It’s Time to Grow Up by Pastor Abidan Shah

IT’S TIME TO GROW UP by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

itstimetogrowupIntroduction: It’s only been a handful of times that I have opened a message with a remark like – “This is probably one of the most important messages I’ve ever preached.” That could be said about today’s message and you’ll know why real soon. Please turn in your Bibles to Mark 2 for our message titled – “IT’S TIME TO GROW UP.”

Mark 2   18 The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting. Then they came and said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. 20 But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.

Bridge: How many of y’all have kids or grandkids 1-2 years of age? How do you react when they take their first step from the coffee table to the couch or get their first taste of lemon? You clap for them or ooh and aww over them. Now what if they are 10-20 years of age and still want you to do that? Unless they have some medical condition that is hampering their mental or emotional growth, it’s not the same, is it? Most Christians are 10-20 years or even more in their faith but they still act like they are 1-2 years old. They still want you to clap for them when they spiritually stumble from the coffee table to the couch and they still want you to call them cute when they make spiritually funny faces. In fact, they question your spiritual growth because you can walk without stumbling and have better control over your taste buds.

Context: In the message today we will see how the disciples of John and the Pharisees were shocked that Jesus was eating and drinking at Levi/Matthew’s house with tax collectors and sinners instead of fasting and keeping all the Jewish laws of purification and separation like them. So they came and asked Him, “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” Jesus’s reply was earth shattering!

Before we look at His reply: Are you growing up in biblical and spiritual maturity or are you content with stumbling from the coffee table to the couch? Are you growing up in wisdom and knowledge in Christ or are you content making funny faces tasting lemons? There can’t be growth unless there is birth. Have you been born again? Are you saved?

Jesus’s reply to the disciples of John and the Pharisees can be divided into 3 parts:

I. IT’S TIME TO CELEBRATE.

19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.

Background: Before the coming of Jesus, the Old Testament prophets and people were preparing themselves with mourning and fasting for the coming of the Messiah. There was no celebration just solemn expectation. Once Jesus came, all that changed. To explain this Jesus invoked the imagery of a wedding celebration.

Illustration: As a pastor, I’ve performed many weddings. Before the wedding, the overall atmosphere is tense. People don’t eat much because they don’t want to overeat and get sick. They are even carefully about drinking because they don’t want to spill something over their nice clothes. There’s always someone who’ll say, “I’ll run to the gas station and get a soda,” and someone is quick to remind him, “The wedding starts in thirty minutes. Better off staying here.” If the bride and groom are getting ready somewhere else, people are constantly looking out the windows and checking their watches to make sure everything is still on time. People pace back and forth. Some stay seated, wringing their hands, and others are afraid to sit and get wrinkles in their clothes. Then as the music starts playing and the grandmothers and mothers are being seated, I am usually huddled quietly with the guys on the other side of the door. Everything is spoken in a whisper and everyone is checking his zipper. Someone without fail says, “I’m ready to get this over with.” The atmosphere is one of fear that something might just go wrong.

Doesn’t that remind you of many churches and Christians? Don’t get too excited, you’ll mess things up. Just be quiet and stay seated. Don’t go anywhere because you might get locked out. Everybody talks in whispers and checks their spiritual zippers. The atmosphere is tense and stressful to say the least. We call it reverence but it has nothing to do with the holiness of God. It misses the true mood of Christianity.

Let’s return to our wedding imagery. What happens once the bride and groom arrive and the wedding is over and reception starts? Everybody is excited. Nobody is quiet. People talk loud. They get food and drinks. No one cares if they get some on themselves. No one checks the zippers anymore. There is laughter and celebration and excitement. What Jesus was saying is – “I’m here. Let the party begin.”

Unfortunately, many church services look more like a funeral service than a wedding celebration and many Christians look like they just buried someone.

For e.g. Two boys were walking by the church. They didn’t know a thing about Christianity and decided to go in and see what went on. After a few minutes, one said to the other – “The people look like someone must have died.” To which the other replied – “You think it’s that man hanging on the cross?”

