Paul said that we should be all about speaking the truth in love and that's wonderful but it's not always easy to do. We can be tempted to just focus on the truth, speaking the truth and leave out the love. Or we can be all about love, love, love and we can leave out the truth. So speaking the truth in love is the magical combination. The Bible tells us there is a time to be silent and a time to speak up. And today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Skip explores the times when we need to speak up and how God works powerfully through you when you speak for him. But before we begin, we want to tell you about a resource that will encourage you even more in your faith. Our lives rotate around crucial moments and decisions where everything changes.
We call them pivot points. Here's Skip Heitzig. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while if need be, you have been grieved by various trials. Do you think Peter is actually saying that there are times when God knows you need a trial? Is that what he's saying? Uh-huh.
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Please call 800-922-1888 or give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer. Thank you for partnering with us. Okay, we'll be in Matthew Chapter 14 for today's study, so let's join Skip Heitink. A group of researchers wanted to study how different people think, so they brought a small group of folks and called for a little short test. Took people from different walks of life. The first one that came in the room with the researchers was an engineer, and they say, we have one simple question we want you to answer. Two plus two equals what? And so the question was asked, and the engineer kind of looked quizzically and said, well, if you're speaking in absolute terms, two and two equals four. They were writing notes down.
They thanked him very much and dismissed him, and he went on his way. Next person to come in the room was an architect, and she sat down, and the researcher said, we have one question to ask you. Two plus two makes what? And she paused a moment and said, well, there are several possibilities. Sure, two and two equals four, but three and one also makes four. Two and a half and one and a half also makes four. So it's all about choosing the right option, spoken like an architect. The third person they brought into the room was an attorney, and they said, we have one simple question.
Two plus two equals what? The attorney looked at the researchers, looked around the room suspiciously, furtively, asked if he could close the door for privacy, came back to the table, leaned into the researchers and said, well, you tell me, what would you like it to be? Now, I know that attorneys often get the brunt of a lot of jokes like that, but there's a moral to this story. We can be tempted to do exactly that when it comes to the truth. We have truth, but the people hearing the truth may be offended if we speak the truth, and so we're tempted to sort of bend in their direction.
What do you want it to be? What is your truth versus my truth? In Ephesians 4, Paul said that we should be all about speaking the truth in love, and that's wonderful, but it's not always easy to do. We can be tempted to just focus on the truth, speaking the truth, and leave out the love, or we can be all about love, love, love, and we can leave out the truth. So speaking the truth in love is the magical combination. By the way, you need to know this. Speaking the truth in and of itself is an act of love. It is. One of the best, most loving things you could ever do to another person is to be honest, to tell them the truth, no matter what it is.
If you can add to that a loving disposition, then you'll be further down the road. Solomon, in Ecclesiastes chapter 3, said there is a time to keep silence, and there is a time to speak. Elijah the prophet thought it was time to speak when he confronted Ahab and Jezebel. Samuel the prophet thought it was time to speak when he confronted King Saul with his disobedience. Daniel the prophet believed it's time to speak when Belshazzar the king was pridefully indulging in idolatry. Nathan the prophet thought it was time to speak when he pointed his finger at King David after his adultery and said, you are the guy who did this.
You're the man. All of them spoke up. Now, it is dangerous to speak up. We'll talk a little bit about that here. But you know, there are consequences if you don't speak up.
It's dangerous if you don't. Edmund Burke is famous for a lot of things, but one of the most famous things he said is, all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. And I think we could say with this message, all that is needed for evil to triumph is also for good men and women to say nothing. That was the problem that was the problem in World War II and Nazi Germany.
Many of the churches were silent when the atrocities of the Third Reich became known. I picked up a book again recently. I think you've heard of it. 1984 by George Orwell. It's amazing how contemporary that book has become these days. George Orwell said this, if liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they don't want to hear. I believe that, but I also believe that what complicates telling people what they may not want to hear is that today especially, people get offended so easily.
In fact, I think it's not beyond the stretch to say ours is the most offended generation in all of history. And you say something and people need a safe space to process that in. In Matthew chapter 14, it's a very refreshing story really. It's a story about a man of God who confronts a governing authority and he speaks up, he speaks out, he is not silent, he overcomes the giant of silence, but it cost him.
It cost him his life in this case. What I want to do is look at the first 10 verses of Matthew chapter 14 with you. I want to consider it in three segments. The first segment being the guilty conscience of a politician. So it's John the Baptist and a politician named Herod the Tetrarch and it's really not a story about them per se. It's a story about how Herod is reacting to the ministry of Jesus, but then Matthew harkens back to an example to show us why he is feeling a certain way because of something that happened.
