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Thursday, April 7, 2022

BY WHAT AUTHORITY?

"And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 'What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.' 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, 'Be silent, and come out of him!' 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, 'What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.' 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee. '"
Mark 1:21-28


One definition of true faith is to do what God commands, exactly the way He commands, just because He commands it.  How important is it to do what Jesus, the Son of God, commands, exactly the way He commands, just because He commands it? Jesus is Lord and King. What is the nature of His lordship? Let us consider what the Scriptures teach about the authority of the Son of God.

In Mark 1:21-39, we can easily observe the King’s authority, our Lord Jesus Christ.    Jesus the King and Lord is the beginning of the Good News that the Prophet Isaiah prophesied.  Jesus is the righteous servant in whom God delights.  He successfully defeated Satan.   Jesus’ teaching is authoritative, and we see it in Mark 1:21-22 as He enters the synagogue and teaches on the Sabbath.  But His teaching is different.  His teaching was so different and unusual that it astonished the people in the synagogue.  Jesus was not a fancy speaker.  The people were astonished because Jesus “taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.”  

You see, the teachers of that time quoted the elders and the rabbis. The Jewish religious experts did not care about and value originality. They passed down the authoritative “tradition of the elders.” But Jesus spoke with the authority of God.  He did not repeat the tradition of men!  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught with authority when He said,  

“You have heard that it was said of old, but I say to you.” 


Jesus taught about the Father, saying, 
“Because I said so.” 

When Jesus spoke, His words were God’s authoritative words. He was the Author of the Scriptures.  Jesus did not quote a Scripture for authority or appeal for authority outside Himself. He taught as someone who possessed great authority like no one else on earth.  His words were unique, for they were authoritative.  His authoritative words must rule our lives, for He is King, and we must do what He commands.  We must allow Jesus’ words to be the authority over our lives.

Today, many denominations and so-called churches of Christ practice things without the authority of God, though they think they’re doing the will of God.  When one challenges and questions their practices, they immediately get defensive and call us names.  For example, 

  • There are differences in how the church treasury is used.
  • Differences in belief about salvation and the use of mechanical instruments in worship.
  • Differences in divorce and remarriage.
  • Differences in supporting social institutions such as orphanages, nursing homes, daycare centers, Bible schools, and the such where they use the church treasury. 

I must stress that before any church does anything in our worship and service to God, there must be authority from God.  It will be wise to ask ourselves one very critical question.  By what authority are we doing these things?

We cannot know God’s authority in everything we do or say if we are not seeking His will through reading the Scriptures.  It will be impossible to know the difference if we are ignorant of God’s Word.  Ignorance of God’s Word weakens and tosses us by every wind of doctrine.  But if we dig deeper into the Scriptures as the Bereans did, we will be able to follow God’s authority as taught in His Word (Acts 17).


I.   THE AUTHORITY OF GOD:

  • What Is Our Standard of Authority? 

Our only standard for determining what can and cannot be done by the Lord's authority is His Word.  The Word of God explicitly authorizes via direct statements and examples. Thus whatever we do in word or deed must be done by the authority of Jesus Christ (Col. 3:17).  The Bible, the Word of God, teaches and authorizes by implication.  It is sometimes difficult to understand God’s implications because understanding involves proper and sound reasoning to draw the conclusion that God expects us to draw.  Since God made us in His image, and He is all-wise, He expects us to use the wisdom He has given us to study His Word and draw conclusions from His explicit statements in the Bible.  We must stress again that Truth via implication is authoritative. God also authorizes what is expedient within the confines of that which is lawful.  Though God gives us laws, rules, and obligations, He doesn't always specify all the details to fulfill those duties, so we must weigh the available choices to determine which choice is the most advantageous to accomplish such general obligations. That is, we must seek the most expedient way to carry out the Lord’s will.  Let me give you a few  examples:

    • Noah And The Ark:  (Genesis 6:13-16)

God specified "gopher wood" for the construction of the ark (Gen. 6:14). By faith, Noah did all that God commanded him to do (Gen. 6:22; Cf. Heb. 11:7). {God was also very specific about the Passover sacrifice. It had to be a blemish-free male lamb of the first year (Ex. 12:5).}  God was very specific in His instructions to Noah.  He explicitly told Noah what kind of wood to use.  Expediency in human wisdom requires the right of choice within the realm of those things that God has authorized.  And though Noah could have chosen another wood similar to gopher, whether small or large logs, he still had to obey God and use gopher wood{The Israelites could have chosen which blemish-free male lamb of the first year to be offered, but to obey God, they had to offer such an animal.} 

To go beyond what is specified, or offer a substitute, is to add to what God has already said rather than obeying His Word. So if God had not been specific with Noah, Noah could have used any other type of wood he wanted, right?  Yes!  If God had said to use “wood” to make the ark, Noah would have had God's authority (by expediency) to use another wood such as oak, pine, birch, or any other kind of wood that might serve his purpose.  However, God never gave Noah that choice, for He was very specific when He authorized gopher wood!  God commanded Noah to use gopher wood and nothing else.  You see, God does not have to prohibit everything He does not want.  Why?  Because all He needs to do is to authorize what He wants us to do, and we must never go beyond His authority!

