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Follow Jesus But Don’t Be Religious - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
May 7, 2023 6:00 am

Follow Jesus But Don’t Be Religious - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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May 7, 2023 6:00 am

Jesus clashed with religious leaders more than any other group of people. He went against their spiritual grain and challenged their legalistic ideas. Christ made it clear that He hadn’t come to establish a new religion but rather to show the way to God His Father. He didn’t give people another “system of beliefs and practices”; instead He said that He Himself was the way, truth, and life. In this public confrontation, we learn how to follow Christ in truth and not be religious.

Connect with Skip Heitzig
Skip Heitzig
Connect with Skip Heitzig
Skip Heitzig
Connect with Skip Heitzig
Skip Heitzig
Connect with Skip Heitzig
Skip Heitzig
Connect with Skip Heitzig
Skip Heitzig
Connect with Skip Heitzig
Skip Heitzig

Would that be fair to say doctrine is important?

Because the Bible mentions it a lot. So if that's so true, then why is it that so many people, including some Christians, like to talk about doctrine like it's some dirty word? Oh, I'm not into doctrine. You're not?

Really? Since doctrine means teaching good, wholesome teaching truth. No, I'm not into doctrine.

That's that technical stuff. I'm just into Jesus. Jesus is into doctrine. Welcome to Connect with Skip Weekend Edition. Among the many religions of the world, Christianity is truly unique. Why?

Well, because it's not a religion. Now I know that might sound a little confusing, but Skip Heitzig will clear it all up for us today in Connect with Skip Weekend Edition. But before we get to today's study, we want to let you know about a timely resource. Here's a great way to show your appreciation for a mother in your life. It's the Heart Songs Package, which features a teaching series on the Psalms led by Lenya and Janae Heitzig. Psalm 45 is a love song. And in it, you're going to find a groom and a bride, and it's their wedding day.

And it includes an ornate dress and bridesmaids and perfume and gifts and guests. The Heart Songs Package also includes a beautiful geology quiet time journal and a bag of Skip's library roast coffee. It's a great gift to honor a special woman in your life with encouragement and strength as she studies God's word and spends time in prayer, all while enjoying a delicious cup of the coffee Pastor Skip loves. The Heart Songs Package is our thanks for your gift to help share biblical teaching and encouragement with others through the broadcast ministry of Connect with Skip Heitzig.

So be sure to request yours when you give online securely at slash offer or call 800-922-1888. We'll cover verse 14 through 24 of John chapter seven. So if your turn there, Skip Heitzig gets us started with a little explanation of why he isn't religious. One of the mistakes that people make in trying to size me up is that I'm a religious person.

It couldn't be further from the truth, but I often get that. Oh, you're you're a religious person. They see my Bible. You're a religious person.

And I quickly get on that and say couldn't be further from the truth. I am not a religious person. And the reason being is because religion has the connotation of being about a system rather than about a person, a system rather than about a relationship.

One dictionary defines religion as a set of religious beliefs or practices, usually involving a devotional and ritual observance. But following Jesus Christ is so different. It's more about him than it is about those things.

We might do some of those things or certain ones might do some of those things more than others. But the core is not those things. The core is Jesus himself. And Jesus Christ is God's refreshing solution to man's failed religious attempts. Eli Jones, called East Stanley Jones, who was a missionary to India, put it this way, said Christianity has its creeds, but it's not a creed. Christianity has its rights, R.I.T.E.S., but it's not a right. Christianity has its observances and institutions, but it's not an institution.

Says Jones, Christianity is Christ and our response to him. Now, there is a concerted effort by some in our country, especially, but around the world, and that is attended toward secularism and with that Darwinian idealism, trying to make the world less religious. Well, they're on a boat to nowhere because 86% or greater of the 7 billion people on earth would be considered religious. That is, they have some belief of some kind in some supernatural entity or system.

Eighty six percent, says one author. Religious people build cathedrals and build pyramids, and even today, some people slaughter goats and chickens on altars. Religious people sometimes will forego certain foods. Some are even willing to die for their religious beliefs. But, as I think we're going to see here, it can be dangerous because people have not only died for their religious beliefs, but killed others for their religious beliefs.

