Two More Minutes . . . 10/6/19

Two more minutes with Matthew 22:23-33 (part 3 of Wildwood‘s sermon series – “King of the Mountain”). . .

The Sadducees were an interesting mix of beliefs:

  • Politically, they were rather “pro-Roman.”  As the group that ran the Temple area in Jerusalem, they needed Roman support to maintain their powerful role in Jewish society.  
  • Financially, the Sadducees had turned the Temple into an enterprise that made them very wealthy (as we discussed when we looked at Jesus turning over the tables in the Temple in Matthew 21:12-17).
  • Biblically, the Sadducees considered their understanding of the Scriptures to be pure and undefiled.  Unlike the Pharisees who had embraced many rabbi’s teachings on the Scripture as authoritative, the Sadducees considered only the Scriptures themselves to be truly authoritative.  Strangely, in their effort to be “Bible based” the Sadducees reduced their Scriptures to ONLY the first 5 books of our Old Testament.  If something was not taught in Genesis – Deuteronomy, they did not consider it to be trustworthy.
  • Spiritually, the Sadducees were “earth-bound” in their thinking.  They did not believe in life after death, thinking the soul died with the body.  They also did not believe in the angelic realm (Acts 23:8).  

So, the Sadducees ask Jesus a question about the resurrection, attempting to show (what they believe) is the absurdity of the notion of new life after death.  Jesus answers the Sadducees . . . and (in a sense) He does so on their terms.  Using a key verse (Exodus 3:6) from one of the books they embraced (Exodus), Jesus argues for the resurrection of the dead.  This got me thinking . . .

Today, some have a high view of Jesus Christ, but a low view of much of the other Scriptures.  This position can turn into a “Sadduceean” perspective where the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) have more authority to some than the rest of the Scripture (the New Testament after the Gospels, and all of the Old Testament).  Some of these arguments ignore ethical teaching from the Epistles, prophecy from the Revelation, and the supernatural nature of many events in the Old Testament — clinging only to what Jesus taught in the Gospels — “Red Letter” Only (if you will). 

So let’s imagine that someone were to come to you and say that they have a “favorable view” of Jesus, but doubt the veracity of the Old Testament.  Could you answer them?  What would you say?  Well, using only the words of Jesus and the record of the Gospels, you can make a strong argument in favor of the historicity of some of the wildest Old Testament events:

  • Adam and Eve (Matthew 19:4-5)
  • Cain and Abel (Matthew 23:35)
  • Noah’s Ark (Luke 17:26, Matthew 24:37-39)
  • Abraham (John 8:56-58)
  • Lot & Sodom and Gomorrah (Luke 17:28-32)
  • Moses and the burning bush (Mark 12:26)
  • Israel eating manna in wilderness (John 6:32)
  • Brass serpent healing snake bits (John 3:14-15)
  • Elijah & Elisha’s miracles (Luke 4:25-27)
  • Jonah (Matthew 12:39-40)
  • Isaiah (Matthew 13:14)
  • Daniel (Matthew 24:15)

In Matthew 22:23-33, Jesus says, “Sadducees, you believe in Moses, but not the resurrection?  Look at what Moses said about the resurrection in Exodus 3:6!” 

Given what we see Jesus saying about the Old Testament, we could also say to modern day skeptics, “Skeptics, you believe in Jesus, but not the Old Testament?  Look at what Jesus says about Noah and the flood, Jonah and the fish, Moses and the burning bush, etc. in the Old Testament?”  

I am going to side with Jesus on all things.  I will take the word of the resurrected One concerning life after death . . . and I am going to take the word of the Eternal One about the things that happened long ago in the Old Testament.  

Even on “their terms” Jesus wins the day.