Think for a moment. 

If God had to specifically prohibit everything He did not want us to do or say, our Bibles would have to be very big.  It would surely be impossible to carry our Bibles!  Hence we must respect the silence of the Scriptures and determine to say and do only those things that God has authorized. That is what Colossians 3:17 teaches!  It would be a big mistake to justify anything that God has not authorized by simply stating that the Bible does not explicitly prohibit such. Instead of looking within ourselves to determine whether we should do or say a certain thing, we should look to what God wants us to do. We must ask ourselves, "Where has God authorized it?" It is not enough to claim that the New Testament does not condemn a certain activity, for that type of thinking does not work! What works for God is to show that He has authorized a particular thing by direct statement, example, or implication. Within these three expressions of authority, we must also consider the most expedient way to carry out God’s will.

So, the question at stake is. 

Did Noah have to use any human judgment when he built the ark?  


Well, not in the matter of which wood to use because God was very specific about it.  And though God was very specific about the building of the ark, He still allowed Noah to use his human judgment in many ways to fulfill the obligation of building the ark.  Human judgment is involved in all obligations that God has given us.  For example, did God specify where to build the ark? There is no indication that He did. Noah could have built the ark in his backyard, on top of a hill, or anywhere else large enough to build it.  God gave Noah the obligation to build the ark, and, to fulfill that obligation, he had to choose an appropriate location to build the ark. Now, under the circumstances, I doubt it would have been expedient for Noah to build the ark on top of a hill because he would have been required to haul a lot of wood up there. And that brings me to another question.

Where was Noah supposed to get the wood?  

The Bible does not tell us where God specified Noah to get the wood. He probably had to go out and cut the wood. Now that brings up other matters for human judgment

How was Noah to cut the wood?  
Was he supposed to use a hand saw or chainsaw?  

Of course, Noah did not have a chain saw.  The point is that even when God was very specific, Noah had to make some decisions concerning the construction of the ark.  I don't doubt that Noah chose the options that were most expedient or advantageous for him. Of course, all the choices he made had to be in harmony with the will of God and the general and specific obligations that He had placed on him. Noah did not go beyond that which God had authorized him to do.

"Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did."  (Genesis 6:22)

God authorizes by expediency where man must make human judgments to fulfill his obligations.  However, we must understand that if God specifies how an obligation is to be carried out, then the method is just as binding as the obligation itself.  If God had told Noah where to get the wood, how to cut it, and where and when to build the ark, then none of these things would have been matters of expediency. But sometimes, as in the case of Noah, God gives obligations to fulfill to please Him.  However, there are times when we will have to use common sense to make our choices.  So, before we can say or do something, we must first have the authority from God to say or do it!  

    • Nadab and Abihu:

In Leviticus 10:1-3, we have the story of Nadab and Abihu.  They were offering God fire on the altar of incense that was supposed to be taken from a particular altar, the altar of burnt offering. But notice what happened next.

“Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘This is what the Lord has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’  And Aaron held his peace.’”  


So what is the problem? 

Nadab and Abihu used an unauthorized, unholy, and profane fire.  They used something different than what God had commanded. They thought it would not matter to God.  But it did matter to God!  We cannot worship God using our own wisdom and not His.  We must not rely on what others say.  It was presumptuous for Nadab and Abihu to offer profane fire (their way) rather than the sanctified fire to God (Lev. 10). And though Nadab and Abihu offered worship to God, they were still not acceptable because they did not worship God the way He had commanded. God expected the priests to obey the Law completely. His silence toward all prohibited worship does not authorize a practice or activity that might be offered as worship to God (Lev. 10).  

In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus said, 

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.’”


Did Jesus say that all authority had been given to men to design worship that would please others?  

All authority is from God and no one else.  We must not look to others to determine if any practice is lawful before God.  We must not rely on men, magazines, or scholarly works such as commentaries to determine the authority of God on any given practice.  We cannot please God and follow men and their creeds.  They will be wrong!  We must search the Word of God for answers about everything we do or say.  Period!  

    • Uzzah And Ahio:

When the sons of Abinadab, Uzzah and Ahio, were bringing the Ark back, they put the Ark on an ox cart. This was their first mistake.  They did not follow the instructions given by the LORD about handling the Ark.  Apparently, they had forgotten.  This mistake ended in tragedy.  As they were bringing the Ark back, Ahio was walking ahead of it.  David and his house celebrated and rendered worship to the LORD with all kinds of instruments: lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets, and cymbals.  When they reached the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and perhaps the Ark wobbled, so Uzzah, a non-Levite, reached out to take hold of the Ark.  That was the second mistake.  Uzzah was immediately struck down by God, dying beside the Ark because of his lack of reverence.  

“So they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart. And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill, accompanying the ark of God; and Ahio went before the ark. Then David and all the house of Israel played music before the LORD on all kinds of instruments of fir wood, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on sistrums, and on cymbals. And when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God.”  (2 Samuel 6:3-7)

Do you not believe that what Uzzah did was a good deed?  