I don't think I can say it any more strongly than this. God hates religion. Religion sends people to hell. Let me sum it up this way.

There's a simple definition. Here's religion. Me coming to God on my terms.

That's religion. Me coming to God on my terms, my agenda. I decide what God is like. I decide how God should be approached.

It's me coming to God on my terms, rather than God presenting His Son and we coming to God on His terms. There's a big difference between following Jesus and religion. Karl Marx once said, religion is the opiate of the masses.

I agree with him. Religion is the opiate of the masses. But Jesus is the savior of the world. Huge difference.

Huge difference. Did you know there was only one religion that God ever gave to mankind? And that was Judaism. And its rituals and its observances and its rites and institutions are written about in books like Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. That sacrificial system by which a man or a woman would approach God. That's the religion that God gave to man.

That's the only one He ever gave. But then, then He sent His Son to fulfill it all, to complete it all. That's what Jesus meant when He said, don't think that I've come to destroy the law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy.

I have come to fulfill or to complete, teleos, bring it to its completed end. Now we're in chapter 7 of the Gospel of John. And in chapter 7, we see there's a clash. Jesus comes to Jerusalem. There are the religious leaders, the religious elite, let's call them. And when Jesus and the religious people get together, there is a clash over the very nature of truth itself. It's a very plain and very revealing section.

Here's the background. It was the Feast of Tabernacles. And just so you know what that means and what it was like, the Feast of Tabernacles was one of three annual festivals that, well, if you were a Jewish male and you lived within a 20-mile radius of Jerusalem, you had to be in Jerusalem. They were called the Convocation Feast where everybody gets together like one huge religious party in Jerusalem.

The Feast of Tabernacles was the festival that celebrated how God took care of their forefathers in the desert when they were wandering from Egypt through the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land. And they were out there under the stars with the elements and God provided for them. So for seven days a year, one week a year, the people lived in tabernacles or huts or booths, little lean-to shacks made out of leafy branches. And so they might do their business during the day, but they would all come and live and sleep in this booth every night. They'd camp out. So if this festival were done today like that in Jerusalem, it would probably be called the Jerusalem Camping and Recreational Vehicle Convention.

Everybody is there camping out. You'd see booths along the roads, in the alleys, on top of rooftops, everywhere. That's the feast that Jesus comes up to. But what He does and what He says is very revealing about the nature between following Him and religious belief. Let's begin in verse 14 of chapter 7. Now about the middle of the feast, Jesus went up into the temple and taught.

And the Jews marveled, saying, How does this man know letters, having never studied? Jesus answered them and said, My doctrine is not mine, but His who sent me. If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on my own authority. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory. He who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is true, and no one righteousness is in him. Did not Moses give you the law?

Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me? And the people answered and said, You have a demon. Can you imagine saying that to Jesus Christ?

Who is seeking to kill you? Jesus answered and said to them, I did one work, and you all marvel. Moses, therefore, gave you circumcision, not that it's from Moses, but from the fathers, and you circumcised a man on the Sabbath.

If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. So here's Jesus in the temple. The religious elite clash with Him over the nature of truth, and we see the difference just in this little interchange between them. And I want to show you here three things when it comes to the difference between Jesus Christ and religious systems and how to know the difference. Number one, doctrine is essential. You see that word twice in our text, doctrine is essential. Okay, so Jesus goes up to the temple, up to the feast, in the middle of the feast.

We don't know what day it was, maybe third day, maybe fourth day, we don't know. But the first thing Jesus does when He gets to Jerusalem is what? He teaches them. He doesn't form a healing line and heal them. He doesn't feed the multitude like He did in Galilee.

He doesn't present Himself as the political king that they wanted Him to do in chapter six. He comes into the temple and He teaches them. What does He teach them? Doctrine. He uses that word twice, doctrine.

Now let's dig a little bit deeper. Look at verse 14 and notice the word taught. I'm going to give you a little bit of a linguistic lesson. The word taught is the word in Greek, didasko, didasko means instruction or didactic truth, information being passed on, didasko. Then go to verse 16 and notice the word doctrine. That's the word didake, very similar. Didake doctrine, the wholesome teaching, the wholesome teaching.

