Authentic (part 2) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, August 25, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 21:18-22, 28-32.  This message was part 2 in the “Authentic” sermon series.  Below, you will find questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.


Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 21:18-22, 28-32
  3. What are some examples you can think of where an “imitation” has proven hurtful to you in your life?
  4. Think of your experience with religion (particularly Christian religion) in your past.  What are some of the activities you have seen Christians do that could have the possibility of being merely a “leaf” (having the appearance of godliness, but no real substance behind it)?  In your experience, how can you tell if someone’s relationship with God (including your own) is bearing the “fruit” of authenticity?
  5. On a scale of 1-10 (where “1” is non-existent and “10” is exemplary), how would you rate your prayer life right now?  What is the correlation you see between an authentic faith and going before the Lord in prayer?  What is one thing you can do to increase your dependence upon the Lord in prayer?
  6. In the parable Jesus tells of the two sons in 21:28-32, which of the two sons do you resonate with the most?  (NOTE:  We ALL can be the “obedient” son if we simply choose to respond in faith to Jesus today!)
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Authentic (part 2) Sermon Preview

One of the realities of living in our world is dealing with imitations.  

Often, imitations are merely benign alternatives to an original recipe . . . things like:

  • The generic “Dr. Thunder” as a cheaper alternative to Dr. Pepper.
  • The Knights of the Roundtable clothing label as a less expensive Polo.
  • (or my personal favorite) “Stars and Bucks” Coffee shop that I saw in Bethlehem in the West Bank (since it seems Starbucks has not yet expanded to that region!)

These copies are harmless . . . or even beneficial, providing clothing and soft drinks at more affordable prices.  

However, not all imitations are as pain free:

  • I have a friend who received a counterfeit hundred dollar bill at his garage sale.
  • I know many who have been solicited over the phone or by email from someone pretending to be the Social Security Administration or a Utility Company, requesting personal information so they can “help” you.

In these instances, great harm comes from the imposter . . . who looks friendly, but actually is up to no good.

In the first century, Jesus (the authentic Son of God) came into the world to seek and to save the lost.  Upon His arrival, Jesus encounters a brand of imitation religiosity that filled the cup and clothed the bodies of many of His fellow countrymen.  Having a form of “godliness” these contemporaries to Jesus practiced a religion with great pomp and circumstance, but upon further examination, they were exposed as a self-righteous imitation of genuine faith.  To make matters worse, the nature of their counterfeit put themselves (and those under their care) at risk of great harm when judgment would come.  Because Jesus cared for these people, and because He wanted to give them a chance to repent, He spoke forcefully and directly about their condition and where it was headed.  

Though we live 2,000 years later, nothing has changed about the human condition.  People today are just as sinful as they were 2,000 years ago, AND religious people today are just as capable to dealing in imitations than professing an authentic faith.  

What makes the difference between imitation religion and authentic faith in God?  How can we pursue authenticity in our relationship with God . . . and what is at stake?

These are just a few of the questions we will be tackling in part 2 of our “Authentic” sermon series this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church.  We will be looking at Matthew 21:18-22, 28-32.  We look forward to seeing you Sunday in our 9:45 or 11:00 service. 

Authentic (part 1) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, August 18, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on Matthew 21:12-17.  This message was part 1 of the “Authentic” sermon series.  Below you will find the audio from the sermon to listen to online, download, and share.

To listen offline, click the link to download:

Authentic #1 8.18.19


To listen online, use the media player below:


To watch the worship service, visit our Facebook stream here.


Also, included in the worship service today, were video tributes to Bruce Hess (celebrating his 40 years in ministry).  Those tributes are found below:

Authentic – Part 1 Sermon Preview

Have you ever known someone who rejected Jesus Christ because of an experience they had with organized religion or with someone who was a Christian?  You know, walked away from church because of the treatment they experienced there?  Ever talked to someone who chose agnosticism or atheism or some other “ism” because of what they saw as legalism or hypocritical behavior on the part of a Christian they knew?  Do you know anyone that this describes?  Does it describe you?

Friends, as I read the New Testament, I am so encouraged (and challenged) by what I see.  Jesus Christ – the Son of Man, Son of God, Savior of the World – walked into a world full of religion and religious people.  He interacted with them, and they interacted with Him.  Their conversations are recorded for us on the pages of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.)  In the interactions that Jesus had with many of these religious folks, we find Him rebuking their behavior, not embracing it.  In one dramatic scene (that we will look at this Sunday at Wildwood Community Church in our morning sermon) He even turned over the tables of the religious elite and ran them out of the Temple because of what He saw.  Based on these accounts, do you know what I have concluded?

Jesus rejected the same version of religion that many people have walked away from today.

It is quite possible that the same things that have disgusted you about religion also have turned the stomach of the God those religions claim to worship!  Jesus came to “clean house” on religious corruption, while simultaneously “cleaning up” those who recognized their need for Him.

An authentic faith that pleases God is possible, by God’s grace, but demonstrating it requires that we avoid the imitations promoted by the religious leaders of the first century, and sadly by many today.  This Sunday (August 18) at Wildwood in our 9:45 and 11:00 services, we will be kicking off a new sermon series called “Authentic” by looking at Matthew 21:12-17 in pursuit together of a genuine and authentic faith.  Hope to see you Sunday as we begin a new school year/ministry year together!