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The Religiously Immunized, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
March 31, 2021 9:00 am

The Religiously Immunized, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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March 31, 2021 9:00 am

Immunizations are a marvel of modern medicine. One little shot and you suddenly leave the world’s most dangerous diseases weak and ineffective! But what if you could be immunized against a good thing, like faith?

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. There is a superficial belief that keeps people from genuine faith and it works like an immunization. You get just enough of it that it makes you immune to the real thing when you hear it and maybe for some of you that's what you've had.

You prayed the prayer, you walked the aisle, you checked the card, you raised a hand, you went to the class, you got baptized, but have you been born again? Have you been infected with the gospel virus? Immunizations are a marvel of modern medicine, right? One little shot or two as we're learning these days and you suddenly have an invisible shield everywhere you go. Many diseases that have taken countless lives throughout history are now virtually unheard of.

But what if you could be immunized against a good thing like faith? That's our subject today on Summit Life as Pastor J.D. Greer continues our new series called Can't Believe. If you missed the first message in this series yesterday, you can hear it online at jdgreer.com.

But now let's dive into today's study. Pastor J.D. titled it The Religiously Immunized. What I want to show you today is that the Bible speaks frequently about a kind of faith that is superficial. A faith that doesn't go very deep and a faith that does not save at all. That's what you're going to see from John chapter 2. The tragedy is that for a lot of people like this, a lot of people, their superficial faith has immunized them from understanding their need for the real gospel because they have the antibody of superficial religion. You see we're starting a new series called Can't Believe and we're going to look at seven different stories from the gospel of John of people who for whatever reason couldn't believe, could not believe. Today we're going to look at the religiously immunized. We're going to see how Jesus engaged seven different individuals who couldn't believe in the gospel of John. So group number one of those who can't believe, here's our first group, the religiously immunized.

The religiously immunized, verse 23 of chapter two. Now when Jesus was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast there were many who believed in his name, see that, they believed, when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them because he knew all people and he needed no one to bear witness about man because he himself knew what was in man. Now here you've got a group of people who believed in Jesus but it says that Jesus would not give himself to them because he could see that their faith was superficial. You could almost say that they believed in Jesus but Jesus did not believe in them.

Write this down if you take notes. Number one, the dangers of superficial belief. That's what you're seeing at the end of John 2.

There is a kind of belief that immunizes you from the understanding that you need the real thing. Matthew chapter seven, a passage that used to scare me to death when I was in high school, talks about a group of people that are gonna stand on the last day at the judgment and they're gonna look at Jesus and they're gonna say, Lord, Lord Jesus, it's good to see you. Man, we went to church. Man, we went on mission trips, we shared Christ with people, we read our Bibles, we gave him the offerings. And Jesus is gonna say the most terribly shocking words that have ever been uttered in the universe to them. He's gonna say, depart from me because I never knew you.

Is it possible that you would be in that group? So that leads to number two, a description of saving faith. Chapter three, now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus. He was a ruler, a religious ruler of the Jews and this man said to him, Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God and no one can do these things that you do unless God is with him. You see that he's tying it back to verse 23? Nicodemus saw the signs and believed, so that's why you connect these two stories. He's one of the people Jesus was talking about in verse 23. Verse three, Jesus answered him, I love that, answered him, did Nicodemus ask a question?

No, because Jesus had this way of answering the questions you should have been asking. So Jesus answered him, truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Now, born again is a phrase that's familiar to us, but to Nicodemus it was unfamiliar.

And so it sounds absurd to him. And so he asked what we would have asked had we heard that for the first time. Verse four, how could a man be born when he's old? Are you born again? Verse five, Jesus answered, truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, you must be born again. Genuine saving faith turns on one phrase, one phrase, you must be born again. Francis Schaeffer, who was kind of a philosopher, Christian thinker, was asked one time, if you had one hour with a modern person who'd never heard of Christianity, if you had one hour like, say, on a plane trip, what would you do with that hour? Francis Schaeffer says this, listen, I would spend the first 45 to 50 minutes on the negative to really show him his dilemma, that he really is morally dead.

Then I would take the last 10 or 15 minutes to preach the good news of the gospel to him. I believe that much of our evangelistic and personal work today is not clear simply because we're too anxious to get to the answer without ever having a man realize the real cause of his sickness, which is true moral guilt in the presence of God. We're presenting Jesus as the answer, but people don't know the question or the problem. Jesus said it's those who are forgiven much, love much. The reason some of you are bored with Jesus, the reason some of you don't love Jesus is because you have no concept of the wickedness that is you and what he saved you from when he came to earth.