Let's read the story. At that time, Herod the Tetrarch heard the report about Jesus and said to his servants, this is John the Baptist. He is risen from the dead and therefore these powers are at work in him. For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, because John had said to him, it is not lawful for you to have her. And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod's birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. Therefore, he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. And in Mark's account of this same story, he said that Herod promised her up to half his kingdom. So she, verse 8, having been prompted by her mother, said, give me John the Baptist's head here on a platter. And the king was sorry, nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her.
So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. The name Herod is one of the most famous names in all of the New Testament. But whenever you read the name Herod, they're not always the same guy.
It's a very complex family system. The Herod that we read about here is not the famous Herod that shows up in the beginning of the gospel stories who is called Herod the Great. Now Herod the Great, who is the father of this Herod, was a notorious, cold-blooded murderer. He would kill members of the Jewish ruling class, Sanhedrin, if they disagreed with his policies. He on one occasion murdered his own wife. He on another occasion murdered two of his sons.
He on another occasion tried to murder all the baby boys in Bethlehem and the environs to kill Jesus Christ. That's Herod the Great. This is Herod's son, Herod Antipas. Now Herod the Great died shortly after that whole Bethlehem scene. He died, and before he died, he gave his empire of ruling Israel to his sons.
Half went to Herod Archelaus, a quarter of it went to Herod Philip, and another quarter of it went to this guy, Herod Antipas, who ruled what is called Perea and Galilee. So it is that Herod Antipas. Now what Matthew is doing is giving us a literary flashback to help us understand how John the Baptist was killed. So the idea that he hears about Jesus, Herod hears about Jesus Christ, and immediately thinks, it's the guy I killed! Because he is plagued with a guilty conscience.
Now, something else. Herod Antipas ruled over Galilee. Most of Jesus' miracles took place in Galilee. So the teachings of Jesus, the miracles of Jesus, the controversy swirling around the person of Jesus Christ was coming to the ears of Herod. And Herod says it's John the Baptist. So what it shows us is that whatever time elapsed between the death of John the Baptist and the report of Jesus in the ears of Herod, this guy is suffering from a guilty conscience because of what he had done. And what did he do? And what did he do? Why is his conscience guilty? Herod murdered the one man who called him out on his sin, mentioned in verse 4.
It's unlawful for you to have her, he said. Now let me give you the backstory of that. On one occasion, this guy, Herod Antipas, was in Rome. While he was in Rome, he seduced the wife of his brother, Herod Philip. Her name was Herodias. He lured her away from Philip to himself to marry her. In order to do that, he had to divorce his first wife. His first wife was the daughter of King Aretas of Arabia. When King Aretas of Arabia heard about how his son-in-law treated his daughter, he almost had Herod killed, but Rome intervened.
So it's a mess. This family is dysfunctional to say the least. And the chick that he's hooking up with here, Herodias, herself, she has such a sordid background. She's one of the most wicked women in all of the Bible. Because we read in this account and in the Gospel of Mark's account that she told her daughter to dance before Herod to get something she wanted done. And the dance was a very lustful, sensual dance.
Scholars believe the daughter was between age 14 to age 16. Can you imagine using your daughter to dance sensually, sexually, lustfully before a king so that you could get that king to do what you want? In fact, look at verse 6. When Herod's birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them. And notice the word pleased and pleased Herod.
That word pleased is a euphemism for being sexually aroused. So John the Baptist called them out. Herodias, the new wife, gets involved. John the Baptist gets executed. So Matthew is filling us in on the back story. This is how J the B, John the Baptist, died. Here's what happened to him.
This is how he got killed. Now when that happened and for during this time, this whatever time period it was, Herod felt uneasy about what he had done. Because look at verse 9. It says, and the king was sorry. I just got to say, that's not a strong enough word when you kill people.
Gee, I'm sorry that I did that. And the king was sorry, nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it, that is the head of John the Baptist, to be given to her. Herod was remorseful, but Herod was not repentant. There's a big difference between being remorseful for a situation and being repentant of your sin. The Bible says godly sorrow produces repentance. This is not godly sorrow.
Produces no repentance. Herod was a politician. And Herod, like most politicians, was fearful of ratings. He was fearful of people. He was afraid of Jesus in verse 2. He's afraid of his wife in verse 3. He is afraid of the crowds in verse 5. He's afraid of his peers in verse 9.
And according to Luke chapter 6, he was afraid of John the Baptist. And you got to know, fear is a poor motivator. If you make judgments and decisions and live your life by fear, you will constantly make bad decisions. And he made a whole list of them.
But, politicians will do almost anything to get elected, and once elected, they will do anything to stay in power. And so he had fear. He's driven by fear. Got to protect.
Got to protect. On the other hand, John the Baptist also had fear. But the fear that John the Baptist had was the good kind of fear. He had the fear of the Lord. The fear of God. The Bible speaks so much about why that's so good. To live with the respect, literally, the idea of reverence and respect for God. That's a holy fear.
