Neither Will I Tell You

Posted on 05/20/2012 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:


*** there are no public prayer requests this week ***


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

*******


JEHOVAH JIREH

Jehovah Jireh, my provider
His grace is sufficient for me
(repeat)

My God shall supply all my needs
according to His riches in glory
He gives his angels charge over me
Jehovah Jireh cares for me,
Jehovah Jireh cares for me


SING A NEW SONG

Sing unto Lord a new song
sing unto the Lord all the earth
(repeat)

For God is great,
and greatly to be praised!
(repeat)


I CHOOSE TO WORSHIP

I could stand outside your gates
and never enter in
I could let this moment pass
and go my way again
I could just keep silent
and hold from you my praise
Or I could give my heart away

I choose to worship
I choose to love you
To reach out and touch your heart
I want to know you
Here in this moment
O I choose to worship you

I won't stand outside your gates
and never enter in
I won't let this moment pass
and go my way again
How can I keep silent
and hold from you my praise
Lord I give my heart away


I WORSHIP YOU

I worship you, Almighty God
there is none like you
I worship you, O Prince of Peace
that is all I want to do

I give you praise
for you are my righteousness
I worship you, Almighty God
there is none like you


THERE IS NONE LIKE YOU

There is none like you
no one else can
touch my heart like you do
I could search
for all eternity long and find
there is none like you


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


Today, I'd like for us to start by reading a passage from Luke chapter 20. This is one of Jesus' many encounters with the religious leaders of that day. Next, I'd like for us to take a closer look at some of the less obvious lessons we can learn from it.

Luke 20:1-8 (NKJV)

1 Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him
2 and spoke to Him, saying, "Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?"
3 But He answered and said to them, "I also will ask you one thing, and answer Me:
4 The baptism of John -- was it from heaven or from men?"
5 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say, 'Why then did you not believe him?'
6 But if we say, 'From men,' all the people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John was a prophet."
7 So they answered that they did not know where it was from.
8 And Jesus said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things."

And the title of today's message is, "Neither Will I Tell You."


First, we see that Jesus is "preaching the gospel." The word "gospel" means good news, specifically the good news of salvation -- reconciliation to God. Part of the definition for this word in the concordance relates to the kingdom of God, which is something about which Jesus spoke quite frequently.

But whatever Jesus was saying, as usual, it upset the religious leaders. They didn't like it when Jesus healed people. They didn't like it when Jesus cast out demons. They didn't like it when Jesus rose people from the dead. They didn't even like it when Jesus pointed people to the Father God.

They had issues. And they had issues with Jesus.

And as He proclaimed the good news of the kingdom, they once again were upset, and they asked Him, "By what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?"

I find it quite interesting that they didn't question what Jesus was saying; instead, they questioned His authority. And people do this today.

Take the atheists for example. They insist that all life came about by accident from non-living materials. When they're confronted with reasons why this cannot be, such as one of the foundational laws of biology, that life comes only from life, they frequently respond by saying that information comes from creationist website, and the authors of the material on those sites do not have the authority to make authoritative scientific claims.

Of course they don't use those words, but the meaning is the same. Instead of open-mindedly discussing the facts, they respond with a version of "by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?"

And for us, this question all to often is a show stopper. After all, the mainstream scientific community has determined that a form of spontaneous generation, while impossible today, was at some time in the past possible. Why? Because it HAS to have been. Why? Because there CANNOT be a God. Why? Because the people who have claimed there is do not have the scientific authority to make such an authoritative statement. "By what authority are you saying those things?"

They say we don't have scientific evidence of a Creator. And yet they don't have scientific evidence that life could have originated without one.

They say we can't see and touch God, so He cannot exist. And yet they cannot see life spontaneously errupting from non-living matter.

Of course that's just one example, just like atheist is just one world view. But this is a good place to start for us to understand this passage.

The religious leaders of Jesus' time refused to believe that what Jesus was saying could be true, and yet they were unable to prove it based on what He was actually saying; so they challenged His authority instead of His message. "By what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?"

And in verse three, we see Jesus' response:

3 But He answered and said to them, "I also will ask you one thing, and answer Me:
4 The baptism of John -- was it from heaven or from men?"

You see, Jesus knew full well that the religious leaders' quetion to Him was completely out of context. And He answered in the same way, as Proverbs 26:5 (KMV) says: "Answer a fool as his folly deserves, lest he be wise in his own eyes."

They were trying to shut Jesus up by challenging His authority, but Jesus turned the tables on them by asking them to comment on the authority of John the Baptist, because Jesus knew how they would respond. They tried to silence Him, but He silenced them instead.

Verse 3:

3 But He answered and said to them, "I also will ask you one thing, and answer Me:
4 The baptism of John -- was it from heaven or from men?"
5 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say, 'Why then did you not believe him?'
6 But if we say, 'From men,' all the people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John was a prophet."
7 So they answered that they did not know where it was from.

Jesus knew that that truth was not their focus, and it was not the reason they challenged His authority. Instead, they were trying to raise doubt in the minds of the people listening to Jesus, because they knew if the people doubted Him, their minds would start closing to His message.

You see, they weren't focused on the truth; they were focused on their standing with the people.

5 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say, 'Why then did you not believe him?'
6 But if we say, 'From men,' all the people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John was a prophet."

People haven't changed in the past 2,000 years, or in all of time for that matter; not in their sinful nature and in their heart. We choose what we believe based on the consensus of people we like or people who agree with us, or on our own feelings. And we who believe in God choose what we think He has or hasn't said based on the same things.

