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The Truth About Your Neighbors - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
September 10, 2023 6:00 am

The Truth About Your Neighbors - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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September 10, 2023 6:00 am

Those of us who are Christians live in a sea of unbelievers who work with us, live next to us, shop where we shop, and send their kids to the same schools. Some have a mild case of unbelief disguised by religious practices. Others are more demonstrable in their agnosticism or atheism. Let's watch a local Jerusalem neighborhood struggle against faith in spite of clear evidence.

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The key issue in this neighborhood on this day in John chapter 9 is that one man who was blind can now see. He's been changed by Jesus Christ. The rest of his life presumably he'll be able to see normally, joyfully.

His life has been altered by a single touch of Jesus Christ. The issue becomes what is everybody else going to do with that? Welcome to Connect with Skip Weekend Edition. The concept of neighbors is slowly fading in our culture.

Don't think so? How well do you know your neighbors? How well do you know the people who live in your street?

How much do you know about their lives? The days of having friendly chats over the backyard fence are practically gone. We're placed instead by FaceTime chats on smartphones.

That's really not so bad, but it also really isn't the same. Technology may have us more connected than ever before, but just how in touch are we with our neighbors? That's something we're going to consider today with Skip Heitzig. Hi, this is Pastor Skip, and we have prepared a package about seeing this life through the eyes of eternity.

Here are the details you'll need to receive this resource. Skip Heitzig has some straight talk about hell. The lake of fire is name of a place of eternal torment. You might call it the final hell.

The Bible calls it the second death. So hell is an actual place. There's a second fact I want you to notice, and that is hell is an intentional place. This is critical information about the future of those who reject salvation through Jesus.

But that does not need to be the destiny of any man or woman on earth. That's why we've assembled a special resource called the Eternity Package to give you confidence in your eternal home and an urgency to share Christ with those who don't believe. God created hell for a very specific reason. Verse 41, He will say to those on the left hand, depart from me, you cursed into the everlasting fire. Here it is, prepared for the devil and his angels.

God did not create hell as a place to punish people. The Eternity Package comes with seven of Pastor Skip's most powerful messages about eternity, covering topics like the truth about hell, what most people don't know about heaven, the second coming of Christ, and much more. You'll also receive his booklet, Hell, No, Don't Go, about the glory of heaven and the torment of hell. This powerful new resource is our thanks for your gift of $50 or more to support the broadcast ministry of Connect with Skip Heitzig. So get your copy of the Eternity Package on CD or as a digital download today when you give a gift of $50 or more.

Give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer or call 800-922-1888. Open your Bible to John chapter nine, where we'll start in verse 13 with Skip Heitzig. I want to talk to you today about your neighbors and your neighborhood.

And I mean the sea of humanity that is surrounding us, the people of this world, the people that are all around us, whether they are across the street or across town or across the globe. They are the neighbors in which you and I deal with. Now to do that, to look at that, we want to look at a section of scripture in the book of John that perfectly illustrates a neighborhood. It's a neighborhood setting.

There's a blind man. His parents will be introduced. His friends and neighbors are there and they go to the local spiritual authorities, the Pharisees.

All of that is in their neighborhood. The key issue in this neighborhood on this day in John chapter nine is that one man who was blind can now see. He's been changed by Jesus Christ. The rest of his life presumably he'll be able to see normally, joyfully.

His life has been altered altered by a single touch of Jesus Christ. The issue becomes what is everybody else going to do with that? Now thinking people would say well everybody's going to rejoice with that. Everybody's going to hallelujah sing the hallelujah chorus.

When is the last time they and their neighborhood saw anybody blind instantly healed? And seeing this I'm sure they're going to be so excited. Wrong.

Far from that the exact opposite happens. We see a group of people filled with skepticism, with rancor, intractability. They're angry because of what happened. That's the real neighborhood that they're in. It's a striking story.

It should be. Now let's just leave that for a moment. Let's consider our neighborhood. What is it like in our neighborhood? What is it like with people who live next door to you and around us? What do we in our American neighborhood, what are we dealing with? Have you ever wondered what unbelievers think about you?

