15 May 2016

FOOLISH CHRISTIANITY


Acts 4:1-31

I want to start off by saying something to you and I think it’s going to bless your heart this morning “You are a fool” Yes you and I are fools and tomorrow you will continue to be a fool and the next day and so on and so on. And you’re probably thinking to yourself “Our pastor goes away for 3 days to a “pastor’s conference” to be challenged, refreshed and encouraged and you come home to tell me that “I’m a fool.” But before you throw me under the bus and start complaining to Brent, Steve and John please let me continue. A “fool” by definition is “a person who lacks good sense or judgment: a unwise or silly person a harmlessly deranged person or one lacking in common powers of understanding.” That’s why you are “a fool” because this is how the world perceives you me today, tomorrow, the next day and so on and so on.

What does it mean be a foolish Christian in our postmodern world? It means that you and I are extremely different than those around us. This means! We foolishly can’t sit by and be silent when so many people are one foot closer to Hell. We foolishly can’t be silent in a world that wants us to go away and mind our own business. We are to take this message of foolishness to a broken and hostile world. As Paul said “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 Cor 1:18. The Bible says.....Jesus and His message is to be our greatest passion above everything else in this world! Even above family, comfort, our jobs, education and wealth! Luke 14:26 we read "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Jesus even goes on further to say you need to count the cost for this foolish Christianity. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear." Luke 14:27-35

David Platt said in his book “Radical” Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of these eager followers of Jesus in the first century. What if I was the potential disciple being told to drop my nets? What if you were the man whom Jesus told to not even say good-bye to his family? What if we were told to hate our families and give up everything we had in order to follow Jesus? This is where we come face to face with a dangerous reality. We do have to give up everything we have to follow Jesus. We do have to love him in a way that makes our closest relationships in this world look like hate. And it is entirely possible that he will tell us to sell everything we have and give it to the poor. But we don’t want to believe it. We are afraid of what it might mean for our lives. So we rationalize these passages away. “Jesus wouldn’t really tell us not to bury our father or say good-bye to our family. Jesus didn’t literally mean to sell all we have and give it to the poor. What Jesus really meant was…”And this is where we need to pause. Because we are starting to redefine Christianity. We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with. A nice, middle-class, American Jesus” or we could say Canadian Jesus. God has called the foolish of the church to this task and we cannot be silent as many people today fall to the philosophy that we all get to Heaven on our own terms... in our own way! Shouldn’t we be foolish for Christ when every minute is precious to us? Isn’t that what it means to be a foolish Christian?

YOU ARE PROBABLY THINKING TO YOURSELF! Mike your beginning sound crazy with all this foolish and radical talk! What did Alistair Begg and D A Carson do to you these past few days. God used these men to open my eyes that were (I) am not being foolish enough for the precious gospel that saves. Was it foolish for two young Germans in their 20’s from the Moravian sect to offer their lives to be sold into slavery with the purpose to proclaim the gospel to lost slaves? You know what these two men said as the ship left the pier “The young men saw the widening gap. They linked arms, raised their hands and shouted across the spreading gap, “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!” Shouldn’t our lives count for Jesus be as equally important to us as it was for those two young men? Shouldn’t we have zeal and passion as our brothers and sisters before us who gave their lives for Christ and the precious gospel? Did they die as fools? The world would say yes, but our Lord would say something different. What this world calls foolish, our Lord calls blessed beyond measure. “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,” 2 Cor 4:17. How can we be silent or not foolish, when Jesus went to the Cross to face the Judge on our behalf!

SERIOUSLY THINK ABOUT THAT THIS!

Was David a foolish Christian when he faced the Philistine Giant? Was Elijah a foolish Christian when he faced Jezebel the wickedest women to ever to walk the face of the earth? What about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego as they wouldn’t worship anyone else other than the Lord. Was Daniel a foolish Christian when he was willing to die in the lion’s den? Was Isaiah.....Jeremiah....Ezekiel....and the rest of the prophets foolish when they stood in front of kings.....rulers.....the rich and poor claiming “thus saith the Lord” Was Jesus a fool? When He stood before the religious and the most the powerful people of that day, meaning the Romans and proclaims to them that Abraham rejoiced for this day! And declares to them! “…."Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.” John 8:58-59 Foolish Christianity is the one who have a passion for the Gospel and for people…….. Like Peter and John. Turn to Acts chapter 4Two foolish men who had a passion for the Gospel. Simple men who would be labeled in their day.......even in ours as “JESUS FREAKS or Fools” 

Some background that lead up to this encounter with the Religious Elites the so-called “wise men of that day” in chapter 4Peter and John can to the temple to pray and saw a man who was lame since birth begging for money as he did each and every day. Read Chapter 3 The people were amazed as the religious leaders.......but what’s more amazing is that John and Peter never once took the credit for this wonderful miracle (v12-v13) of chapter 3This brings me to Peter and John’s foolish encounter with the wise! Acts 4:1-3. Peter said something that struck a chord with all the religious types found in the temple area!! “they were greatly disturbed or annoyed” Why? Because according to them Peter and John had no reputation as teachers, no credentials, yet had gathered large crowds when they spoke. And also a certain name (Jesus) made them feel very uncomfortable, a name that they never wanted to hear again.....especially men like Caiaphas. The bible says they “laid hands” (NKJV) forcibly on them and arrested them for speaking in the name of Jesus Christ! Do you realize the same thing is happening today? In our love all and to be tolerant of all religions views and freedoms? But I love what Peter does! It doesn’t stop this foolish disciple of Christ to take full advantage of proclaiming Christ to a larger group of men who should have known better! (v8-v12). I wonder if Peter was reminding himself of what Jesus said as he walked with our Lord, in Mark 13:9-13 we read "But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