Now someone might say – “Shouldn’t we have a sense of reverence?” Listen again to Jesus in verse 20 “But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” Meaning: Jesus was referring immediately to the cross and then later to His ascension. Either way, the fasting or reverence is one of excitement and personal holiness rather than grief and hopelessness.

Application: Do people see a spirit of celebration in you? Or are you like the little toddler who cries every time mommy leaves the room? Do people see the joy and excitement of Christ in you?

II. IT’S TIME TO STOP MIXING THE OLD WITH THE NEW.

21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse.

Background: There is something else that Jesus was telling these disciples of John and the Pharisees who came to question Him about the party He just had with the tax collectors and sinners at Matthew’s home. He was telling them that you could no longer bring old laws and rituals and mix them with the new life that He has brought. To explain this Jesus invoked the imagery from clothing.

Illustration: I remember growing up having to get patches to put on some pants because they had a tear. This was before all the preshrunk stuff we have today. My grandmother knew how to sow and she made sure that the patch had been soaked and would not shrink anymore. If she didn’t do that, the patch would shrink and pull the pant cloth from all directions. Back in the days of Jesus, the clothes were not as thick and durable as today and the cloth would easily tear. The point is that you cannot take a new cloth and stitch it on some old already shrunk cloth and expect it to work.

What was Jesus saying here? You cannot take the new life that He had brought and stitch on the old way of life of Judaism and expect it to work. It will tear it away. There is no happy middle ground. There is no saving the old. The old piece of garment has served its purpose and has to be retired. You cannot save the old laws and reapply them. You cannot take the old sacrificial system and reapply it. What I am talking about here is probably the most important and difficult matters in the study of the Bible – What to do about the Old Testament?

Does this matter today? There are Christians who get caught up in a lot of unnecessary distraction that has nothing to do with Christianity. Some try to keep the Old Testament dietary laws and rituals and prayers. Others get caught up into the various feasts and festivals of the Jewish people. Some go even further and get caught up into Hebrew names, the Roots of names. There are yet others who are always looking for patterns, number combinations, and secret codes. This is no laughing matter. Some actually deny the Trinity. That is very serious!

Please don’t misunderstand. The Old Testament is our foundation. I preach from it often. There’s much we can learn about how God worked with His individual people back then, something we can’t find in the New Testament. We also learn much about the nature of God from the Old Testament. We learn much about how Christ was promised and prophesied ever since the beginning of time. We learn much about how He worked with His people Israel and He still has many promises waiting for them in the future. In fact, it’s a shame that many Christians totally ignore the Old Testament. Having said that, we can’t go back to that period and start interacting with God as if Christ has not come. That is beyond foolish! In fact, those who fuss over food, the Bible calls him weak. Listen to Romans 14   1 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. 2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him…8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

Colossians 2   16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

Hebrews 9   10 concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation. 11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Hebrews 10   1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect…14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

Application: Are you trying to mix the Old and the New? Are you fascinated with trivial things instead of focusing on Christ? Do you know Christ more today than yesterday?

III. IT’S TIME TO CHANGE THE CONTAINERS.

22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.”

Background: There is one more thing that Jesus wanted the disciples of John and the Pharisees to understand. It was this – the container of the truth has to change. To explain this he invoked the imagery of the wine and wineskins. If you know anything about fermentation you’ll understand that it makes the substance enlarge and grow in volume. The old wineskins could not enlarge anymore. If you poured in new wine, the container will burst. It needed a new container that will grow with the fermentation and will be able to withstand the pressure.

What is the point? The doors were always open to the Gentiles before the coming of Christ but there was a certain way you had to come. With the coming of Jesus Christ, the doors have been flung wide open. No laws, purification, rituals, sacrifices, or circumcision is necessary. “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”

That’s exactly what we are doing at Clearview. It’s still the gospel wine not water or orange juice or diesel. We still hold to the inerrancy of Scripture, the doctrine of the Trinity, the salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone, literal heaven and hell, etc. But we are doing things in a new way. Is it the best way, right way, New Testament way? Who knows? It’s just a new wineskin. One day even this would be done away with. What matters is whether or not you have received Christ as your Savior. That’s why our motto is “MAKING CHRIST VISIBLE.