King of the Mountain (part 3) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, October 6, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 22:23-33.  This message was part 3 of the “King of the Mountain” series.  Below is the audio of the sermon to download, listen to, or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download:

King of the Mountain #3 10.06.19

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

 

Watch the Stream of the service on YouTube:

 

King of the Mountain (part 3) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, October 6, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 22:23-33.  This message was part 3 in the “King of the Mountain” series.  Below are a set of questions related to the message for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 22:23-33
  3. What are the hardest (in your opinion) questions you hear people asking about Jesus or Christianity?  
  4. The Sadducees question Jesus about a resurrection they do not believe in . . . because they hope to show the world how foolish it is to believe in something so supernatural.  Jesus’ response to them is summarized in Matthew 22:29.  What did the Sadducees “not understand” that led to their wrong understanding about the resurrection?
  5. Jesus shows from Scripture that the resurrection is real.  God’s commitment to His people endures even beyond the grave.  What comfort does this give you concerning those who have died before you?  How do you respond to this information in your life today?
  6. Can you think of an example where a wrong understanding of Scripture has led you (or someone you know) to a wrong conclusion about something important?
  7. The Sadducees were “earth bound” in their understanding.  They could not imagine God doing anything better than they could see and experience in this life.  This limitation prevented the Sadducees from correctly understanding the resurrection.  How do we limit God because we have an inadequate understanding of His power?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

 

To access these question in pdf format, click here.

King of the Mountain (part 3) Sermon Preview

We live in “echo chambers” today.  Did you know that?  Our world is polarized into red/blue, liberal/conservative, etc.  Today’s 500 channel satellite feeds and always on high speed internet connections have allowed us to dial in the sources of our information to our precise preconceptions.  This allows us to effectively “tune out” opposing viewpoints with the belief that “everyone” or at least “everyone sane” thinks like me.  After all, all my friends think like me, all my radio programs think like me, and all my media outlets think like me.  

Social media has only accentuated this condition.  Facebook, Twitter, and the like have fine tuned algorithms to give you only content that they think you will “like” while concealing other viewpoints.  

In some instances, if our beliefs are RIGHT, then this might help foster more RESOLVE (even if it diminishes the RESPECT we show others who are confused about a particular issue).  However, if we are wrong, these echo chambers can reinforce error making it hard for us to know the mistakes we are making.

While some of the particulars I share above are specific to our modern world, the “echo chamber” effect is as old as human civilizations.  In Matthew 22, we see a group of Sadducees (a group of theological liberals) who approach Jesus with a question they are SURE He will not be able to answer.  Why?  Because all their friends think their question disproves the resurrection . . . and all the conservative Pharisees of their day who have been asked this question have also struggled to answer it.  Their echo chamber had them feeling pretty smart as they approached Jesus in Matthew 22:23-33 with a question about “the resurrection” . . . an idea they thought was ridiculous.  When they ask Jesus this question, though, their echo chamber is punctured, and Truth and Light comes streaming in.  The “new” voice of Jesus is able to answer their question with power and certainty.  

The Sadducees problem was not that they had come up with an unanswerable question . . . it was that they were asking that question to the wrong Person.  Outside their echo chamber was an answer they needed to hear . . . if only they had come to Christ sooner . . . if only they had stayed with Him after the answer came.

This is an important concept for us.  Many have come up with what they think is an “unanswerable” question regarding Christianity:  

  • What about the flood, Noah, and the ark . . . are you serious?
  • Isn’t the New Testament full of errors?
  • Jesus as THE Way, THE Truth, and THE Life seems so closed minded in a pluralist world?
  • And many more questions. . . 

We have these questions.  Certain authors we read reinforce our belief that they undercut Christianity.  Our friends may even amen our skepticism or unbelief.  In our echo chambers, the arguments against the God of the Bible may seem iron clad.

But our problem is we are asking our questions to the wrong Person.  We can bring our questions to Jesus Himself.  The One who resurrected from the grave has the answers.

This Sunday, we will look at Jesus interactions with the Sadducees in Matthew 22:23-33 in part 3 of our King of the Mountain series.  I hope you can join us at Wildwood in our 9:45 or 11:00 service as we are reminded to bring our questions to Him.  See you Sunday!