He reached up to the Ark to stop it from falling when the oxen stumbled.  But here is the problem.  
  1. God’s Law commanded the Israelites not to touch the Ark. 
  2. Only the priests from the family of Kohath were allowed to carry the Ark by using the poles specially designed to fit inside rings on each side of the Ark.  
  3. And though Uzzah had good intentions, it was not okay with God.   
  4. Uzzah died for his error. 

Some say that if it is a good deed, it cannot be wrong.  
  1. They justify doing a particular practice, declaring that it is a good deed.  
  2. They often make this argument when we talk to them about misusing the church funds to support orphan homes and other social institutions that help those in need. 
  3. Of course, it is good to help the helpless, but no one denies that these things are good works. 
But is it okay with God, or does He authorize the church to use the treasury to sponsor man-made institutions such as hospitals or homeless shelters, just because it seems a good thing that they do?  What do you think?   

We are given many other examples.  Again we must stress that when an action, fact, or teaching is commanded in the Bible without being explicitly specified or stated, you can rest assured that such an action, fact, or teaching is a matter of implication. The New Testament authorizes and prohibits certain things by implication.  Hence, God in the New Testament, the Law of Christ, authorizes via direct statements, examples, and undeniable implications.

"And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus..."  (Col. 3:17)


II.   THE AUTHORITY OF GOD IN THE CHURCH  TODAY:

Any local church must ask the question, 

Do we have God’s authority for what we do in worship?  

In 1 John 3:4, we are told that sin is lawlessness. We must do everything within God’s Law. Otherwise, we sin. The disciples had to determine if there was any authority for the Gentiles to be baptized to be saved. Again, we must stress the use of direct command, necessary inference, and approved examples to discover the authority of God.  In Acts 15, we have a great example of these three principles in action to determine what God authorizes. 

  1. In Acts 15:7-11, Peter describes what happened to him in Acts 10. In verse 8, he says that the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit just as the apostles did, making no distinction. You see, Peter made a necessary inference to show that God cleansed the hearts of the Gentiles by faith and did not place the yoke of the Law of Moses on their necks.  
  2. In Acts 15:12, Paul and Barnabas declared the many miracles and wonders God had performed through them among the Gentiles. Here we see the use of an approved example
  3. In Acts 15:13-19James quotes Amos 9:11-12 to relate the direct command of God, to show that Gentiles could be saved. James declares that the things that took place were previously spoken by God. You see, the apostles discovered the authority of God this way, and it is the way we must use to find God’s authority today.


  • The Authority For Benevolence: The Individual And The Local Church:
God has authorized individuals to show benevolence toward Christians and unbelievers. Notice 1 John 3:17,

“But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” 

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10
 
    1. In 1 Timothy 6:17-19, the rich are commanded to be rich in good works, do good, be ready to give, and willing to share. 
    2. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus says that what we do toward our brethren in physical things is what we are doing toward Him. The parable of the good samaritan ends with Jesus saying, “Go and do likewise.” 
    3. As individuals, God commands us to do good to all. 
    4. We must be rich in good works.  

God has also given the local church the authority to use its funds for benevolence. However, there are restrictions about the use of each local church treasury. The local church has limited authority from God. 
    1. In 1 Corinthians 16:1-2,  the apostle Paul commands the church to take up a collection for the saints and “store it up”, that is, in a common treasury. 
    2. On the first day of the week, each person must lay something aside
    3. But notice in verse 1 that the collection is “for the saints.” 
    4. Carefully notice that we are not told the collection is “of the saints” or “given by the saints,” which is sometimes how many misunderstand this passage. 
    5. The money collected is for the saints!  
    6. The money used for benevolence out of a local church treasury was always for the needy saints.  

In Romans 15:25-26, we read, 

“But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints who are in Jerusalem.” 
 Who was the contribution for? 

For the poor saints in Jerusalem. 
    1. In Acts 11:27-30, we are told that a famine was taking place everywhere.  
    2. In verse 29, we read, “Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea.” 
    3. Again we can see that the money was sent only to the saints. 
    4. In Acts 4:32-37, we read of “the multitude of those who believed” had all things in common. 
    5. The saints sold their possessions, and the goods were distributed to each one who had need.
    6.  From the very beginning, we see this same situation (Acts 2:44-45). We read, “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” 
    7. Who are those in need? All who believed. 
    8. We can prove this even further in Acts 3
    9. Notice that the possessions and goods were sold and laid at the apostles’ feet to distribute to needy saints.
    10. In Acts 3:1-6, Peter and John encountered a lame man on the way to the temple. 
    11. In verse 3, the lame man asks for alms. 
    12. In verse 6, Peter says, “Silver and gold I do not have…” 
    13. Is Peter lying? 
    14. We know Peter had plenty of money and goods available from the selling of the saints’ possessions that took place seven verses earlier. 
    15. Peter was not lying. 
    16. From this passage, we infer that the local church must not use its funds for all the needy of the world. 
    17. The funds must be used for needy saints only.