Something else. The word doctrine is mentioned a lot throughout the New Testament. I discovered just doing a little digging this week, looking at these two words together. In the four gospels, Jesus is said to teach using this word, teach, didasko, 36 times. Thirty-six times Jesus is said to teach.

Forty-seven times Jesus goes by the name of the teacher, didaskolos, same root word. Thirty-three times in the entire New Testament the word doctrine appears. Hold to this doctrine, obey this doctrine, here's this doctrine. So when you put all of these things together, over 80 times where Jesus is called the teacher or teaching and doctrine is talked about, the obvious thing is this. Do you think from a biblical perspective that doctrine is important?

Would that be fair to say? Would that be fair to say doctrine is important? Because the Bible mentions it a lot. So if that's so true, then why is it that so many people, including some Christians, like to talk about doctrine like it's some dirty word? Oh, I'm not into doctrine. You're not?

Really? Because doctrine means teaching good, wholesome teaching truth. No, I'm not into doctrine.

That's that technical stuff. I'm just into Jesus. Well, Jesus is into doctrine.

Doctrine is essential. It's sort of like this. Whenever you buy a gadget, and I like gadgets, and I don't always buy them when they come out, but I'm intrigued. I'm always intrigued.

And so I'll look at it. And if I ever buy the gadget, I know what I'm going to get. I'm going to get a box, and I'm going to find in it, number one, a gadget. Number two, peripherals, little cables and things that plug into the gadget. And number three, a manual that nobody reads, unless the gadget breaks. Then it's all about the manual.

You know, that's how people live their lives, right? God gives us the manual on life, but it's like unopened until something breaks. Jesus, our Savior, in the temple, teaching doctrine, because doctrine is essential. It was God through the prophet Hosea who said, My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.

They're destroyed from lack of knowledge. They don't know the truth. In the early church, they devoted themselves to the apostles' doctrine or teaching.

Same word, didasco or didake. Paul said to young Timothy, Until I come, give attention to reading and exhortation and doctrine. Nothing will help you see through the maze of religion better than just doctrine, truth, about who Jesus is. However, whenever truth gets sidelined and doctrine gets marginalized, you know what happens?

You know what sets up? Religion sets up house right there. I've even heard of people who talk about their church this way. Oh, we're not really into teaching at our church. We don't teach the Bible. It's not really a Bible teaching church. It's about creating an experience. You know, in some churches, seriously, if you were to teach the Bible, it would be like a shock to their system.

Overload. I kid you not. I kid you not. I got a call from a pastor in the Chicago area, and it was such a sincere call. He said, Skip, I listen to your program every day on the radio station. I so want to teach the people, my church, I want to teach them the Bible. Now, I'm on the other end going, I don't know what to say.

Here's a pastor saying, I want to teach my congregation the Bible. So I'm thinking, so like, why don't you? And so I ask him, so like, why don't you? That's what I was thinking.

That's what I asked. He said, they allow me to speak for 15 minutes. I'm thinking, I don't even clear my throat in 15 minutes.

They allow me to speak 15 minutes. And I can't get really too heavy on doctrinal, biblical, I could never teach through the Bible. He said, if I were to teach through the Bible, I would split the church.

It was a sad conversation. And that's the reason we plow deeply here. That's the reason we tell you the background and the setting and the language. Because frankly, my goal is to make you the best fed and best loved congregation around.

And that's why we plow deeply. Here's Jesus Christ and he sat and he taught in the temple. Now I do want to just make a further point about teaching. Teaching as I see it is a bit different than preaching, to proclaim truth. Even though we're all called to preach the gospel and preachers should preach the gospel.

I look at it this way. Once an unbeliever has been preached to and receives Christ, now that young believer must be taught what it means to follow Jesus Christ. But in many places, it's not teaching, it's preaching.

It's loud, it's emotional, it's hoot, it's holler, it's all about that. But no teaching. There might be a lot of exhortation, you need to do this more, you need to do that more.

