Can You Hear This Sermon?
By Bobby Blakey on September 20, 2021
Can You Hear This Sermon?
By Bobby Blakey on September 20, 2021
Well, good morning. Can you hear me? Is this mic working here today? Okay, so let's talk about expectations, everybody. What do you expect to happen right now? Sermon time? What are you hoping to get out of this sermon? In fact, how are you going to decide if this is a good sermon or not? I think what a lot of people today want is they want some jokes. They want some stories. Right? They want another cute analogy for the Christian life. Right? You want to leave here feeling better than when you walked in? What should we expect? What is the attitude that you should have when you are going to hear a sermon? Well, I want to invite you to open the Bible and turn with me to Acts 17. If you’ve got a Bible, and you can open it up to Acts 17, we're going along with the apostle Paul as he travels from city to city preaching, Jesus is the Christ, and he's going to go to this out of the way city called Berea. And the Bereans, the people who hear Paul’s preaching, they're going to be an example to how we should be when we hear a sermon. So, this is act 17, verses 10 to 15. And I'm going to invite even everybody out there on the front Lawn, welcome, even everybody online on the live stream, welcome. I'm going to ask if we would all stand up right now for the public reading of Scripture. And let's give this our full and undivided attention because this is the Word of God. This is what really happened when Paul went into this town Acts 17:10-15.
“The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the Word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the Word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds. Then the brothers immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there. Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed.”
That's the reading of God's Word, please go ahead and have your seat. So, if you've been going through Acts with us, you know that when Paul goes into the town, he goes to the synagogue where the Jews would assemble, and they would read the what we call the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures, and then he would start with what they were reading, and he would preach to them how Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One, that Christ that they have been waiting for, that the Christ would come in the flesh and suffer. Look at what he said back in Acts 17, verse 3. This was a summary of his teaching in the synagogue. He's explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, this Jesus, who might proclaim to you is the Christ. We got into that last week if you were here. Now, he goes to another town because some of the Jews there in Thessalonica, they get so jealous that people are listening to Paul, they get so angry at his message about Jesus being the Messiah, that they form a mob and they're trying to get Paul. That's why in verse 10, it says, they sent Paul and Silas away by night. He's got to like flee the city, because there's a mob that wants to get him. And so, they go to this kind of out of the way town, a smaller town, not on the Via Egnatia, not on the main Roman road of the day. No, they go to a small town, Berea… and look at what it says in verse 11. This is remarkable. These “Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica.” Like that's the Bible just saying, when Paul went to the synagogue in Berea, they were more noble. They were more ready to hear what Paul had to say, the Jews in Berea, than the Jews in Thessalonica. Where it is saying, basically, this was a better crowd to preach to. Paul came into Berea, and he had the same message that Jesus is the Christ. It was the same guy Paul preaching, but in Thessalonica, it was like he had to explain it and prove it, and just some of the Jews were persuaded. In Berea, it's like they were ready to receive it, they examined these Scriptures, they saw that it was true, and many of them believe. This is a real big thought for us to get in our heads here today. What if the people listening actually determined how good a sermon is? What if it's not just about the preacher who's preaching, but the crowd of people listening? They could actually be better at listening than another crowd. That's what the Scripture just said. The Jews in Berea were more noble is how the Bible puts it, than the Jews in Thessalonica, because the Jews in Thessalonica it seemed like they had to be like persuaded, they had to be like convinced, whereas the Jews in Berea, they're just like ready to receive it. And when they receive it, and they see they say, well, you're telling us that the Messiah, he's not just coming as a king, but he's coming as a suffering servant? He's coming as a sacrifice who's going to die? Hmm. Is that really what the Scripture says? Is there a suffering servant in Isaiah 53? Is there a description of someone dying in Psalm 22? Oh, wow. He's telling us the Christ was a sufferer who died and rose on the third day? Does the Scripture have anything to say about a third day, or a holy one who won't see decay? Oh, they received the message. They examine it with the Scripture, and then many of them are ready to believe because they received the Word. See, this is a real thought that's throughout the Scripture that we need to get in our heads here. The crowd demands a certain kind of teaching. And maybe the teachers are actually going along with the crowd more than the crowd is going along with the teacher. Maybe it's not just about who's preaching, but it's about who's listening.
And what kind of a crowd are we here at this church? Did you come here ready today to receive the Word? We're going to ask you three questions here about can you hear this sermon? If you want to take some notes with us? Number one: Did you come ready to receive the Word? Is that what you expected to happen? You weren't just ready to hear a message from me? Or here's some maybe you know, make us laugh and make us cry. Right kind of experience of emotions. No, you came ready. Speak to me the Word of God and I want to hear it. I'm ready to receive it. Did you do anything to get ready for this time at church today? Because I'm sure people expect me to be prepared when I come for the sermon time. Did you do anything to prepare to hear this sermon?