Peter being a fool….. Faced the firing squad with humility and bravery which only can come from the Spirit that lives in us? See! Peter chose to stand strong against the strongest opposition known to any believer and so should we! Peter stood his ground with this foolish gospel to the men who said to Pilate “…Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!" John 19:15. They even went on to say “His blood be on us and on our children." Matt 27:25

This didn’t stop foolish Peter to forsake everything for the sake of the cause of Christ and the gospel truth of Jesus Christ. Peter and John weren’t thinking about: 
There comfort and rest.
How this was going to affect their future relationships.
What his family might think him.
What that present culture thought about the topic of Jesus.
How to be more open and acceptable to other religious views.
The possibility of death or receiving major beatings. They only cared about one thing…. that Jesus gets the pre-immense in and out of our lives because of what He has done on our behalf.

What are we doing to be a fool for Christ like Peter and John?

Is it wearing a Jesus –t shirt?
Is it by putting a Jesus fish on the trunk of our car/truck?
Is it wearing a cross around our neck?
Is it coming to church on any given Sunday?

No! None of these make you a fool for Christ. Do you realize that! The name of Jesus needs to be proclaimed more today! In a generation that knows nothing about Jesus or cares to know about Jesus and His saving grace! Shame on us, for our lack of foolishness at it pertains to the gospel. When are we going to stand against this present world for Jesus Christ who loved us and gave Himself for us, without questioning what it’s going to cost us! When are we going to stand as Peter and John and say (v19-v20) We can learn some very important steps to living foolishly for Christ by what we see here in the fourth chapter of Acts

FOOLISH CHRISTIANITY BEGINS WITH A YIELDING TO THE SPIRIT OF GOD (V8)

Peter was yielding to the Spirit’s control. Paul spoke of this kind of control! “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” Eph 5:18. John MacArthur says “the filling of the Spirit occurs when the believer walks in obedience to the word and Spirit. Yielding to His control releases His power in the believer’s life. This principle is foundational to all the rest; yieldedness to the Holy Spirit is the key to successful handling of persecution and proclamation of the Gospel.”.......And he also goes on to say that “lack of being filled with the Spirit is the reason the church today has difficulty facing opposition” Unorthodox or foolish Christianity begins with a yielding to the Spirit of God!! Remember it’s not by our strength and wisdom but by His grace working of the Holy Spirit.
As Jesus said “And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." Luke 12:11-12 

FOOLISH CHRISTIANITY SEIZES EVERY OPPORTUNITY FOR THE GLORIOUS GOSPEL. (V8-V13)

Instead of compromise or being frightened….. Peter displayed great courage. Look at what Peter says in (v8-12) This presentation of the gospel in would have taken great courage and boldness in a society of religious pluralism that says “There is more than one way to Heaven.” This foolish gospel Peter preached astonished these so-called wise men of God. Look at (v13) They were uneducated men ....... not bible school students.....aren’t this those big dumb fishermen that we saw many times by the Sea? I like what Vernon McGee said “unlearned and ignorant...that is, these men hadn’t been to theological seminary. But the Sanhedrin noted that they had been with Jesus. How wonderful to have a life that somehow or other calls attention to Jesus.” A reflection of Christ seen in and through our lives is what the world needs to see….these men saw it in Peter and John. Peter and John were very radical in making such a statement to a powerful group of men who though much differently than they did.
  
FOOLISH CHRISTIANITY IS ALWAYS OBEDIENT TO GOD AT ALL COSTS (V14-V22)

How can I do such a thing when I KNOW my Redeemer lives? We need to ask ourselves which court is higher, Man or God’s? Peter and John are not saying that we don’t listen to those who rule over us according to Romans 13We as Christian’s must listen and obey our authorities.....but when government decrees are clearly contrary to God’s word......................God’s word must be obeyed FIRST. What did Daniel do? He went to his room and prayed despite the ruling from the king...found in Daniel chapter 6:4-10. What did Peter and John do? (v19-v20) All though they didn’t obey the Sanhedrin they nevertheless treated them all with respect! There are going to be times in your life and mine in which we are going to have to make a decision that might cost us our physical unrest, our job, friendships, even our life for the sake of this foolish message. But be of good cheer as Jesus said “I have overcome the world” “Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." John 16:32-33. And as Peter and John said "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." Acts 4:19-20. But it’s no different than for Peter and John as it is today for you and me!

God must come first in our lives no matter what people say or might do to us! Peter and John weren’t frightened or discouraged...they were thankful. Why I say this! After this episode with the religious they went and found comfort and support by fellow brother and sisters which is also vital for each and every one of us (v23) When we have fellowship like that we are so thankful that we serve an amazing God! And what better way to show our gratitude to our God...then through praise and worship together (the family of God) This is what a foolish Christian man or woman looks like, to be filled with the Spirit to speak His truth. Courageous and bold to proclaim the love of Christ to a Christ- less world. Obedient to God because He commands it. We serve an amazing God who has and will never give up on you! Why? He has conquered all things for His glory! He doesn’t call us to save people ....He calls us to go out and proclaim to them that Jesus is the way the truth and the life. Vernon McGee once said “We are called to fish in the fish pond, not to clean up the fish pond..” We can’t change the world with our wisdom and own strength….but when God is at the helm or guiding our every step we can impact a fallen world by being foolish Christians for His gospel. My desire and I desire this for you….. that we be foolish Christians who are willing to stand at any cost for Jesus Christ. I want to be like that! I want to be not only foolishly in love with Him, but also for His gospel as well! THE Sunday QUESTION IS........Do you want to be called foolish?

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