Posted on 03/07/2010 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
I am writing to ask for a prayer request in regard to a man named Bill. Please pray with me for his salvation, and for those in his life who don't know Jesus, or how much He truly loves them. I am not in a position to witness to this man personally, but others have been contacted to this regard. Please ask the Lord to extend His spirit to facilitate and lead a conversational witness through anyone whom He may choose. Please ask God to extend His grace toward Bill, doing everything needed to chase him, overcome his pride, lift the veil from his eyes, bring conviction to his heart and show him his need for a Savior. Like us all, Bill has made some mistakes, and has unfortunately had some tragic things to happen in his life. I fear his heart has hardened. He and his loved ones need knowledge about God's love, His grace, His glory, His offer of forgiveness, healing, deliverance, and protection--especially now because at this time Bill needs release from addictive vulnerabilities, depression, and is in danger of influence by unbelievers (who also need prayer) whose worldly beliefs stand in opposition to God's word. Please ask the Lord to surround Bill with believers who can minister to him, and that He may use the challenges Bill has endured to further the kingdom and lead him to salvation; then, that others will see and also be pointed to Christ by what God does in Bill's life. In His mercies, Sarah S.
Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.
I LOVE TO BE IN YOUR PRESENCE
I love to be in Your presence
With Your people singing praises
I love to stand and rejoice
Lift my hands and raise my voice
You set my feet to dancing
You fill my heart with song
You give me reason to rejoice
TREES OF THE FIELD
You shall go out with joy
And be let forth with peace
And the mountains and the hills
Will break forth before you
There'll be shouts of joy
And all the trees of the fields
Will clap, will clap their hands
And all the trees of the fields
will clap their hands
The trees of the fields will clap their hands
The trees of the fields will clap their hands
While you go out with joy
Amazing love, how can it be?
That You, my King would die for me?
Amazing love, I know it's true.
It's my joy to honor You,
In all I do,
I honor You.
You are my King, Jesus
You are my King
If the Son has set you free,
you are free indeed!
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
Today, I'd like for us to talk about skepticism, but in a different way than usual. When we think of skepticism, we tend to think of these definitions:
Agnosticism; disbelief; faithlessness; indecision; uncertainty; distrust; unbelieving.
All of these are synonyms of skepticism. But today, when we talk about skepticism, let's keep in mind the following synonyms of the word:
Questioning, probing, and testing.
While an antonym of skepticism is faith, HEALTHY skepticism is NOT the opposite of faith; instead, the only type of skepticism the Bible does not condemn is the type that searches the Word of God to confirm what is being said, BECAUSE of faith.
If we have faith in the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, then won't we open its pages every time we hear a teaching or an idea?
Think about it: if we lack faith in the Word of God, then we will judge doctrine by how it adds up intellectually, or how it makes us feel. But if we have complete faith in the Scriptures, then we will turn to it to tell us whether something we're seeing, hearing, or reading is true.
And that's the title of today's message: "Healthy Skepticism."
Healthy skepticism. I think we have far too little of it today. Instead, the Church is plagued with UNhealthy skepticism. We constantly question the Word of God and its authority and relevance in our lives today, while we swallow teachings that contradict what the Bible says.
Here's an example:
Consider the teaching that practicing homosexuality is a sin and that those who don't turn away from such a lifestyle will end up in hell. Some people hear this and become instant skeptics. True, the Bible says straight out that homosexuals will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. But the unhealthy skeptic will doubt whether that really means what it says, or whether it applies to us today, or whether that part of the Bible is even true.
On the other hand, the same person might hear the teaching that every single person on earth has a guardian angel, and these people simply believe it's true.
That's an example of a skeptic who fits the synonyms of the word as a doubter who is lacking faith.
How would a HEALTHY skeptic react to those two teachings? Well, he or she would first of all read the Scripture reference for him or herself -- 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (KMV) says,
9 Don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,
10 Nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
Having seen this in the Holy Scriptures, they would reject the teaching that says homosexuality is okay, simply because they have complete faith in the Word of God.
Next, they would question the teaching that says everyone has a guardian angel. And HOW would they question it? Well, they would once again turn to the Word of God.
Hebrews 1:14 (KMV) says this about angels:
14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those who will be heirs of salvation?
Not everyone will inherit salvation. In fact, most people will reject it. This verse says that ALL angels are sent to those who will be heirs of salvation.
Unless the healthy skeptic reads something else in Scripture that sheds a different light on that verse, they will reject the teaching as FALSE that everyone has a guardian angel.
You see, the healthy skeptic is a skeptic BECAUSE he or she has faith in the Word of God.
For the same reason, like we talked about last week, they are skeptical of their own thoughts that disagree with God's Word.