I want to show you two examples from the Scripture. One is a crowd that was good, a good crowd and they set the tone to hear from God's Word. And then I want to show you an example of a bad crowd. But this is the idea that the people listening are demanding, they are calling for, a certain kind of sermon or preaching. Go with me to Nehemiah 8, if you can find it in your Bible. Nehemiah chapter 8. Right next to Ezra. This is when they're back in Jerusalem after they've been exiled to Babylon. They've now come back into Jerusalem. There's this guy, Ezra, he is on fire. He is studying the Law of the Lord, obeying the Law of the Lord. He's teaching the people the Law of the Lord every day. And then there's a guy named Nehemiah, who's rebuilding the walls of the city of Jerusalem so God's people can live in Jerusalem again, and it can be a safe city from all their enemies around them. And so, in the middle of this epic come back with Ezra and Nehemiah. We have this in Nehemiah chapter 8, verse 1, Nehemiah 8:1. It says “And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel.” So, if you read the book of Ezra, you will see that this guy, he's fired up, he's ready to teach people. But this story is not about Ezra telling the people that they should get together so that he can teach them. This is about the people getting together and telling Ezra to come and teach them. What kind of a crowd all assembles, and they're like, bring the book, that's what they want to hear. Tell us what Moses said, give us the Law of Moses. The people… notice how it says, it starts with the crowd, and they're telling Ezra. Nehemiah 8:2, “So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard.” Everybody who was able to really hear the Law, they all get together. It's like the whole reassembled nation of people. Nehemiah 8:2-3, it was “on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.” Now, I don't know if you just noticed that, but early morning is like when the sun rises. And midday is like when the sun is at its peak. Did that just say that he preached from breakfast to lunch? Is that what I just said? Because I'll preach here for fifty minutes, maybe sixty minutes, maybe every once in a while, you know, it goes into lunchtime around here. Right? Again, anybody been here on those Sundays? And if I preach for fifty minutes, people will make comments like, wow, that's a long sermon you guys have at this church. So apparently not everybody. Right? I mean, we didn't get here at sunrise. It's not yet quite lunchtime, almost. I mean, that's such a long time. I mean, all morning, like from early until maybe even into the early afternoon, they're all attentively listening to the book of the Law, because they're calling for it. I want to hear the book.
And so, Nehemiah 8:4-9 says that “Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose” and it wasn't just him. There's a whole list of men here with him. Verse 5, “And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people.” So, they had made a platform so that Ezra could be above everybody, so everybody could see him and hear him. And he was above all the people. And as he opened the book, all the people stood, “And Ezra Blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, ‘Amen. Amen,’ lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” And then there's a whole list of men here, all these different Levites. At the end there, verse 7, they “helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. They read from the book, from the Law of God.” They read it “clearly, and they gave the sense.” So, they preached on it, they explained it “so that the people understood the reading.” So, it's just like one guy after another, reading the Law, explaining what it means, and this is going on all morning long, verse 9, “And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law.”
I guess they're reading through the Law of Moses, and God is telling his people as he makes a covenant with Israel, he's saying, if you do what I tell you, if you listen to me, and you do what I tell you, you will be blessed. But if you don't do what I tell you, you will be cursed. And it lists the different curses that will happen to them, like other nations will come in and destroy them and take them away to their land, to another land, and the city will be destroyed. And here they are in the city that's not even fully rebuilt, yet, looking at all the devastation that has happened, and they start weeping because they can see that they didn't listen to the Law, and they suffered the consequences. Maybe they're weeping about their own sin, they're feeling brokenhearted and so sorry about what they have done to break the Law of God. Can you imagine like the guy who was preaching has to go around and try to tell everybody after the sermon is over to stop crying because the people are taking it so seriously. See, the crowd is the one setting the tone here. And so, Nehemiah 8:10-12, “Then he said to them, ‘Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’ So the Levites,” who helped do the teaching and reading, they “calmed all the people, saying, ‘Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.’ And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared” to the people. People were weeping and mourning because it was so heavy when they saw what God had said and how they had sinned. But by the end, they're rejoicing together because we heard from God, like we heard straight from the book. It got explained to us, we understand it. We know who our God is, we know what God is telling us to do. And there's great joy among the people. The crowd that said, bring the book, they heard the book, and they rejoice because they understand the Word of the Lord.
