This last week we have looked at the suffixes ian and ism. When ian is added to Christ you have a Christian. When ism is added to denomination, you have denominationalism. Scripture shows us that to be a Christian means you are to be like Jesus, and do as He did, in the same power and authority that He had. It means you follow God’s word wholeheartedly, are filled with, empowered by and guided with the Holy Spirit. The Gospels show us the power the church was supposed to have. In the Gospels we saw a prelude to Pentecost where Jesus empowered His disciples to do as He did. Jesus Matthew 4:23 “went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.” Mark 6:7 “Calling the twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. 8 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them. 12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.” This is what the church was supposed to do. Jesus said John 7:38 “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” Jesus also said Mark 16:17 “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” This would mean that all disciples following Pentecost would have power and authority to go out and do as Jesus did. The true gospel would be confirmed with power from on High. Mark 16:20 “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” Jesus had told His disciples Luke 24:48 “You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Acts 1:4 “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
This was the power and authority the church (made up of Christians) was supposed to have and in the book of Acts we see that power begin. Acts 2:1 “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” After this we see the promise that was given to the church. Peter said Acts 2:38 “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Moses had already talked about this. Numbers 11:29 “I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” Isaiah also said Isaiah 42:5 “This is what God the Lord says— the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: 6 “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, 7 to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. 8 I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols. 9 See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.” Paul said to the Jews, Acts 13:46 “Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” They also said Acts 15:15 “The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: 16 “‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, 17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things— 18 things known from long ago.” Jesus said to Paul Acts 26:15 “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” The church cannot do any of this without the power and authority given to those who believe. We also need the holy Spirit to teach us truth. John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth.” John 16:2 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
Instead, the church depended on man’s wisdom. Last week we also talked about “isms” such as many of the beliefs the church hold. Much of those isms are manmade teaching and doctrines of demons. We saw that originally the church was identified as locations such as Ephesus and Corinth. They became Ephesians and Corinthians. The church today is not by location but by differing beliefs called denominationalism and non-denominationalism. As in my small town, one location has many beliefs, yet all calling themselves the church which is not possible. In those isms are more isms such as Calvinism, Wesleyanism, Pentecostalism, Dispensationalism, Cessationism just to name a few. In the Gospels and Acts we see the power of God on display as we read above but not in the isms. The sick are healed, demons are cast out and the laws of nature can even be changed. Matthew 8:27 “The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” That can no longer be said as the church is powerless. The desire to follow man is not a modern problem but one that took place almost immediately after Paul. He warned us when he said 1 Corinthians 15:2 “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” Acts 20:29 “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.” Galatians 1:6 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! 10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Though warned over and over again, the church refused to listen just like Israel and Judah and the Jews.
The title of this sermon is Christian verses Humanism; ian verses ism. When it comes to worship there are only two choices, God or satan. So really the title means God verses satan, as satanism could be substituted for humanism (more on that in a moment) though they would not agree. Humanism is a rejection of God so the only one left is satan. God and satan do not disappear just because you say you don’t believe in them or have need for them. One person said, “There are many different kinds of satanists, but most don’t actually believe in satan and don’t worship him as either a god or as a force of evil. For the most part, satanists are non-theists and view satanism as a personal liberation from traditional theistic beliefs.” The reality is if you do not worship God, you are worshipping satan whether you say you do or not. Revelation says three choices, but still means two, God or satan. Revelation 3:15 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” The first of the choices is to choose God and the other two are to choose satan. Jesus makes it clear that not following God wholeheartedly, lukewarm, sitting on the fence, paying lip service to God is choosing satan. Mark 7:6 “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ 8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” That really sums up humanism.
Amazing as it is, God gives us a choice but with it comes a warning. Moses said Deuteronomy 30:15 “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Joshua said, Joshua 24:4 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Just because someone says they are Christian, does not mean that they are. If you watch the news especially in the states, you constantly hear people calling themselves Christian, but they look nothing like Jesus nor are they doing as He did. Jesus made it clear Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Luke 13:23 “Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!” There are many who think the wide gate is the best way to go. Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Many are so deceived and deluded that they are not even looking for the right gate and door.