For example, they might see some sort of personality trait, some way in which they react to people or things that happen, some sort of feeling they frequently have, or thoughts that go through their head, and because they are studying the Word of God daily, they realize they have some sort of thought pattern that disagrees with the Scriptures.
So they doubt their own thoughts. They doubt their own feelings. They doubt their own fears. They even doubt their own doubts. They are a healthy skeptic, a faithful skeptic, and they judge the truth of EVERYTHING by how it lines up with what is written in the Holy Bible.
Has anyone ever told you that you need to be more open minded? Or have you ever said or thought that about someone else? Well, for the person who doubts the Word of God, that statement is true. But for the person who is a healthy skeptic and doubts everything until it's confirmed by God's Word, that statement could not be further from the truth.
But a lot of people are fooled by the thought that they need to be more open minded. And so they become at least just a little bit close-minded to the Word of God, to the only reliable sourch of truth, and they become open-minded to things which are false.
If you tell someone that the Bible says such-and-such, so this or that teaching is false, and they say that you need to be more open minded, stop and think for just a moment; without knowing it, they are REALLY saying that you need to be more accepting of things that are false, and that you need to doubt the Word of God.
So in this case, "You need to be more open minded" really means "You need to doubt God and entertain lies."
It's the same old crafty trick satan used in the Garden to deceive mankind. "Has God really said?" "God knows it will make you wise." And the woman bought it. And the man just let it happen and ate the forbidden fruit as well.
The serpant in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil could have just as well said, "Is that really what God meant? Do you really believe Adam got it right? You are so narrow minded. You need to open your mind to other possibilities. You need to become more open minded. That's the only way you can become wise; otherwise, you're close-minded, bigoted, and just plain stupid for not questioning what you think God has said."
He really hasn't changed his tactics. He doesn't need to. We fall for the same stuff over and over and over. Our human pride says, "Well no, I'm not close minded! I'll prove it to you and to myself. Maybe that part of the Bible doesn't really mean what it says. Maybe another part of the Bible isn't true. Maybe those things in the Scriptures were just for that time, and they no longer apply to us today."
The truth of the matter is that to become open minded to things that question or disagree with God's Word is to become close minded to the truth God has already written. But the wise man or woman of God will be close minded to anything until they confirm it with the Word of God, because they are completely open minded to "thus says the Lord."
They have faith. They LIVE by faith. And they realize that, as Romans 14:23 says, whatever is not of faith is sin. Faith in what? In God. And in his Holy Word.
They know that Romans 10:17 says that "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." So they know that in order to live by faith and be righteous, they have to hear and accept God's Word. Otherwise, they are doubters, faithless and weak, and the enemy can twist and turn their minds and their lives any way he pleases.
Are you skeptical of the Holy Scriptures? Or are you a healthy skeptic, one who believes only what agrees with the Word of God, while rejecting everything else as a lie?
To believe the truth and reject all lies isn't close minded; rather, it's the only thing that makes any sense.
Once you start doubting the Word of God, you're on a downhill journey, one that leads to death. You can turn around and go the other way by the Spirit of God and agreeing with Him by your choice. But if you continue to compromise your faith in God and His Holy Word, your end isn't pretty. And you will spend eternity with all other doubters, with the faithless, with all the other transgressors who have rejected the truth.
Are you a healthy skeptic? Or a skeptic who is a doubter?
The choice is yours. And it's a matter of what you consistently choose to do.
You see, the flesh, the fallen, carnal human nature inside you, is a doubting skeptic, while the new nature of Christ in you is a healthy skeptic who doubts everything God has not said, and rejects everything that goes against what He has written.
You can keep obeying the flesh, or you can keep obeying the Spirit. The more you yeild to your flesh, the stronger it gets, while the more you yeild to the Spirit, the weaker the flesh gets.
The two will always be at war, as Galatians 5:17 (KMV) says,
17 For the flesh sets its desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are contrary to each other, so that you cannot do the things that you have resolved to do.
But the verse before that one says this: "This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfil the desires of the flesh."
Walk in the Spirit. What does that mean? Walk in the Spirit. Well, when you are walking in the Spirit, you are going where the Spirit goes, doing what the Spirit does, saying what the Spirit says, believing what the Spirit believes, rejecting what the Spirit rejects.
If you're walking in the flesh, it's a very different picture. You struggle with confusion. You keep falling to the same old things. You fight with doubt. You question the Word of God. You are swayed by accusations that you are close minded because you judge all truth by how it lines up with God's Word.
In Acts 17:11 (KMV), we read this about the Bereans:
11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with all eagerness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
The word "noble" means well-born, part of a noble family, or noble-minded, which is to have a greater mindset. The world tries to belittle the noble-minded. But the mind of the world is inferior. It is of a "lesser mindset."
