Sermon: How Absurd

                Every now and then you will hear about or come across something absurd. One definition describes absurd as ridiculously unreasonable, unsound, or incongruous. (odd, out of place or inconsistent) Another describes absurd as “a thing that is extremely unreasonable, so as to be foolish or not taken seriously, or the state of being so.” If you have watched the news in the last few months you will have seen more than enough of the absurd. You will have seen bizarre behaviors and beliefs broadcast across the screen. The election and pandemic has given us our fill of the absurd but sadly the absurd has taken center stage and normalized. I will leave the absurdities seen daily and focus on something even more absurd than the absurdities that make the news.
                Today I am talking about the miraculous power given to heal someone or cast the demonic out. This is the ability given by God to place your hand on someone or speak and they are healed. Right away this is going to appear absurd for some. I could stop here and many in the church would agree that God could heal if he so desires but don’t even suggest one human could heal another human being; that would be absurd. So the church has lists of sick and possessed people waiting on God to heal them and yes God now and then does heal but for the most part they stay unhealed. There is even division in the church cause by the subject of healing, though neither side is seeing the healing touch of God like scripture shows us. You have the charismatics who believe in healing but really are not seeing it and most of the supernatural they are seeing is not God. Then you have the non-charismatics praying that God would heal yet most are not seeing healing take place as described in scripture. As described in scripture is key.
                Scripture is abundantly clear about healing so why is healing such a contentious subject to even talk about? Why is it so absurd to believe God still anoints His servants with power from on High? Most people in the church today have no idea the power that could be available to them. Many have become content with the lack of power while others see a faith healer and assume God is at work. The bible has become a book about Jesus not a book about Jesus and the available power and authority given to His believers and the results that follow. They don’t understand what it means to be clothed with power from on High mostly because of unbelief and false teaching. To be clothed with power is described in this account of Jesus healing the people. Matthew 4:23 “Jesus 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. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.” Why is it so absurd to expect the same today as the land is filled with the sick? Many will read this and say you can’t seriously think others could do what Jesus did because He is God; that would be absurd. Jesus then sent out His disciples to heal. Luke 9:1 “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Later Peter said, Acts 3:6 “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Then some will say you can’t honestly think that anyone other than these apostles would be clothed with power from on high; that would be absurd. Acts 8:6 “When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed.” Yes some will say that makes a great story but it’s absurd to think that could be happening today. But look at what scripture says, 1 Corinthians 12:7 “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” As you read these verses you see that there is the gift of healing and the gift of miraculous powers of which some call the power gifts. Most do not believe these are available for today and I’m not just talking about the cessationists. I would say that most continuationists don’t believe it either because they do not seek as Paul tells us to do in 1 Corinthians 14:1 “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.” It is kind of strange to pick out those two sign or power gifts when the church really isn’t seeing the other gifts displayed either. So instead of repenting so the gifts return, the church has settled on the absurd idea that God does not do that anymore. So just in these few verses you see very clearly that there is power to heal the sick. Sadly the church has treated this power as an old, old story they love talk about but has no implications for today. Many think because we are not seeing it, therefore it must not be available. Now that’s absurd! This thinking is absurd simply because scripture states power is available to all who believe and we are told in scripture why it is not available and we are told in scripture what to do to have God turn His face back to us. The answer is not to rewrite the bible to fit your particular theology and doctrine.
                Today I want to look at something I think is absolutely absurd. The premise is why is it so absurd to think that what the bible clearly states to be available, wouldn’t be available for today? To start with the biggest problem is we see the church emulating the disobedience that took place in scripture from the Old Testament to the New. Power was lost when Israel turned away just as power was lost in the early church when they turned away from God’s word just as Paul described in 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.” This power has been lost for generations. For the power to return scripture tells us to repent and turn from our wickedness and God would return to us. That simply means power would flow in the church just as Jesus intended it to be.
