For What Reason?

Posted on 09/27/2009 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


Public Prayer Requests:


Please remember Emily,18, who has been in a coma since a car accident 4 weeks ago.  Please also remember her family and friends.

Yours in His service,
Brother Bruce


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Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.

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I WALK BY FAITH

I walk by faith
 each step by faith
to live by faith
 I put my trust in you

I walk by faith
 each step by faith
to live by faith
 I put my trust in you

Every step I take
 is a step of faith
No weapon formed against me
 shall prosper
And every prayer I make
 is a prayer of faith
And if my God is for me
 who can be against me

HIS NAME IS JESUS

He is the King of Kings
He is the Lord of Lords
His name is Jesus, Jesus,
 Jesus, Jesus
Oh -- He is the King

...of Kings
He is the Lord of Lords
His name is Jesus, Jesus,
 Jesus, Jesus
Oh -- He is the King

His name is Jesus, Jesus,
 sad hearts we've no more
He can heal the broken hearted
 open wide the prizon doors
And he's able, yes he's able
 to deliver evermore

I STAND IN AWE

You are beautiful beyond description
 too marvelous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
 like nothing ever seen or heard

Who can grasp your infinite wisdom
 who can fathom the depth of your love
You are beautiful beyond description
 majesty enthroned above


I stand, I stand in awe of you
I stand, I stand in awe of you
Holy God to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of you

*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***


You know, the name of Jesus really is amazing; not because of the spelling or the sound -- after all, Jesus is the English translation of the name Yeshua -- but it's the power and authority behind that name. It's the PERSON behind that name -- not just what he has done or can do, but who he is.

And today, just like any time we meet here together, I hope and pray that no other name tries to share in his glory, for he is the only reason we've gathered here today. Amen?


The title of today's message is "For What Reason?" And I think sometimes this is a very good question to ask ourselves. For what reason?

We go to church, hopefully at least once a week. But for what reason?

We sing along in the praise and worship service. But for what reason?

Hopefully, we pray and read the Bible every day. But for what reason?

Today, I'd like for us to spend just a few minutes on this question, as we take it to the Word of God.

Holy Spirit, I ask that today you'd give us clarity and insight, so we will have a stronger sense of purpose and meaning in our lives and in our walk with you.


So, for what reason do we pray, study the Scriptures, come to church, and do all the things that are associated with the Christian life?

Those who study the religions of the world would tell you that we do these things because every religion has to have rituals and traditions, rules to live by, and things its followers do to make the religion real and personal to them.

But that only applies to religion. Actually, that only applies to FALSE religion.

The Bible talks very little about religion, and there is only one clear definition of true religion in Scripture that I know about, and it's found in James chapter 1 and verse 27:

James 1:27

27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Of course we could dig into this verse and find all sorts of costly treasures, and perhaps we'll do that some time soon. But what I'd like for us to notice today is that this does not say "pure religion is Christianity," but it mentions two things which sum up all our Christ-like activities -- caring for orphans and windows, and keeping ourselves unspotted from the world.

Perhaps someone might come to your mind who has left everything to go care for orphans. The first one I think of is Mother Theresa. Surely this verse would qualify her as having pure and undefiled religion.

But it does not. And before you start throwing virtual stones in an effort to kill my avatar for speaking negatively about someone the world regards as a saint, let's remember there are two main parts of this verse.

One has to do with what we do with others. The other has to do with what we do with ourselves.

We are to care for the widows and orphans, which Mother Theresa most certainly did. But we are also to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. This includes not only the sins, but the idolotry and false religious systems of the world.

Mother Theresa made this statement: "If in coming face to face with God we accept Him in our lives, then we are converting. We become a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a better Catholic, a better whatever we are. ... What God is in your mind you must accept."

She also said this: "I love all religions. ... If people become better Hindus, better Muslims, better Buddhists by our acts of love, then there is something else growing there."

So I'm sorry if this offends you, but Mother Theresa's religion, whatever it might have been, was impure and defiled. She let the world "off the hook" so to speak, validating every lie that says you don't have to reject all other Gods and surrender your life to Jesus Christ and him alone, and speaking in direct opposition to Jesus himself, who said that no one can come to the Father except through him.

In the context of today's topic, she did not have the correct answer to the question, "for what reason?" Instead, she gave glory to the god of many faces who can be reached by many paths. And no one who does not know the path can have entered it themselves.


For what reason? Let's turn back the pages of time, back to almost the very beginning of time.

God had created the earth, the stars, and sun and moon, and all the plants and animals. He had created man out of the dust of the earth and had breathed into his nostriles the breath of life.

He had formed a companion for Adam out of one of his ribs, and Adam had called her Woman.

And before they even had a chance to conceive new life in Eve's womb, sin enters the world through their disobedience to God.

And this is where we'll drop in on the scene, in Genesis chapter 3, verses 6 through 11.

