Ideas, Opinions, and Beliefs

Posted on 05/27/2007 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

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TRANSCRIPT:

Welcome to the ALM CyberChurch house of worship. I hope you came ready to worship God, because he is here ready to meet with each and every one of us.

Let's stand to our feet and start this service with prayer.

Lord, thank you for your presence with us here today. Thank you for the opportunity to gather in your name and open glorify your name.

You are welcome, Holy Spirit, to move in our midst and have you way with us today. May Jesus be glorified in all we say, think, and do.

We pray for Faina, that you would restore her broken friendship, and that you would continue to draw her closer to you.

We pray for Ken, that you would reveal the truth behind the situation he's going through and that your will would be done.

We pray for Martin, that you would fill his need for companionship in the way for which you have already made provision. Work a miracle in his life, and in his relationships, and may he experience the amazing restoration that can only come from you.

We pray for the mother of Valen's friend. We ask that you bring healing to her body, and this infection or growth would be gone without a trace.

We pray for Maggie, and thank you for her upcoming job opportunity. We ask that you provide for her during this period, and thank you that you are providing for her through this job or any other means you see fit. Give her peace about following your direction, and give her wisdom and guidance in her every decision. Open doors that should be opened, and close the ones that aren't your plan for her.

Now lead us into your presence, as we worship you. Prepare our hearts to receive your Word, and may we be drawn closer to you.

And it's in Jesus' name we pray.

Amen.


Remain standing, and either click-touch the pulpit for a notecard or follow along with the overhead, as we worship our God and King with song.


AH LORD GOD

Ah Lord God, Thou hast made the heavens
And the earth by Thy great power
Ah Lord God, Thou hast made the heavens
And the earth by Thine outstretched arm.

Nothing is too difficult for Thee
Nothing is too difficult for Thee
Great and mighty God
Great in counsel and mighty in deed

Nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing
Nothing is too difficult for Thee


IN HIM WE LIVE

In him we live and move and have our being
In him we live and move and have our being

Make a joyful noise
Sing unto the Lord
Tell Him of your love
Dance before him
Make a joyful noise
Sing unto the Lord
Tell Him of your love
Hallelujah


I WILL ENTER HIS GATES

I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart
I will enter his courts with praise
I will say this is the day That the lord has made
I will rejoice for he has made me glad

He has made me glad
He has made me glad
I will rejoice for he has made me glad, glad, glad

He has made me glad
He has made me glad
I will rejoice for he has made me glad


WE WILL WORSHIP

We will worship the Lamb of glory
We will worship the King of kings
We will worship the Lamb of glory
We will worship the King

And with our hands lifted high,
We will worship and sing
With our hands lifted high,
We come before You rejoicing.
With our hands lifted high
To the sky
When the world wonders why

We'll just tell them we're loving our King...Oh
We'll just tell them we're loving our King

We bless the name of the Lamb of glory
We bless the name of the King of kings
We bless the name of the Lamb of glory
We bless the name of the King


Lord, thank you that because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we are able to come boldly into your presence and cry out, "Abba, Father! Holy is your name! You are great and greatly to be praised! You are glorious, full of splendor and majesty! And there is nothing in heaven or on earth that can compare with you."

Speak to us through your Word. Teach us your ways and your thoughts, and may we thereby be drawn closer to you.

Amen.


You may be seated.


Today's message is titled, "Ideas, Opinions, and Beliefs."

Every one of us has all three of these. But I believe they are often mixed up, ideas becoming opinions and opinions becoming beliefs.

Let's begin by reading from the book of Colossians, chapter two, starting with verse one.


1 For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many  as have not seen my face in the flesh,
2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of  the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father  and of Christ,
3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

4 Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words.
5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order  and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.

6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it  with thanksgiving.

8 Beware lest anyone cheat (deceive) you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the  tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;
10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.


Obviously Paul is concerned about the body of believers to whom he first wrote this letter. They had teachers and preachers telling them they needed to follow the letter of the law, rather than the spirit.

He encourages them, and us, to walk in Jesus just as we received him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith.

Then he gives them a strong warning to beware that no one cheat them, or deceive them, through philosophy, through convincing arguments, teaching the tradition of men.

Paul points out here that their teachings are according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

Take a look at the major religions of the world. There are outer rituals, traditions, religious rites, which are performed in order to advance spiritually and please their deity.

And Paul warned them against such an approach to their relationship with God through Christ. And he goes on, starting in verse eleven, to explain this a little further.