Because when you understand that, you either run away from him in hatred and anger or you fall at his feet in adoration and worship and love. Truly, truly, I say to you, truly, Jesus said, you must be born again. Unless someone is born of water and the spirit, he will never enter the kingdom of God. Now, what's that mean, water and the spirit? We see Jesus, New Testament scholars tell us, is referencing a quote from Ezekiel 36. Let me read that verse to you, Ezekiel 36.

I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean from all your uncleannesses. From your idols, I will cleanse you and I will give you a new heart and a new spirit I will put within you, water and spirit. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and in its place, I will give you a soft, warm heart made of flesh that beats, that feels. You're no longer going to be hardened and cold in your sin. You're going to come alive with love for me and love for righteousness and I will put my spirit directly into you and I will cause you to walk in my statutes and to be careful, or you could read that, to desire to obey my rules.

God wants people who are in heaven with him because they desire him and they want to know him. So if that's going to happen in you, it's going to be because you have a new heart. It's going to be because the blood of Jesus makes you new.

It's going to be because the spirit rebirths you into his image. God is not just after obedience, he's after a whole new kind of obedience. The obedience that grows out of desire, the obedience that comes from being reborn. God's not after the submission of slaves, he's after the affection of sons.

God wants you to want him. So he jumps down, go down to verse 14, it's kind of where he picks up his train of thought on this. Verse 14, just like Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the son of man be lifted up.

That's a reference to a story that takes place in Numbers 21, it's only four verses long. Basically the story is this, Israel is on its way into the promised land and as they're going into the promised land, they forget the goodness and the faithfulness of God to them. So their heart begins to wander after other gods.

They get impatient, they want to go back to Egypt, they start complaining. And so God in anger, in righteous anger, sends into the camp, it only describes them as fiery serpents. We don't know what breed of snake that was but it does not sound pleasant and it's not the kind of thing that you want in your campsite. Fiery serpents everywhere, thousands, millions probably of them that are going throughout the camp, they are biting people.

The people are in excruciating pain and they are dying. And so they call out to God and say, God help us, God deliver us from these fiery serpents. Now that's kind of a picture of sin, is it not? All sin is essentially that, you grow impatient with God, you think you could do a better job. So your heart begins to leave God and go after something else you feel like you must have in order for life to be good.

Romance, sex, money, whatever. There's some version of something you need so your heart departs from God and goes after it. And you see that the fiery serpents are a kind of death so that death is at work, it's bitten you, it's inside you, it's all around you. So the people call out to God and God in his mercy says to Moses, I will heal these people, here's how you're going to do it. He says, I want you to take a pole and on that pole I want you to take an image, a bronze image of one of these serpents and I want you to put it high up on the pole and put that pole somewhere everybody can see it who wants to see it and you tell them that they will look upon that snake on that fiery serpent, that image in faith, then I will heal them.

All they have to do is look and see that image on the top of that pole and the moment they see it, the moment they look at it in faith, the moment they acknowledge they're wrong and they surrender and the moment they believe healing goes into their body and that venom is gone. Jesus says, just like that, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up. That whoever looks, whoever believes in him may have eternal life. You see Jesus like this image of the serpent will be lifted up on a cross for our sins so that all who look to him will be saved. I had sinned, I had rebelled, the viper of death bit Jesus and so on that pole, on that cross, that serpent is displayed saying, you're the one who deserved the bite but God is the one who will become the serpent so that he can die in your place because, verse 16, because God so loved the world, God so loved you that he gave his only son to you, that whoever believes in him should not perish, whoever looks to him should not perish but have everlasting life. The compassion of God is such, the love of God for you is such that he said, the healing is there, the curse of death is absorbed, all you have to do is look.

All you have to do is look. Have you ever so loved something that you would give anything up for it? God so loved you that he took the serpent into himself so that you could look and live. If you've been around this church, you know that one of my preaching heroes has got him, Charles Spurgeon. If you're unfamiliar with him, he's a 19th century British pastor in London. One of his biographies, one of the biographers recounts or records Charles Spurgeon's own description of his conversion. It's one of my favorite passages in literature ever so I just want to share with you how Charles Spurgeon described his own conversion.

You ready? Spurgeon says, I sometimes think that I might have been in darkness and despair until now. Had it not been for the goodness of God and sending a snowstorm one Sunday morning when I was trying to go to church somewhere. Because it was snowing, I got to a place where I couldn't walk any farther and so I turned down a side street looking for the first church I could come to and I stumbled onto a little primitive Methodist chapel. In that chapel there could not have been more than a dozen or 15 people. I had heard of those primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly that they made people's heads ache.

But that did not matter to me. I was desperate to know how I might be saved and if they could tell me that, I did not care how much they made my head ache. The minister did not come that morning.