Genesis 3:6-11 (NKJV)

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.
7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.


Notice that while Eve was the first to eat the forbidden fruit, it was not until Adam ate that the knowledge of good and evil manifested.

Verse 8:


8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.


This doesn't say that they knew it was God and hid themselves after he said something. And I don't think for a minute that God was some huge giant whose footsteps could be heard for miles.

Instead, I think they were so used to hearing God walking in the garden every day, that they knew it was him. Have you ever been so familiar with someone that you could recognize the way they walk? Maybe even the way they sing or hum a song as they move along?

God had a relationship with man. And it sounds as though God expected to see Adam. Could it be that they walked together every day? That they fellowshiped? That they had a close relationship?

Verse 9:


9 Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?"
10 So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself."
11 And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?"


Adam wasn't stupid. He was created in the image and likeness of God. He wasn't a cave man, a neanderthal, who carried a club and grunted. And that's because he didn't evolve from a monkey, but was created in God's image, and walked and talked with the creator of progress and intelligence every single day.

So Adam knew he wasn't wearing clothes. And this doesn't say Adam didn't know he was wearing clothes, but rather, that Adam knew he was naked.

And God asked him, "Who told you that you were naked?"

You see, the whole concept of "naked" didn't even exist in the world free from sin. But when man embraced a twisted, perverted sense of right and wrong, along with that sin came a new sense, a new knowledge, of what was right and what was wrong.

In a world without sin, clothes of some sort might be practical in some rare situations, but certainly would not be the result of the knowledge that you weren't wearing anything.

But in a world filled with sin and with sin-sick creatures, clothes suddenly become a very big part of the knowledge of what is good and of what is evil.

Now, I don't want to go too far off the main point of our Biblical excursion today, so let's get back to our question: "For what reason?"

What was the purpose of all the Old Testament rituals, laws, and practices? What was the reason Jesus came to earth to be the final blood sacrifice for our sins? What is the reason we are forgiven for our sins and are spiritually born again? What is the reason we pray and study the Word of God? What is the reason we turn away from sin and, with the power of the Holy Spirit, live lives that please God more and more? What is the reason we care for the widows and orphans? What is the reason we keep ourselves unspotted from the world? What is the reason we go to church, sing songs of praise and worship, turn to the Word of God for a corporate message to the Body of Christ, and then pray, minister, and fellowship with one another?

Adam had that purpose in the garden before sin. And mankind has struggled with it ever since. But in the garden, I think Adam didn't really realize what he had. And so when temptation came, he fell, and took all of creation with him.

But as soon as this happens, we see God walking in the garden, looking for Adam, and calling out, "Adam, where are you?"

God wasn't looking for Adam so he could do some kind of good work or perform some sort of religious ritual for him.

What does this say? It says they heard God walking in the cool of the day. It was a pleasant time. It was a time when God would walk with man, and man had nothing to hide and nothing to separate him from God.

But suddenly, unexpectedly, instead of just knowing he wasn't wearing anything besides his skin and hair, man now knows that something is badly wrong. He is ashamed to show his body, because his body and mind have been twisted and poluted by sin.

And what does he do? He hides from God.


Why do people hide from God today? It's because they don't want to be exposed, or they feel ashamed of their spiritual nakedness, and the fig leaves they have used to cover themselves just aren't enough.

Verse 21 tells us that God made clothes out of animal skins for Adam and Eve. And while these clothes covered the shame of their naked bodies, they could not cover the shame of their naked souls.

We see this demonstrated in Cain, as he becomes angry because God accepted his brother's sacrifice, but rejected his. Cain had covered his naked soul with pride. And in a fit of rage, he killed his brother.

And we see this demonstrated today, as we try to cover our naked souls with religion, with good deeds, with things that makes us look or feel spiritual, and perhaps with excuses and assurances that our lifestyles really aren't all that bad.

But just as Adam did in the beginning of time, so we too miss the point.

We just try to cover our emptiness and shame. We try to make ourselves feel covered and clothed. But we are missing the point. We just don't seem to realize that we lost much more than the freedom to walk unashamed; we fail to realize that we also lost the ability to walk in the cool of the day with God.

Adam wasn't able to walk with God because he had gone to church, or because he had sung in the choir, or because he had helped the needy, or because he had prayed and read his Bible. Instead, Adam was able to walk with God simply because.

God came down in the most pleasant time of the day, and Adam walked with him. That's just the way it was. God was both his creator and his friend.


Since that time, mankind, for the most part, has lost his desire to walk with God; or, at least, it has been burried deep inside and covered up with other things.

But it was man who lost his clarity of vision, not God. It was man who changed that day, not God. You see, God didn't lose his desire to walk in the cool of the day with man.

