Where is your hope? (partial recording)
December 20, 2020 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith
Scripture: Isaiah 1, Genesis 3
Note: The entire recording is not available. An outline of the sermon has been provided to help fill in the missing portion.
Where is Your Hope? (Isaiah 1:1-15)
One might respond quickly saying that our hope is in Jesus Christ.
One might quote from Hebrews 6:19 as support.
Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;
But I submit the quick answer may not always be the most truthful answer.
Should a Christian have their hope placed in Christ? Absolutely.
But does the average Christian have their hope placed in Christ?
Does the average Christian really understand what that means?
Introduction: Where is Your Hope?
Properly answering these questions requires one to correctly evaluate what one believes about God and then compare that to see if one’s behavior reflects or betrays that belief.
This past year has been one of great turmoil and pain – not only for people and their families but also for the church.
We have witnessed, and continue to witness, families being torn apart.
We have witnessed churches closing their doors closed, dilute and subvert the worship of God.
Some might say this was done for reasons of health and safety – but the prudent Bible scholar would see this differently.
One only needs to look not too far back into history and see the culture of carnality and paganism taking root and flourishing in our churches.
One can see the churches repeating the sins of Nadab and Abihu - the offering of strange fire before the Lord.
Instead of searching the Scriptures to discover what and how a Holy God requires to be worshipped, churches have taken it upon themselves to invent and expand and change and modify…for example:
We now have worship teams leading singing with drums and guitars and cymbals -> with them up on the stage as if in a performance
We have video screens and movie clips and jokes and stories designed to entertain
We have dancers and strippers and acrobats just to keep everyone’s attention
We have free food, coffee, donuts, and raffles to make service exciting
We have plays, drama productions, concerts, and special holy days to improve the “experience”
And now, we have live-streaming events so that the worshipper doesn’t have to be “put out” or “inconvenienced” by making an effort to come to church
But not one of these “inventions” and “improvements” can be found to have their basis in the Word of God.
In Isaiah, we can see that God does not take pleasure in these things.
He is not wowed or flattered by our innovations.
He is not concerned with how comfortable or how convenient things are for us.
Those who choose to know better than God - those who feel they themselves are what is most important - are in danger of judgment.
Just as these churches have been - They have been judged. There is judgment on our land.
The Word of God - the Preaching of the Word of God - the Worshiping of God in Community - the ability to Discern the Body of Christ has been removed
The sad thing is -- -most people – most churches do not understand how terrible a judgment it is for the Preaching of the Word to be taken away.
We are told watching service at home is perfectly fine.
We are told “churching at home” is perfectly fine.
But, my friends, this is all a deception.
This is like watching a cooking show and thinking your belly will be fed.
Christians have forgotten God.
Christians have begun to think that God is altogether like them.
This is nothing new. This is something we should understand.
Turn to Genesis 3
- Adam and Eve were placed in the garden and were told to obey.
- God gave them specific rules.
- They were to place their trust, their hope in God --- and in nothing else.
- But we know they gave in to their own desires.
- They thought they could decide what was best for them.
They, if you will, turned to the “noise” of the world and began giving it quarter.
They let the noise of the world enter their thinking and then used that noise…relied upon that noise to make decisions.
The Ongoing Struggle
Instead of keeping their trust and their hope in God, they placed their trust and hope in what they “thought was right”; in what others told them was right.
And sin, as we are told, entered the world through their actions. Rom. 5:12
And this struggle continued with their children.
- Cain thought he knew better what type and manner of sacrifice God would accept.
- Abraham thought it was better to lie so that he might protect himself when in Egypt than to trust God for His protection.
- Esau gave up his inheritance because he forgot God and was more interested in his immediate comfort.
There are multiple examples in the history of Israel where the people lost their trust and their hope in God and began to invent new ways to worship
Historical Scriptural Examples
…even new gods to follow after in case these new gods were able to fill in some gaps that the Lord God wasn’t able to satisfy!
And here are some of those judgments from God for such disobedience:
- God removed qualified, honorable, experienced God-approved leadership and allowed inexperienced, youthful men and those whose leadership would harm their country Isaiah 3:1-5
- God allowed foreigners to invade Israel and to take away Israel’s freedoms, belongings, and peace. Judges 6:1-6
- God allowed Israel’s place of worship, Jerusalem, to be destroyed because the people did not keep God’s commandments Nehemiah 1:3
Does any of this sound familiar to what we are experiencing today?
The Driver & The Cause
What is the cause of all these events?
What is the driver of turning away from God and turning to ourselves?
Why is it that we deceive ourselves into thinking our behavior is acceptable but have absolutely no biblical justification for it?
