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Separating the True Gospel from False Ones, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
January 27, 2023 9:00 am

Separating the True Gospel from False Ones, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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January 27, 2023 9:00 am

Over the past 70 years or so, our country has become increasingly secular. So how do we continue standing for the truth when it seems like everyone’s against us?

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Today on Summit Life, Pastor J.D. Greer calls us to take a look at our hearts. You hate the sin itself more than you hate the punishment. God has always been after a group of people who are godly, who feel the way about sin that he feels, who love his glory the way that he loves it, who loves what he loves, who do righteousness, not because they fear punishment, but because they love righteousness. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian, J.D. Greer.

I'm your host, Molly Vitovich. You know, back in the earlier part of the 20th century, most Americans, even if they weren't truly saved, would at least go to church. It was just the cultural norm. But over the past 70 years or so, our countries become increasingly secular to the point where Christians are often ridiculed for their beliefs and the name of Jesus is not to be spoken publicly.

In fact, every other name seems to be welcomed in the town square readily. So how do we keep standing for the truth when it feels like everyone's against us? I'm certain this is a message that we all need to hear. Today, Pastor J.D. continues our new study called Everyday Theology, and he titled this message from Titus chapters one and two, separating the true gospel from false ones. Titus is a church planter on the gates of hell. Crete, which is where Titus was assigned, was one of the most immoral places in the ancient world, which makes the book of Titus incredibly relevant. How do you live out the faith in a really difficult immoral place like Crete? How do you handle it when what you believe is despised and belittled constantly?

Where most people find what you believe at best irrelevant, at worst they find it just downright silly. Paul writes the book of Titus to answer those questions. Paul has one concern for Titus in this book, and it is, and I quote, the truth that leads to godliness. That phrase, truth that leads to godliness, or at least that concept, is going to come up over and over throughout this book. You see, God's purpose in the gospel was to create for himself a God-loving and God-like people. That's what godliness means.

That was the point in what he did. Christians talk a lot about what we are saved from, text, drugs, and rock and roll, but what we're saved from is not nearly as important as what we're saved to. So therefore, Paul says, one of the ways you can authenticate true religion from false religion is by how well it cultivates godliness in your heart. So what I want to do today is show you how the apostle Paul explains why the gospel produces godliness in a way that nothing else can. Then I want to show you why every other religious approach won't work, and then I want to have you ask some evaluation questions about your church and about your faith, namely this, is your faith producing godliness.

All right, so let's get started. Here's number one, how the gospel produces godliness. Flip over to chapter two, verse 11.

Paul says, for the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say no. Here's your question.

Don't answer it out loud. What does it refer to? Paul said, listen, look at it. The grace of God teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions, to live self-control. The grace of God, according to this text, focuses our attention in three different directions.

This is really important. The first place the grace of God directs our attention is upward. He says, you'll see it there, verse 13, we wait for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, upward. We look upward to the glorious God that has called us to himself. Verse 14, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness. So we look backwards to the price he paid to save us. And then he continues on that he might purify for himself a people that are his very own.

That's looking forward. So in other words, we look upward to the God who has saved us. We look backward to the price that he paid to redeem us. We look forward into the beautiful thing that he is making us into. And those three looks, upward, backward, and forward, is what produces godly passion in your heart. Now, here's the question, why? Why does this produce godliness in us?

Let's take these apart one at a time. Upward, upward, the gospel redirects our worship. Sin problems, as I've often explained to you, start as worship problems.

Here's the second thing, the backward look. The gospel restores gratefulness. It points us backwards to the gospel to our complete inability to save ourselves.

We were hopeless. And that posture of gratefulness is the fountain from which godliness springs. Forward, here's your third look, the gospel raises expectations. It raises our expectations. In the gospel, we get a glimpse of what God is making us. He puts into us a taste or a hunger for that future.

And it begins to shape what we love and what we pursue. All right, number two, why religion cannot produce godliness. Why it cannot produce godliness.