                 Specifically today I want focus on the miraculous powers of Jesus. We will find that what is happening in the church today, was happening with the Pharisees in the synagogue. The Pharisees objected to Jesus preforming miracles on the Sabbath. Today many in the church also object to miraculous powers, healing, casting out demons and signs and wonders happening in the church. The difference between the Pharisees and the church today is the Pharisees actually believed healing was possible and they saw it; they just didn't like that it was done on the Sabbath. They said do your healing any other day but not on the Sabbath. The church says the same except it is even more absurd because many in the church do not even believe in the gift of healing or casting out demons nor are they seeing it. So now the Sabbath can be seen as not just one day but seven days a week. Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath and now since we are the temple, as Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:19 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit,” that means Jesus is to be Lord of our lives seven days a week not just on Sundays. Wherever we go, the church is! Therefore wherever we go, the power and authority of Jesus Christ should go also but for most in the church healing is not happening on Sunday or any other day of the week. Most have grown accustomed to the lack of healing even though James tells us, James 5:13 “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Healing is to be a regular part of the church but for most that’s absurd. I am not going to talk about this now but many who do believe in healing don’t discern (test the spirits) where the power is coming from.
                As we look at these accounts I hope you too will see the absurdity of what is taking place. Here are a few accounts from the Pharisee’s perspective. Matthew 12:9 “Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” 11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.” Luke describes it this way. Luke 6:6 “On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shriveled. 7 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. 8 But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Get up and stand in front of everyone.” So he got up and stood there. 9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?” 10 He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.” Mark gives us this account, Mark 3:4 “Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. 5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.” At this point stop and ask yourself if you think it is absurd for a man with a shriveled hand to approach your elders and leadership team to ask for healing and believe for instant healing. Yes many will pray and leave it in God’s hand but we are looking for instantaneous healing as scripture describes.
                We also see another healing take place on the Sabbath. Luke 13:10 “On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. 14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” 15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” 17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.” How many around you are bound by satan?
                Think about the fact that Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath was there in their midst and they thought it was wrong for Him to heal on the Sabbath, so much so that they plotted to kill him. Yet scripture tells us Isaiah 30:26 “The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.” Matthew 8:16 “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” Isaiah 33:24 “No one living in Zion will say, “I am ill”; and the sins of those who dwell there will be forgiven.” Mark 2:6 “Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” Luke gives us this interesting account that shows us Jesus was despised, even in His hometown they tried to kill Him. Luke 4:28 “All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way. Matthew 13:57 “But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” 58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” Luke 4:31 “Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. 32 They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority. 33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 35 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. 36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.”
                Jesus and the Pharisees regularly clashed and Jesus even called them hypocrites. Jesus said to them Matthew 15:6 “Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 8 “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” Sadly the same can be said about the church today. Notice it was not whether healing was real; it was about healing on the Sabbath. Does it get any more absurd than that? Actually it does! Healing was part of Jesus ministry therefore healing is part of the churches ministry, as is casting out demons. Luke 4:40 “At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. 41 Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.” Peaching about the kingdom of God includes healing and casting out demons. Luke 11:20 “But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” 1 John 3:8 “The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” Luke 10:17 “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” Luke 9:10 “When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, 11 but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing. Matthew 9:35 “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” Luke 10:1 “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. 5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. 8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. 13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. 16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” Matthew 13:53 “When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.” Again it wasn’t the miraculous powers they did not believe in, it was their offense at someone they thought they knew. For many they take offense at miracles because their doctrine and theology go out the window if this power is available. Others don’t want to know the truth because they don’t want to know that the supernatural power they had was actually coming from satan. They prefer to keep going in the wrong direction.