I submit it can be found in one word: Sin.
- Sin is what drives us.
- Sin is what motivates us.
- Sin is what dresses itself up in white garments, whispers & tickles our ears
- Sin is what causes us to refuse to hear the counsel of our pastors & elders
- Sin is what causes us to think we know better & we are our own best guide
- Sin is contrary to Scripture
And, what is sin?
Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature.
Note - “any” law of God.
It does not exclude
- those which you want to disobey
- those which the world or culture tells you to disobey.
- the traditions of men
- or the sincerity of men
Rather, It includes each and every law of God.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve dressed up your traditions and practices and idols in an attempt to Christianize them…
The Israelites tried to do that with their Asherah poles..
- The Israelites added this to their worship of God
- But God repeatedly expressed His displeasure of the corruption of His worship and His commands
We are all familiar with sin…
but have we ever asked what is the driver behind sin?
What is it about sin that entices us?
What is it about the hook which ensnares the fish that makes death look so attractive and appealing?
What does it promise us?
Sin In Action
One might, after thoughtful reflection, say that sin promises us those things that we don’t believe God will provide.
- Sin causes us to run away from placing our hope and trust in God.
- Sin promises us happiness and comfort and safety NOW – not later
Sin promises to give
- what we want
- what we think is best for us right now instead of waiting for the goodness and mercy and timing of God.
The most devious part about all of this....
is that it tricks us into thinking that we are still “Christians” even while we deliberately disobey and reject the commandments of God
It tricks us
- into having our own way,
- making our own rules,
- even re-writing the rules God gave us
- into making us think that we are fully and completely obedient.
Be careful, this is not a trick that is played upon us in the dark ---
- in the full light of day, we welcome this into our lives with open arms. Open and grateful arms.
We, through our pride and arrogance and desires --- turn our back on God.
The Scriptures & God
We spent four months studying the Doctrine of Scripture.
We have learned the importance of and the authority in Scripture
We have learned that it is the very Word of God and that there is no higher authority than God
We spent a similar four months studying the Doctrine of God
We have learned and grown in our understanding of Who He is by studying His attributes
We have learned and have grown in our love for Him and love for His people
We have learned that we need to become a people united to each other through God
The Church Is Failing
But the Church is failing.
We, the Christian community at large, are failing.
We will quickly claim our so-called rights and firmly declare what we want.
But what about what God wants??
What about what God commands from His people?
There is no being like God.
There is but one only living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute,
He is most holy in all his counsels, in all his works, and in all his commands.
There is no being like God.
Birth of Christ
In fact, even in light of the rampant disobedience of His children…
He still made a way to redeem His people.
Not every people....just His people.
Can you see it?…this life is not about us.
This life, the life that we have, exists only because God so decreed.
Our life ---- Your life ---- My life ---- all life belongs to God.
He has given us everything we need to live a life that glorifies Him.
All we need to do is to trust in what He have given us ---
- trust in the means of grace
- trust in the Scriptures
- trust in the faithful church
Return to God
Trust in Him ---- and not in yourselves.
Resist the world.
Resist the culture.
Resist your carnal nature – your personal comforts - your desires - your sin.
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
Don’t give in to disobedience and tradition because it makes you feel good or safe or warm or fuzzy or ……just hold to the Scriptures and hold to God.
His way … not your way. Not the world’s way. Not the culture’s way.
Conclusion: Where is Your Hope?
Back to our Question: Where is your hope placed?
- Is your hope placed in your good life?
- Is your hope, your day-to-day hope, placed in the “noise” from the world?
Do you trust that your actions will keep you safe?
Are you looking to the government to pass laws, rules, mandates, or relief packages to save you?
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that deliverance comes from anyone other than the Lord God.
Our hope MUST always, be placed in Jesus Christ.
Don’t look to celebrations to remind you of God.
Don’t look to statues or gifts or seasonal traditions to reinforce your faith – it won’t serve in the way that we need.
God didn’t reward Nadab and Abihu through their use of unapproved means and He won’t award us either.
Every day should be spent celebrating the gift of salvation that God has given to His people.
Every day should be spent in glorifying Him, in caring for the church, in attending church, in singing psalms and hymns.
Every day should be spent in the service of the King --- and in service to ourselves.
Our God is a mighty God. Our God is a great God.
Our God is a wonderful and terrible and awesome God.
Let’s live our lives as if we are beginning to understand how Holy and Worthy of Praise He is!
Think on this:
- That which we do which glorifies God, serves to build up our faith and strengthen Christianity.
- That which we do which does not glorify God, serves to weaken our faith and undermine Christianity.