You may ask, what about James 1:27

Many argue that James 1:27 authorizes the local church to use its funds for the orphans and widows in this world.  The question is, 

Is James 1:27 addressed to a local church or individuals? 

It is not that difficult to understand and determine the correct answer.  
    1. We must first look at the context of the passage. 
    2. We must read the earlier verses of this text to find the nearest reference for this command.
    3.  Verse 26 says,  "If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless." 
    4. James is talking about the religion of a person, for he says  “he,” “his tongue,” “his own heart,” and “one’s religion.” 
    5. Our text is clearly talking about what each individual must do.  
    6. Even in verse 19, we see the discussion of what individuals must do. “Let every man…” 
    7. James 1:27 commands and gives authority to individuals to take care of widows and orphans.
    8. Therefore, when it comes to the work of benevolence, the treasury of the local church is limited to needy saints only.  

  • The Church Limits Upon Helping Needy Saints:

“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  (1 Tim. 5:8)

“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”  (2 Thessalonians 3:10)


    1. God has placed further limits on the local church even on which needy Christians she may help.  
    2. The local church cannot immediately step in and help just any needy saint (2 Thessalonians 3:10).  

In 2 Thessalonians 3:10, Paul says, 
“For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” 

This same principle is given in 1 Timothy 5:8
“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 

If an individual is unwilling to work, a local church has no responsibility to help and must not help until that person is ready to take a job.

“But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God.”  (1 Timothy 5:4)


Each individual must be willing to work before the local church can help.  The family must help before the local church helps him.   

A widow was not allowed to be on the role unless the family options were exhausted. The children and grandchildren were responsible for taking care of them, not the local church. The family is expected to contribute before the local church does. 

In 1 Timothy 5:16, Paul says that the church must not be burdened. 

This is an important principle. 

    1. Imagine if each local church were to use its funds to help all the poor in the world, it would run out of money and not accomplish the task the Lord has given each local church. 
    2. Each local church must not use its funds in a way that God has not authorized. 

My question is, 

Did the apostles set up shelters, orphanages, nursing homes, daycare centers, foster homes, or other institutions to take care of the needy? 


And though it might be noble to accomplish such a task, it leaves each local church without funds to do the work God has given it to do in evangelism, edification, and benevolence toward the needy saints.  

    1. In Acts 11 and 2 Corinthians 8-9, we read that a local church was unable to meet the needs of the saints.  
    2. So other local churches sent money to aid those needy saints. 
    3. Here is the only example we have of one local church sending money to another local church.
    4. The money was not sent nor used for any other reason. 
    5. Nor do we see these receiving churches sending it to other churches. 
    6. The saints did not set up a benevolent society to help all needy people in the world. 
    7. Nor did they use a local church as an agency to give aid to all needy people. 
    8. There is no authority anywhere in the New Testament for establishing a controlling local church to be in charge of all the needy in each location.  
    9. If there’s one, I would like to know it!  
    10. The needy Christians were the only ones receiving this kind of help.  
    11. Take heed!

  • No Authority For Supporting Earthly Organizations:
Many teach that a local church must use its funds to support all of today’s charities and needs. 
    1. They want to use the treasury of the local church to send funds to nursing homes, daycares, orphanages, hospitals, shelters, the Red Cross, United Way, or any other charitable organization.
    2. There is no authority for the funds of a local church to be used for such things.  
    3. Nowhere do we find a command, a necessary inference, nor do we see an example of any local church supporting such human organizations. 
    4. We do not find any authority for a local church to give its funds to those who are not needy saints.
    5. Again, let us remember that in Acts 3Peter and John did not give the lame man, who sat at the gate of the temple, any money. They said they could not give him money. 
    6. Why not? Because the inference is that the money must not be used for anyone other than needy saints in dire economic need (Acts 11:27-30 and 2 Corinthians 8-9).  

  • The Primary Work of Each Local Church is Spiritual:  

    1. God did not authorize the local church to become a welfare system or an agency to meet the physical needs of others. 
    2. The local church must meet spiritual needs
    3. Peter and John gave the lame man something more important than gold and silver. They healed him so that he and others would believe in Jesus Christ. 
    4. Our faith is the more important thing we can give to people.  
    5. We are not authorized to use the funds of a local church to support institutions.  
    6. When the  Lord commanded us to do good to all and visit the widows and orphans, He was not talking about giving them a check from the church treasury, He was talking about making an effort to help individually. 
    7. It is an individual responsibility. 

Remember Galatians 6:10
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” 

We must help others individually when the opportunity is presented.  Each one of us has been commanded to help believers and non-believers in the area of benevolence. It is up to each of us to determine how we are going to help.

Thus the right question to ask is:  

By what authority are we doing these things?  


We must understand that the church is not a physical benevolent society to feed and clothe or meet the physical needs of the worldly poor. As designed by God, the primary function of the church is to meet man’s spiritual needs.  
    1. The church is not a social club for secular parties, potlucks, entertainment, and music. 
    2. The church is for spiritual worship and spiritual music.  
    3. The church is not a political action force to shape society and culture through public protest.
    4. The church is non-political, and her God-ordained function only is to protest against spiritual things like sin and lawlessness.  
    5. The church is not a  fundraising organization whose primary goal is to collect money or invest money through bake sales, raffles, bingos, business ventures, secular real-estate investments, and speculation in the stock market. 
    6. The church that Jesus purchased with His blood raises money from free-will donations from Christians every first day of the week, Sunday.  