Episode 11: This is Wildwood! For the Nations with John Carswell & Compassion International

Episode 11: This is Wildwood! For the Nations with John Carswell & Compassion International
For the Nations

 
 
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Hanging out with John Carswell from Compassion International on today’s episode.

At Wildwood we are “For the Nations” following Jesus together with us to the glory of God.  The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) is truly GREAT, and requires us to work together with many partners as we live out it’s calling.  One of the partnerships Wildwood has in world missions is Compassion International.  Wildwood has helped fund a church plant in Lagoa de Sao Francisco, Brazil in partnership with Compassion, and Wildwood members have sponsored 200 children who live in this community!  On today’s episode, I catch up with John Carswell who works with Compassion helping forge church partnerships.

 

  • To learn more about Compassion’s Ministry, visit their website here.
  • To learn more about Wildwood’s global outreach opportunities, including short term trips (like the one to Brazil in March 2020), click here.

Two More Minutes . . . 9/29/19

Here are two more minutes with “King of the Mountain” part 2 (Matthew 22:15-22) . . .

“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”  A few more bullet points on this distinction spelled out by Jesus for His followers living in a secular world:

  • As mentioned in the sermon, we are to pay taxes, pray for our leaders, obey the laws of the land, and respect our government leaders.  In short, followers of Jesus are to be model citizens on almost every level.  If this is true, then why have Christians found themselves opposed by human governments all over the world (whether it is in North Africa, China, India, or any number of other places where Christians face legal opposition today)?  The answer is found NOT in the “rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”, but in “rendering to God what is God’s.”  Secular governments should LOVE having Christians in their countries (if those Christians were following Jesus’ teaching on citizenship).   The problem is that governments do not generally like having ANY AUTHORITY that is over them . . . including the authority of a Sovereign God.  When Christians find themselves stuck between obeying God or obeying government they choose obeying God . . . which leads to the conflict.  What is interesting to me, though, is that JUST LIKE the follower of Christ cannot escape being a citizen of a particular country . . . so every human government cannot escape being in a universe that is governed by the Sovereign God.  The nations can rage, but the Lord still rules them all (check Psalm 2 to see this idea spelled out more clearly).
  • There is a difference between “legality” and “right and wrong.”  A human government can make laws about many things (marriage, abortion, guns, etc.)  but just because something is legal or illegal does not make it right or wrong.  God ultimately is the authority on our ethics, so we can live in a world where a behavior the Bible describes as sin is celebrated (and legal), but still believe that behavior is sinful.  Since the government is not God, we can both “pay the tax” of living in a particular nation, and still maintain a different personal code of conduct.  There is a difference between our God and our government.
  • If a Law is passed that is in direct opposition to a command of Scripture, what should I do?  The answer to this question is simple.  Obey God rather than man . . . and deal with the consequences.  Jesus’ disciples experienced this in Acts 5 when they were ordered by the local government to not tell anyone about Jesus.  This order by local government was in direct opposition to the great commission they had been given by Jesus Himself.  They chose to obey God rather than men.  It led to their imprisonment, beating, and death . . . but they were still right to disobey the human law to follow the Law of Christ.  There are not many instances in America today where we are required  by our government to disobey the Lord with our conduct, but that is not the case for our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.  As our culture becomes more secular, there will most likely be more instances (even in Oklahoma) where this principle will be put to the test.  Until that time, though, let us (as Christ Followers) be model citizens (render unto Caesar), while at the same time worshipping God alone (render unto God.)

King of the Mountain (part 2) Sermon Audio

On Sunday, September 29, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 22:15-22. This message was part 2 of the “King of the Mountain” series.  Below you will find the audio from this message to download, listen to, or share.