Help! I’m Losing My Faith in the Bible.

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HELP! I’M LOSING MY FAITH IN THE BIBLE by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

bible-with-question-mark copy You should know by now that we are in our series on the Life of Christ from all four gospels and this morning I’m preaching a message titled “HELP! I’M LOSING MY FAITH IN THE BIBLE.” Instead of just one passage, we will be reading two passages – one from John 2 and the other from Matthew 21; one from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and the other towards the end of Jesus’ ministry. When we read them, you will notice that they are both describing how Jesus cleansed the temple in Jerusalem from the money changers and their animals.

John 2 11 This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him. 12 After this He went down to Capernaum, He, His mother, His brothers, and His disciples; and they did not stay there many days. 13 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. 15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.

Matt. 21 9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” 11 So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.” 12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.

Overall Background: Lately I’ve heard (more times than I would like to count) about another young man or woman who has given up on Christianity and turned to atheism or agnosticism. Let me give you a recent example – In January 2015 an article made news. It was written by someone named George Perdikis who called himself the cofounder of the Christian group Newsboys. In this article he wrote about how he had become an atheist.

Listen to his words: “I left the band in 1990 and went back to Adelaide. There, I got married, taught guitar, played pubs and clubs, built homes, and had two beautiful daughters. As I carved out a life for myself away from the church, I began my own voyage of inquiry into what I believed. My perceptions started to transform when I became interested in cosmology in 1992. I soon found myself fascinated by the works of Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Lawrence Krauss, Brian Cox, and Richard Dawkins. I learned so much and was blown away by all the amazing scientific discoveries and facts. When my marriage dissolved in 2003, I turned my attention to human psychology. By 2007, I renounced Christianity once and for all and declared myself an atheist.”

Sad, isn’t it? But what I found sadder were some of the comments that followed:

“As a long-time Christian, I did take a long, hard look at Christ and his teachings, and became a convinced atheist.”

“I spent the better part of my life being a Christian. I sought desperately for evidence that would demonstrate that Christianity was true, and the thousands of other religions that mankind has invented over the centuries are false. In the end, though, I found absolutely nothing to distinguish Christianity from the rest of the pack, and found no real evidence to support the truth claims of any them.”

“Sorry, but there really is no evidence that anything in the Bible is other than story…There are literally hundreds of contradictions in the Bible.”

Just last week I heard that one of my good friends who inspired me to do a PhD died. He was one of the smartest men I knew and very knowledgeable about the Bible, history, and philosophy. I have books in my library on apologetics that he helped write. But that’s not the sad part because he is with Jesus right now. The sad part is that two of his oldest children have nothing to do with God and one of them is an atheist. I wasn’t able to sleep that night, not because my friend had died, but because of where his kids are today.

My heart breaks every time I hear such reports. To me, nothing is more painful than knowing that our children are no longer walking in the truth. The question is WHY? Why would someone who claims to have grown up in church, went to Sunday School, VBS, and Youth group give it all up? Why would someone turn their backs on the faith of their parents and grandparents? Why would someone discount that moment when they prayed to receive Christ as Savior? The reasons are many:

  • Maybe they were never truly saved.
  • Maybe they were holding onto rules and regulations rather than faith in Jesus.
  • Maybe they were never truly grounded in God’s Word. They are like the ones who received the seed that fell on stony places – heard the word and immediately received it with joy but since there was no root, they only endured for a while. For when tribulation or persecution came because of the word, they immediately stumbled.

Meaning: We did a poor job in grounding our young people in the word of God.

I often ask God what is my task as the pastor. Is it just to get up and give a three-point sermon on how to do better at something? Is it just to help people understand and apply the Bible? Is it just to lead us as a church to win the lost and grow? Or, is it more? The Holy Spirit pointed me to Titus 1:9 where Paul is giving the requirements of a pastor –holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. Meaning: I need to hold fast to the faithful word the Bible and exhort others to do the same and convict those who contradict it.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we need to spend our whole time defending the Bible. As Charles Spurgeon said to the meeting of the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1875 – “Open the door and let the lion out; he will take care of himself.” No, we don’t need to spend our whole time defending the authority of the Bible but we do have a mandate to teach our children to hold fast to the faithful word. If we don’t, our young people will very well succumb to the idle talkers and deceivers.