Give you a couple things here. It emphasizes adherence to rules rather than internal transformation. It's concerned with what you say and how you act, not what you are. Here's the other thing, it uses God. It uses God. He's the means to houses or cars or a better life now or even eternity in heaven. Religion, in fact, Paul explains, leads to, listen, the opposite of godliness. I'll show you what I mean.

If you take a note, jot this down. Instead of gratefulness, religion produces pride. So if I ask you right now why God's going to let you into heaven, why he accepts you, and you tell me anything about you. Oh, well, you know, I go to church and I'm a good person and I never killed anybody and I'm a good dad. Then even it seems innocuous, but what you're basically saying to yourself is because I am better than this group of people over here, that's why God accepts me.

And that leads to pride, which leads to you looking down on people, which leads to all kinds of sin. Or the flip side, if you don't do well in religion, it leads to despair. You give up, you get frustrated. You're like, I'm terrible at this religion thing.

I try and then I fail. So I might as well indulge in pornography. I might as well drink a lot because, you know, I'm terrible at religion.

I'm terrible at life. So at least this stuff feels good. Instead of producing godliness, religion produces pride and despair, which both lead to more sin.

Here's the second thing. Instead of full surrender, religion calls for only partial commitment. Instead of full surrender, religion only asks for a part of your life. You see, if salvation is a negotiation, if you've got to do a certain amount of things in order for God to let you into heaven, after you've fulfilled those things, then you feel like the rest of your life belongs to you. However, if Jesus saved you when you had nothing, if you were desperate and hopeless when he saved you, then there is not one ounce of your life that does not belong to him. That's why Paul used the word rebellious.

These people were not led to full surrender. They're led to negotiation, which is, God, I've paid you your part. Now you owe me eternal life. Instead of worshiping God and using things, you worship things and use God.

God becomes, like I said, a means to an end. I've told you the story before, I think, but I heard about a guy in college that was notorious on campus for his sexual prowess. He was a playboy. For him, sleeping with girls was not just about lust, it was about power. It's how he felt like a man. It's kind of what set him above the other guys because he had the ability to, you know, get all these girls to sleep with him. Well, this guy undergoes this, you know, religious awakening, this conversion, and he becomes like, you know, this leader on campus, Christ, this leader on campus, Christian leader.

And it's, you know, it's the kind of story you're supposed to be excited about, right? But people who got close to this guy said there was something just off about him where if you're ever discussing theology with him, he had to show you why he was smarter about the issue than you were. If you're in a Bible study together, it's his opinion that he wants to be seen as the most insightful. He wants to be the president of the group.

It's always about him. His faith lasted for three, four years, and then he kind of drifted away because, watch this, his faith was never about God. His faith was about finding a new way to get what he really wanted, which was power. Sexual prowess was once a way for power. Then he foreswore that so that he could have God, which was an even better means to power. He was using God to get what he really wanted.

Here's another one. Instead of, this goes along with that one, instead of hating sin, you negotiate with it. You're always asking, like, how close can I get and it really not be sin? Your concern with sin is to avoid punishment, right? So you're always like, how close can I get and still be okay? People who love God hate sin.

They're not concerned. When you hate something, you're not trying to figure out how much you can have of it. You're trying to figure out how far you can stay away from it. I got a friend who lives up in Richmond, Virginia, who told my wife and I this story about our age. He said that he took it, had to take his wife, one of the biggest wife, one morning at 2.30 in the morning to the emergency room because she had been bitten by a black widow in their bed. My wife, listening to the story, tells me after we leave, she says, I just want you to know, if that ever happens at our house, we will have to move. And I don't even mean to a different house.

I mean to a different state. My wife hates spiders, right? I don't have, because of that, we don't have one in a cage as a pet. If we could defang a tarantula, she's, in fact, this summer, our family was at one of these nature science center kind of places and they had a tarantula. They defanged and you could hold it. And so my kids are all like, oh, let's hold it. And Veronica's in the other room.

