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Seven Woes on False Religion

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
April 21, 2021 8:00 am

Seven Woes on False Religion

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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April 21, 2021 8:00 am

Every group or club has its criteria for membership, but what is required in order to be part of the Kingdom of God? Is it a seminary degree or a certain number of memorized Scripture verses? Today on The Bible Study Hour with Dr. James Boice, we’ll discover that God is not impressed with our attempts at being super spiritual. In fact, the sincere Christian life is often far from glamorous.

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Every group or club has its criteria for membership. But what is required in order to be part of the kingdom of God.

Is it a seminary degree or a certain number of memorize Scripture verses today on the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce will discover that God is not impressed with our attempts at being super spiritual. In fact, the sincere Christian life is often far from glamorous and welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act typically in a culture obsessed with the concept of tolerance is important to remember that not all religions are created equal.

Let's listen together as we hear from Dr. Boyce. There's an idea very common in Western world. All religions are more or less valuable. The God must certainly be pleased with any attempt anyone makes to be religious but he thinks that way. I need to read what Jesus said about the religion of his day recorded in Matthew 23 people sometimes compared religion to a mountain of salvation is that the top button.

All of the roads eventually get to the top, though they may start out in different places.

Other people probably think the way Edward Gibbon described the attitudes to religion in the days of the Roman Empire in that classic statement is often quoted. He says that in that day. All religions were considered by the people is equally true by the philosophers is equally false, and by the magistrates is equally useful on a course is not what Jesus taught them. Matthew 23 is a great illustration.

In summary, it was teaching Jesus never suggested for a moment that any religion at all would enable you to get by matter-of-factly had very hard words to say about false religions, even those would go by the name of biblical Christianity taught that there is only one way to God, namely himself and the other way is wrong and misleading. And eventually will and in condemnation, and the very harsh words to say about anyone who should mislead others. Now this chapter is the fifth of six collections of his teaching that you have in Matthew's gospel. We've already looked at the first one's sermon on the mountains, best known example in chapters 5 and six and seven have a chapter given over to the commissioning of the 12 disciples in Matthew 10 and near have the parables of the kingdom.

Matthew 13 you have teaching about the character of those who are going to be part of the kingdom. Matthew 18 and now we come to this announcing a false religion is probably a collection of things Jesus said in different places we've already had reason to suspect that because we were looking at the other discourses.

Matthew is grouping material around a common topic. Just as John does in a very obvious way. In his gospel.

But even if we didn't suspect that because of the other collections we would when we compare what is said here with the same material in the other Gospels. You have something very much like this in the gospel of Luke in the 11th chapter but in Luke is placed at another point in the ministry.

Apparently Jesus taught these things more than once, and yet we see it here at this particular contexts in Matthew, it's perfectly evident why Matthew has collected it and placed it were the hands because this is a section in which Jesus is breaking his final ties with Judaism already seen how he entered Jerusalem with public acts that caused the reaction that brought out the unbelief of the rulers of the day saw how they came to them with trick questions, trying to catch him with one thing after the other, how we responded.

Now the very end of that section. We have this chapter where he pronounces, as it were, a final word judgment and say statement of doom upon the false religion of his day would runs right in the next two chapters, chapters 24 and 25 that had to do with the last things, but is probably two separate things. Some indications of Lapidus certainly indicated in the subject matter. This is the break with the past like chapters begin to look to the future were going to look at those as well or let's put it another way, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law that rejected him.

They were even that moment plotting to have been killed out of these words in a certain sense he rejects them the religion they represent. Matthew Henry at great Puritan preacher and author of that magnificent six volume commentary on the Bible which preachers still used to great effect, says one point about hypocritical ministers. She said whenever there in the pulpit. They preach so well it's a pity they should ever come down. But when they're out of the pool with a live so badly.

It's a pity they should ever go up seems to be that this is what Jesus is saying about these religious leaders here.

These men taught the Scriptures and what late taught the Scriptures and them so accurately that was good. They were to be believed, that wasn't the problem.

Problem is that they weren't living that way, or practices belied their teaching and so they were to be imitated to ask the question what was wrong with them. We have a bad opinion of the Pharisees, because this kind of teaching by Jesus regarding them as hypocrites. But in their day. They were very highly regarded in at least as far as their intentions when they were right.