This morning I only want to focus on the claim that “I cannot be a Christian anymore because there are contradictions in the Bible.” We don’t have time to look at every alleged contradiction in the Bible but we’ll look at one.

We read two passages this morning, one from John 2 and the other from Matthew 21. Some people consider them to be aHenry Ian Cusick Visual Bible - The Gospel of John contradiction. Both passages describe the event when Jesus came to the Temple, was appalled by the desecration of the moneychangers and their animals, and he made a whip of cords and drove them out. The problem comes in because Matthew 21 and also Mark 11 and Luke 19 mention the incident in the last week of Jesus’ ministry. In fact, after He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey (which we call Palm Sunday) that he went into the temple and began to clean it. On the other hand, John 2 mentions the incident at the beginning of his ministry, right after the wedding in Cana of Galilee, which was the beginning of signs. How could that be?

  • Some people have taken this example to claim that the Bible has errors. If that’s the case then it’s no longer the Word of God. If it’s no longer the Word of God, then it’s no longer binding on our lives. If it’s no longer binding on our lives, then it’s no different than other “holy books” of other religions. In other words, Christianity is one among many ways to God.
  • Some Christians have tried to defend the Bible by claiming that Jesus actually cleansed the Temple two times – one in the beginning of his ministry and again towards the end of his ministry. The problem with this view is that there are too many similarities between the two incidents to be anything but the same incident. Also, if there were two different incidents, John could have mentioned it again in chapter 12 when he talks about Jesus coming into Jerusalem riding on the donkey but he doesn’t.

So what’s the answer? These are one and the same incidents. John has put an incident from the end of Jesus’ ministry at the beginning of his gospel. 3 things we need to understand:

  1. Positive not negative – Some people claim that the church has manipulated and corrupted the Bible. If I we’re trying to make the Bible look like God’s Word, this is one passage that I would definitely fix. This proves that people did not try to mend the Bible as is often claimed. It also proves that if people did not try to mend it then it must not have been a problem. We might have a problem with it but the early readers did not.
  2. Style of John – John repeatedly says “the next day” in John 1:29, 35 or “the following day” in John 1:43. But in John 2:1 he says “On the third day.” Is it the day earlier or is it three more days later? Actually, John is not trying to count the days. Instead, that’s just his style. It’s another way of saying “another day” or “the other day.” For e.g. Like people saying “the other day I was talking to my doctor or my mechanic.” You mean yesterday or day before. “Oh, actually a year or two ago.”
  3. Purpose of John – Towards the end of his gospel, John gives us the reason why he wrote this gospel. First, in John 19:35 “And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe.” Second, in John 20 30 “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

Unlike Matthew, Mark, and Luke who were laying out Jesus’ entire biography, John’s purpose from the beginning is to get you to the Passion Week. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus’ trial begins in the last week. In John, the entire gospel is Jesus’ trial before the Jewish religious leaders. Right from the start in John’s gospel, Jesus begins talking about His hour. If you remember in the first part of John 2 at the wedding in Cana when Jesus’ mother says to Him, “They have no wine,” Jesus responds by saying, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”

Did you notice the word “signs?” Signs are more than just miracles. They are pointers towards the most critical week – the Passion Week.

In a sense, John is writing his biography of Jesus but he has a greater concern. It is to get to the Passion Week so that “you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

INVITATION:

  • Are you saved? I think we made our case that the Bible doesn’t contradict. But please don’t misunderstand, this doesn’t mean that we need to answer every contradiction before you can become a Christian. If that’s the case, then you’ll never give your heart to Jesus.
  • Do you know that the Bible is unlike any book in the world?
  • Are you reading the Bible?
  • Are you allowing the Bible to be translated into your life?
  • Are you passing along the Bible to your children and grandchildren?
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