What does the unbelieving world by and large think of us, the Christian world? I found a little article in a newspaper, dug it out and we have it on the screen. It's a little bar chart that shows something interesting. Notice it says percent of Americans who would not like the following minorities as neighbors.

This is from the paper. This is from a poll. One percent say they don't want Catholics living next door. Two percent said Protestants.

They don't want Protestants living next door. Three percent they didn't want Jews. Nine percent Hispanics. Twelve percent unmarried couples. Thirteen percent blacks.

Equal with that on the very bottom. Notice who's there. Religious fundamentalists. What that is saying is that in our poll we've discovered that the world doesn't want you living next door to them because you're crazy.

You're one of them. Now actually this is helpful to us. It's helpful to know this because it shows us what we're up against, what is around us. It gives us a little picture and helps us give understanding to where we're at.

I find it very helpful. It shouldn't surprise us either. Throughout history men and women have said some pretty stark, outlandish, vitriolic things against Christians. Now if you're mildly religious you're okay. If you're mildly religious and you sort of believe that there's a God and you attend church every now and then and it's just sort of a cultural thing, no problem. But if you cross over the line, the line being no no Jesus Christ personally means more to me.

In fact I love him and I live my life for him. You're in a different category altogether. Throughout history men have said things about Christians, Voltaire being one of them, the French philosopher said Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd and bloody religion that has ever infected the world. Then Arthur Clarke, an author, a British author, said religion is the most malevolent of all mind viruses.

And who can forget media mogul who started CNN, Ted Turner, who said Christianity is a religion of losers, losers. And he said and I quote, I'm looking forward to dying and going to hell. Okay, because that's where I'm headed he said. Heaven is perfect.

Who wants a place that's perfect? How boring is that? And he spoke of hell and he said at least we'll have a chance to make things better because hell's supposed to be a mess. There's just a few quotes of just a few people, there's thousands more trust me, about what they think about us.

Multiply what you just heard thousands and millions even of times. Now what I want to do today in looking at our section of scripture and we have a pretty ambitious section, verse 13 down to verse 34 today, we want to look at four characteristics of the unbeliever. Four characteristics of the unbeliever that are seen in this text. I want to make clear that these four characteristics are not true of every single unbeliever at all time. Nor are these the only four characteristics that unbelievers exhibit, but there are four that are mentioned in the text and they are true of unbelievers. First of all, unbelievers can be ceremonial.

That is, they can be religious, devoted to ceremonies, even hiding behind the ceremony while not believing in Christ. Verse 13, they brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees. It was the Sabbath when Jesus made clay and opened his eyes so you know what's coming. Then the Pharisees also asked him again, they've already asked him once how it happened, they asked him again how he received his sight and he said to them, he put clay on my eyes and I washed and I see.

I really like this previously blind man because his answers are very clear and concise and simple. How did this happen? Guy put mud on my eyes, told me to go wash, I can see, that's what happened. Therefore, some of the Pharisees said, this man is not from God because he does not keep the Sabbath. Others said, how can a man who's a sinner do such signs?

And there was a division among them. They said to the blind man again, what do you say about him? Because he opened your eyes, he said he is a prophet. Now this represents the religious unbelievers of the world. They love rituals, they love ceremonies, they practice them, they love observances and laws.

And I'm not just speaking about people of other religious persuasions that don't believe in Jesus, I also mean there are plenty of people who sit in church week after week who hide behind the ceremony of being a church member and singing songs and performing rituals who also don't believe in Jesus Christ. Both of those groups are included. Notice in verse 13, the pronoun they. They brought him who was formerly blind to the Pharisees.

Number one, who are they? And number two, why did they bring him to the Pharisees? They are evidently the people who lived around the area where this guy was begging. They saw him, they were friends, they were neighbors. They saw what happened in their neighborhood when Jesus walked through the streets that day in Jerusalem. And they brought the man to the Pharisees. That's because it was a Sabbath day, John explains in the very next verse. And because it's the Sabbath day, we got to check with the Pharisees to see if this is okay. Because I don't know if you can do this on the Sabbath day. So they wanted to check it out with the Pharisees. In Jesus' day, there was something well-known to those people.