So, you can see the people are demanding that somebody tell them the book. And they're taking it so seriously, they're attentive for a long time. They're crying about it. They're rejoicing later on that they understand it. This is the example, like Berea, were the crowd of people listening, they made this an awesome sermon, not necessarily because of the guy preaching, but because of the people listening. And they wanted to really receive the Word. Now go to 2 Timothy 4, and let me show you a bad example of how this works. Everybody, if you've got a Bible, go to 2 Timothy, chapter 4 with me. And this is Paul writing to Timothy. This is the last thing that Paul is going to write before he is martyred for his faith. And he's writing to Timothy, who's his disciple, his true son in the faith. Timothy is now a pastor. And so, these are the last words from the mentor to his protege pastor, and this is what he says in 2 Timothy 4:1-3, “I charge you,” Timothy, “in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus.” So, this isn't just me saying this, but I'm saying this before Jesus, “Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom.” I'm telling you, Timothy, preach the Word. Be ‘ready in season’” if people want to hear it, “’and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” And then it says this in verse 3, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.” So maybe you've heard people at church talk about false teachers before. And now, sometimes people will even say kind of rude things about false teachers, they'll mention them by name, they'll be like, oh, that person preaching in that stadium, telling everybody that God wants him to be healthy, and he wants him to be wealthy. And he's twisting the message of God to make it all about the people. And it's like, not that Jesus died so that they could repent of their sins and believe in Jesus, it's like Jesus died so they could have this awesome life. And it's all about them. And you'll hear people sometimes saying, oh, these false teachers who are causing so much trouble. But where does it actually say the false teachers come from? It says they come from the people who have “itching ears, and they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passion.” It's saying, hey, why is there a stadium full of people listening to that false teaching? Why are those the bestselling books? Why are those the preachers who are on television, it's because that's what the people want to hear. The people are demanding a message that is about them, about them feeling better about themselves. They’ve got an itch, and they want that preacher to scratch it. And it says, look at 2 Timothy 4:4. It says that this time that's coming where people “will turn away from listening to the truth and will wander off into…” what does it say there, everybody? “Myths.” People would rather hear stories than hear the truth. And so, preachers, instead of being truth tellers, have now become storytellers. And Paul was warning Timothy, that the time is coming. And we're here to say today in America, 2021, the time has come where people want to hear what they want to hear. And they've got the bestselling teachers all telling them how great a people they are. And it's like, instead of us coming here to glorify God, it's like God is here to glorify you. And that's what people want to hear, and there's plenty of people out there saying it. This is where we're at, just getting real, like we do church here every Saturday night, we’ve got people coming by. And sometimes on Saturday night, I kind of act like, we're living the eternal life, and I preach outside of space and time. I don't know if you’ve ever been here on a Saturday night, but there's no service after that. I’ll just keep going. You know what I mean? I mean, hey, where are you going tonight? Home? Let's keep going right now. You know what I mean? It's not like we got the rest of the day ahead of us, you know. And so, I'll just start preaching. And sometimes people they'll be like, oh, wow, what a long sermon that was, I can't I was like, fifty minutes. sixty minutes sermon. What? What is that guy thinking up there? Like we're going to hear, we're going to listen to this for sixty minutes.
Then they get in their car. They drive over to Bella Terra, they walk up to a window, and they pay a bunch of money, they go get a whole bunch of food, and then they go sit there and watch the Avengers blow stuff up for two and a half hours. And they walk out of that, like, hey, yeah, we defeated Thanos. And they're coming out of there. Two and a half hours. That's hundred and fifty minutes of myths you just got. And everybody's like, that was a good movie. That was about right. It could have been a little longer for me. Oh, I'm going to… hey, don't leave yet. There might be another scene if we sit here for seven more minutes. Like, I've never had anybody sit there. Do you think he's going to come back out and preach another point? Never happened before. Like, show me a bunch of fake people blowing stuff up. And I'm just like, yeah, man, but this guy telling me the truth. How dare he goes so long? How dare he? Who does that guy think he is? This is where we're at. This is the world that we live in. No one has ever, no crowd has ever demanded that I preach from sunrise to lunchtime. Okay? Because people want to hear what they want to hear. And people come in here, and they're like, they decide if it's a good sermon based on if it makes them feel good, based on if they agree with it, based on if it kind of goes with the vibe that they're in. See, this is not about you. And this is not about me giving the message that I want to give. Our expectations need to be very clear. When we gather here, we're here to hear what God says. And if I'm saying something that's not what God says. You should demand that I tell you what God says.