Like, I don't even want to look at that. I've tried to explain to her. I'm like, Isaiah says, in the new heavens and new earth, the lion will lay down with the lamb, which means there's got to be a redeemed version of the spider. She said, not in my heaven, there ain't going to be that, all right?

She hates it. So the question is not how close can we get to spiders and not get hurt. The question is how far can we keep ourselves from any version of the spider. That's how people who love God feel about sin.

They hate what it does to him, his glory, his creation, what it did to Jesus on the cross. And so you're not like, how close can I get? Still be okay. It's, I want to go as far away from that as I can get. Richard Sibbes, the Puritan, listen to this, after being transformed by the gospel, the sin itself becomes more loathsome to you than the punishment. Is that how you feel about sin? Do you hate the sin itself more than you hate the punishment? Because if godliness is growing in you, that's how you begin to feel. God has always been after a group of people who are godly, who feel the way about sin.

Who feel the way about sin that he feels, who love his glory the way that he loves it, who loves what he loves, who do righteousness, not because they fear punishment, but because they love righteousness. I've told you it's like if right before the service started, I mean like seconds before the servant started, somebody just threw up right here in the middle of the floor, right down here. Just, I mean, a big steaming pile of vomit.

And it happened right before the service started and the service got going. There's not a single one of you in here, not one, that would need me to stand up here and say, now, it is against the rules at the Summit Church for you to come down here and look up this vomit. This vomit is off limits.

You are not allowed to look it up. Even if after we go home, you can't come in and look, and I'm gonna put guards on either side with baseball bats to make sure that when I'm not looking, you're not down here looking up this vomit. There ain't nobody here that needs to hear me say that, is there? Now, if you're a German shepherd listening to me right now, you do need to hear that.

And you do need the guys with bats beside the vomit because you're like, oh, warm vomit, half-digested hot dog, awesome, you know. God does not want spiritual dogs in heaven who only avoid sin because they're afraid God's gonna whack them with a baseball bat if they do. What God wants is people who have a taste for righteousness, who don't need to be threatened with punishment or blessing, who just pursue holiness and righteousness because they love it like God loves it. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. We'll get right back to today's teaching, but I wanted to just take a moment and tell you about a pack of 52 memory verse cards we created exclusively for you. It's sort of like a nice deck of cards only with eternal impact as its goal. You see, memorizing scripture gives believers a great opportunity to not only hide God's word in their own heart, but to share it with other believers and encourage them to live in obedience, fight temptation, renew their minds, and conform more to the person of Christ. We should also memorize scripture so that we can walk unbelievers through the salvation message and help them understand their sin and need for a Savior.

Speaking God's words instead of our own can give us confidence in sharing. This set of cards comes as our thanks for your gift to the ministry today, so you can reserve it right now by calling 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.

Or visit us online at jdgreer.com. Thanks for being with us today. Now, let's get back to the final moments of today's message on Summit Life.

Here's Pastor J.D. Let me give you another analogy I've used. I've told you it's like religion is something like if I were to take a very, like a bar that you would use to lift weights with, very hard metal, but kind of brittle too. If I were to have it up here and I were strong enough to bend it just a little bit, one of two things would happen. Because I'm not that strong, it would eventually, like, you know, I would just, I'd lose my strength and I'd let it go and it'd just snap back to the original shape of it, right?

Or I would put so much pressure on it if I were strong enough that I would snap the bar. And I've explained that religious pressure produces one of those two reactions in you. Religious pressure will cause you to conform for a little while when the right pressures are there.

Peer pressure, your parents, your friends, or whatever. But the moment those pressures are gone, you just go back to the way that your heart wants to be. Or the second reaction, we put so much pressure on it that you snap spiritually. If I were to take a blow torch though, and I were to heat the metal, then I could take the ends of that bar and shape it into whatever shape I wanted it to be.

