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The Religiously Immunized, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
March 18, 2024 9:00 am

The Religiously Immunized, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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March 18, 2024 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! Diseases that used to take countless lives are now virtually unheard of. 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 checked the card, you raised a hand, you got baptized. But have you been born again? Have you been infected with the gospel virus? Welcome to another week of gospel-centered teaching on Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer.

As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. You know, immunizations are a marvel of modern medicine, right? Think of the many diseases that have taken countless lives throughout history that are now virtually unheard of.

One little shot and you suddenly have an invisible shield protecting you for life. But what if we could be immunized against a good thing like saving faith in Jesus? What if a little shot of religion could actually keep us away from fully embracing Him? That's our subject today on Summit Life as Pastor J.D. Greer continues our new series called Can't Believe.

Remember, you can always stay with us even if you miss a day and listen online anytime at jdgreer.com. But now let's dive into today's teaching that Pastor J.D. titled 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. 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. 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. Verse 23 of chapter 2. 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 7, a passage that used to scare me to death when I was in high school, talks about a group of people that are going to stand on the last day at the judgment and they're going to look at Jesus and they're going to 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 going to say the most terribly shocking words that have ever been uttered in the universe to them. He's going to say, hey, 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. Verse three, 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 the Nicodemus 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 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. It 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. Have you ever so loved something that you would give anything up for? God so loved you that he took the serpent into himself so that you could look and live.

month. We've released a brand new 21-day devotional and scripture guide that takes you through the minor prophets of the Bible. What you'll discover is that these so-called minor prophets still have a major impact on our life today. Take the time in your personal study to really dig into this often neglected portion of scripture and learn valuable lessons for your life today. You can reserve your Come Back To Me devotional and scripture guide when you give today by calling us at 866-335-5220 or you can always donate online at jdgrier.com.

Now let's return for the end of our teaching today. Once again, here's Pastor JD. One of my preaching heroes is a guy named 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. All right, 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, 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. 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 fought, 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. And when he'd 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. Yet it was no doubt all wisely ordered in the providence of God. And so now I can say, ere 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.

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 the 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 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 Tomlinson tunes and playing them on the harp you keep beside 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. 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 for 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 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 you. 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 over at jdgrier.com to find resources, resources to help you take the next step of growth in your relationship with God. J.D., we talk a lot about gospel partners here on the program, but I realize that we have new listeners all the time who might not know what that means.

Can you fill us in again? What is a gospel partner? So our gospel partners play a very crucial role in our Summit Life team because they are people that usually it's people that have been impacted directly by the ministry.

You just never know what the word of God is doing. And so it's people that want to see this blessing extend to others. I don't know if you know this about our ministry here, but when people give to this ministry, it's not going to pay salaries or build facilities.

It's really going to keep us on the air in the various places that we are. And there's some new opportunities that we have in some new, very unchurched areas. And so gospel partners make that happen.

It's basically you commit to give a certain amount every month and we're able to communicate with you. You're able to pray for us. You're able to really join up with the ministry team. Hey, I would love for you to consider becoming a gospel partner.

If you'll go to jdgrier.com, you can just see instructions on there. Molly's grateful for it. I'm grateful for it. Everybody here at the Summit Life team is grateful for you.

Amen. We are so grateful for each and every gospel partner. And if you haven't become a gospel partner yet, we would love to have you join us. When you join the team, you'll receive exclusive premium resources from us that are specifically designed to help you grow in your faith and to help you become a disciple-making disciple.

This month's featured resource is our brand new devotional and scripture guide that expands on the teaching series you heard recently on Summit Life called Come Back to Me. We'll send it to you with your one-time gift or when you become a gospel partner right now. To give today, call us at 866-335-5220.

That's 866-335-5220. Or visit jdgrier.com right now to partner with us. I'm Molly Vidovich inviting you to join us again Tuesday 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 / 2024-03-18 12:27:09 / 2024-03-18 12:37:38 / 10

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