That's what's going on. Like you actually should be setting a tone that your expectation is, bring the book; your expectation is, I'm coming here to receive the Word and I'm already prepared before we even gather together. Like the preacher is not the only one preparing, the people are preparing. When it says that the Bereans they received the Word with eagerness, or you could say they were ready to receive the Word. And that's a great example that we want to be that kind of church. When we get together, we have great expectations. And we think that God's going to say something through his Word, and we're ready, like speak to me, Lord, I want the ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches, I want the eyes to see your glory. If you're saying something, I don't want to miss it. I want to come ready. And it's not just a good example. It's a command. Go to James chapter 1 and let me show you where James takes the example that we can see with the Bereans in Acts 17. And James, he makes it a command for how we're supposed to be ready to hear the Word of truth. We're supposed to come here ready to hear the truth, not stories. And we want to hear the truth straight from God. And James, he gives us a command about that in chapter 1 of James. Pick it up with me in verse 18. He's talking about what God has done to be so good to us. And he says in James 1:18 that God of “his own wil, he brought us forth by the Word of truth.” So, we were saved, we were born again, we have a spiritual life, because of God's Word of truth working in us, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creature. So now he's going to talk about he just had that idea of hearing the Word of truth. Now he's going to give us some thoughts about it. James 1:19-21, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” Okay. So, if you've heard this line before, because it is said sometimes at church, be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. In the context, it's about hearing a sermon like this. Okay? It's like I'm coming here to hear something. And I'm slow to speak. I'm not going to start arguing with the message that I'm hearing. I'm not going to start thinking like why I don't agree with something. I'm not going to start sitting here, I don't like that and getting angry. No, I'm trying to really receive the message. If it's really the Word, then I want to receive it. I want to receive it with meekness. I don't want to come in here like a know it all. I don't want to come in here like I've heard it all, I want to come in here with humility. Like maybe God knows better than me. And maybe he's got something to say that I need to hear. And so, I'm ready to receive. It talks about the Word already being implanted. Like if you really believe in Jesus, if you've been saved here today, God has written his Law on your heart. He has put his Holy Spirit in your soul and so you have the Word of God within you. When, as you receive the Word of God, you know, hey, that's my salvation. That's my life. That's the power of God to change me and make me a new person, and you're ready for God to do a powerful work when you receive the Word. So, there are a lot of people, they come in and their mind is so full of other thoughts, and when they start hearing the Word, they're not even really paying attention, because they're thinking about other things, or they hear something that right away doesn't hit them the right way right away. It's not like I don't know if I agree with that. And they start to like, think against it, and they start to maybe even get angry. I don't like what's being said here today, because it doesn't agree with what they already think. And James is saying to a Jewish crowd, he's saying that's not the right way to receive the Word. That's what we saw the Jews in Thessalonica, they started getting jealous and angry about Paul's message, but the Bereans, see, they received it. That's what James, that's what he's talking about here. And he says that there's something everyone needs to do. I mean, you got here physically, you prepared yourself to get here into this room around 11 o'clock this morning. But he says there's something else you got to do. Look back at James 1:21. He says, “Therefore put away all filthiness and ramp into wickedness.” I mean, he’s saying, you’ve got to almost like you would have to change your clothes. Like maybe you changed your clothes physically to come here to church. Well, it's almost like you’ve got to take something off. You’ve got to put something away. There's this filthy rampant I love this phrase, rampant wickedness. And I don't think he's saying necessarily that those people were just doing filthiness and rampant wickedness, I think he's saying that there is wickedness, which is running rampant all around us and the filthiness of the evil world we're living in is trying to get to us. And we’ve got to make sure we put that away. I mean, I think we can all say an Amen that the world we're living in today is filled with rampant wickedness. Are you with me on that?
And so, what did you do to put that off. You can't just be scrolling through your social media, and cruising right into the hearing the Word of God, you can't just be listening to the news or having an argument in the car ride on the way here, where people are just like tearing into each other. But now Jesus speaks to my soul, right? Like, did you prepare yourself? Did you put off all that the world is trying to put on you, all the thoughts that want to dominate your thinking that aren't from heaven? Did you do anything to put those away? To lay them aside before you came here today? Did you have sin in your own heart? Did you know that even coming in here, you had sinned against God? Did you confess that to him before this started? If you knew this week that you did somebody in your life wrong? Did you go and say you're sorry to them before you came here to hear from God? Like, did you make sure that you are ready with meekness to receive the Word, which is able to save your soul? See the Bereans… like everywhere Christians have studied the Bible now for the last two thousand years, the Bereans have become famous because of the way that they listened. Did you do anything to prepare yourself to really listen when you receive the Word?
Go back to Acts 17 because it says something about the Bereans here that we want to really make sure we understand. They weren't ready to receive it. But they weren't just going to accept it no matter what was said. No, they were they wanted to receive the Word of God, not just the Word of some man. And so even though they were eager to listen, and they had prepared themselves, even maybe, it says they're examining the Scriptures at the end of Acts 17:11. They're “examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”
Okay, so they are judging the sermon. They're examining what is said by Paul, they're not like, well, who's Paul? Or do we like what he's saying? Does what he's saying make us feel good? Do we already agree with it? They're saying, okay, this guy is telling us that the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ is not just going to be a king, but he's also going to suffer and then rise on the third day. Okay? Let's examine the Scriptures and let's see, does it make prophecies about a Christ so that they received it but then they judged it? Is it like is that the message we're hearing? Is that what the Bible says? They wanted to make sure, and it says they were examining it daily. Like they heard the message on the Sabbath, and then they were talking about it. They were looking it up. They were thinking about it. Like they wanted to make sure that what they heard is what God said. And as it was what God said many of them believed, like there was a strong response, because they were confident that what they heard was actually the Word of God. So, this is teaching us, this is how you should examine a sermon. This is how you should judge this time. Do we hear at this church? Am I right now, giving you an accurate and clear explanation of Acts 17:10-15? Am I telling you what the Bible says? You can go and you can look around, you can compare it to the Scriptures, you can study to see. That's how we judge it. Was I told what God said in the Bible? If I was told what God said in the Bible, if that was explained clearly to me, then that was a good sermon. I may not like it. I may not agree with it. But if the preaching was consistent with the Scripture, then I heard what God said, and I heard a good sermon. I don't know if you have that conversation when you're driving home from church at the end of the day, if anybody talks about it, well, what do you think about church today? What do you think about that sermon? It's really interesting conversation in my car, you can imagine, right? Hey, how was what that sermon today? You know, it's very interesting, very real conversation in my car, right? I mean, what makes it a good day at church? A lot of people that act like, oh, yeah, it was good. It was good. Great. What made it good? Did you feel good about it? Did you already agree with it? Did it fit what you already think? Or was it good because God spoke to you through the Word,? And maybe it doesn't even feel good. And you’ve got to go change a lot of things because of what was said, but it was good because it was from God.