Because now the constitution of the metal is different. What Paul is saying is that the gospel fires the heart so that it can be reshaped according to godliness. And religion can never do that because it's words and external pressures, but it cannot reshape the heart.

John Bunyan, who wrote Pilgrim's Progress, has this great little poem, at least that's attributed to him, that I've loved over the years. Run, John, run, the law commands, but gives me neither feet nor hands. Far better news the gospel brings, it bids me fly then gives me wings. The gospel does what religious law can never do. So Paul says there's a lot of religious people that claim to know God with their words and with their actions, but the shape of their hearts makes them deny him.

Even though their lives are crazy busy, religiously speaking, the shape of their hearts is detestable, disobedient, and unfit for every good work. But the gospel changes that. The kindness of God, Paul says, leads us to true repentance by redirecting our worship, by restoring gratefulness, and by raising our expectations. Charles Spurgeon said it this way, when I thought God was hard, I found it easy to sin.

But when I found God so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion, it was then I smote upon my breast to think that I could ever have rebelled against one who loved me so and sought my good. Christianity is not turning over a new leaf, it's the power of a new life. It's not a resolve to do better, it's a resurrection to new life in Christ.

You don't need New Year's resolutions, you need a new heart and you need the power of the Holy Spirit and that comes not by exhortation, me yelling at you, it comes by narration of a beautiful event which is God, your prince, your bridegroom, your mighty warrior, the glorious God appearing for you, coming to take on sin on your behalf, giving up his life to redeem you, purifying you for himself, rising again for you, promising you he's going to come back. And when you look upwards to the glory of that God, backward to the price he paid and forward to what he's offering you, then godliness grows up in your heart and righteousness springs up and you don't need me yelling at you what you need, oh you don't need anything. You just need this gospel that just flows out of you because it's new life flowing in you.

Religion says this, listen to this, Tim Chester, religion says you should not sleep with your boyfriend, you should read your Bible every day, you should not get drunk, you should witness to your friends, you should not lose your temper, but none of those are good news to someone struggling with those issues. To them all the should and should nots feel like condemnation, but what the gospel says is this, not you should not, but you need not, you need not get drunk because Jesus offers a better refuge than alcohol, you need not lose your temper because god is in control of the situation, you need not give yourself away to money because god is a better treasure and security than money is, you need not make yourself a slove to romance because god is your fulfillment and your companion. Sin, says Tim Chester, is always making promises, but the gospel exposes those promises as false promises and points to god who is bigger and better and more glorious than anything sin offers.

That is good news. So it's like I often tell you guys, the gospel that we preach here is not fundamentally good advice, not leadership lessons from Uncle JD, ways to live your life better. The gospel is not good advice, it's good news.

It's good news not about what you should do, but about what god did. So in light of that, Paul urges us to do two things. A, to evaluate the religious teaching you receive. What do the teachers that you listen to, what do they emphasize? Do they emphasize things that you should do?

Ways that you should be? Or do they emphasize the grace of god and the power of new life that comes from what he did? Y'all listen, every religious tradition tends to lose the thread of the grace of god, every single one, just in different ways. If you came out of a ritualistic tradition, then you probably had church attendance, the prayers, a code of ethics that was emphasized to you.

Go to church, light the candles, say the prayers, avoid the sins. That's what godliness was. If you came out of a Baptist tradition like I did, then what was emphasized were the standards of behavior.

This is how Christians look, this is how they talk, this is how they dress, right? Or the activity, you know, good Christians are busy Christians. I've told you that when I, one of the churches I was at when I was growing up was, had the, we had pews of course, and in the pew in front of us was a little blue envelope that you were supposed to put your offering in every week.

Anybody tracking with us yet? A little offering you put in, and on it, the front of it were a list of things that good Christians were supposed to do every week, like read your Bible, pray, witness, and you know, I think I've told you that it used to be a game for my sister and me to see if we could start and complete all the activities on that front of that envelope by the time the offering started to when it got to us. So it was like, you could read the Bible, check, pray, God is our heaven, check in all week, check, share Christ with somebody. I share Christ with my sister, witness to her every single week, check, put the money in there, in the offering, you know, but it was just do.