The very word Pharisee means separated and separated from sin unto the law of God, and they really did make it their practice to study the Scriptures to get to know what the Bible taught in all its intricate detail and least as they understood it delivered by Paula Pharisees said of his time among the Pharisees that as far as the legalistic righteousness that was spelled out in the law is concerned, he was blameless when Jesus told the parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector and he has the Pharisee boasting about the way he lives. He says, is not a robber evildoer daughter are running fast twice a week. Besides that, it gives a tide of everything he possesses.

I don't think he was lying. That really was the way these people live. That wasn't the problem. You say, what was the problem answer given in verses four through seven that their character was the exact opposite of the character.

The Jesus requires of those were members of his kingdom was the last address. Remember what he's talking about what the people are to be like that are actually members of his kingdom. It's in the 18th chapter what he says is that they must be humble, compassionate, loving, forgiving, as Jesus was, what he says about these religious leaders of the day in this particular chapter is that they were the exact opposite of that they were actually hypocritical because verse 20 verse three. They do not practice what they preach. They were indifference others in the need of others because verse four. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them and they were proud verse five everything they do is done for men to see these men wanted to be was teachers wanted to be highly regarded because they were teachers. Jesus talks about them sitting up on Moses seeker actually was a seat in the synagogues called Moses that Moses was the giver of the laws where the law was red person was doing the reading for the day would actually sit there in the front of the congregation of what Jesus was asked to do in the synagogue at Nazareth when he began his ministry's what they wanted to day they wanted to be regarded as the teachers as the ones that were knowing is the one whom everybody would look up the ones would be addressed with all the questions Jesus says actually wrong because all they really were was pride proud and wanted to be highly regarded more highly regarded than others is not talking about not having teachers. Of course, because we read in Ephesians are pastors, teachers are one of God's gifts to the church teachers. It's not that it's the attitude which all of this was done well.

Verse 11 is a reiteration of the character of those who would follow him and a reminder of what is really looking for those would be leaders.

It's this tax that he uses in a variety of ways in different places.

It has to do with humility. The greatest among your weight says must be your servant whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted, and that's what he wants out of this point the sermon begins to pronounce a series of judgments or woes on these ungodly leaders. It's an established Old Testament pattern is often called academic studies of saw because was frequently spoken by a prophet against a foreign nation.

We have examples of in the Old Testament in Isaiah the fifth chapter. While the verses they are given over to its six particular woes are mentioned they are in the back of the second chapter their fiber something similar in the book of Revelation and so for the wall was a little man cry judgments spoken in sorrow against those who are experiencing or about to experience the judgments of God. So this is what Jesus lays out Pharisee begins to pronounce a series of woes against this false religion of his day that we need to hear this because this is the way Jesus regards much religion and it's not just the Jewish religion of his own much of what passes for religion to die hear what he says and then we need to apply it and apply it well. The first well is pronounced against them because they made salvation hard for other people is what it says in verse 13 first part of the chapter he had criticized the Pharisees for wanting to be at the top of the religious pyramid as it were, to use another image for wanting to lead the parade.

Here he expands his thoughts along these lines. He says yes you want to lead the parade you lead the parade right up to the very door of salvation then you refused to go and you will anybody else doing either that of being a help your actually a hindrance your barrier to salvation where other people are concerned that that's a terrible thing to say about religious leaders, but it is true of Manny and it's an indictment of many in our time as well. As in all ages of religious history is true of ministers who lead congregations, but never clearly teach the way of salvation really doing is inoculating them against the truth of them the impression lead their religious and therefore everything is right with God. Peace. Peace. But there is no peace with God.

The people actually hear the way of salvation in order that they might understand and have faith in Christ. Is this also adjust indictment of seminary professors undermine belief in the authority of the Bible, the deity of Christ miracles late value of Christ, atoning death, his bodily resurrection of all God while pretending to serve the church which pays their salaries again is in its proper assessment of professors who write destructive books which masquerade as explanations of the Bible's teaching, but actually destroy the faith of many. I know many examples of Latin, you probably do as well. I can echo Christ judgment when he calls down while in such people.