Let's get this down for our second question: Do you judge a sermon by the Word? Do you judge a sermon by the Word? That's how I'm trying to prepare these sermons. I'm studying the Word, I don't have some kind of stack of stories that I rotate through to tell you guys. I'm not trying to think of some cute analogy to send you home with. I'm studying the Bible in the original languages. I'm reading all kinds of other guys and what they wrote about the Bible. I'm going through it, and I'm trying to explain in a clear way to you what is actually being said. So, my goal is to cut it straight, not to make it filled with my own thoughts and opinions, but to give you the Word of God. Is that what you think? Well, that was a good sermon because I heard the Word.
Because I can tell you, a lot of people have come to this church in the last seven years, and they did not care for the sermons very much. Okay? I see when people walk out, and some of them aren't going to the bathroom; they don't come back. I've seen that happen many times. I've had people come up to me right after the sermon and tell me what a lame sermon it actually was in their mind. I've had people write me incredibly long and articulate emails, ripping the sermon to shreds. Some people have even said, hey, I'd like to take you out for a meal. Well, that's so nice. Thank you very much. And at the meal, what they wanted to do was destroy the sermon. And that's what we're really here to eat is barbecue pastor, right? Let's destroy this. I think at the end of the sermon, you should have said this. I've heard that at several different meals that I've been invited to, which was very kind of them to invite me to a meal. I think you should have said this. My answer is always the same. Is that what it said in the Scripture? Was it in the text? No, but I think you should have ended with this. Well, let's just make it very clear. I don't get to put what I think into the sermons. And you don't get to put what you think into the sermons. Because we're not here to get my thoughts or your thoughts. We're here to get God's thoughts. That's how this works. All right? We're here to hear what he has to say. And if you think, well, it'd be better if we sprinkled in more of this, well, hey, guess what, I might even agree with you, but it's not up to me. And praise the Lord, it's not up to me or up to you. But we've got his perfect holy Word inspired by the Spirit of the Living God, and he gives us the mind of Christ. We're going to listen to what he has to say. In fact, if I get my thoughts in there, I'm going to ruin a good sermon. And if you listen to it, wanting your thoughts to be in there, then you're not going to hear a good sermon. That's how it works.
So, people have gone to all kinds of different churches. And people are coming from all kinds of different places, and maybe in your church background, and your life experience, you think it should be more like this, but this is what churches, all of us, so many different people coming from different places, and we're all coming to get on the same page, and it's not your page. It's not my page. It's the same page right here in this book. And all of a sudden people's lives are changing. And a group of people come together who have one mind, the mind of Jesus. That's what happens when we really hear the Word together. And so, our thoughts are what's actually going to ruin us from getting God's thoughts on our minds. And so, that's what you should be thinking. Like, when was the time that you heard a sermon and it defended you? You did not like it, you did not agree with it, but over time as you thought about it, and you compared it to the rest of the Scripture, you realize that the sermon that you heard was actually giving you the truth. And the problem was not with the message from God's Word. The problem wasn't with the messenger who gave the message, the problem was actually with you. The reason you didn't like the sermon is because of you. And you said, I’ve got to change my mind about that. I’ve got to change my ways about that. Wow, the reason that kind of bothered me was because I actually heard from God, and the way that God thinks, and the way that I think, are two different things, and I ‘d better get in line with him.
See, that's when God's Word really has authority in your life, you really know that you believe in God, when He can say something to you, and it changes you rather than you getting frustrated with him. When did that happen in your life, where you heard the Word, and you realize God's telling me something different than what I think, and I have to change my ways? That's really hearing a sermon. And some people hear you guys get fired up as we talk about the Word of God. There are a lot of people here at this church, that when I it's not just me up here speaking, it is like, God is speaking to you in your soul, and you're ready, like you're bursting out of your skin, you're overflowing with his life, like when you hear his Word, there is a strong response inside of you. And then other people here, you're kind of like, well, that guy seems into it. But I'm not really that into it. There's a disconnect between what we're saying, and how you're feeling in your heart, how you're living at your house.
