Saturday, March 28, 2015

The River is Here

Text: John 7:1-38

Jesus often acted in a manner that was inconsistent with the traditions of men during His life on this earth.  He challenged the man-made traditions of His day.  Much of the Mosaic laws in the OT had been perverted and their traditions ruled instead of the Word.  Jesus, in this instance and many others, chose not to comply with the weak religious traditions and formalities of the Pharisees.  In the scripture passage above Jesus was attending the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles.  He used this opportunity to teach. 

The people there were amazed by His teachings because Jesus had no “formal” training from the scripture.  Jesus responded by pointing out that His teachings were not His own, they came from the one who had sent Him.  He pointed out to them that Moses had given them the Law, which Moses received from God, and that none of them were obeying it.  Over the centuries the traditions of the Pharisees had replaced the law and what they were left with amounted to a religion that was based in tradition, not the Law.  Now what they had was a dead religion that could not save anyone.  Paul warns believers against this in Colossians, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” – Colossians 2:8

Yet today in much of the body of Christ we see churches leaving the teachings of the Word and following after teachings that are based in the “spiritual forces of this world.”  Many today believe that they are serving God when they really serve traditions that are wholly satanic in nature. These teachings seem right to them, but they lack any power to help them resist sinful habits, “These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgences.”  - Colossians 2:22, 23

Jesus uses this opportunity to direct them to a source of power that can not only save them, but would overflow from them and also become a source of life for others, “Whoever believes in me, as scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

The church of Jesus Christ needs to stop following after “political correctness” and get back to following after the teachings of Christ.  Not everything that society approves of is beneficial, not everything man teaches is correct, in fact many of the things commonly accepted today are not “okay” with God.

While I was in Denver this past week I watched a video of Phil Robertson, from Duck Dynasty, speaking at a church in California.  One of the first things he told them was, “I love you.”  Then he went on to tell them that all of us have sinned and are in need of God’s help to cleanse us.  He didn’t say, “I’m okay, you’re okay.”  He told them, “I was a sinner who needed Jesus and so are all of you.” 

And for taking this stance the media and those who do not want to be reminded that they are drinking stagnant water, when a source of living, life giving water is available, jumped all over him to the point of what I would consider persecution.  But Phil’s in good company, they did the same thing to Jesus when He told them they were sinners, “at this they tried to seize Him…the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest Him.” – John 7:30, 32

Many have developed their own version of the church and their own form of religion.  A religion that cannot save them because it lacks the ability to rescue them from the very thing that is bringing about their own death.  Romans 3:23 makes it clear that all have sinned and have fallen short of the life that God has commanded us to live, and then in Romans 6:23 the Word tells us that because of this we have all earned death.  But the good news is that there is also a gift available to us if we believe and obey the teachings of Christ, eternal life.

In the OT Jeremiah the prophet warns of trying to imitate the living water, "For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me--the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!”

A religion that does not address the true condition of man’s heart, cannot provide the life giving power of Christ, they are meager imitations.  Our source of hope, our source of power to resist sin, and our only true source of life can only be found in Christ.

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