He begins with the example of circumcision, which was a hot debate in some circles at that time. The Old Testament law stated that males must be circumcised. And yet Paul explains here the role of these traditions and laws when he says,


11 In (Jesus) you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the  body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working  of God, who raised Him from the dead.
13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive  together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us.  And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over  them in it.


So we see here that these spiritual laws concerning outer things all symbolized spiritual laws concerning matters of the heart. He then goes on to say,


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.
18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels,  intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints  and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.

20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living  in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—
21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”
22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines  of men?
23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and  neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.


Here Scripture plainly states that the laws concerning clean and unclean food and drink, festivals, new moons, and sabaths, are only shadows of things to come, the substance of those things being Jesus.


Yet even today we see this mindset of legalism and tradition taught, often vehimently.

Some say that Saturday is the only correct day to worship, and some have gone so far as to claim that Sunday worship is the mark of the beast. And yet this passage clearly mentions sabbaths as one of the things that are only a shadow, and that we are not supposed to let anyone judge us about such things.

Others say that we can worship only in certain orderly fashions, or God will somehow be offended by our unruly conduct. And yet Jesus tells us that God seeks after worshipers who worship him not according to some tradition of men, but in spirit and in truth, with everything that is in them, with their whole strength, mind, and soul.

We could go on and on with endless examples, and I'm sure most of us in here could contribute to that list. But the point is plain, that these things are vain, they are off-base, they are deception, self-imposed religion, and false humility. Surely this is what Jesus meant when he warned the disciples to "beware of the leaven of the Pharisees."

After all, even the smallest foxes still spoil the grapes. The statement that "Hell isn't eternal, you simply burn up and cease to exist," could be considered only an inconsequential difference of belief. Yet to those who use this notion to aleviate their fear of living in sin, thinking a temporary time of suffering in a temporary hell is worth the pleasures of sin for a season, and who as a result ends up in eternal torment, to THAT person this is not such a harmless difference in point of view.

True unity cannot exist, and will be replaced by only false unity, as long as we hold to such dividing ideas such as this.

To use another example, how can we have peace and unity if we believe that those who meet for worship on Sunday have taken the mark of the beast, and are therefore eternally lost?

We need to work together with those who are teachable and who have the spirit of humility, and call issues of error into question. After all, if someone truly believes I am living in sin by eating pork chops, they are under Scriptural obligation to come to me privately and share their concerns. And I would hope that they will take Scripture as a whole and be set free from the letter, which kills, and walk instead in the spirit, which brings life.


Today we're going to focus on the meaning of the phrase Paul uses in the passage we just read, telling us to be "rooted and built up in (Jesus) and established in the faith."

I believe there are three questions we should ask ourselves, or statements by which we should live, on a daily basis; and these will help us avoid many deceptions and will help to keep us on the right path.

And the first one is this:

1. Know what you believe

What do you believe, for example, about sexual activity? Do you believe it's reserved strictly for one man and one woman who are joined in Holy Matrimony for life? Or is it reserved for those who simply love each other? Or is it an open thing which can be shared by any consenting adults? Or perhaps even consenting children?

Some of you don't understand how this could be a matter of debate in a Christian circle. And it shouldn't be. But it is.

We could even take this a step further and ask, what do you believe sexual activity is? Is it just a matter of the body, or is it also a matter of the mind and the heart?

Another example of knowing what you believe is concerning worship. What do you believe true worship is? What boundaries do you place upon it? What type of worship pleases or displeases God?

We could go on all day with endless examples, but the point is that it's vitally important to be able to recognize what is an idea, what is our opinion, and what is our belief. If we fall into the popular trap of believing our opinions and stating them as fact, we're greatly limiting our ability to see the truth, and we aren't going to help anyone else see the truth either.

So it's important to know what you believe, and keep your opinions as opinions, staying open in your mind and in your conversation to scrutiny and change.


This leads us to the second statement, which is this:

2. Know why you believe it

If I believe something simply because it "seems right," then my foundation of believe is no better than that of a house on the sand. That ill-founded belief may stand strong and erect for the rest of my life, but is it a home for the Holy Spirit and a structure through which he can move, or is it a hinderance to truth and the work God wishes to do in and through us?

Proverbs tells us that there is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is death. It also tells us that every man's way is right in his own eyes.

So feeling as though something is right or wrong isn't sufficient for adopting an opinion as a belief.

It's vital that we know WHY we believe what we believe, and then if we don't come up with the right answer why, then let's immediately demote that belief to either an opinion or just an idea.


Third and lastly, we need to be sure of this:

3. Know what Scripture really says about it

If we don't know why we have an opinion or idea, we need to study the Scriptures.