Today there is only a remnant left due to the devastation of the abomination that causes desolation. Jesus warned us how bad this would be when He said, Matthew 24:22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” This has happened because the church rebelled just as Daniel warned would happen. Daniel 8:11 “It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord; it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down. 12 Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.” 2 Thessalonians 2:4 “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” Jesus warned us Matthew 24:4 “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 15 So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” You will also see people distort scripture for their own purposes and still call themselves Christians. Acts 20:30 “Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.” 2 Peter 2:2 “Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.” When talking about Paul’s writings Peter said, 2 Peter 3:16 “He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.”
Today when talking about humanism, I am talking about it in a very broad sense of the term meaning, humans have rejected God since the beginning and therefore have chosen satan by going their own way, as directed by satan, though they will not admit to this. Paul warned that the church would follow other gospels and because the church did not adhere to the word of God and started to follow the ways of man, therefore the house was left void of the Spirit. Matthew 12:43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” The church has been a mess even though Jesus said, Matthew 16:18 “on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Scripture makes it clear that if we turn away and follow other gods, that house will fall. Matthew 24:1 “Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” Ezekiel 13:8 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because of your false words and lying visions, I am against you, declares the Sovereign Lord. 9 My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will not belong to the council of my people or be listed in the records of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord. 10 “‘Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, 11 therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. 12 When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, “Where is the whitewash you covered it with?” 13 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury. 14 I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the Lord. 15 So I will pour out my wrath against the wall and against those who covered it with whitewash. I will say to you, “The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it, 16 those prophets of Israel who prophesied to Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her when there was no peace, declares the Sovereign Lord.”’ Psalm 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” Man tried to build the house instead. After 2000 years, look at the mess the church is still in.
The title of this website says it all; American Humanists Association – Good without God! This site basically covers all things humanist. They listed eight different types of humanists with one being Christian humanists. There is no such thing, as being a Christian is about Christ not humans. They quote American agnostic Robert G. Ingersoll: (Agnostics assert that it's impossible to know how the universe was created and whether or not divine beings exist. The bible sates otherwise) He said, “When I became convinced that the universe is natural, that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell. The dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts and bars and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf, or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world, not even in infinite space. I was free-free to think, to express my thoughts-free to live my own ideal, free to live for myself and those I loved, free to use all my faculties, all my senses, free to spread imagination’s wings, free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope, free to judge and determine for myself . . . I was free! I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously faced all worlds. Enough to make a Secular Humanist shout “hallelujah!” This sums up a life without God. Unfortunately, many who call themselves Christians think this way, yet still think they can praise God. Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
History shows that the Catholic Church ruled the land throughout the Middle Ages and they still have great power over people. Some say it was not really the Dark Ages, but definitely dark spiritually. The church that Jesus started was not the Catholic Church nor is it today. In 1054 you had the East–West Schism, also known as the Great Schism, which “split the main faction of Christianity into two divisions, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox” and the Orthodox also not the church Jesus started even though both say they have apostolic succession. Then you had the Renaissance and the world stepped into modernity with an explosion of thought. “It was during the 14th century, a cultural movement called humanism began to gain momentum in Italy. Among its many principles, humanism promoted the idea that man was the center of his own universe, and people should embrace human achievements in education, classical arts, literature and science.” An amazing invention during this time (1450) was the invention of the Gutenberg printing press. The “Gutenberg's printing press was considered a history-changing invention, making books widely accessible and ushering in an “information revolution.” Even though man continued to turn away from God, the bible had taken shape by around 200 AD and now the written word would be available to more than just a few. God is still in charge. One person said “printing accelerated the spread of knowledge and the dissemination of ideas. At the same time, it gave more people the opportunity to express themselves.” This would only enhance humanism as they thought they could explain away the bible.