He was snowed in I suppose. So at last, a very thin looking man, a shoemaker, a tailor or something of that sort went up into the pulpit to preach. Now it is well that preachers should be instructed, but this man was really stupid.

Charles Spurgeon. He was obliged to stick to his text for the simple reason that he couldn't think of anything else to say. The text was that morning Isaiah 45, 22, look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth. He didn't even pronounce the words rightly, but that didn't matter. There was I thought a glimpse of hope for me in that text.

The preacher that morning began thus, my dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says look. Now looking don't take a great deal of pains.

It ain't lifting your foot or your finger. It's just look. Well, a man needn't go to college to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool and yet you can look. A man needn't be worth a thousand a year to be able to look. Anybody can look.

Even a child can look. All the text says is look unto me. I, he said in a broad SX accent, which I don't really know what that means.

I think it's something like the southern twang that people from Pittsburgh have, so that's how you would hear that. He says I, many of you are looking to yourselves, but it's no use looking there. You'll never find any comfort in yourselves. Some of you say we must wait for the spirits working. We must wait for predestination.

You ain't got no business with that just now. Look to Christ. That's all the text says. Look unto me.

Then the good man followed up his text this way. Look unto me. I'm sweating great drops of blood. Look unto me. I am hanging on the cross. Look unto me.

I am dead and buried. Look unto me. I rise again. Look unto me. I ascend to heaven. Look unto me.

I'm sitting at the Father's right hand. Oh poor sinner. Look unto me.

Look unto me. When he had gone on to about that length and had managed somehow to spin out 10 minutes or so, the poor soul was at the end of his tether. He couldn't think of anything else to say. Then he looked at me under the gallery and I dare say with so few present he must have known I was a stranger. Fixing his eyes on me as if he knew all my heart, he said, young man, you look very miserable. Well, I did, but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit on my personal appearance.

However, it was a good blow. It struck right home and so he continued. And you will always be miserable, miserable in life, even more miserable in death if you don't obey my text. But if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved. Then lifting up his hands, he shouted as only a primitive Methodist could do, young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look, look, look.

You have nothing to do but to look and to live. And I saw at once the way of salvation. I don't know what else he said. I didn't take much notice of it. I was so possessed with that one thought. Like as when the brazen serpent was lifted up, the people only looked and were healed, so it was with me.

I'd been waiting to do 50 things. But when I heard that word, look, what a charming word it seemed to me. Oh, I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away. There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw finally the sun. And I could have risen that instant and sung with the most enthusiastic of them of the precious blood of Christ and the simple faith which looks alone to him.

Oh, that somebody had just told me that before. Trust Christ. Look to Christ and you shall be saved. And it was no doubt all wisely ordered in the providence of God. And so now I can say, ever since by faith I saw that stream, thy flowing wounds supply. Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die. It's just a look. It's just a look that saves.

That's the whole theme of the Gospel of John. And you need to look because you're dying. You're dying.

Like the people of Israel bitten by those vipers. You don't need a moral improvement. You don't need a religious booster.

You don't need a fresh start. The wrath of God is upon you. The curse of death is over you. It is at work within you.

It's like I've heard said, you don't need to turn over a new leaf. You need a new life. You need a gift from above. That's why, honestly, I've never been able to get away from the word saved.

But honestly, y'all, in light of the realities, I mean, what's the better word? Helped. You need to be improved. You need a 2.0 version of you. You need to be enhanced. Come to Jesus and be enhanced.

Is that it? You don't need that. You need to be saved because you are dead in your sins, continually dying under the wrath of God. And he's your only hope. That's why when people say to me, oh, Jesus is just a crutch for you.

I want to laugh. I'm like, crutch? Jesus is not a crutch. If anything, he's a stretcher. Because I couldn't even limp into heaven without Jesus. I was dead and they put my dead body on that stretcher and Jesus made me alive.

He is new life. So let me again quote my friend David Platt. What we don't need is superficial religion. What we need is supernatural regeneration. We're dead in our sin and we need to be born again. There is a superficial belief that keeps people from genuine faith. And it works like an immunization. You get just enough of it that it makes you immune to the real thing when you hear it.

And maybe, maybe, for some of you, that's what you've had. You prayed the prayer. You walked the aisle. You checked the card. You raised a hand.

You went to the class. You got baptized. But have you been born again? Have you been infected with the gospel virus? In this analogy, the virus is good, all right? Have you been infected with the real gospel virus?

Has life gone to work in you? Here's how you know. You start changing. I mean, a virus, especially a significant one, always changes you, right? When the gospel goes to work in you, it changes you too. Your mind used to be filled with lots of thoughts of self and lust and pride. Now, holiness and a love and a desire for God is at work. I don't mean to imply that you're perfect or that you don't have to struggle with this or that, like I told you a few weeks ago, that you sit around, you hop out of bed each morning, you know, humming or humming Chris Tomlin tunes and playing them on the harp you can't hear.