It's called the Mishnah. The Mishnah, a collection of writings that had been going on for quite a long time, outlined an entire section of their writing devoted to the Sabbath day. There was a whole tractate or a whole book just about what you can't do in the Sabbath. 39 different kinds of work were forbidden on the Sabbath.

Now, as I tell them to you, you'll kind of get the picture quite easily. Number one, on the Sabbath day, and this is just a smattering, on the Sabbath day, you couldn't walk out of your house if your sandals had little nails in them to hold the leather together. Because you're carrying nails, thus you are bearing a burden on the Sabbath. So if you walk out with slippers, fine. But if you walk out with sandals with nails holding the pieces together, you've broken the Sabbath.

Because you're bearing a burden. Number two, on the Sabbath day, it was forbidden to heal. So if a man had a broken arm, you couldn't set the arm. In fact, the law said on the Sabbath, only if it's a life-threatening situation, can you handle it. And if it is a life-threatening situation, you can only do what is necessary to keep the person alive, but you can't better the person.

I don't know how you balance that. Number three, on the Sabbath day, you can't knead, K-N-E-A-D, knead dough or knead clay. Because you're working, that's labor, that's one of the 39 regulations that the law forbids. Their law, not God's law, their law. Number four, on the Sabbath day, and again, I'm just giving you a smattering of the 39, you cannot spit on the ground. You go, well, that's kind of weird. Yeah, it is.

The best part is yet to come. You know why you couldn't spit on the ground? Because if you'd spit on the ground, the spittle might roll in the dirt. And if it rolls in the dirt, you are now guilty of making a furrow in the earth. And that's plowing, and that's work.

I kid you not. So Jesus did all of those things, and this guy is healed. Oh, moreover, one of their sages was very clear about mud and spittle on the Sabbath day, and that was their sage Maimonides, who said, and I quote, as to fasting spittle, it is not lawful to put so much as upon the eyelids. So here Jesus comes on the Sabbath, makes mud, spits in the ground, kneads it up, and sticks it in the eye.

Every single thing he did was forbidden. And they better check with the Pharisees, because it might not be okay. Okay, Jesus heals on the Sabbath. This is one time he does it. Do you know that in the New Testament gospels, he does it a total of seven times, as if he deliberately chose the Sabbath day to do many of his healing? This is just the one time.

I'll give you the other times. Matthew chapter nine, there was a man in the synagogue in Capernaum with a withered hand. It was the Sabbath day. Jesus healed him on the Sabbath day. Mark chapter one, there is in the synagogue in Capernaum a demoniac, or a man who's demon-possessed, and they're watching to see if Jesus is going to heal him. It's interesting that in the synagogue is the demon-possessed man.

You never know who you're sitting next to in church. Number three, Mark chapter one again, Jesus goes to the house of Peter, because Peter's mother is sick with a fever, and on that Sabbath day, she's healed. Luke chapter 13 is another story of a woman who has a bent over condition.

For 18 years, she's been bent over. On the Sabbath day, Jesus heals her. Another time, Luke chapter 14, there's a man with dropsy, which means his arms and legs were swollen. He lived in Jerusalem. On the Sabbath day, Jesus healed him. And the sixth time, before this one, is John chapter five, the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda. On the Sabbath day, Jesus walks into that area, finds that man, and heals him, and creates a huge stir on the Sabbath day in Jerusalem, making it very clear that Jesus really didn't care a whole lot about their man-made regulations at all, because he did it so deliberately. And here's the point. People can be very devoted, and very committed, and very religious, and love their ceremonies, and still be unbelievers. Jerusalem was filled with them.

Here's the question. Who wouldn't want to see a blind man healed? Who wouldn't get so excited and stoked because a blind man's healed?

Who wouldn't? The people who love policy over people. Policies are more important than people. They strain it and that, Jesus said, and they swallow a camel. They're careful about the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law. And by the way, it wasn't even God's law.