I mean, poor people are going, could somebody just tell me and teach me how to do that? Teaching. There was a Native American Indian who went into a church that lacked biblical content and the pastor made up for it in that capacity. A lot of shouting and pulpit pounding and more shouting and running back and forth and pulpit pounding. And at the end, people loved it and they said, boy, that guy preached up a storm. Preached up a storm. And they said that to the old Native American Indian. He preached up a storm and they said, well, what do you think about it?

The old man said six words. High wind, big thunder, no rain. That was a storm.

High wind, big thunder, no rain. Jesus taught doctrinal truth. Verse 15 sort of sounds like a compliment, but it is really in the original, the idea of a derogatory statement. The Jews marveled, saying, how does this man know letters, having never studied?

Now, it sounds like they're going, wow. Like, we're so impressed. This guy knows a lot. He's so smart.

Where do you get this stuff? That may be, but everything I've read says this is a derogatory statement. For the word letters here is the word gramata, which refers specifically to rabbinical study of Old Testament writings. You know what they're saying? They're saying, this guy never went to one of our schools. He didn't go to one of our rabbi colleges.

Who does he think he is? So if I may take a little liberty, here's the emphasis of that. And the Jews marveled, saying, how does this man know letters, having never studied? Now, I smile at this, because they're all hung up on letters, and they're talking to the word of life.

The word made flesh, and they're bummed out that he didn't go to Hebrew University. And I go, so? But that's the first and major point is doctrine is essential. And we'll continue with our study of the Gospel of John in this series, Believe 879, next time. But for now, we're going to have to pause and wrap things up for today.

However, before we go, here's Skip and Lenya with some closing thoughts for us. You know, it's a common mistake, Skip, that I've found that people confuse religion with Jesus. You know, if you say Jesus, they just lump you into religious fanatic, or, I don't know, irrelevant, or antiquated. I don't know what their excuses are.

Why do you think that happens? Why the confusion, and what are some of the differences between religion and a relationship with Jesus? I think part of the reason is because the world analytically, historically, has looked at all spirituality and put it in the lump of religious institution, or religious organization, or world religions. And it's a category, and history and sociology can do that and manage the study of that quite nicely, if it's put either in a philosophy category or a metaphysical category or a religious category.

So it helps us kind of understand and study it by putting it in categories. The huge difference is you start reading the Scripture and read that Jesus, so often his greatest enemies were the religious people. So you start seeing a difference between organized religion and following Jesus. And he challenged the religious authorities of his day. One of the big differences is that they emphasized outward, he emphasized inward, the heart. They were about the ritual, he was about the relationship.

So a huge difference between just that. I think the other thing is that religions emphasize prohibition, you can't do this, thou shalt not do this. Jesus emphasizes freedom set free in Christ, that language is replete throughout the New Testament. I think another big difference is that religion sets up barriers, Jesus knocks them down. Paul makes a huge deal in Ephesians about the regulations in the temple and the wall that divided us, a wall of separation, but we're in Christ so all of that is gone. In fact, I would even say this, the only religion God ever gave to humanity was Judaism. In the Old Covenant, he set up the priesthood and he set up sacrifices. All of that was fulfilled, ended, and thus eradicated by its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. You know, I've heard you say before that religion tries to work its way to heaven, but Jesus is the way. Yeah, that's a huge difference.

That's probably the biggest difference, what you just articulated. Instead of saying, I have to do this and do that to earn God's favor or blessing or love, Jesus says, I'll take you as you are and I'll change you into something beautiful and I'll just provide the way for you. Amazing grace. Well, Skip and Lenya, thanks for walking us through that today. And if you'd like a copy of today's message, it's available on CD for just $4 plus shipping when you call us at 1-800-922-1888. Or when you visit Next time, we'll continue in John chapter 7 as we explore whether or not Christianity is something that can be done religiously. Right here in Connect with Skip weekend edition, a presentation of Connection Communications. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the cross and cast your burdens on His word. Make a connection, a connection, a connection. Connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-07 04:34:49 / 2023-05-07 04:43:43 / 9

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