The harp you keep inside your bed. I'm not saying that that's what happens. I'm just saying that there is a change. Other people start to get infected with your faith.

You start sneezing out blessing and generosity all over people. Is that too far? All right, but you follow what I'm saying? There's something, it's life in you.

Is that you? Is that you or are the people at the end of John 2 a better picture of you? You believe in Jesus, but it's not a belief that's changed you.

It's not one that can withstand persecution or isolation or hard times or temptation. You don't really walk with God. I mean, you believe in him, yeah, per se, but there's no relationship there. That's why you never talk to him. I mean, he might throw up a perfunctory prayer from time to time, but you don't commune with him.

You don't walk with him because it's not relationship for you. It's a belief that goes into your creed. Your lips say that you believe it, but your life doesn't walk with Jesus as Savior and Lord.

If that's true, then isn't it clear that you've got the superficial religion described in Chapter 2 and not the supernatural rebirth described in Chapter 3? If you got hit by a tractor trailer going 70 miles an hour, you walk differently, right? You look different. You talk differently. There's no part of you that's the same.

There's no possible way that you could get hit with the force of new life, no possible way, and just remain the same. So if you've never been born again, it doesn't matter if you call yourself a Christian. It doesn't matter that you prayed a prayer.

He's not given himself to you. See, my fear is that we have created, especially here in the South, a culture where millions are comfortable calling themselves Christians when they're not disciples of Jesus. And that category does not exist in the Bible. I've even heard it said like this, I accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was eight years old. I didn't really accept him as my Lord until I was such and such. How do you get to divide up Jesus that way?

Right? This is not a compromise. You're like, I'll take this portion of Jesus, but we're going to wait on the whole package. He comes as Lord and Savior. He does not come at all. You say, well, I'm not sure I'm born again. What do I do? How do I know that I'm born again?

That's the good news. You just look to Jesus. You look to Jesus. You look to Jesus with the same look that they had in Numbers 21, which is a humble look. A humble look that says, I can't save myself.

I'm dying. A look that is repentant or surrendered. I'm wrong. That's what repentance means. I'm wrong.

You're right. A look that is believing. A look that says, you are taking this in my place. The way we say it around the Summit Church is, the look that says, you're right. The way that saves is the look that understands that you were so bad, Jesus had to die for you.

But he was so loving that he was glad to die for you. One look, one look of humble, surrendered, hopeful faith will save. Have you looked at Jesus like that? Surrendered to him in humble faith?

If not, you can do so right now. Offer yourself to him today. Then visit us at jdgrier.com for resources to help you take that next step of growth in your relationship with God. You're listening to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian J.D.

Greer. This series called Can't Believe started just yesterday, and if you missed the first part of today's message, you can listen now for free on jdgrier.com. This is our final week to get our new Bible study working through the first half of the book of Acts. J.D., the running theme of our study in Acts this past month has been this idea that every believer is called to be on mission, right?

And that might not look the same for everyone, but can you help us get a better picture of that? Like, what does going on mission look like practically? Yeah, Molly, you're right. Not every believer is supposed to become a pastor or to move overseas. Now, I don't want to rush too fast past that because I think there are a lot of people who are called that way, and maybe somebody listening to me right now, there's been a stirring in your heart, and you're sensing God calling you. Maybe it's to preach, to lead a church, maybe it's to help carry the gospel on a mission team, but even for those who don't experience that kind of full-time ministry call, all of us are called to live on mission.

We always say that the question is no longer if you're called, the question is where and how. We've created an in-depth Bible study that will help walk you through these stories of Acts and show you how they apply to you, how you can discover the power of the Holy Spirit, and your personal commissioning. How do you know what God is calling you to and the people to whom He is sending you to?

This in-depth Bible study of Acts 1-8 will show you how to embrace that identity of being sent and how to live sin. We would love to offer it to you right now at jdgrier.com. We're so grateful for your support, and as our way of saying thanks, we'd like to get you this resource that was created by the Summit Life team just for you. It's titled Sent the Book of Acts Volume 1.

It's chock-full of interactive questions and insightful commentaries, which will help you think through your part in God's mission to reach the lost. Ask for Sent the Book of Acts Volume 1 when you donate at the suggested level of $25 or more. Call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.

Or go online and request the book when you visit us at jdgrier.com. I'm Molly Bittovitch inviting you to join us again Thursday as we continue our series called Can't Believe on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-17 02:46:36 / 2023-08-17 02:57:16 / 11

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