This is a page that focuses on religious and theological issues, as well as providing comprehensive teaching from a classic Catholic perspective. As you read the articles, it is my hope they will educate and bless you.

Monday, June 6, 2011

From The Archives - A Series; Part III

This was a more formal message I did for my Homiletics class I was in at Florida Baptist Theological College in Graceville, FL, back in April 1990.   This was more formal because it had to be done in stages and then presented in class after doing a homiletic study, creating the script, and then the delivery of the message, which was evaluated by my classmates. 

Anyway, here it is, my B-grade message, for your reading pleasure and spiritual edification.

Lovers of All and Respectors of None
(Acts 10:10-15, 34)

Did you ever wonder why the church is getting such a bad rap in a world that is getting worse every day?  Some Christians say the church has been weakened by demonic oppression; others say it's just laziness because of rampant worldliness in our churches.  Whatever the case, our modern church has suffered two major ills.  The first is that, due to prosperity and compromise with the world, we have lost our zeal for getting folks saved.  The second reason is that instead of evangelizing the masses, we choose to sit around and flap our gums off about theology and legalistic hogwash, causing division in the Body of Christ.  If you wil read Acts 10:10-15 with me, you will see that the Apostle St. Peter was in a similar mess, but in our key verse of Acts 10:34, we find out what the Lord says about this.  (I would ask you to read that verse aloud when you reach it, because the central truth is found there.)

Now, I will give you a brief overview of the situation at hand to present a Scriptural example.  Cornelius, a Roman centurian who lived in Caesarea Maritima, had been a dedicated proselyte of the Jewish faith for some time.  In a time of prayer, he sees a vision of an angel who assures him that God has indeed heard his prayers and was about to answer them.  In the process of doing this, God sends Cornelius to Peter in the city of Jaffa.  In the meantime, Peter has been praying also, and the Lord sent a great hunger upon him.  After he requests food, he all of a sudden falls into a deep trance and sees this vision of a great vessel with many clean and unclean critters on it.  A voice (the Lord's) commands him to kill and eat three times, but Peter, still thinking himself a Jew, refuses because of Jewish law.  Then, it comes.  Peter is promptly told that what GOD has cleansed is not to be called unclean.  In this vision, God is preparing Peter for a ministry to the Gentiles, and Cornelius was to be the "chosen first" as it were.  In short, He was telling Peter that the Church of Christ accepts all nations without regard to any humanistic barrier.  That is documented in our key passage, which records Peter's revelation of God's will for His Kingdom.

Even though I haven't gotten to the "nitty-gritty" of the matter yet, I think you will see what I'm talking about.  The Church today, for one thing, has gotten legalistic on us.  One of the most absurd things I have seen since I have been a part of the Body of Christ is this nonsense of reserved pews in churches, for one example.  Who does man think he is, anyway?  We are supposed to be Christ-like yet although Jesus loved all and respected none, as our key verse emphasizes, we play favorites.   We go out and try to "win the Trumps and trash the tramps."  A close example which - praise be to God! - was corrected before it got out of hand was the case of David Wilkerson.  In 1958, when an invalid by the name of Michael Farmer was murdered by severn members of a street gang, it appalled Wilkerson so much that he was shocked when the Holy Ghost laid a burden on his heart to help the murderers.  Like Peter, he disobeyed several times before doing the Spirit's will.  As a result of his obedience, one of the most dynamic witnesses to indigent youth was born in Teen Challenge.  This should prove something to us in that we are chosen sometimes to do things we don't like, yet obedience brings blessing.  If the Church would recognize that fact and start winning the lost to Christ, what a force we would be to reckon with.   Oh, how ignorant Satan wants us to be!

Now in addition to not having a concern for the lost because of our snotty carnality, we have another equally disturbing problem.  The problem is that we, as Christians, cannot even cooperate to win souls anyway.  I heard a song just recently about these uncooperative brethren, comparing them to concrete - thoroughly mixed up and too well-set.   As John Shirley (one of my classmates in this particular class who had previously spoken) said in his message the other day, there is a serious problem on our campus here with this.  Many students are walking out of fellowship with us because we gave them the "left foot of fellowship," that being we ostracized them because they use a different translation of the Bible, lean too far to one extreme, or come from the North instead of the South.  However, do they not believe the same fundamental doctrines all true?  Do they not have salvation by faith in the risen Savior as we do?   And most important of all, are we to judge a book by its cover, or rather obey the command in Luke 7:1?  Think about that, for believe it or not, we are all guilty of that sin of judgementalism in some way or another.  Peter was likewise, for when he saw the vision, he let his flesh rule instead of God's Spirit.   We cannot judge a book by its cover, for it is the words within we look at.  Likewise we don't measure a Christian by how "religious" he acts, but by the condition of his heart.  However, since only God knows that, then we should bite our tongues and shut up, for that person's spiritual condition is between him and the Lord, and is none of our business.

In closing, I perceive humanity, as consumed by the flesh, and our favoritism in church and between churches results from the flesh.  However, as God was not a respector of persons, then don't let us be.  If we are truly filled with the Spirit of God, we should see to it that our church be filled with harlots, drunks, orphans, hustlers, and the lowly, for the church is not a convalescent center for lazy Christians, but a haven for the have-nots and spiritually sick.  Also, the Body of Christ, as it says in Romans 12:4-5, is made up of many members.  When we bicker and fight with a bunch of theological hogwash, it is like a man cutting off his right arm with his left hand, and is just as painful.  So please, brethren in Christ, don't do this, for our voice is one of sanity to a hell-bent world ruled by that conniving snake of hell himself.   I'm weary of fighting, and I want to see love and fellowship.  God help us and grant us grace as we seek spiritual unity one unto another.  Amen.