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No Power and Little Understanding

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
March 31, 2021 8:00 am

No Power and Little Understanding

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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March 31, 2021 8:00 am

We know that if we don’t eat a balanced diet, we can become vitamin deficient. But we don’t often consider the possibility of becoming faith deficient. Today on The Bible Study Hour with Dr. James Boice, we’ll learn that’s exactly what happens when we don’t cultivate a personal relationship with Jesus. Listen in to find out what mountains and mustard seeds have to do with growing in faith.

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We know that if we don't eat a balanced diet, we can become vitamin deficient, but we don't often consider the possibility of becoming faith deficient today on the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce will learn that's exactly what happens when we don't cultivate a personal relationship with Jesus. Listen in to find out what mountains and mustard seeds have to do with growing in faith are welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. Let's listen together as Dr. Boyce teaches on what happens when well-intentioned Christian activity comes to nothing more than mechanical robotic habit, the year 1517 same year in which Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, great Italian artists Rafael sons EL began painting of Christ's transfiguration. He worked on it until 1520, the year he died was 37 and that year he left it incomplete body had done enough of the painting that we can understand what he was getting out the shows Jesus on the mountain with Moses and Elijah. The three disciples, Peter, James and John entire scene is bathed in light of the glorious the same painting down at the bottom of the mountain. He has the other disciples trying to cast the demon out of the epileptic boy and failing miserably way of saying that our lives are always filled with valets as well as mountaintop experiences and perhaps also making the point that apart from the power of Jesus Christ. We can do nothing. We only have victory when we draw upon him. That's what Matthew 17 contains the first half of the chapter that fortunately were looking at last time, talks about the transfiguration, then beginning with verse 14 in the same chapter.

At the same time you have this account of the failure of the disciples.

Actually, there are three failures here is a failure in the exorcism. That's what's discussed in verses 14 to 21 then there is a failure to understand Jesus teaching about his death and resurrection, as in verses 22, 23, and finally at the end of the chapter there is a failure which is Peter's own unique failure. It's a failure to understand relation of Jesus Christ of the temple and it has to do with this matter of paying taxes. Well, there's a pattern of these chapters we've seen the chapters 14 through this chapter and the next chapter as well are a portion of the gospel in which Jesus is teaching the disciples but what happens is that he teaches them. They begin to understand a little bit about what he's teaching other words, as a sort of triumph of fate. Then they immediately fail and fall backward take the 14th chapter. For instance there. Jesus comes walking to the disciples on the water, Peter sees that he recognizes that it Jesus can do it by the power of Jesus he can do it to him so he asked the Lord to invite him to come. Jesus does he start walking on the water right triumph of faith. But then sooner is he out on the water than he looks around at the churning waves to state fails and he begins to sink. Jesus brings Peter back into the boat, saving his life and he speaks a word for the water all columns down the disciples are very impressed and told us that they thought I begin to worship him as God, then later on worried because something Jesus is said is offended, the Pharisees and slowly sink down at that point to very human level you think. In chapter 16 of the great triumph of faith by Peter when Jesus says who do you say that I am in again, the response probably speaking for the others. We believe you are the Christ, the son of the living God. Wonderful advance in their understanding, but as soon as Jesus began to talk about the necessity of his death, Peter speaks actually with the voice of Satan trying to dissuade him from doing that which alone would be a means of accomplishing Peter's own salvation we have that pattern again and again we have progress followed by abject failure. We have understanding followed by misunderstanding and the sad thing of course is the czar pattern to we all move ahead spiritually. Then we fall back again when we fall back and realize how prone we are to failure and the sin we come to appreciate the grace of our God who understands what we are. Psalm says he knows our frame, he remembers that we are dust when we come to when we find that is patient with us and strengthens us. We find that Jesus here is a very patient teacher, I would look at this section of the gospel, and we find that although Mark's gospel is shorter than Matthews.

Mark stories are longer and this is one example is a lot of details that Matthew doesn't give.

For example, Matthew doesn't tell us about the boys symptom smart Rosenblatt in some detail. Sounds like epilepsy when we read it there, although its associated here with some kind of demonic possession again. Mark tells us a lot about the father's faith.