                John told us John 1:9 “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” When God dwells among us, so does His kingdom. When the kingdom came near as we saw with Jesus and His disciples, people were healed and demons were cast out. Acts 5:15 “As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.” This happened after Pentecost. Peter preached and 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.” Earlier Peter proclaimed the truth Matthew 16:15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.” (Think about the women bound by satan for eighteen years.) Peter later would deny Jesus three times. 31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” 33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” Then we see Peter deny Jesus the third time. 60 Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.” It was not until after Pentecost (something that is available to all who believe) that Peter really was a rock. As Peter and John preached we see the Holy Spirit at work. Acts 4:9 “If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone. 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” 13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.” 18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
                So as you can see from scripture, preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit not only means salvation but along with it there will be healing and demons cast out. Scripture tells us that there will also be signs and wonders. 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.” Scripture has shown us the absurdity of the Pharisees yet Jesus healing people was not the problem but the day on which the healing was done. Most churches today have an issue with healing no matter what day. Some have no idea whose power they have tapped into and some just prefer to believe the power to heal doesn’t exist. Scripture has shown us that healing and casting out demons is part of the kingdom when it comes near. Now what is even more absurd than the Pharisees is the church not wanting, seeking or having (true) healing today as described in scripture. While there is some healing, very little at that, healing as described in scripture is not present. This pandemic has exposed the lack of power in the church and the power some thought they had is not from God. Don’t be deceived by the John MacArthur’s and the Benny Hinns of the world. That’s not God speaking or acting. We have already talked about MacArthur and his statement there is no pandemic. Here is an example I listened to from last February 2020 where Benny Hinn was preaching oddly enough from Matthew 24. He said, “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” 4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you.” He then promptly showed us the deception. He said, “I will give you a little piece of news that I felt in my soul yesterday. Someone will come up with a cure for that corona virus. I know it by the holy ghost (no capitals, not God) so relax. Just calm down. It will probably kill about 5000 people. That's what I felt from the Lord, then it will timmer down, it will be all done. When it hits 5000 there will a shift, it will change and there will be a breakthrough after that.” I took a quick peek at Johns Hopkins Coronvirus Research Center and globally there are 102,167,789 cases and 2,209,213 deaths. In the United States 25,934,331 cases and 438,278 deaths.
                These false teachers, preachers, evangelists, apostles and prophets are everywhere. As you just saw most of what they are saying is absurd. Many do not know their bibles well enough to know better as they trust those who teach. They do not test the spirits as we are told to do. 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.” It is true the charismatics have done a lot of damage in the church when it comes to healing and casting out demons and because of what they have seen or heard they then assume that healing and casting out demons is not of God. I think most in the church do not even know there are demons everywhere just as they don’t accept there are antichrists in the church. 1 John 2:18 “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.” They think that all signs and wonders evil because they read verses like this. Matthew 24:24 “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” John 4:48 “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9 “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie.” Matthew 12:22 “Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” 25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
                Many in the church equate casting out demons, signs and wonders, even healing with the demonic which is absolutely absurd. When people argue against what they see in the charismatic circles, they don’t stand on scripture. They say we don’t believe that but do not seek the truth, the available power to all whom would believe, which is absurd. You have to ask what does the bible say and then you seek it. You then take what scriptures states and test the spirits and you will see what is false and true. You must know that there are other spirits. For example 1 Kings 22:20 “And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ “One suggested this, and another that. 21 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ 22 “‘By what means?’ the Lord asked. “‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. “‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’ 23 “So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.” I gave you an example of this from Benny Hinn and you see it from John MacArthur, one charismatic and one non-charismatic. So yes you will want to test the spirits. It is true that most charismatics have been deceived by satan as have non-charismatics but that doesn’t mean we do not expect what the bible clearly teaches us to be present. The church has adapted to this absurdity of a powerless church as the norm but that is not the church. Just as the Jews crucified Jesus, the church is still persecuting those who believe the words of Jesus. You can find this out by standing up in your church and asking like Gideon where are all the wonders? Matthew 23:34 “Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.” John 16:2 “They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.” The belief that Jesus will still do as he commanded us to do in the first place is so absurd to most that they will resist any teaching that says there is power to all who will believe.