Take heed and don’t abuse God’s ordained design for the church that His Son purchased with His own blood!


CONCLUSION 

In Mark 11:28, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders ask Jesus.

 “And they said to Him, ‘By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority to do these things?’”


These Jewish leaders asked Jesus by whose authority was He doing these things.  Notice Jesus’ answer in the following verse.  

“But Jesus answered and said to them, ‘I also will ask you one question; then answer Me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things: the baptism of John, was it from heaven or from men? Answer me.’”


Wow, what a remarkable answer from the lips of Jesus!

Jesus did not turn to the Pharisees and authoritatively exclaim He did not need any authority to do what He was doing.  He did not say how stupid and irrelevant was their question.  Jesus’ response was to compel them to see and accept that His authority was straight from God in heaven.  Furthermore,  Jesus wanted them to accept that He was God and thus had all authority.   And though the question was foolish, it had some validity to it.  The question they asked Jesus about His authority for doing the things He was doing is the same valid question we must ask every time we do anything.  We must acknowledge that all our practices, whether our service and worship to God, must have His authority.    And this is precisely where Nadab and Abihu failed when they offered an unauthorized fire. They did not care about what God asked or commanded them to do.   

Sadly, we often ask the wrong questions with some of our practices of worship and service to God.  We are driven by our feelings or emotionsWe rely more on what others say about a specific practice or issue than doing what God authorizes.  We rationalize everything as a good work or cause, and thus, it cannot be wrong.  We dare to say that God does not care if we do this or not.  We must start acknowledging God’s authority for everything we do or say.  We must ask the question:  

Where is our authority for doing it?  
Does God authorize us to participate in a particular practice or work? 


When the church and its members fail to ask the question, 

“By What Authority?” 


We encounter many problems. Problems such as differences, divisions, and splits.  

How do you suppose we have so many different denominations with different beliefs and practices?  


Because they don’t care and ask the right question:  

By whose or what authority?  


When they fail to ask the right question, serious problems arise—problems about using the church treasury for social things such as building Bible schools, hospitals, and orphanages.  So the question is not whether it is a good work or not, what others practiced in the past, or whether or not God really cares.  

The valid question is,
Do we have authority from God? 


But when we do things our way, not God’s, we have no authority.

You see, there are many divisions over the use of mechanical instruments in our worship to enhance the beauty of our music.  

The valid question again is,  

Do we have authority from God to play instruments of music in worship to God? 


And if we don’t have God’s authority, we must not do it.  Period!  

Others teach that we are saved just by believing and accepting the Lord in our hearts.  Once again, the issue is, we must not do what others say about our salvation, or trust in scholarly books, commentators, and preachers. 

The valid question is, 
Do we have authority from God? 


If we don’t accept God’s authority to baptize for the remission of sins, we are not obeying His authority. (Acts 2:38)

There is much danger when we ignore God’s authority and fail to ask the question,

”By What authority.”  


When we refuse to obey God’s authority in everything we practice, we are standing on dangerous ground.  Jesus plainly said in Mark 7:6-9

“He answered and said to them, ‘Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’  'For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men–the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.’ He said to them, ‘All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.’”


When we disobey the authority of God, what we do is vain, and thus, our hearts are far from God.  A heart far from God is lost, for such a heart rejects God’s commands, His authority.  The danger is evident, for we are led into error.  When we fail to ask if what we do is by God’s authority, we will be led into error. Why? Because we will be easy prey for those who teach error and false doctrine.  When we stop asking the question, by what authority, we will be led into false teaching. Why? Because we will follow men’s doctrines and reject God’s.  We will accept and fall for anything just because it sounds good, not because it is the truth.  We must not accept anything just because it sounds good or because we esteem the teacher highly!   That is very dangerous, and that is exactly what Jude was stressing in Jude 8.

“Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.” 

Also, we find this warning in 2 Peter 2:9-10

“Then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.”


Knowing that punishment is reserved for those who reject God’s authority, we must be careful and reject error and false teaching.  Error and false teaching paralyze us. We should never do anything “new” or “different.” Examine the context of what Jesus is saying in Mark 7. 

The Pharisees accused Jesus and His disciples of not washing their hands according to the tradition of the elders. Honestly, was washing the hands commanded by God? No, for it was a tradition handed down, not found in the Scriptures.  However, the Pharisees made this a command of God and accused Jesus’ disciples of violating God’s Law for not doing it. It is the same thing we see happening today in the religious world.  We must not allow men’s traditions and expedients to become law where God has not made law in our worship to Him.

Therefore, we must teach the authority of God in our worship and service to Him.  

Is it authorized?  
Has God specifically given us the authority to do these things? 


We must obey God’s authority in everything we do or say.  Otherwise, we are undermining God’s Word and authority because we are doing it our way.  When we do things our way, we are hypocrites, and God will judge us (Mark 7:6-9).  