You would also have an explosion of religious thought. The Reformation in the 16th century started as a challenge to the Catholic church and Protestantism began. From there denominationalism would begin to rise quickly and division would continue to this day. Even today, many trace there theology back to Augustine, John Calvin, John Wycliffe, John Knox, Jacobus Arminius, Martin Luther, John Wesley and many more. Probably safest to stay with the John in the bible. Since the time of the Apostle Paul, the church has turned to men for their theology instead of the Holy Spirit. You would think with the bible being so now readily available that the church would have gone back to the beginning instead of arguing about theology, dividing and getting further from the truth. Today bibles are everywhere, at least in this country and online bibles are at your fingertips, yet the church is as far away from truth as it has ever been. The dark ages never went away even with all the knowledge man was supposed to have. The age of enlightenment was not very bright. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”
The Reformation may have been a turning point away from the Catholic church, but it definitely did not return to the Gospel and ended up just as bad as the Catholics. We know this because there is no power in the church. As time would go by, after more and more splits you would have other theology formed like dispensationalism and charismatism. I thought this quote was interesting as dispensationalism has deceived a large portion of the church. Someone described it as a trojan horse and another writer said, "The Christian is directed to turn away from evil and turn to the Scriptures. The church is in ruins," wrote John Darby (1800-1882), then a successful Anglican priest in Ireland. Echoing the lamentations of Protestant reformers three centuries earlier, he believed that the Church of England had lost any notion of salvation by grace and that it had forsaken biblical ideas of what church should be. For Darby it was time to start afresh with a new church and prepare for Jesus' imminent Second Coming. What resulted from Darby's departure was a new way of viewing the church and history that still pervades much of evangelical Christian thought.” The only problem for His theology is Malachi 3:6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.” He was right that the church was in ruins, but he wasn’t supposed to start something new but return to the truth of the gospel. Many have been deceived since. These false end times teachings like the rapture were promoted in the Scofield Study Bible and continued to spread. Cessationism also fits here and even today you have preachers like John MacArthur teaching these doctrines of demons. That is a John to definitely avoid. One writer shared his testimony and said “Over the years I’ve become convinced that some of the so-called charismatic gifts are no longer given and that they aren’t a regular feature of life in the church. I am thinking particularly of the gifts of apostleship, prophecy, tongues, healing, and miracles (and perhaps discernment of spirits) The bible does not say that. What he should have said as his testimony is that over the years I have stopped believing what the bible actually says and if I had the discernment of spirits, I would not have been so deceived even though Jesus told me do not be deceived. If I actually believed the words of Jesus, I would not have rebelled against him. No, those gifts are not a regular feature in the church but they should be as the bible clearly states.
It is true that the power of God is not seen in the church after all these years, even as briefly as I have talked about here, but it is not because power has ceased but because humans listen to satan instead of God’s word. Paul warned us when he said, Colossians 2:1 “I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. 6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 8 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.” So many in the church have been taken captive simply because they refuse to believe God’s word. 2 Peter 3:17 “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.” Laodicea didn’t listen as we saw in Revelation.
It is not the theology of the men and women that have gone before us that we need to understand, it is the gospel that we need to return to, not man’s reasoning about the gospel. The bible is the living word of God and doesn’t need to be added to. As a Christian, we are supposed to follow Jesus, which means to follow His words. When we follow His words, power will return. First of all you have to come to terms with the fallen church, most have a hard time with that. Daniel 7:21 “As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.” Peter said, Acts 1:40 “With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” The church is corrupt because it has rebelled and gone its own way. Jeremiah 8:6 “I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. None of them repent of their wickedness, saying, “What have I done?” Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle.” We are told what to do and given God’s response to our repentance. 2 Chronicles 7:13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.” Jesus said Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” The Gospels and Acts shows us what the kingdom of God coming near looked like; the good news is preached, people are healed and demons are cast out. The cessationist and those who follow human ways do not believe power is available to all who believe because satan knows what will happen if the church returns to God’s word, hence the deception. Revelation 12:9 “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” This teaching called cessationism is not from God but a doctrine of demons and part of the deception like so many other teachings / other gospels. The fact that people actually listen shows that the church is nowhere near where it is supposed to be.