This is the story in which the father says the words we often quote, not even realizing where they come from. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. That's the kind of thing you have in Mark, Matthew doesn't give any of that course, the reason he doesn't is that he's concentrating here on the disciples lack of faith seem surprising at first glance that the disciples would've failed in this area because Jesus had given them authority to cast out demons earlier. Presumably they had done it.

Now they have tried to cast an evil spirit out of this boy and they fail in the obvious question is why why we succeed earlier but we're failing now that's a question they bring to Jesus, they say, why couldn't we drive it out. Verse 19 what Jesus says here is this is because you have so little faith turned to Mark's account of the same story. And Jesus says they have this kind can come out only by prayer. Presumably, he said both. But those are not in conflict actually part of the same thing. We understand how their part of the same thing. When we begin to study Matthew story. Now when Jesus tells the disciples that they have such little faith. It's not matter of quantity that he's talking about.

Although that's what we naturally think when we see the word little in the reason it can't be that is because he explains in the next verse that if you have faith even as small as a grain of mustard seed, you can speak to this mountain, say be moved from Hansen Adobe movie does mean that literally, of course, that's a figure of speech first difficult things enormous overpowering chassis of the evening up a little bit of faith you can deal with the most monumental task, so it's not that the disciples must've at least that much faith in some sense they wouldn't even have tried to cast the demon out onto the amount of faith in Jesus is talking about what is referring to here is a faith that is deficient.

It's not the kind of thing that's not true enough they actually do accomplish what has to be done. Very clear what he said earlier about an unbelieving and perverse generation with the unbelieving generation. It's a generation without faith.

That's what he's talking about a thing you don't have the kind of faith that is effective.

I want to talk about faith. I usually say that faith has three elements and I've said it many times, I'm sure you remember that it is content just believe, you believe something that's why Bible teaching is so important. Secondly, it involves a central agreement with what is taught you will just tear written all what you say yes, that's true. I believe it.

And thirdly, it also involves this personal element because it all has to do with Jesus Christ. And so it really has to do with trusting him or committing oneself to him. I was sent third element that was lacking here. So my show matter of content or agreement. The disciples understood and believed in a lot of things, but what they were really entering into is that personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God that was essential problem by you put it this way is that they were approaching the pattern of this exorcism is a formula expecting inevitable results. It's exactly the kind of thing that's embodied in the error that we have and that Latin expression X (Toronto, it means from the work. The results of the work words if you just go through the mechanics of the thing.

The results are gonna happen. I say that's an error because it's been associated in some forms of Christian theology with the sacraments at the believe anything you just have to do the sacrament of you. Your baptize is automatically become a Christian and you go to the Lord's supper.

Well just automatically receive grace because the grace is communicated with that.

Now that's not the Bible's teaching sacraments are signs the signs of the reality of the reality has to be there for the side to be worth anything at all was. It doesn't happen automatically. What you have to have is a personal relationship with God now. That's one of the two lessons in order to be effective serving God. We need a continuing effective relationship with him is easy to have an experience of God's grace which is genuine, for which we are thankful. As a result of which we grow very quickly deteriorate into something purely mechanical. We go to church, mechanical way, but we don't really go there to meet with God and so it's easy for nothing actually to happen. We read our Bibles were supposed to do that but is not really in a personal, prayerful way and so becomes mechanical and is very easy to become, dry, and corrects, but really offensive even in having a right theology brutally Orthodox, we might say, I point out it's even possible to teach a class or preach sermons have exactly the same thing happened you get kind of mechanical and how you do it there certain things you do there certain ways you speak of certain commentaries that you study and when you've done all that you put it all out but it's not necessarily the kind of thing in which God is operating.

Nothing, however good in itself can substitute for a personal, continuing and trusting relationship to God is the second lesson.