If our opinion or idea is not supported by all of Scripture, and in perfect harmony with it, then we need to make sure it's not a belief, but just an idea.

If our opinion or idea is in oposition to or disharmony with Scripture, we need to completely reject it as false and replace it with the Word of God.

And it's important to realize that even having Scriptures to back up our opinion isn't necessarily enough to prove that opinion as a belief.

Take for example the issue of Trinity versus Oneness. The first states that God is three persons in one. Oneness, however, states that God is one person and manifests himself in different roles.

At first glance, this seems like a simple difference of interpretation. And the one holding to the Oneness doctrine could easily quote numerous Scriptures mentioning the oneness of God.

Yet simply quoting Scriptures that alone seem to support an opinion is not enough.

I've heard the fictitious story of a woman who was very troubled and was seeking for direction from God. She suddenly had the idea, which she supposed was the leading of the Holy Spirit, to open up her Bible and read the first thing on which her eyes fell.

She grabbed her Bible and opened the pages. Her eyes fell upon Matthew chapter 27, and after reading verse 5, she said, "Judas hung himself... How odd... What could this mean?"

After a moment of pondering, she again felt the urge to open to another scripture. She turned to Luke 10:37 and read the last of the verse. A bit stunned, she read it again out loud, "Go and do thou likewise... Lord, you want me to hang myself?"

Wanting to make sure this was God, and remembering that just as there is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so there must be three Scriptures that would complete the message from God, she turned the pages one more time, this time to John 13:27, where she read aloud, "What you must do, do quickly."


This is, of course, an exagerated example. Yet, we all too often follow a similar approach when turning our opinions into beliefs, or holding onto beliefs we already have.

If the one who believes there is no Trinity would simply read other both related and seemingly unrelated Scriptures and take them as a whole, the idea that God only played the role of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, deflates quite quickly.


We could apply this same principle to any false belief, including the role and nature of sexualily, the way to please God with true worship, whether instruments in worship please or displease God, whether worshiping God on Sunday is the mark of the beast, a personal choice, or perhaps the prefered day just as is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

So when deciding what we believe, and every time a belief comes to the surface, let's ask ourselves, "Do I really believe this? If so, why do I believe this, and what does Scripture really say about it?" And with humility and with a holistic study of Scripture, I believe our more serious deceptions will begin to melt away.


God does call us to morality and holiness. He calls us to live lives of purity and integrity. And most of all, he calls us into a personal love relationship with him, one that is above and central to all others and all else.

And yet our Scripture passage ends with an exortation to not get trapped in the "do not touch, do not taste, do not handle" of those things which are simply shadows of deeper matters of the heart.


It's important to keep in mind that we may never agree on everything until Jesus comes and we see him face to face, knowing just as fully as he knows us. And if you disagree with me, I should not react with a haughty attitude, but should explore the Scriptures with you in humility.

But the Word of God, the Bible, is not open to private interpretation, or to re-interpretation, or to picking and choosing what we do and don't accept. And knowing what we believe, why we believe it, and what Scripture really says about it, is a vital piece of the puzzel, and is a prerequisite to true unity, doctrinal solidity, and spiritual growth.

If we approach the Bible as a religious rule book full of rites and rituals, we're more likely to not quite understand the intended meaning of what we're reading.

On the other hand, if we approach the Bible as a revelation of God, as a diary of his interactions with mankind, as a mirror to show us the true state of our souls, and as a guide to having a deep, personal, thriving relationship with Jesus that is unhindered by pride and the other sins that so easily beset us, then it will come alive to us, and as we keep our eyes on Jesus, his Holy Spirit will feed us and teach us, guiding us into truth, and knitting us together in true unity of the Spirit and of the Word.


Lord, thank you for your Word which you have given to and preserved for us, a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.

Thank you that even when we do completely miss the boat, you walk to us on the water, stretching out your hand to save us. May we cry out to you to save us, to lead us, to guide us into true unity, and into truth.


The ministry team can come to the front now, and this altar is open. If you'd like someone to pray or speak with you, just step out of your seat and Instant Message one of the ministers at the altar.

If you don't know Jesus, today is your day to begin a personal relationship with him, and we are excited about introducing you to him. Just come to the front and let one of us know that you want to meet Jesus.

For the rest of you, feel free to make your way to the fellowship room to your left, and we'll all meet there for fellowship after this time of ministry.

Now may God bless you and keep you, may his Holy Spirit surround you and fill you, may every moment of your days to come be immersed in his presence. Amen.