That's a healthy fear. So he had the fear of God. Herod did not have the fear of God. Herod was consumed by, controlled by, the fear of men. But not John the Baptist.
And because of that, he did what he did and said what he said. See, when you fear God, you don't have to fear anybody else. When you fear God, you don't have to fear anything else. If you kneel before God, you can stand up to anybody. And John the Baptist is a case in point.
So let's kind of zero in on the issue here. Because we are given in verse 4 the courage, the gutsy courage, of this prophet. It's a short sentence. It says, Because John said to him, and obviously this was a public declaration to him, it is not lawful for you to have her, that is your brother's wife. It's not lawful. Now what law was he referring to? Not Roman law. Jewish law.
It is not lawful for you to have her. If you've read much of the New Testament, in fact, it really takes just one reading of it. You don't have to even get very far in it. But you come up to a point about John the Baptist pretty quickly. The man was not a diplomat. The man was a prophet. He was hard hitting. He was outspoken.
Time and time again, very bold, very courageous. When he comes on the scene, John the Baptist almost singularly beat one drum. The drum of repentance. That was his first message.
Repent. For the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And then different groups came to him and he confronted them. He said to the religious leaders who came to him and chided him, You brood of vipers. That's a King James way of saying, You bunch of slimy snakes.
Who warned you to flee from the wrath that is to come? See, he was not a diplomat. And then tax collectors came and he said, Don't overtax people. The soldiers came to him. He said, Don't intimidate people.
So he was always up front, honest, bold, courageous. Preaching the gospel. Just preaching the gospel.
It's going to cost you and be offensive. The first recorded message out of John the Baptist's mouth, repent. The first recorded message out of the mouth of Jesus Christ, repent. So I'm guessing that the first message, or at least early on in the conversation, out of our mouth to unbelievers is going to be what? Repent.
I'm guessing. I mean if I follow the role model of the New Testament, John and Jesus, early on in the conversation, he called people to repent, to turn around, to change, to inform people of the danger they are in. The gospel, you know what the gospel means?
What does gospel mean? Tell me. Good news. It's good news. But do you know that the good news begins with the bad news? You see, if you don't know the bad news, the good news isn't all that good. Really. It's just, okay, it's another religion.
No, no, no. You need to understand how good the good news is by understanding how bad that bad news is. It's bad. And the bad news is all people left alone are facing the sure eternal punishment of a righteous holy God in hell. That's pretty bad.
Don't get much worse than that. Of course, the good news is God loves you. God will forgive you. But you must repent.
You must turn around. And that message of the gospel is a hard-hitting message. I just want to say, don't try to remove the offense. If you try to remove the offense of the gospel, you are doing the devil's work.
People need to know why the good news is so good and the danger they are in without Christ. So, I'm not saying you should try to be offensive. Don't do that. Try to be respectful. Try to be nice. We covered that last week. But listen, even with a smile on your face and a hug, the message of the gospel itself is offensive.
Right? Peter called Jesus a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense. And Paul said the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. So, just living in a secular culture, bringing the good news of Jesus Christ as being the only means by which a person could ever be saved, it's going to rock people's world. It's going to get people uncomfortable. They're not going to like hearing that they're bad off and need Him. But here's what I want you to see.
I want you to notice something here. John the Baptist does not confront Herod with a salvation message. He confronts him with a moral issue. Adultery. Again, verse 4, it is not lawful for you to have her.
Now, just hold that thought. Why does he do this? I mean, here he's talking to a king, a monarch, saying you shouldn't have other women. What king doesn't have other women? That's what kings did, especially in ancient times.
They had a whole slew of women at their disposal. So, why does John the Baptist, at the risk of his own life, confront a political authority with a moral issue about his personal life? And that is the affair that he had, the marriage that he had, to Herodias. That's Skip Hytzen with a message from his series, Hunting Giants. Now, here's Skip with an important message for you. Simply put, God's Word has the power to change lives. That's why together we're taking these Bible teachings to more people around the world, because we want to see lives transformed. If you've been encouraged by these teachings and have grown closer to Christ through His Word, then I want to ask you to give a gift today to help make these teachings available in more places and through more outlets. Your generous gift will help others experience the power of God's life-changing Word. Here's how you can do that today. Give us a call at 800-922-1888 to give a gift.
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So thank you for giving generously. Before we close, we invite you to check out the Connect with Skip mobile app. You'll have access to a treasure trove of Skip's messages right at your fingertips. Find more information at connectwithskip.com slash app. And come back next week as Skip Heitzig shares about the heavy cost for obediently following Jesus and the priceless ultimate reward when you do so. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
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