For example, the people in the practicing homosexual community who consider themselves Christians choose to believe that God does not condemn their sin. Many of them challenge the authority of Paul. "By what authority do you do these things?" And they challenge the authority of the Old Testament.

But those who choose to believe God accepts homosexuality have some sort of vested interest. Either they don't want to look like hateful bigots to the community or to themselves, of they have chosen a homosexual lifestyle or are strongly tempted to do so.

Just like the religious leaders had a vested interest in who the people believed.

And just like we have a vested interest in our views on marriage, or on what is sexually pure, or on what we should and shouldn't do with our time, or with our money, or with our bodies, or with our family and friends.

Take that vested interest out of the way, and the word of the Lord becomes a lot more clear.


How about our ability to hear God's voice or to discern what He's telling us through Scripture? There are LOTS of Christians who believe they hear God's voice and even more who believe they understand the Scriptures. But they disagree. And we know that God doesn't say conflicting things to different people. If He did, that would make Him a liar and a deceiver, and we all know which world-renouned spiritual being fits THAT description.

Of course there are simply misunderstandings, but many times it's because of a vested interest in having God say a certain thing, whether that interest is tradition, or our desire to believe a certain person or denomination, or something else.

And of course God HAS spoken to us -- every single one of us -- by His Spirit, by His word. But there's one more very important thing we need to learn about that from today's passage, and that one thing is found in verse eight:

8 And Jesus said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things."

And Jesus ended that sentence with "by what authority I do these things," because that's what they asked Him. But that sentence could end with pretty much anything.

"God, tell me what I should do in this situation." Has He already told you something? Maybe through His word? Maybe through the mouths of other people? If you're still asking, then chances are you are hoping to hear a different answer. And you know what? If you keep on listening for another answer, YOU WILL HEAR IT.

Probably not from God, but don't think you're so amazing that you can't think your own mind or an evil spirit is really the voice of God. Especially if you haven't been listening to what He's already been saying.

His answer just might be, "Neither will I tell you."

And this isn't limited to just accepting what God says. If we are not obeying what He says, then we are not REALLY accepting it. We are not REALLY listening.

"Neither will I tell you." "But God, I need to hear your voice!" "You haven't been listening to what I already said, which means you don't REALLY want to hear my voice unless I say what you want to hear. So neither will I tell you."


Now I am NOT suggesting that God will give us the silent treatment unless we're perfect and we always do things perfectly. But with time, we can become deaf to the true voice of God if we haven't been accepting and obeying what He's been saying to us. And if we have a vested interest in hearing Him say a certain thing, instead of letting everything go and searching only for His voice no matter how foreign to us it might be, then we can't really trust our spiritual ears, can we.


So what's the answer? Well, let's consider how Jesus responded to those who asked Him for the truth. If they were really searching for truth, He answered them.

And what do I mean by "really searching for truth?" Well, a few weeks ago after a service, someone said he wanted to ask a few questions. It turns out he was an atheist who was NOT searching for truth, but was trying to trap us into saying things that would enable him to prove there is no God. Even when those of us in the room answered some of his questions so thoroughly that there was no possible, reasonable way to hold on to what he was claiming, he either continued to go in circles or moved on to the next trap... er, question...

When he refused to stop preaching atheism and started getting rude and throwing insults at people, I finally ejected him. Of course some people would say I shouldn't have done that, but he wasn't open to the truth. He had a vested interest in believe there is and can be no God.

And sometimes without even realizing it, I think we can ask questions, either to other people or to God, and we're not open to what the truth actually is. We're either so convinced or so hoping the truth will be one thing, that we cannot or will not accept it when we hear something else.

I've been there myself. But looking back in time, I realize that deep, deep down, I knew I wasn't open to the truth unless that truth agreed with what I wanted to believe.


So what is the answer? How can we make sure we are open to the truth and we are hearing the voice of God?

First of all, we should let go of our vested interests. Let go of how you think an unpleasant truth would affect your life. Let go of the losses you think something would cause if it was true. Spend some time in prayer choosing to surrender those things to God, and He will help you let go.

And let go of your reasons and your excuses for not letting go. They're poison. They are your enemy.

Next, humble yourself. In your letting go, let go of your pride. It doesn't matter if you're right; all that matters is what God says, and how much glory He gets. And when you hold on to pride, you refuse glory to God in that area.

Finally, in this atmosphere of broken humility and no vested interests, forgetting your own self, leaving behind your own pain, your own agenda, your own reasons why such-and-such should be so... Without any of these things in the way, and with only a humble desire for the heart of God, as contrary to your own heart as it might seem, ask for the truth.

And when you seek in this way, you will find.


Let's close today's service with a time of prayer, worship, and ministry. After this time at the altar, you're invited to make your way out of the sanctuary, turn left, and join us in the Fellowship Room for a time of fellowship.

Whenever you need to leave, you're dismissed. And for now, you're all invited to get out of your seat and make your way to the front as we empty ourselves of ourselves, and open our hearts wide to hear, accept, and obey the voice of God.


Lord, we thank you for speaking to us by your word today. We ask that you help us to recognize and cast aside any and every thing that would cause us to not clearly hear, accept, and obey your voice and your word.

Draw each and every one of us into deeper times of intimacy with you are we go about the rest of this week, and continue to change us, from glory to glory, into the image of Your Son.

And it's in the name of Jesus we pray.

Amen.