Soundness is doing what God authorizes and not what sounds good to us.  Soundness is not holding to the traditions of men as the commands of God. Jesus said it was foolish and vain to lay aside the commands of God. When we do what God has told us to do, we are seeking God’s authority. We are reflecting soundness in His word.  God has already spoken.  He has commanded that we not add to His words nor take away from His words.  

  • We must not turn to the right hand nor the left, nor should we do less or more than what God has taught and authorized.  
  • We must do just what He specifies.  
  • We must use only generic options found in His given specific commands or statements.  
  • We have no right and are not authorized to declare something to be expedient to carry out some specific command that does not exist.  
  • We must not make a law out of a true expedient.  
  • We must acknowledge that what God specifies must not change and must be followed.  God’s specific instructions do not change with culture and centuries of time.  Take heed!  

God’s instructions are the same today as they were in the first century.  And though many had tried to change God’s specific instructions, they have not changed at all.  Whatever options, choices, expedients, or generic decisions we make must come from what God has authorized in the timeless written Word.  We cannot have God’s approval while we are teaching error and man-made doctrines.  Doctrinal error is to abandon the reliability and authority of God as revealed in His Sacred Word.  

Therefore, we must search the Scriptures to find out what God has authorized, not men.  We must seek His will and authority to learn what God has commanded us to do.  There is no other way to be sound in God’s Word and come to a knowledge of God’s will.  We must not allow ourselves to be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine!   We must diligently study the Scriptures as the Bereans to examine if everything taught by others are the words of God and not men (Acts 17).  We must do what God has said and obey His authority alone.  

Jesus gives life to whom He will (John 5:21).  He gives life abundantly to those who do His will, hear and believe Him (John 5:24).  God the Father has given to the Son all judgment (John 5:22). Thus, whoever dishonors Jesus also dishonors the Father (John 5:23). Do you honor the King?  The only way to honor the King is to bow our knees and submit to His authority alone. We honor the King by worshiping Him. We honor the King by praising Him, for He is worthy of all praise and honor.  We honor the King by doing what He commands.  Since Jesus is God, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, we must submit to Him and God the Father with fear and trembling. 

May we honor our King and Lord and submit to His Lordship with fear and trembling.  May we honor our King and do what He commands, for He is worthy of all praise and honor.  May we place His Holy Word above the words of men.  

~Luci 



Saturday, March 12, 2022

THE BEAUTY OF A BROKEN SPIRIT

"For thou delightest not in sacrifice; else would I give it:  Thou hast no pleasure in burnt-offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit:  A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."   
Psalm 51:16-17


Jesus, our Lord and Savior, invites all broken and lost souls to come to Him for help and rest from the burden of sin.  He wants those lost souls to bring their brokenness to Him for healing.  Christ, our Savior, can make broken souls anew. Though marred by sin, they become whole again.  He can restore our broken lives and the empty and wasted years of sin.  When we obey His Gospel, our Lord removes our iniquities and remembers them no more.  When we obey the remedy for sin that He offers and are buried with Him in baptism, He creates us anew.  It is then that we start walking in the newness of life.

"Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."  (Romans 6:3-4)  


Our wasted life He will restore, justified before God.

"And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."  (1 Cor. 6:11)

In Christ, God has promised to remember our iniquities no more.
"But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.  8 For he finds fault with them when he says:  'Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.  For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.  10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord:  I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.  12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.'"  (Hebrews 8:6-12)  

When we bring our broken hearts by sin to Christ, we find rest because Jesus purifies them from an evil conscience (Heb. 10:19-22).  Jesus can give us rest from the burden of sin and take us to heaven when we surrender our brokenness to Him (Matt. 11:28-30).  Jesus Christ came to earth as our blest Savior (Matt. 1:21).  He has promised His redeemed to be with them until the end (Matt. 28:19-20).  He is now preparing a home in His Father’s house for all those broken souls marred by sin who humbly come to Him to be forgiven (John 14:1-3).  

It is so amazing to see a new Christian arise from the watery grave of baptism, buried with Christ as they humbly bring their broken lives and brokenness of soul to Him to be restored and made anew!


I.   SIN AND BROKENNESS:

We live in a world of broken people.  Our broken world has been around since the beginning of mankind when sin entered this world.  Before Jesus was born, God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah of His people as being “broken.”  Listen to His words.
“They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11). 

  • Sin:
Sin is the cause of our broken world.  When people ignore and refuse to listen to God’s instructions, that course of action will lead them to brokenness in their lives and the lives of others.  Our lives will break down when we live contrary to our Creator’s direction. Such “brokenness” is seen throughout the Scriptures.  
“For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our time in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another” (Titus 3:3).
“Being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful” (Romans 1:29-31).

“Everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin” (John 8:34).


Sadly, many people are deceived, believing they can ignore God and His instruction and still remain whole, good, and put together.  They expect to function well in life while living the broken life of sin.  Consider the following Scripture that describes how hostility toward God results in “evil deeds.” 

“And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds” (Colossians 1:21). 