There are no shortcuts to spiritual authority. Disciples must've been pursuing our shortcut when they were trying to do this exorcism do the right thing say the right words get the right formula didn't work when they needed to do is to go back to Jesus to learn what they were doing wrong and to seek his instruction and his grace with they do here when they did begin to grow and the result of that is that the later Luke tells us about it in the 10th chapter. When Jesus sends about together with a much larger group of disciples they come back rejoicing at what they say is this, Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name when I say just because you fail in the first effort doesn't mean you're going to fail forever should do or failure should always do is drive us back to the Lord Jesus Christ learn from him and to be renewed is only the first of these failures.

The second one here is handled briefly in the recent courses that it's going to occur again. Jesus teaches them about his death and resurrection. They don't really understand it.

He has a little bit here to what he had predicted earlier. This is the second time explicitly told them about his death and resurrection he had done it in chapter 16, saying that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law and that he must be killed on the third day be raised to life and I was stressing the necessity of his passion, it was necessary that he do what he must go to Jerusalem and die when he stresses. Here is the certainty of his death. In other words, that word must becomes the word, will they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life. So there's a change there is adding to it also adds here some teaching about his betrayal. He had mentioned that earlier and later on he is going to add the fact that the chief priests and the teachers of the law going to turn them over to the Gentiles and is going to be mocked and eventually killed by them and still further on it even going to identify the betrayer going to be Judas. Matthew 26, 25, the disciples understand this. How some of it, perhaps because the section ends by saying that the disciples were filled with grief seem to be getting the point that Jesus would be killed that they would lose them and yet they can understand why the death was necessary or what it meant and they certainly didn't understand anything about the resurrection what Mark says in his account as they did not understand what he meant that they were afraid to ask him about it and Luke adds that what he meant was hidden from them so they didn't grasp it, unless a second all the failures in the section. Here's the third has to do with Peter when the band of the disciples arrived back in Capernaum on what turns out now to be the final journey to Jerusalem late collectors of the temple tax come to Peter and ask Jesus paid it Jesus and this is immediately defended by Peter Ohl.

Of course he pays, said Peter, but he was speaking too quickly and to inappropriately is money of Peter's comments were it's worth knowing something about this taxis to Brockman tax was for the upkeep of the temple and it was based on instructions for the tax that Moses gave in Exodus 30 versus 11 to 16. It was fixed as 1/2 shekel half shekel was the same thing as to Brockman's for drachmas to a shekel and it was required of every Jewish male over 19 years of age now, nothing in Exodus is that this tax was to be annual to be given once but of course we all know that attacks that's imposed just for a short period of time very soon becomes a permanent thing and the medevac is likely to go up but at any rate, this should become customary to be paid on an annual basis. There were some exceptions. Rabbis were exempt. So were the priests administered in Jerusalem. The Sadducees disapproved up at the Qumran community where the Dead Sea Scrolls came from people they are paid only once in a lifetime. So it wasn't a blinding kind of thing rabbis were exempted. You can understand how the question would arise. Jesus was a rabbi. It wasn't a binding tax, although about Jews were expected to pay it.

Keep up the temple, just the way we would give to support a local church and so they actually commonly want to know whether Jesus doesn't was only half shekel calling in Jesus day so it was quite common for two men to go together and plant with a single shekel which of course is what Jesus said Peter would find in the fishes mouth. We ask what is the story about well, Jesus explains that when he takes advantage of Peter's inappropriate response to instruction. Apparently, the exchange between Peter and the collectors of the tax took place outside when the disciples came inside into the home.

It might've been Peter's home there in Capernaum. Jesus initiated the discussion by asking Peter from whom the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes from their own sons or from others. The right answer, of course, he said from others, well then said Jesus, the sons are exempt what he meant is that since kings do not collect taxes from their own sons no more. Would God the father require attacks for the upkeep of the temple from his son Lord Jesus Christ at the very least what that is teaching is the unique deity of Jesus Christ sort of thing that just sort of came naturally in price expression. Certainly, Peter should've gotten Avenue there's more to it than that. One thing that comes out has Jesus explains what is going on is the importance of inoffensive conduct. Jesus explained that although he was exempt from paying us to Brockman tax. He would buy it because he didn't want to give offense didn't want to offend the temple authorities and it wasn't necessary to defend them he would do it when the truth of the gospel was at stake. He certainly wasn't afraid of offending those in authority, but that wasn't necessary. Here what he wanted to do was get along as much as possible. The New Testament word for an offense is a word scandal on word from which we get our word scandal, but it always means that kind of behavior that offends someone in a personal life or because it speaks spiritually that causes them to stumble spiritually.