We see this just two chapters later, in Genesis chapter 5, starting with verse 21:

Genesis 5:21-24

21 Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah.
22 After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters.
23 So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years.
24 And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

Enoch walked with God. I don't know how this was so. We know that Abel made sacrifices to God that pleased him, so perhaps there was some sort of atonement there; but the point is that Enoch walked with God, and God was so delighted with that relationship, that he took him from the earth.

Some people think alien abductions are exciting; but this is the real thing, and a God abduction at that!

This happened again in 2 Kings chapter 2 and verse 11:

2 Kings 2:11

11 Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

If that were to happen today, it would definitely be reported as an alien visitation. Sadly, God is indeed alien to us today.

But that's just because of our nature of sin, and because we simply don't realize what an amazing thing it is to walk with God.


So why did Jesus die on the cross to pay for our sins? It is for the same reason Adam no longer walked with God. You see, God is completely holy and just, and since sin cannot be in his presence, our sin separates us from God.

You cannot hold on to sin and walk with God. And if sin holds on to you, you cannot walk with God.

There are people, some of whom have followers here in the virtual world, who claim we can walk with God while walking in a lifestyle the Bible clearly says is sinful.

But if you're hearing from a spiritual being who does not convict you of your sin, then that's not the voice of God, and you need to reject that lying spirit and command it to leave you in Jesus' name.


Walking with God. It's such an amazing thing. Nothing compares to it. And once you've experienced such a relationship, you'll realize that life is empty and miserable without it.

Jesus died so we could walk with God. God forgives us of our sins and gives us his Holy Spirit so we can walk with him. We pray every day because this is a vital part of walking with God. We read and study the Bible because it is the Word of God, and we cannot walk with someone very long without hearing their voice. We go to church regularly because Jesus told us his sheep hear his voice and follow, and we want to be with his sheep, for that is where the shepherd is. We sing songs of praise and worship because, as the Bible tells us, God lives in the praises of his people, and worship brings us close to him.

Even pure and undefiled religion, helping the widows and orphans, and keeping ourselves unspotted from the world, is not for the purpose of being religious, but it is so we can walk with God.


Have you ever heard someone say they used to live the Christian life, but have walked away or at least have strayed off the path?

They very well might have been missing the point. Obeying God is not some way to rack up points with him or to avoid going to hell.

Perhaps some of the people Jesus mentions in Matthew chapter 7 and verse 23 simply missed the point.

Matthew 7:21-23 says this:

21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
22 Many will say to Me in that day, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?"
23 And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!"

These aren't people outside the Church. In fact, they prophesied, they cast out demons, and performed many wonders -- not even in their own name, but in the name of Jesus Christ. But Jesus says to them, "I never knew you."

I never knew you. That word translated "knew" is the same word used by Mary when the angel told her she would conceive the Messiah and she said "how can this be, since I have not known a man?" It is an intimate knowledge.

It doesn't just mean, "I never knew anything about you," or, "We have never been introduced." Rather, it is more the type of "knowing" you would experience if you were to walk with God in the cool of the day.


If you walk with God, you will no longer worry about whether you're doing enough to stay out of hell, because you will have daily, intimate fellowship with heaven.

If you walk with God, you will be changed, day by day, into his image.

If you walk with God, he will lead and guide you, giving you wisdom when you run into situations that would leave most people sitting in the dark with their heads spinning.

If you walk with God, you won't have to talk yourself into going to church, or reading the Bible, or praying, because you will desire more and more of him.

And this is the answer to our question, "For what reason?" We do all this, because we want to walk closer with Jesus. We don't want anything to come in between us and him, and as the Holy Spirit reveals things to us that hinder his presence and our relationship with him, we sometimes painfully but always gladly let those things go, in exchange for the joy of knowing him more and walking closer with him.

Is this your heart's desire?

If not, then I challenge you to "taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!"

As James 4:8 says, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."

And when you meet in that quiet place, in the cool of the day, when you hear him walking and run in his direction crying out for mercy, then he will clothe you with his glory, and he will walk with you.


Anyone here today on the ministry team can come to the front now.


Perhaps you haven't yet given your life to Jesus, turned from your sins, and received forgiveness and a brand new life. Well, this is the first step on the path of walking with God.

If this is you, then don't wait another moment. Cry out to him right now; ask him for mercy, and to forgive you for your sins; ask him to wash your sins away, as you turn from them and agree to follow Jesus instead.

And if you've not been walking as closely with the Lord as you know you should, then don't wait for tomorrow. Draw closer to him today, right now.

This altar is open, and you're all invited to get out of your seat and come gather at the front.

If you'd like someone to pray or talk with you, you can instant message me or someone else on the ministry team.

If you need to go, you're free to do so, and I pray you
have a blessed week full of the presence of God.

If you can stay until after this time at the altar, you're invited to join us in the room to your life for a time of fellowship, and I look forward to seeing you there.

For now, come. Let's gather at the altar for a time of prayer, ministry, and worship. For we know "for what reason" we gather, and it is to walk ever closer with God!