Their hostility toward God affects them.  Their wrong attitude is against God.  Jesus stressed the commands to love God with all our hearts and our neighbor as ourselves. The two commands are inseparable (Matthew 22:37-39).  Let us not deceive ourselves! Can we remove God from our lives and continue to love people as we should? 

When people depart from God, choosing to ignore His will, they are in trouble.  And once they get in trouble, they often get their loved ones to cover for them.  The truth is that when we involve others in our sins, that shows we only care about ourselves.  We are concerned only about ourselves and are willing to throw everyone else underneath the bus. This course of action shows a lack of humility and repentance:  a lack of brokenness of heart.

    1. Sin is indeed ugly and harsh.  
    2. Sin will take a toll on our compassion and love, and defile our conscience (Jeremiah 6:15) and our relationships. 
    3. Our honesty disappears (John 3:10-21), and 
    4. Our self-control goes out the window along with our view of reality (2 Thess. 2:10-12).  


Notice what Jeremiah declared.

“For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hewn for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).


When we forsake God, we find a replacement.  God is the source of all true refreshment and living waters.  Those who forsook God, according to Jeremiah, tried to dig and create their own source of refreshment.  The problem is that such a carnally devised source cannot hold water.  It is cracked and cannot quench the human thirst for real and lasting peace, happiness and meaning. It only works for a short time.

The Bible tells us that sin is sin and that sin must never be considered "right" or "excusable." All sin is simply sin. We all have sinned, and some more than others. One of the hardest things for us is confronting just how bad our sins are before our Holy God and truly weep for them (godly sorrow). God is not interested in empty apologies, rationalizations, explanations, or excuses to defend or justify sin.  
    1. We cannot fool God, even though we might fool ourselves and others for a while.  
    2. We must recognize and accept that God demands truth, honesty, and integrity of heart.  
    3. Our spirit within us must be crushed by guilt, leaving us with genuine and deep sorrow because we have been rebellious and sinful before our  God.  
    4. We must resolve to humbly repent with a contrite and broken heart that does not seek to rationalize, defend and justify our sins.  
    5. We must not blame our circumstances, others, or even God for our failures, rebellions, or sins. 

Our sins will find us out!  

We must regard our sins, iniquities, and transgressions with a contrite or broken heart.  Our God will not accept empty apologies, cheap promises, or resolutions to justify our sins.  He wants our broken and contrite hearts.   

The guilt of sin weighs heavily on man’s heart, soul, and mind.  It covers the soul with deep sadness, profound grief, and tormenting pain. Some sins bring a heavier weight to the soul than others.  It is a deep pain that almost everyone has felt in his life as he tries to serve God faithfully. Sin in our life is the transgression of God's will and rebellion against Him.   

    1. It is thoroughly evil from top to bottom.  
    2. It opposes all that God is, His purposes, His love, and His Grace.  
    3. Sin is hopelessly corrupt, filthy, and contaminating.  
    4. It produces guilt, shame, and filthiness.  
    5. Sin is falsehood and is the antithesis of Truth.  
    6. It reduces man to a puppet in the hands of Satan.  
    7. It crushes those who indulge in it.   
    8. It separates man from God.  
    9. Sin can numb the conscience and blind our understanding.  
    10. Sin enslaves us by piling on more and more sin until the soul is fully absorbed.  

Only when sinners surrender to God with a broken or contrite heart (godly sorrow) can they be forgiven and cleansed by God's Grace.  

Thanks be to our merciful and loving God who delivers us from wrath through His Son Jesus, our Lord, and from the grave of sin and guilt!!  Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!!


  • What Is Brokenness?
Have you ever broken something valuable to you or your loved ones?  Did you ever break one of your mother’s favorite vases or figurines?  Did you try to glue it back together?  I surely did and got in trouble quite a few times!  When things get broken, we often think of them as worthless and useless.  We believe they are not worthy of keeping any longer.   So we get rid of them right away.  Why not take a closer look at what brokenness is?

Often, our character or bad experiences make us feel broken.  Sadly, we allow those negative feelings or life’s circumstances to define us.  We let them rule our spiritual lives to our detriment. It would be good and wise to consider God’s viewpoint of broken people to help us change our way of thinking. After all, the Bible does say that brokenness is a good spiritual quality to have.  

In countries like Japan, broken things are often repaired with gold. They restore the broken part with gold mixed with epoxy.  Their purpose is not just to replace the damaged piece but to convey awe, reverence, and restoration. The flaw in the broken vessel is seen as a unique piece of the object’s history, which adds to its beauty. The gold-filled cracks are a testament to its history.  Such a history is critical to embrace.  Why?  Because just like those once broken objects, we humans have a history that God, our Creator, can use for His glory. 

In Japanese culture, “it’s very important that we understand the spiritual backgrounds or the history behind… the material.”