Go to 1 Corinthians 2 with me and let me show you a little bit about this, how this works. Because it's not just that the Bible is not like any other book. And I understand the Bible is a very complicated book. If you have a hard time understanding the Bible, I'll just tell you, it took me a long time till I knew where all the books were. And I could just start turning around book to book. It took me a long time to really understand the big picture of what God's doing in human history and how it's all about Jesus Christ. To understand like the context of all these different passages and when they were written and who was writing, and who was he writing to. I mean, that took a lot of understanding. But the thing is, the reason I was able to understand it is I had a teacher, I had a tutor. This is the only book that has its own teacher included with it. Look at what it says here in 1 Corinthians 2:11. It says, “For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” Now we have not received the spirit of the world, that rampant wickedness all around us, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given to us, by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom, but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God. They are faulty, they are foolishness to him, he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
That word “discern” there same word in our passage in Acts 17:11, “examined”. So, the reason some people come here and just get fired up and understand, what he's saying is because they have the Spirit of God inside of them, and the Spirit of God is referred to as the Spirit of truth, and he is the one who inspired men to write this collection of books. The Holy Spirit inspired men to write it, and the Holy Spirit will illuminate your understanding, so you can really hear the sermon. See, when I say, can you hear the sermon? I'm not just talking about with your physical ears, I'm talking about, do you have ears to hear what the Spirit says to the churches? So, this book is claiming to be spiritual, not just written by men. But when Moses was writing, and then hundred year few hundred years later David was writing, and then a few hundred years later, the prophets were writing, and then a few hundred years Later the disciples the eyewitnesses of Jesus were writing. Four different times that the Bible was being read Didn't men who never even knew each other weren't even alive at the same time all writing the same book. The Bible is saying, no, that just wasn't men writing, that's the Word of God, the Spirit inspired those men to write. And when you hear it, when you read it, it's the Spirit who gives you the ability to understand. If you're just a natural person, you'll always feel disconnected from the Bible. But if you have believed in Jesus, you've repented of your sins, you've put your faith in him, like we're going to talk about at the Foundations class after this service. If you've really been saved in Jesus, God gives you his Spirit, he gives you a new heart. He puts his Spirit within you, and then you're able to understand the Scriptures. And you can really examine, is that what God is saying in his Word? And you'll really be able to judge a sermon. Was that the Word of God and the Spirit? He will convict you of your sins, he will change you from the inside out, he will cause you to walk in God's ways, you will start learning so many things that will become so exciting because the Spirit is the one revealing them to you. It goes on to say here in Acts 17:15-16, “The spiritual person judges all things.” You can learn how to think about all things through the Spirit. But it's himself to be judged by no one, “’For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” See the excitement of what we do here, is we can move above our own natural thoughts, we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds, we can be conformed, not just to be more like the world around us, but we can be conformed into the image of Jesus and become more like him. We can see God in all of his glory. And we can be transformed from one image of glory to another. We can see who God is, we can become more like him, and less like who we used to be, by the power of the Spirit teaching us through this book. It's so exciting to be a part of it. And you learn more about it. And all you want to do is keep on learning. Because it's like you've got a tutor, you've got a teacher, you've got the Spirit who's like helping you get it.
I've seen so many people who were not book smart, they did not get good grades in high school, and yet they have come here to this church, they have heard the Word, and they are just some of the most on-fire passionate people you will ever see because the Spirit is teaching them the mind of Christ. And it's becoming their mind. Is that happening? Are you having a spiritual experience as you interact with the Bible, where you're learning things and seeing things, and you're actually really thinking less of your old opinions, and the way that you used to think, and you're thinking more and more the way Jesus wants you to think? See, that's what we're here to do. And that's how we should evaluate. Did I was what was said at church today? Was it consistent with what the Scripture says, was the Spirit convicting me or encouraging me was something spiritual happening when I heard the Word of God, that whether I liked it or not, that was a good day at church? Can I get an Amen from anybody on that?
That's what we're here to do. That should be everybody here’s expectation. I'm here to receive what comes to me from this Word, and I want to hear God speak to me. And if you hear God speak to you by the power of the Spirit, you're not going to leave here the same person. You're not going to leave here and just shrug your shoulders and be like, oh, today at church was alright. Here we go with the rest of my day. Like, no, I mean, is this just a stop on the way to the rest of your day? Do you just come to church because that's what church people do is go to church? Or did you come here Sunday at 11 o'clock, because you want your life to change? Because you want God to do something in you. That's spiritual. That's more than just you. Because you're seeing how empty the world is. And you know how sinful your heart can be. And you want a free refill of the life of God in your soul. Is that why you came here today because you want God? That's the point. And if you really get to hear from God, if you really get the Spirit teaching you the Word of God, to leave here and go continue to be the same person. Please don't do that.