 

To listen offline, click the link to download the audio:

King of the Mountain #2 9.29.19

 

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

 

To watch the worship service, view our stream from YouTube:

 

King of the Mountain (Part 2) Sermon Questions

On Sunday, September 29, 2019 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Matthew 22:15-22.  This message was part 2 in the “King of the Mountain” series.  See below for questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Matthew 22:15-22
  3. Why do you think conversations related to religion and/or politics are so prone to division?
  4. The Pharisees and the Herodians ask Jesus a politically and theologically charged question in these verses.  What evidence do you see in these verses that their question was “insincere”?  In other words, were they really seeking wisdom or something else?
  5. Jesus answer about paying taxes has two facets.  As it relates to taxes, He remarks that they should “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” thus legitimizing taxes paid to this pagan leader.  This was because God had established the authority of the Roman Empire to serve people for a purpose, and we talked about some of the blessings those tax dollars paid for.  What are some of the ways your taxes are used by the government to provide blessings for you today?
  6. The New Testament encourages Christians to be great citizens by paying taxes, obeying the law, respecting our leaders, and praying for them.  Do you struggle to apply consistently any one of these commands?
  7. Though we pay taxes to Caesar, there is only One we worship.  What does it look like for you to “render unto God what is God’s”?
  8. What is one particular application you took away from this message?

 

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

King of the Mountain (part 2) Sermon Preview

One day, near the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, Jesus’ cousin (John the Baptist) saw Jesus walking towards him, and made a spectacular declaration, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)  What John was saying was remarkable . . . Jesus would be the One who would offer His life as a sacrifice to pay the penalty that our sins require.

Jesus would later authenticate this as one of the central purposes of His presence in the world when He says, “For even the Son of Man (a title Jesus used of Himself) came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)   Jesus came to serve us by showing us what God was like in His teaching and healing ministries.  But He also came to willingly and lovingly give up His life on the cross as a payment for our sins.

The idea of Jesus as the Lamb of God has its roots in the Old Testament sacrificial system, where a Passover Lamb was offered for sacrifice each year by a family.  But before the sacrificial lamb was accepted by the priest for sacrifice, it must first be examined to show that it was without spot or blemish. 

Thinking along this line, Warren Wiersbe has observed, “Jesus was going to die as the Lamb of God, and it was necessary for the Lamb to be examined before Passover (Ex. 12:3-6). If any blemish whatsoever was found on the Lamb, it could not be sacrificed. Jesus was examined publicly by His enemies, and they could find no fault in Him.”

This examination of Jesus takes place in Matthew 21-23 as Jesus is grilled with questions by the chief priests and elders, the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the Herodians.  These Jewish national leaders at the time, ask Jesus question after question trying to knock Him off the mountain top, but Jesus passes all tests and shows that He is truly “King of the (Temple) Mountain.”

This Sunday, September 29, at Wildwood, we will be in week 2 of our “King of the Mountain” series looking at a question posed to Jesus from the Pharisees and the Herodians, “should we pay our taxes?”  We will see how Jesus responds to this question and what it means for us today as we look at Matthew 22:15-22.  See you then!

Episode 10: This is Wildwood! Following Jesus into Worship with the Worship Team

Episode 10: This is Wildwood! Following Jesus into Worship with the Worship Team
Follow Into Worship

 
 
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Some of Wildwood’s Worship Team after practice one Wednesday night.

We believe that one of the ways that God grows our faith in Him and our love for others is through worship.  Worship Pastor Greg Hill summarizes a definition of worship as, “Responding to all that God is with all that we are.”  This includes so many aspects of our relationship with Him – including obedience, giving, etc. . . . but it certainly includes singing.  At Wildwood, we are so blessed to have a worship team that devotes hours each week to lead us into worship together.  On today’s episode, we get to hear from a number of the members of this worship team – including Pastor Greg Hill, Susan Storm, Adam Shockley, and Diane Nutt – about how worship plays a big role in their lives.

 

  • To see Wildwood’s Spotify playlist with links to songs we sing each week, click here.
  • To get access to song lists, lyric previews, etc. for Sunday singing, join MyWildwood and sign up for the “Sunday Worship” group by clicking here (and following the prompts).
  • To inquire about serving on the worship team, contact Pastor Greg Hill at greghill@wildwoodchurch.org or 405-329-3939.