Her trip up.

That's the kind of thing that's involved. Here Jesus is saying that none of us should do anything. Whatever our rights may be that would cause another person to get in trouble spiritually balls is exactly the same thing in first Corinthians, when he wrote we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Jesus Christ. Tracy Rylands great Anglican Bishop and evangelical. He wrote very wisely.

At this point saying we don't have to fight for our rights all the time. What we need to do is be careful not to offend others respect to our being citizens of the country are members of the church or even inhabitants of the neighborhood what's of things. So the government does. We don't approve, but doesn't mean we have to dissociate ourselves from it is not critical for our real task which is the proclamation of the gospel singing stroma church. Churches always do things wrong church is perfect. We don't have to dissociate ourselves from because we are part of the fellowship and our task is the proclamation of the gospel. Same thing with our neighbors neighbors do things that are offensive to us. You know, move out of the neighborhood you're there in order to witness to your neighbor so you allow many of those things to go by in order to get the work done. That's one of the things that Jesus teaches clearly. Secondly, what is teaching here is that Christians ought to pay taxes on some commentators make a point of saying that this tax was for the support of the temple in Jerusalem that was almost a matter of nationalistic pride to private and it was different from taxes leveled by the Romans, which most of the conquered people, especially the Jews would resent seem to be a way of making a helpful distinction here. For this reason, Jesus words reach beyond the merely Jewish tax.

He gives this illustration about kings and whether they require taxes are gone, from whom they require them. He uses two words their duty and taxes first word duty translates the Greek word Talay refers to local taxes collected by a local custom official. The local custom officials were called to lonely translated tax collectors in our Bible.

The older Bibles translated Republican Republican and the Pharisee tax collector of the Pharisees. An example in the second word taxes actually translates cancel us, which was the word used for ahead tax based upon the tax rolls is that the list of the names of those who were subject to that taxes from backward we get our English word census you put all that together and what this suggests is that the principle of paying taxes so as not to give offense extends beyond this merely local Jewish tax to all taxes and it tells us that this is the right mission responsibility couple other things are worth thinking about here for one thing, if this gospel was written after A.D. 70, as it may have been year when the temple was destroyed is worth remembering that Vespasian was the Emperor at the time required since the temple was destroyed and no longer needed to be kept up by Jewish taxes that this accident were talking about here should be applied instead to the treasury of the temple of Jupiter Linus in Rome, which meant a pagan temple of pagan worship. You understand how not only Jews but even Christians would be troubled by that they really pay a tax that would go to the upkeep of the pagan temple and what Matthew would be saying at this point is yes, that's right, we are citizens of the state and we have to pay taxes even if the taxes are wrongly used was another thing that's worth thinking about here. Remember that this is the only place in the four Gospels that this particular story occurs on or as it occurs in Matthew's gospel and what was Matthew before he became a follower of Jesus Christ.

He was a tax collector of the words he heard all the objections to paying taxes so he takes advantage of his gospel to put in this story includes the teaching of Jesus Christ in the matter, saying something you ought to do and even being a tax collector is not utterly unworthy profession five chapters later in Matthew makes the same point because the records this test that the people gave of Jesus and were trying to catch up with the time tried a number of different ways. One of them had to do with taxes. They ask her mother was right to pay taxes to Caesar or not. The point I'm making here Caesar Roman government was using taxes of all kinds of offensive way. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar. Matthew tells us how Jesus asked for chlorine.

I gave them a calling essence picture was on the coining said rightly. Well, Caesar. Caesar always had his picture on the coins were also Jesus eases money, give it back to them of the onset and to Caesar what is Caesar's, but then he added, remember to pray to God what is God's word.