Look what James says. Go back to James chapter 1, because he wasn't done telling us how we should hear sermons. He told us to be ready to receive the Word, but he had more to say after that after James 1:21. Look what he says in James 1:22. And this is what we saw from the Bereans. Again, there's a comparison going on in Acts 17:11 Because the Bereans were more noble-minded than the Thessalonians. So, the Thessalonians, they got it explained to them and proved to them and only some of the Thessalonian Jews were persuaded. It feels like Paul really had to give them his best stuff. And only a few of them even believed, even gave him a chance by listening to him. But the Bereans, it was like they received it, they examined it and judged it and saw it was the true Word of God. And it says many of the Jews in Berea believed. And even when it talks about the Gentiles, they're like a lot of the leading ladies of the nobility in the city there believes some of the men there who were leading that city believed, and there was such a positive response in Berea. It's one of the few cities where there is no persecution, there is no division. It's like people heard it. They knew it was from God. They believed it. And, wow, what a great time in Berea. Because the crowds set the tone. And it was such a response that Word went up to the bigger city Thessalonica, and the angry Jews in Thessalonica when they heard how Jews were believing in Berea, they came down and tried to raise a ruckus there in Berea, like they did in Thessalonica, to chase Paul out of that town. And so, when these people received it, and they knew it was God's Word, many of them believed. It doesn't give us a negative response in this city. It was an overwhelming positive response, like people heard what was said in the synagogue, and it changed their life every day of the week. And that's what it says here in James 1:22. This is a way to say it as a command from James, to give us wisdom by the power of the Holy Spirit, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
See, this isn't like, okay, well, I heard it. I guess it was good. Yeah, I guess I should be trying to do it. It would be like bonus extra credit. I guess if I went home and did it, it would be like a good thing. And maybe I guess before I come back next week, I’ve got to go lay aside filthiness. Or I’ve got to maybe read what we're going to preach on ahead of time. Like, I guess I could go do that. See, it's way more important than that. It's saying there's actually something twisted happening here. There's actually something where you're experiencing the worst form of deception, which is self-deception. Because when you come in here, something but you don't go and do it, you start to think you know, more than you actually know. See, the real knowledge we want to get to is knowing God and having a relationship with him. The real way we want to know the Bible is so that we can go do what it says. But there are people who come to church, and they hear it, and they think that just because they heard it just because they know about it, just because they know what it says, and they could tell you what it says, and where it says it, they think higher of themselves than they ought to think. They're starting to get deceived to thinking that they're doing better with God than they really are. You don't want to think you and God are here when God knows you're really here.
And that's what happens when people hear the Word, and they don't do it. They get deceived. And the little bit of knowledge that they have, instead of it bringing them to God, or instead of that knowing leading to doing in their lives, that little bit of knowledge that they get from hearing, it puffs them up with spiritual pride. And they think they’re somebody when they're not doing what God wants them to do. So, if people come here, and they hear it, but they don't go by the power of the Spirit, and do it, it might actually be not a good thing to come to church. We might actually be doing you a disservice because you're getting deceived into thinking, I'm somewhere with God that you're really not. James is saying, hey, he's not saying it's no big deal, like hearing is just, you're halfway there. Maybe somewhat day you'll get to doing he's like, no, if you're a hearer only, you're deceived. Like you're a hypocrite, you're acting like I get it when really you don't get it. So, he's saying, this is something we all got to really watch out for and really ask yourself, are you just someone who hears, or are you actually a doer? Like you're either one or the other? And every single parent in this room knows exactly what I'm talking about, because we've all had that moment with our kids. Am I right about this, moms and dads? Because you've been giving it to your kids, right? You've been maybe speaking in a very clear way, and they’ve got those ears and they can hear you and you're telling them the truth. Any parents ever told their kids the truth around here, and you're giving it to them, and then they go away and what do they not do? Exactly what you just said? Can I get an Amen from the parents? And your so frustrated. You say to your kid, like, do you have ears, you know? Or you say to your spouse or you say to another parent, why won't my kids… and what's the word that you use? Why won’t my kids listen to me? Because if you said it, and they heard it, but if they don't go and do it, you don't even think they listened to you. That's what God thinks about us here at church. God has spoken. And we go and do nothing. God's thinking, why don't you listen to me? See, not listening to God is the sin that leads to all the other sins. Not listening to God is what ultimately kills you. Because God's saying it. And if you listen to him, you would turn from your sin. If you listened to him, you would live. He's got a beautiful path to set before your feet. And if you listen to him, you would walk down that path and be blessed. But because you just hear it, and don't do it. That's the beginning of your destruction. And you're thinking you know what the whole time.
See what happens when people hear like, you went to church, and you heard from God, and you went home, and we're the same, you should tremble when you hear from God. We need more mourning and weeping when we hear from God. We need more people rejoicing that I heard from my God, I know what he's telling me to do. I can go and do it. I have purpose. God is speaking to me. There is no possible way that we could be really hearing from God and not doing anything about it.
Are you a doer of the Word? Get that down for number three: Are you a doer of the Word? Like, hey, I'm glad that you're here. I'm glad that you're hearing it. But I am concerned if you just hear it, and you don't go and do anything about it. If you just show up again the next time and you didn't do anything to receive the Word. So, let's even say here's a homework assignment. Before the next time you come to church, I want you to pray, and I want you to try to read ahead about what we're going to study in the Bible. Two things. All right? So, before you're coming in here, let's pray God turn my eyes from all the worthless things of the world and revive me in your ways. Let me lay aside all that rampant wickedness and filthiness; I want to hear truth. I want to hear from heaven. I want to hear from you. And then let's pray. God opened my eyes that I can see what you're saying to me. Open my ears that I can really hear that sermon. Change my life. I'm ready to have an encounter with you, the living God on Sunday at 11. When you speak to me, my life's going to change; I'm going to do it.