When the be better for such teachers, millstone and hung around their neck and they been cast into the sea and that they had been allowed to mislead any of Christ little ones is what Jesus himself said in another place where the second law is pronounced upon them for corrupting their converts as it goes beyond the first. It's not only that they're making hard task for people to face her, making it difficult for people to be say, but when they get them to converted their way. They actually corrupt them. The Jews have not been particularly known over the centuries for being an evangelistic people. Generally, they've kept to themselves or preserve their own ways Gentile groups of done the same, but at the time of Jesus Christ really would seem that they were evangelistic references along those lines of the gospel, but we have one very clear example of the Judaizers will post Paul. Paul was going out to the Gentiles and reaching there as well as in synagogues and these Judaizing teachers from Jerusalem dog's footsteps.

All those boring places trying to bring people around to their particular way of thinking.

So Jesus recognizes that he recognizes that they really were evangelistic but he says what's the use of that when you actually got a convert to make him twice as much a child of hell as yourself is very strong language but it's observable people who get converted to a false way of thinking and teaching often become more adamant and harmful in the correct way of thinking in the people that converted them is 1/3 judgments are well is pronounced on them because of their trivializing religion versus 16 through 22 deals with because history in religion, because history really means tracing out causes making distinctions what is used in a negative way of people who handle the law making minute distinctions with the things that are said in order that they might avoid the true meaning of the law or escape its consequences. And Jesus said this is what they were doing because an example. They do it, particularly in this area of owe the slightest swearing Jews distinguished between binding all those those who are not binding on the basic principle was this the only oath that was really binding was an oath was taken in the name of God. The difficulty was they didn't use the name of God. Nobody spoke the word Jehovah gallbladder. However, that's to be understood. They always had you view for the name of God. So instead of saying God of the Lord they would say things like heaven or the Temple or God's throne, meaning God and so it became a question when you use the you you wasn't like that, whether you were really swearing by the name of God or not you weren't was binding it anywhere and it wasn't binding so they made all kinds of distinctions you could swear by the temple that was not valid, but if you swear were by the gold of the temple, it was you could swear by the altar that was insignificant, but if you swear by the gift that had been placed on the altar that was significant uncrowded absolutely meaningless distinctions, trivializing of religion. And that's the way Jesus handled that he said to his disciples forget about all that nonsense. Let your yes be yes and your no be no work speak the truth. We could clearly and don't make that kind of legalistic distinction Jesus called people who handle truth in this way, useless and corrupting. He said they were blind guides say nothing like that in today's religious circles or server is suggestive happens whenever teachers make delicate distinctions about things in the Bible, arguing, this may be sin, but this closely related type of activity is in sin.

Whenever we do that were really failing to take the Bible at face value and were condemned by our Lord is a particular form of theology today that fits this category and is what's called process theology the idea that everything is in process, including God. God is not infinite in any of his attributes. Certainly not his knowledge.

He learns as he goes along.

The one thing he learns from his office and so we actually enrich God by the experiences we haven't and we also process so we make up our own rules as we go along. That would mean that the things you find in the Bible may have been more or less valid for the people of that day. But of course they are today because we see things differently today. That's the kind of thing we have in our church. Jesus pronounces a judgment on it and especially upon ministers who are guilty when they shade the truth. The Bible's doctrine so as not to offend other people.

Perhaps the powerful, or the welfare of the supporters of their friends. Number four pronounces a low on them for neglecting what is actually important say they take trivial things like that important but they neglect the things that are important. This is versus 23 and 24 is example is a way to handle tithing law required tithing of grain, wine and oil, and the firstfruits of the flock. Since there in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. The Pharisees had greatly expanded this to include even as Jesus says tithing of household spices like mint deal in common point of that is that those things would be grown in small little household plot so there would be very small amounts of them because you don't need large amounts of spices and he says you take great pains to do that. But what you neglect all the weightier things of the law. Things like doing justice and showing mercy and being faithful in your word to God and other people.

We do that today if we allow small points of theology to divert us from things that are essential for one reason why the Alliance of confessing Evangelicals was emphasizing the great solos of the Protestant Reformation because we had all kinds of battles over things that are far less important but we forgotten the gospel that is embodied in those doctrines Jesus says whenever you do that you are falling under his judgment. Number five woe is pronounced upon them for their self-indulgence versus 25 and 26 the Pharisees debated hard about what it means to keep a kosher kitchen as we would say, and the rules they devised were many and complex. It's hard for us even to appreciate this. You have to read about it understand that William Barclay reports on what some of these rules were like an earthen vessel which is hollow becomes unclean only on the inside and out on the outside, it can only be cleansed by being broken.