                Just like there is proof yeast works and the bread rises; there will be proof of power. Jesus established the church to do as He did. John 14:12 “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Just as He sent out His disciples, today’s disciples should be going out in the same power. Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. Matthew 10:7 “As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” Matthew 11:4 “Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” Do not fall away because you think something is absurd that is clearly stated in scripture. If you don’t see it, seek and you will find! Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
                The true kingdom of God is not a Sunday event. Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, seven days a week. Sunday is just a time we can gather; at least it used to be. Look at what happened when the church stopped gathering; …. the church stopped gathering. There was no power before the pandemic as was there was no healing or casting out demons and the kingdom was not coming near. The pandemic has exposed false prophets and teachers all over the world. This pandemic has also exposed the powerless church. I thought it was interesting that a faith healer like Benny Hinn said God was sending a cure. Why doesn’t he, a faith healer go to the ends of the earth and heal the sick? The answer is simple; he doesn’t teach truth nor is the power of God in him. The power you do see is satan masquerading as an angel of light to deceive people. 2 Corinthians 11:13 “For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”
                When the church turns from their wicked ways and returns to the true gospel, once again the power of God will flow in the church. Jeremiah 3:12 “‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord, I will frown on you no longer, for I am faithful,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will not be angry forever. 13 Only acknowledge your guilt— you have rebelled against the Lord your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,’” declares the Lord. 14 “Return, faithless people,” declares the Lord, “for I am your husband. I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion. 15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding. 16 In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land,” declares the Lord, “people will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the Lord.’ It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. 17 At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the Lord, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the Lord. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. 18 In those days the people of Judah will join the people of Israel, and together they will come from a northern land to the land I gave your ancestors as an inheritance.” Ezekiel 18:30 “Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. 31 Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? 32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!”
                Ezekiel describes the church in disobedience but also gives us the hope of what happens when God turns His face back to us. Ezekiel 39:21 “I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay on them. 22 From that day forward the people of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God. 23 And the nations will know that the people of Israel went into exile for their sin, because they were unfaithful to me. So I hid my face from them and handed them over to their enemies, and they all fell by the sword. 24 I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their offenses, and I hid my face from them.” Before I continue with this passage know that God will turn His face from the church. The church cannot go their own way and expect God to bless them but we have hope, as there will always be a remnant. Ezekiel continues 25 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will now restore the fortunes of Jacob and will have compassion on all the people of Israel, and I will be zealous for my holy name. 26 They will forget their shame and all the unfaithfulness they showed toward me when they lived in safety in their land with no one to make them afraid. 27 When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will be proved holy through them in the sight of many nations. 28 Then they will know that I am the Lord their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. 29 I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the people of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord.” When God turns His face from us, our power is gone. It is only when God once again dwells among us that it returns. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
                Then we will once again see the power from on High flow when the true gospel is spoken. Hebrews 2:1 “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” The church must return to the word of God. Scripture is clear as to what God dwelling among us looks like. It means our enemies will be defeated and blessings will come upon us when the floodgates of heaven open up. When you look at Israel and Judah in the Old Testament they were defeated when they disobeyed. (Deuteronomy 28, Leviticus 26) The church must obey or else we will continue to be defeated. Look what happened when Saul and Solomon disobeyed the commands of God; they lost the kingdom. The church has rebelled the same way by not following the word of the Lord. We were warned about this rebellion in Daniel. 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. 13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, “How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled—the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the Lord’s people?” 14 He said to me, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.” 26 “The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future.” (Daniel was told what he saw was in the distant future and time yet to come. Let me just say that these numbers have messed a lot of people up when it comes to end times events. John was told in Revelation 22:10 “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near.” Trust God for His timing not man) Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 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. 5 Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” He warned us to hold onto the truth but the church did not listen. 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.” Jesus said in Matthew 24:15 “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. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. 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.” The church is powerless because it refused to stand firm on God’s word and went their own way just like Israel did.
                Having talked about the church’s rebellion, there is good news for those who have turned from their wicked ways. Remember this turning is not only from rejecting God but also a turning from other gospels. For the remnants sake our enemies will be defeated. Daniel 7:13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” Our king will defeat our enemies. 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. 26 “‘But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. 27 Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.” Our only hope is to repent and return. Today there is no denomination or independent that has the power of God flowing. Yes there will be people searching as the remnant will rise up once again but not until God turns His face to shine on us once again will we have this power. We all should be diligently seeking God to turn His face back to us.