This is what you do, this is, you're busy. That's, you know, sometimes what's God emphasized. If you came out of a prosperity tradition, oh, it's realizing your potential, that's how you begin to live. A friend of mine calls this visionary evangelism. The way God changes us is by showing us a vision of what we can be in the future, showing us why he wants us to have our best life out here, and then that changes us.

It's not the thought of your best life that is going to change you, it is understanding that the best life ever lived was given for you as a sacrifice. If you came out of a Pentecostal tradition, then what was emphasized was spirit baptism. And again, listen, I'm in the fullness of the spirit.

I wrote a book on it. But the spirit of God is there to point you to the beauty of the gospel. That's the whole point is that as the grace of God appears in your heart, that's what teaches you to deny ungodliness.

So when the spirit of God comes in your heart, what he does is he makes the grace of God appear larger to you. If you came out of a reformed or a Bible tradition, then it was all about learning, learning facts. So you didn't come to church, you came to class.

You brought a notebook and you brought pins because godly people take notes. And we call it transformation by education. It's not transformation by education. True transformation comes by revelation of the beauty of God. If you came out of a more liberal tradition, then it was all about activism. Oh, well, good Christians care about this social injustice and good Christians are trying to fix this in their community.

And that's awesome. But it is not what I do for my community. It's not what I discipline myself to do that produces godliness. What brings the power of new life is the blood of Jesus.

Would you be free from your passion and pride? There's power in the blood. It was in the cross, listen, that you were released first from the penalty of sin, but you were released also from the power of sin.

From the penalty of sin in the past, from the power of sin in the present. If you want to know how to say to know to ungodliness and worldly lust, then the grace of God has to appear to your heart. Satan loves to promote religion that is divested of the power of the blood. Satan's fine with you going to church.

He'd actually prefer it because then you can keep yourself deluded into thinking that you're sufficient. Satan is into religion, but he wants you to be in a place where the blood of Jesus is not emphasized. So Paul tells the Cretan believers, and I say it to you, listen, churches and pulpits that do not centralize the gospel and the grace of God should be avoided at all costs. Does that sound harsh?

I don't care how long your family's been there, I don't care how many friends you got there. You need to avoid them, and if that sounds harsh, then read the book of Titus because Paul tells them they have nothing to do with counterfeit gospels because all they do is promote rebellion and sin in the heart. It is only the gospel that gives life to you and your family. So if you care about life and yourself and your family, then you will get yourself in a place where the grace of God is talked about and celebrated and worshiped and soaked in every single week. It is so important to keep the gospel central in everything we do. That's something you can expect from us here at Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. This month we have created a resource the whole family can use together. It's a set of 52 memory verse cards. Even though it seems like a kid's activity to work on memorizing scripture, there are lots of reasons why this is such an important thing for us to do throughout our lives. I mean, Jesus memorized scripture. He quoted the Old Testament frequently in his life and ministry. It's clear that even he knew the word of God was the ultimate authority in his life. Perhaps the most compelling reason for us to memorize scripture is that we're called to do it. Colossians chapter 3 tells us to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly.

Before we can teach the Bible or apply it to our lives, we've got to know what it says. This set of cards comes with our thanks when you donate today to support this ministry. Give and request your scripture memory cards when you call 866-335-5220.

One more time, that's 866-335-5220. Or you can request the set when you donate online at JDGrier.com. Pastor JD is also a bestselling author. His books include Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart, Just Ask, and his most recent book that releases next week called Essential Christianity. You can purchase a copy of these books, as well as other biblical resources from Summit Life, when you visit us online at JDGrier.com. I'm Molly Bidevich. Have a great weekend of worship, and we'll see you next time right here on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-27 12:10:12 / 2023-01-27 12:21:08 / 11

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