When we turn from our ways, we acknowledge that God is sovereign, and we must follow His way and His way alone. King Nebuchadnezzar came to terms with God’s sovereignty and said Daniel 4:2 “It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me. 3 How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom; his dominion endures from generation to generation. 35 All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?” Malachi 1:14 “I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.” If the church would fear God once again wisdom and knowledge would be present. There are many theologians who miss the simple message of scripture. As Paul said, 1 Corinthians 1:8 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”
The message of the gospel is not manmade unlike the idols people worship. As you read this next passage idols, other gods are the same as other gospels. All these manmade teachings and doctrines of demons are like these manmade idols. Isaiah 44:6 “This is what the Lord says— Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. 7 Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come— yes, let them foretell what will come. 8 Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” 9 All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame. 10 Who shapes a god and casts an idol, which can profit nothing? 11 People who do that will be put to shame; such craftsmen are only human beings. Let them all come together and take their stand; they will be brought down to terror and shame. 12 The blacksmith takes a tool and works with it in the coals; he shapes an idol with hammers, he forges it with the might of his arm. He gets hungry and loses his strength; he drinks no water and grows faint. 13 The carpenter measures with a line and makes an outline with a marker; he roughs it out with chisels and marks it with compasses. He shapes it in human form, human form in all its glory, that it may dwell in a shrine. 14 He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak. He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow. 15 It is used as fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread.But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it. 16 Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.” 17 From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, “Save me! You are my god!”18 They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand. 19 No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, “Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?” 20 Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?” Humanism from the beginning of time tries to take God out of the picture. Mix that with the deception of satan and you have a rebellious people who refuse to obey God. They think that what their hands have made can actually replace the power of God. Psalm 115:4 “their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands.” Psalm 135:15 “The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by human hands.” When Sennacherib threated Jerusalem 2 Chronicles 32:19 “They spoke about the God of Jerusalem as they did about the gods of the other peoples of the world—the work of human hands.” We were told Acts 17:24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.” Yet the church tried to build with human hands.
Paul talks about preaching and teaching not in human strength. 1 Corinthians 2:1 “And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. 6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him— 10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” The problem is the church is missing the Spirit of truth because God has turned His face from the church due to rebellion.” This means power is missing also. Not only did Paul speak with words taught by the Holy Spirit but also had power from on High. As he said 1 Corinthians 4:20 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.”
As Paul just described, this is how the church is supposed to be, including power. Acts 19:11 “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.” On a side note, did you see the news from Kenya about Pastor Odero and all the deaths. One article said “Odero touts miracle healing for the sick whom he sells packaged water (described as ‘living water’) and handkerchiefs at 100 Kenya shillings (around 70 cents) “There is nothing special in the bottle. It is purified water. I pray for it. The clothes used by Paul in the Bible healed many people. The shadows of the prophets also had healing powers,” he told local media in an interview.” There are others who do this also. Matthew 24:24 “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” It wasn’t the handkerchief that healed, it was the power of God. Plus, as Paul said 2 Corinthians 2:17 “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.” This is the deception of satan and a lot of people it appears have lost their lives. It is said that “they are members of the Good News International Church, which allegedly taught its members that they would go to heaven if they starved themselves.” If all this turns out to be true that these people lost their lives because of false teaching, this shows why we must turn back to God. Whether people end up killing themselves or sitting in church listening to false teachers, it is all the same spirit and not God.
For the church to be the true church once again, we have to turn from our wicked ways. Unfortunately, it is very easy for the church to worship man as we saw in Kenya. It is also very easy for people to fall for false teachings and in both cases, most do not test the spirits. 1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” They are everywhere. Many of those wicked ways are the ways named after men and women. In recent years the modern-day church began to be separated by how they did church. Some followed one way like Saddleback and others followed Willow Creek. (Yes, I am dating myself) Like the church has followed theologians, the church began to follow gurus and their extra-biblical visions for the church as they felt God’s plan was incomplete, yet in all their wisdom, there is still no power. It really doesn’t matter who the new gurus are, the churches tendency is to follow men and women and not God. Some were very good at it, but their theology was still the same. Many thought that if they could just be relevant enough, people would come to church, yet there is no power so in the end they became irrelevant to God.
In order to return to God, we must return to God’s word. Here Paul tells us what it means to imitate Jesus. When we do as Jesus did, then we can teach others the same and so on and so on. Philippians 4:9 “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Colossians 1:3 “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.” 2 Timothy 3:14 “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Paul then says 1 Thessalonians 1:4 “For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13 “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone 16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.” Jesus showed us the way, then His disciples and so on and so on. That was not supposed to stop. 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Philippians 3:17” Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
But many in the church are like the Jews who refused to listen to Jesus. John 5:36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life. 41 “I do not accept glory from human beings, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” Today many know the scriptures yet will only hear depart from me.
Jesus came so that there would be light not darkness, power not weakness, and freedom and not captivity. Humanism keeps the church in darkness, captive and powerless but that is how satan wants us to be. God does not want that for us. Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Jesus said, Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” That same anointing is still available for us today but we must turn from wicked ways. Matthew 4:17 “From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Hosea 14:1 “Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! 2 Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips. 3 Assyria cannot save us; we will not mount warhorses. We will never again say ‘Our gods’ to what our own hands have made, for in you the fatherless find compassion.”