And I'll tell you right now, go back to go back to Acts 17, and you'll see where we're going. Because it's in our passage, we're going to Athens. These angry Jews who wouldn't listen there and ran Paul out of Berea, just like they ran him out of Thessalonica. And now they're taking him down to Athens. And that's where we're going to get in Acts 17:16. Paul is alone in Athens, waiting for his crew, Silas and Timothy to come and join him. And here in Athens, he's not just going to go to the synagogue, he's going to go to this place called the Areopagus. There's a map of it on the back of your bulletin. There's a picture of Paul preaching there on the front of your bulletin. And you can see there's a glorious light coming down from the heavens and a halo around Paul, as he's speaking. And he's going to speak to philosophers. Not just to the Jews in the synagogue, but to the philosophers of the day. And he's going to tell them who God really is. If you come back next week, we're going to open up this book and we're going to hear Paul preach in Athens on who God really is. And are you going to come ready to receive it? Are you going to come ready to do it? How are you going to respond? What kind of a crowd is this that we have here at this church? Is this a bring the book kind of a crowd where you demand that you get the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Or is this the kind of crowd that comes in here, just tell me what my itching ears want to hear? What kind of a crowd are you? Because maybe that's a big part of how effective the sermon is, is how ready your heart is to hear what God has to say. And so, I don't know if you came here ready today, but I'm hoping that you will hear from the Word of the Lord, from the example of the Bereans, from the command of James, and that you will be ready. You know a lot of Christians these days. They'll say to me things like, oh, that guy might my favorite preacher. Oh, man I love hearing this guy preach, I love listening to this podcast. I love reading this person's book. And it just means so much to me. They're my favorite people to preach. I wonder if your favorite preacher would think you're their favorite listener. See, I wonder if when people think they that that church there in Huntington Beach, I want to preach there. Because those people, they're ready to receive the Word. Would somebody say that about you? That you want to hear from God because you want to do what God tells you? James, he goes on in that passage and he says, just like when you got ready today, if you looked in the mirror, and you saw things about yourself, that you needed to get ready, you brushed your teeth, you combed your hair, you prepared yourself for the day. See, when you hear the Scripture, when God's Word is preached, this Word, it's like a sword that cuts to your heart. This Word, it exposes the thoughts and intents of who you really are on the inside. Like when you hear the Word preached, you come to see who God is in his glory, and who you? Are you in your sin? And it's like looking in the mirror, do you do anything about it? Or do you just forget what you saw and go on through your day?
I'm afraid that too many people these days in the church in America, I'm afraid that too many of them are demanding. And they hear something that's they already agree with. They don't even hear from God. And even people who do hear a message from God, they forget it by the time they hit the parking lot. And they heard something about their life that needed to change. And they go home and they stay the same. And it says the one who really looks into this book, the perfect Law, the Law of liberty, and who's not a hero who goes home and forgets, but a doer who goes home and acts on it. That person you watch the person, they come ready, they hear what God says, and they go home and do it, they will be blessed. There is blessing in really hearing a sermon and living a changed life. I want you to have that blessing. But you need to come ready to hear the Word. So let me pray for us.
Father in heaven, I thank you so much that we could gather here today. Thank you for a full auditorium on a Sunday morning. Thank you that everybody got ready to be here physically. God, what beautiful testimonies we heard from Vanessa and Jordan. A beautiful sound it is to hear everyone singing. But God, I pray that you would show us where are we really ready to be here today? Are we really ready to receive your Word? Are we ready to hear from you so that our lives would be changed forever? God, we just want to confess that, that sometimes we just want to hear what makes us feel good. And sometimes we think a sermon is good or not based on if we agree with it or not. So God, we got to confess that we spent way too much time in our own thoughts. And we need more of your thoughts. And so, we pray that here at this church, it would be your Word that is preached, that it would be the mind of Christ that is made known, that the spirit would be the one teaching every single one of us here. And that you would give us the eyes to see, that you would give us the ears to really hear what the Spirit says to the churches, so that when this church gets together in Huntington Beach, it's not just a group of people, listening to a man, but it is God speaking to his people. And we want to be those people, Father. We want to hear what you have to say, we want to do it. We want to be blessed. We want to be the real church of Jesus Christ. So please, Father, be our vision. Be our wisdom. Please Father hear this prayer that we're offering to you right now. Some people in this room, they don't have the Holy Spirit. They don't get it. God, we need you to save them. Give them a new heart, put your spirit within them so they can join us in this life that we get from your Word. And let all the brothers and sisters who are just hearing and not doing let them all be humbled today, let all the deception be revealed, let all the hypocrisy be exposed. That if we hear from you and we don't do it that's on us. And let us confess today that we were not ready if we weren't. And when we get together let next weekend let us be more ready to hear from you than we have ever been. That who you really are being known and let our lives be forever changed. We asked you to do a mighty work in Jesus’ name.
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