Caesar has a legitimate authority has been given to him by God but is not an absolute authority. Authority is given to Caesar by God while you should recognize the legitimate authority of the secular state should be most concerned of all to serve God and be faithful to him. Paul said the same thing in Romans 13 section of that great New Testament book in which he talks about the relationship of the Christian to the state. Paul says there is a comes to the end of it. So give everyone what you owe him you will taxes pay taxes of revenue and revenue with respect and respect water and honor, I sometimes say that although the government does things we don't like with our taxes and also does many good things that we need with our taxes.

It's our taxes that support the armed forces that keep the peace courts. The attempt to administer justice taxes pay for the national parks, food inspectors, the FBI, some systems of education, air traffic controllers. The highway system state taxes maintain the state highways universities the courts local taxes provide for the city schools tracks collection firefighters, police, and so on its use taxes that make possible a stable society in which we have the privilege of sharing the gospel. Well enough about taxes we come to the end of this chapter now and is worth looking back over it. I began it by talking about Valley is mountaintop's last time I talked about mountaintop experiences here were down in the valley were noticing that were always going to have valleys we can avoid them. What we have here in the second half of the chapter are failures and we can, by the grace of God avoid a lot of those. What we have in Matthew 17 are pointers the way many of our failures can be overcome me to share them with you briefly. First of all, the chapter teaches that we need to listen to Jesus on the mountain. Peter thought he had to say something and so he blurted out his idea about the three shelters, one for Moses and one for Elijah and one for Jesus all that God told him to shut up for a moment and listen to Jesus instead what you and I need to do that we need more time actually listening to Jesus in order to do that we have to read the Bible and read it prayerfully. We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded by voices and images to because television always with us. It's very hard to find time to get away and be quiet, but we need to we need to be quiet so we can hear the Lord. Secondly, were taught in this chapter that we need to take up our cross like the glory but were not nearly so enthusiastic about cross bearing on yet that's what Jesus is telling his disciples, rooster glory, but it has to be proceeded by the cross. No crown without the cross is what he saying so were called here to identify with him and that walk the walk of righteousness, which is going to require suffering, it is only through self-denial that we can be Christ followers. Thirdly, we need to know our weakness because we are weak. Peter is an example here. Peter had a very high opinion of himself are going to find out later in the gospel when Jesus began to talk about all the disciples falling away and denying him.

Peter protested that although that might be true of the others. And certainly wouldn't be true Kim. He said even if all fall away on account of you I never will. But he did and denied the Lord three times what he had the learn was how weak he really was himself a good do nothing when he understood that that he was ready to draw near was master of the strength that he needed and when he did that he actually became stronger useful is the fourth thing. Maybe the most important thing of all.

Keep your faith personal is no substitute for a personal growing faith in God who is personal. The doctrines of the Bible important. Yes of course they are is why we spend so much time teaching them. We don't know who God is, how sinful we are, what is done to save us, or how we should live.

The Christian life apart from God's revelation of these things in Scripture, but knowledge alone saves no one. Christianity doesn't consist merely in collecting information is service important guests at the Bible says not only that we are ordained to salvation but were ordained to do good works on is plenty of important things for us to do even that's not the most important thing the most important thing is that we get to know God, we develop a personal relationship with him and that we serve him faithfully and consistently because we love them that relationship more than anything else will keep us from the kind of failures we see placed so clearly before us in Matthew 17 spray her father re-confess our failures, we confess our sin, recognize we are but dust. Given that our best were unprofitable servants that were called to be servants were called to discipleship.

Above all, we have the privilege of coming to know you and loving you through Jesus Christ, to bless us as we try to do that confess our failures now provide that forgiveness that we need the cleansing that renewal order.

We might learn from the past and go on strongly into the future and accomplish things for you by the power of our Lord pray in Jesus name.

You are listening to the Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce, a listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich and and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888. You can also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia PA 19103 or you can visit us online at alliance and that God Lord for Canadian gifts mail those 2237 Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON, and 1C, two line 9 asking a free resource catalog featuring books, audio commentaries, booklets, videos, and a wealth of other materials from outstanding reformed teachers in the illusion. Thank you again for your continued support and for listening to Bible study

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