have to say most are questionable as to their value as a boon to the cause of Christ. We have become Christian existentialists. We base our Christianity more on our feelings or experiences than doctrine or we have gone the other way to a dead and dry orthodoxy. What we need is a balance between orthodoxy and piety Because we have dumped doctrine many of our churches have become entertainment centers or concert halls with a dash of Bible. There are indoor mountain climbs and Wiis for the kids and Starbucks and Wi-Fi for the adults.

We have helped create generation gaps and even age and gender pride. We have Sunday School classes for adult age groups when Jesus and the Apostles had audiences for all ages in one spot. Peer groups often make the same mistake as Rehoboam because they don’t want anything to do with old people when the Bible teaches that the elder should teach the younger. Hard to do when they do not even want to sit in the same room as the elders. Birds of a feather flock together, but the flock should be about Christ not age, gender, career field, etc. I am looking for a class for right handed people who eat with their left hand and are bald, hazel-eyed and married. Am I exaggerating? Maybe, but I am not far off in some places.

Technology has been a boon to getting the message out, but it has also been a boon for false prophets, con men and entertainers/motivational speakers instead of pastors. We have turned the Church from a Body to a corporation making the pastor more of a CEO than a pastor. While it has provided a means to minister to the homebound and people where no church exists at the same time it has caused more people to become members of the invisible church disobeying the commandment to assemble locally, not digitally. I am an IT person and yet I attend a church physically, not metaphysically or digitally. I can shake my pastor’s hand and hug a person. They can see my smile and I theirs. That beats being a type of voyeur watching a man preach we will never know and will not be available for our funeral or to pray with us before we get to that point.

Thus we see Paul was correct when he said, “There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.” (1Co 14:10) As our topic says, faith comes by hearing but with all the voices clamoring for attention you have to wonder if anyone is listening. I am convinced that they are but we need to make sure our voice is heard. I believe that there are four ways to make the truth be heard.

First, we have to know the message. You can ask most people in America if they are a Christian and they will say yes. We do have increasing numbers of other groups including atheists but many will affirm the name of Christ even if they are not sure who He is or what is His significance in the culture outside of a curse word or the founder of the club called the church where people hang out listening to boring old songs and dry messages from an ancient book called the Bible. Others may use His name like a fad having jewelry and tattoos with His name or Christian symbols, but have no clue what makes that bling and apparel different than the latest fashions from Gucci, Furstenberg or Versace other than a certain group of people like it more than other groups.

Christ means many things to many people. What He means to you will determine what your message will be to them. If you start out with a wrong picture of who He is in your mind/heart you cannot give the right message. If Christ is the great slot machine in the sky by which you get God, the Father, to grant you all the wealth you want you will misrepresent the message. If Christ is the hammer of an angry God that will save you if you never get out of line then the message is wrong. If Christ is the needy Savior that needs the help of your works, rituals and even prayers of good people to get you saved and keep you saved then you have the wrong message because you have the wrong Christ. If you have a whimsical Christ who changes His mind to fit the culture, personal desires or fads you have a very social Christ, but not the Christ that is the same today, yesterday and forever.

Sadly, there are many apostatized groups that once had at least the basic message though they may have had some other doctrines that were not correct. They could have led a person to Christ. If the founders of these groups were able to come back they would not recognize them and it is highly unlikely that they would be welcomed by the current leadership. I once asked a very old Baptist church if their founder would be welcome and I received a very cloudy reply that indicated he would be very out of place there. Thus, we cannot be sure that because a person says they are a Christian and belongs to some group that they are indeed a recipient of the right message. My wife and I were both raised in groups that once were used to win many souls to Christ, but have gone by the wayside though there are a few remnants here and there.

There are many cults who create all sorts of Christs and gospels making even their leaders equal to Christ or in blasphemy making them His successor because He did not complete the mission. These are often very authoritative groups who will capture the hearts of people and basically make them captive either physically in compounds or emotionally to where they cannot doubt their leader or leave because of extreme fear. The good news becomes a noose of terror rather than breaking the shackles of fear and freeing from sin. This is why it is IMPERATIVE that you know the message because someone will listen but there will be no saving faith in the message. I have shared some well-known verses that clearly lay out the message of Christ and His Gospel.
1 John 5:11-13
11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that
ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

1Co 15:1-9
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Act 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.


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