The Word of God says that we are of a "greater mindset" if we judge all things by the Holy Scriptures. This implies that those who do NOT judge all things by the Holy Scriptures, searching the Scriptures daily to judge truth, those who do NOT approach everything this way are of a "lesser" mindset.
So just remember that next time someone tries to paint fundamentalist, Bible-believing Christians as inferior: they are speaking from fleshly pride, the proud flesh who, although it is always wrong and is a complete idiot, is convinced that it is superior to all.
The flesh. The foolish flesh. The proud, foolish, idiot flesh. The twisted way it sees things are, to it, the only reasonable way to see -- and everything else is stupid, or so it thinks.
"You are stupid if you refute the overwhealming evidence that the earth is millions of years old." Oh really? Well, the truth of the matter is that the first step to true knowledge, as Proverbs 1:7 says, is the fear of the Lord. And if you fear the Lord, you will believe his Word.
His Word says that there were seven days of creation, each day consisting of one morning and one evening. The inferior mind of the flesh will try to explain that away, because it's fooled by the pro-evolutionary propaganda. But the superior mind of the Spirit simply believes the Word of God is true. And in the end, the self-absorbed mind of the flesh will be revealed as the fool.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that those who have doubted the Bible are idiots, and I'm not saying faithful Christians are somehow mentally superior.
What I AM saying is that the mind of the Holy Spirit is FAR superior to the carnal human mind, and that the mindset of our fallen human natures is utter stupidity compared to the mind of God.
As God says in Isaiah 55:8-9 (KMV),
8 "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," says the LORD.
9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."
What is the Word of God? It is the mind of God. And it is higher than our thoughts and our ways. It is superior, while everything that disagrees with it is inferior.
And that makes some people mad. All the nerve, to thing that the words of God, or the words people THINK are God's, are higher than the conclusions of science and of the great human mind.
Well, let each person be convinced in his own mind. The mind of the fool will reject the superiority of the Word of God. After all, the flesh is at constant war with the Spirit. These two will NEVER agree. The mind of the flesh will always think it is superior to the Word of God, and the Word of God will always show itself true in the end.
That's just the way it is.
The mind of the flesh will be afraid, then it will make excuses, then it will make arguments; then, emboldened by its own thoughts, it will start to ridicule, deny, and ultimately reject what is written in the Holy Scriptures.
That's because the flesh is a fool, and all those who follow it are following foolishness.
And let's face it. We've all been fools. We all still do foolish things. We doubt the perfect mind of God and instead entertain the babblings of the blind, drooling, self-obsessed mind of the flesh.
But we're being changed. From glory to glory. Into the image of God's Son, Jesus Christ.
At least, as long as we're looking into God's glory, instead of into our own; and God's glory is written on every single page of the Holy Scriptures. It is wisdom. It is knowledge. It is truth. And it is life.
As 1 Corinthians 3:18-19 (KMV) says,
18 Let no one deceive himself. If any one among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their own craftiness."
Have you been wise according to the thinking of the world? Have you agreed with the mind of the flesh? Have you doubted the Word of God? Have you accepted things as true without first searching the Scriptures to see if those things are so?
This altar is open. And as those on the ministry team come stand at the front, I'd like to give you an invitation.
Maybe you have never completely accepted the truth of all of God's Word. Well, today is the day of Salvation. Today is your day to come to the foot of the cross. To acknowledge the foolishness of your own great wisdom. And to embrace the foolish wisdom of the cross.
Maybe you've accepted or rejected teachings based upon how much sense they make, or how they make you feel, instead of upon how they agree with the Holy Scriptures. Well, today is the day to, as Romans 3:4 says, "let God be true, and every man a liar."
Maybe you've been slack in watching what you agree with in your mind, your thoughts, your feelings, your attitudes, and in guarding what you allow into your heart. Well, today is your day to commit yourself to becoming a healthy skeptic, holding everything up to the standard of God's Holy Word, and rejecting everything that does not agree with it completely.
If you believe God is speaking to you today, you're all invited to get out of your seats and come gather at the front for a time of prayer, comittment, and ministry.
Whenever you need to go, you're dismissed. If you can stay for awhile, we'll have a time of fellowship in a bit over in the room to your left, and you're all invited.
Come. Let's gather at the altar. And let's get this thing right. The time is too short to be messing around in the inferior mindset of the flesh, entertaining the thinking of the world. Let's get serious about how we handle our lives and what we think and believe, and make sure that, instead of trying to drag God down to our standard, we reject everything that falls short of his.
Lord God, thank you for your Word, and for challenging us by what it says. Thank you that we are changed not by our own strength, but by the power of your Holy Spirit.
Come now and work in us. Change our hearts. Change our minds. And change our lives, so we please you more as we become healthy skeptics who doubt everything until we see that it lines up with your Holy Word.
And it's in Jesus' name we pray.