It's just stuff they made up and threw in the pot, and made people keep those values. But they were very, very spiritual people. I've discovered something about spiritual people over the years. I've discovered that spiritual people can say some pretty vicious, acrimonious things, and can do some pretty, pretty nasty things. All in the name of God and spirituality. Napoleon Bonaparte, I don't agree with a lot of what he said, but I agree with this. He said, all religions have been made by men.

That's true. It's man's attempt to create a system by which that man or woman can get to God. All religions have been made by men. And then he said, religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet.

That couldn't be more true in this case. The Pharisees were keeping everybody quiet, everybody under their grip, and these people were so afraid to do anything or allow anything unless they would check first with Mr. Pharisee to see if that was okay because it was the Sabbath day. Now, many of your neighbors in this world are just like this. They are spiritual people. They are religious people. They are devoted people. They are cultured. They're wise. They're sincere.

They're sweet. They're well-meaning, and they are unbelievers because they don't have a relationship with Jesus Christ. That's what this issue is about. In the midst of this religious neighborhood steps Jesus Christ, who changes a man, and everybody has to deal with it. Number two, I want you to notice that unbelievers can be skeptical. Number two, I want you to notice that unbelievers can be skeptical. That doesn't surprise us.

They usually are. That's their skepticism that keeps them as unbelievers. Verse 18, but the Jews did not believe concerning him that he had been blind and received his sight until they called the parents of him who had received sight. And they asked them saying, is this your son who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?

His parents answered and said, we know this is our son. We know that he was born blind, but what means he now sees? We don't know. Or who opened his eyes?

We don't know. He's of age. Ask him.

He'll speak for himself. His parents said these things because they feared the Jews for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed he was the Christ, he'd be put out of the synagogue. Therefore, his parents said he's of age.

Ask him. So they again called the man and they keep bringing the guy in who was blind and said, give God the glory. We know this man that is Jesus is a sinner. He answered and said, whether he's a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I know though I was blind.

Now I see. See what's happening. The Pharisees are not satisfied with this man's personal testimony. They're not even satisfied with eyewitness testimony of those who saw this thing happen. Now they want to bring in the parents to testify because they're suspicious. They still can't believe this guy was blind. First they didn't believe it was a miracle.

Now they don't believe he really was blind. This must be a setup. This must be fake. This is a fake healing. This is some kind of a stage event so that people in the neighborhood will follow Jesus.

By the way, their suspicions are not unfounded. There have been a lot of fakes when it comes to faith healing throughout history. I don't know if you remember a few years back, several years ago, in the 80s. Is that a long time ago? When Johnny Carson hosted the show. Somebody came on the Johnny Carson show named James Randi called The Amazing Randi. He was a skeptic. He didn't believe in faith healers.

He didn't believe in faith healers. And he, on national television, uncovered an evangelist named Peter Popoff. Incidentally, Peter Popoff is still on the air. How?

I don't know. But Peter Popoff, in his meetings, would walk through the crowd and kind of go like this. And it would sort of stage this idea that God is revealing something to me. And he'd say, the woman in the row, you with the yellow shirt, and name her address and her illness and some personal things about her life. And everybody, wow, they get amazed. Like, this guy's amazing. Peter Popoff.

The Amazing Randi showed what really had happened is everybody who comes to the meetings gets interviewed. What's your illness? What's your name?

What's your address? They put a radio transmitter in the ear of Peter Popoff. And somebody in the back has a microphone and says in third row, yellow shirt, here's the address of the lady. Her name is.

This is her illness. And he'd call these things out as if God was speaking to him and he was uncovered on national television. You know, aside from perhaps Christmas time, most of us probably don't think all that much about our neighbors, do we?

Yet one of the things Jesus demonstrated was the importance of showing a little concern and interest in their lives. In fact, when we do that, we may be surprised just how much of an impact it may have. Now, if you'd like a copy of today's study, it's available on CD for just $4 plus shipping. When you contact us at 1-800-922-1888 or when you visit connectwithskip.com or write to us at P.O.

Box 95707 Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87199. We'll continue to talk about how we can be better neighbors to all the people we meet each day. So be sure to join us again next time 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 all 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 / 2023-10-26 14:54:12 / 2023-10-26 15:02:57 / 9

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