These earthen vessels Become unclean at all flat plate without a ram open coal shovel gridiron with holes in it with her hand the plate with a ram or an earthen spice box or a writing case would become unclean, as he always concerns with the outward things that I did make any difference what was inside you to be indulging yourself at all kinds of food, eating it and neglecting the poor at your very gates of the rich man did with the case of Lazarus that was all right as long as you were doing it on kosher utensils. I suppose a way to apply that today is to talk about people who go to church and keep up appearances by seeming to do all the right things.

They put money in the collection plate to give the other charitable causes like talk nicely and all that but matters of business. I can be as corrupt as the world around them and they don't see any difficulties with a wall.

They might even cite many do what I do in my own private life. Doesn't matter nobody's business but my own.

But Jesus didn't think that way. Jesus said, you hypocrites, you clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. First clean the inside of the cup and then the outside. Also will be clean on the sixth of these willows wickedness within versus 27 and 28. The provides is well-known illustration of whitewashed tombs. It was a very timely thing for them to say because is was Passover week and it was a pattern among the Jews accustomed that in the previous month of radar that they renewed the whitewashing on the tombs reason for that as many pilgrims would be coming up to Jerusalem for the feast of you touched a tumor or anything else associated with a dead body became unclean.

The pilgrim was coming up unfamiliar with the way might accidentally do that and so the tombs were whitewashed indicate they were tombs. Anybody would avoid it so that was fresh in everyone's mind all come to drizzling scene. The whitewashed tombs and Jesus says look your hypocrite. You do that, but you don't worry about what's inside the really was condemning them on two counts. There one for keeping up appearances, but not worrying about the inner state of their lives. But secondly also for this kind of false religion, they were concerned with ceremonies, but they were concerned with the reality then comes the last 171 source one of all the pronounces a wall on them for the murder of God's prophets versus 29 through 36.

Their fathers had murdered all the righteous persons of the plants from able's death is recorded in the earliest chapters of Genesis to Zechariah with murder is recorded in second Chronicles 24, 21, and the Hebrew Scriptures.

That's the last book of the Bible. Jesus really is covering the whole of the Old Testament the same from able at the beginning to Zechariah the end.

This is been the pattern God sends his profits and you kill them with the church will always kill righteous. We can't miss noting that in the middle of these verses Jesus switches from the past tense to the present that you kill the righteous, but then he goes on to sigh I'm sending you prophets and wise men and teachers when he talks about what they'll do with them. Of course he's talking about his own disciples of those who will follow them.

Some you will kill and crucify others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town and so upon.

You will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, and that happened Jerusalem was judged fell in judgment, but many years later merely gospel preachers were flogged, they were persecuted, pursued, killed Paul alone is an example and finally this terrible judgment came when we come to the end of this chapter. In the end is very important because when we find here in verses 37 to 39 is a Jesus words of judgment were spoken on so much in wrath as they were with tears.

Sometimes we read something like this in our column picks up the tone of anger as we do it. Woe to you, teachers of the law you regrets that sort of thing.

That's the way we read it desolate, we naturally pick up on that sort of a statement, but it does not seem that Jesus spoke the words that way. Instead he said this oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stones those who are sent to you how often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing look, your house is left to you desolate, for I tell you, you will not see me again until you say Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord no one is able to speak words of judgment, even if they are the words of God that were repeating.

Unless we first learned of the week for those who are affected. Book himself tells us explicitly that Jesus wept over Jerusalem. We see many wrongs, many of the things that are mentioned here in this chapter or publicly evidence the church shows that which were parts of the question is we ever wept over anyone were unlikely to win them the Lord Jesus Christ. Until we do, let us pray.

Her father we bow before you. And when we look at a chapter like this so happy in its judgment upon the hypocrisy and sins of religious leaders, and indeed of many different kinds of people and we see that these things are also true of ourselves. In many ways we can only weep for ourselves and for others to employer mercy and seek your grace probably have been gracious to save us. We wouldn't come to know Christ as our Savior. Review had not initiated and empowered, drawn and brought in Taunton on those things that have made it possible for us to believe and rest in him.

So we would implore that same mercy on behalf of others asking many might be drawn back from false religion find salvation in Christ and that you might provide a renewal of your church in our day through him and the power of the gospel you are listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich and and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse.

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