                The question for you is; what do you consider to be absurd? Do you think it is absurd to believe healing and casting out demons is possible once again? Do you think it is absurd to believe that like the disciples, we too when clothed with power will go out and change the world? Or do you believe this is absurd and you will just wait to the end happily content with the church as you know it to be. Remember base your answer on scripture not on what you have or haven’t seen. In all the absurdity of false teaching, which has led to a powerless church, people have put their trust in those who have led them astray instead of the Lord of the Sabbath. Those who listen have set truth aside and have bet their eternity on man’s word. Jeremiah was told Jeremiah 4:22 “My people are fools; they do not know me. They are senseless children; they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil; they know not how to do good.” Jeremiah 5:1 “Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city. 2 Although they say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ still they are swearing falsely.” 3 Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent. 11 The people of Israel and the people of Judah have been utterly unfaithful to me,” declares the Lord. 12 They have lied about the Lord; they said, “He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine. 13 The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them; so let what they say be done to them.” 20 “Announce this to the descendants of Jacob and proclaim it in Judah: 21 Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: 22 Should you not fear me?” declares the Lord. “Should you not tremble in my presence? 23 But these people have stubborn and rebellious hearts; they have turned aside and gone away. 24 They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.’ 25 Your wrongdoings have kept these away; your sins have deprived you of good. 26 “Among my people are the wicked who lie in wait like men who snare birds and like those who set traps to catch people. 27 Like cages full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; they have become rich and powerful 28 and have grown fat and sleek. Their evil deeds have no limit; they do not seek justice. They do not promote the case of the fatherless; they do not defend the just cause of the poor. 29 Should I not punish them for this?” declares the Lord. “Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this? 30 “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?”
                This is a description of today’s church. After all the years that have gone by, today’s church is what we have ended up with and it looks nothing like scripture. Jeremiah 7:24 “But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward.” That wasn’t the plan. Jesus came to set us free and empower us to stand against the enemy but instead we have been taken captive and remain powerless. Jesus gave us His authority and authorized His power to go out and make disciples. Matthew 26:18 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Being with us is described in Mark 16:15 “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 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.” Jesus said in 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 wit 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.”
                It is unbelievably absurd for the church to reject the words of Jesus and replace them with their own empty words that have no power? It is even more absurd than the Pharisees offended by Jesus healing on the Sabbath. How absurd is it to have this offer of eternal life and reject it because the church refuses to believe His words? How absurd is it to believe the words that bring life and the power to defeat satan’s works are not needed today or even available? The only hope the church has today is to return to the words of Jesus. Paul said 2 Thessalonians 2:15 “stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” Yes when you do that, others will think that is absurd. Most think the church they attend preaches truth but that just isn’t the case as truth has been thrown down. You can’t be afraid to turn from false teaching, as other gospels are everywhere but be careful where you turn to. Repentance isn’t about joining a group, true repentance is returning to following God’s word not man’s words. Isaiah 59:20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the Lord.” As 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.” The result of true repentance is the gift of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is given we will be clothed with power from on High. When we are clothed with power, 1 Corinthians 12:7 “to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.” As we have talked about before, picture with me what the church in love will look like with all the gifts of the Spirit flowing and the authority of Jesus Christ upon us as we go to the ends of the earth? Just read the gospels and you will see what was available to us if we just believed.
                Once again instead of saying truth is nowhere to be found as Isaiah 59 tells us, once again Ezekiel 48:35 “the name of the city from that time on will be: the Lord is there.” Ephesians 2:22 “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Revelation 21:3 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” Once again the church will be a place of truth. Zechariah 1:1 “The word of the Lord Almighty came to me. 2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her.” 3 This is what the Lord says: “I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City / City of Truth, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.” 7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. 8 I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God.” Micah 4:1 “In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.”
                Don’t reject God’s word because you have never seen His truth on display. God gave us a promise and he will fulfill that promise so wait for Him to fulfill His promise. Take a moment to read Psalm 106. If you are waiting on God be patient, as He will never forsake the remnant. Psalm 106 ends with these words 47 Save us, Lord our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. 48 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the Lord.” Continue to have hope as you wait because God tells us that Isaiah 54:7 “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. 8 In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord your Redeemer.” Isaiah 30:18 “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”