The Japanese people set aside the sad stories that show how difficult it was to recover from devastation, betrayals, and losses.  The stories tend to cling to misfortune and imply that they are “damaged goods,” not worthy of love, recognition, or success.  Like the Japanese people, do you have a story or life event that you cannot recover from?  Has betrayal, loss of family, and loved ones brought you down so much that it prevents you from getting closer to God?  Sadly, many people think of themselves as damaged goods and worthless.  Their state of mind affects their growth and restoration with God.  We often hear that the church is for people who cannot get it together, losers, and those who need help.  Let us consider a few things, such as gold and epoxy used to restore broken objects.


  • Gold and Epoxy:

So what does the gold in our story represent to us?  

Well, the gold is God’s love, God’s forgiveness, an opportunity to know Him and thus be restored and transformed.  

What does the epoxy represent to us? 

The epoxy is Jesus, Jesus’ life and teachings, and, more importantly, Jesus on the cross.

Now let us think for a moment and try to put it all together.  

    1. God puts us back together with Himself (gold) and Jesus.  
    2. When God fixes us, we are given a strong bond.  
    3. This bond now makes us whole, better, and more beautiful before God.  
    4. Psalm 51 explains David’s brokenness after God rebuked him for his sin.  David was broken with godly sorrow, which showed true repentance before God. 

Notice what Psalm 51:17 declares about David’s brokenness of heart.   
“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”


God does not despise our brokenness. It pleases Him.  God delights in those who want to be changed, who want the damage of sin repaired. He wants to heal us from our brokenness, for He desires to mend us and make us whole.  His arms are wide open to welcome those who wish to make a comeback to rebuild their lives destroyed by sin.  You see, broken pieces are stronger and better.  God repairs and uses damaged and broken people to do amazing things! 

  • “A Broken And Contrite Heart"   (Psalm 51:16-17)

“For thou delightest not in sacrifice; else would I give it:  Thou hast no pleasure in burnt-offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit:  A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”


This is the very essence of what God wants.  God wants our hearts and not our sacrifices.  He wants contrite and sincere hearts that will listen to Him.  An honest heart seeks His approval, for such a heart wants to do His will.   Such a heart is willing to surrender to God's will.  Our worship to God is useless if our hearts are not broken over our sins.  Our good works are meaningless if we do not have a broken and contrite heart toward God.  All that we do in word and deed must come from the love of our hearts. Otherwise, it will be despised.  God will only delight in us when our heart is humble and devoted to Him.  Even under the Law of Moses, God demanded sacrifices that arise from hearts obedient to Him.  

God wants a broken and contrite spirit.  He will welcome such a heart and rejoice over it.  A broken heart surrenders and accepts responsibility for his sins. Such a heart destroys his strong will and allows God to rule it.  It does not become calloused by sin.  A broken heart admits his sins and is sorrowful, desiring to change and be in fellowship with God.  A broken heart does not allow guilt to eat him away but longs to do God's will.   The broken heart accepts responsibility for his sins, for it has godly sorrow.  A contrite heart is poor in spirit and is fully aware of its need for God's approval.  A broken heart submits to God and His rule.  Our hearts must break with sorrow when we sin.  God will respond to our brokenness with Grace when we humbly confess our sins and surrender to His will.  A contrite heart accepts that change must happen, deep repentance.  The Grace of God will only save the brokenhearted and poor in spirit.

Sinners must be heartbroken over their sins.  They must grieve for defying God. God cannot extend His Grace if there is no deep concern or sorrow over  sin. There must be a desire to turn away from sin to walk in newness of life.   Sinners must accept God’s terms of GraceWhen they do, they will be ready to have a new heart, a new joy, and a renewed fellowship with Him.  God’s righteous and holy standards must rule their new life.  The redeemed must then pass God's most magnificent gift of love to others by sharing the Gospel, the Good News, to others who are broken because of sin.


  • What is godly sorrow?  

Godly sorrow does not come from endless human therapy, human theology, or self-help principles.  Through the Gospel, God calls men to find the remedy for their sinful way of living.  God uses the Gospel to return the hearts of men to Him.   Paul declared, 

"For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death."  (II Cor. 7:10)


In 2 Corinthians 7:-8-9,  Paul stated, 

"For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while—  I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us."  


Paul declared that he did not regret hurting the church by preaching repentance, even though it broke his heart.  Though the message brought guilt because of sin and the church was broken, they turned from their sin, drawing closer to the Lord.  It was God's will for them to be broken in their sin through the knowledge of His Word.  This sound knowledge of sin produced godly sorrow that moved them to a deeper surrender to their Father in heaven.

On the other hand, worldly sorrow is a cruel thing.  It is guilt without hope.  One can have sincere remorse for offending God and others, but not to the point of repenting and changing his life completely.  Such a person is only sorry because he got caught in sin.  True repentance does not take place with someone unwilling to repent and turn from his sins and completely surrender to the will of God.  So I ask you, can the sinner's prayer for forgiveness save a man if he is not willing to repent of his sins, be renewed, and be transformed by the everlasting TRUTH?  Worldly sorrow can’t produce genuine repentance that transforms and regenerates the character or heart of man.  If man is not willing to surrender from the heart completely to the Lord, he is wasting his time because worldly sorrow can only produce eternal death.  It renders man hopeless.

For a person to come to know godly sorrow, he must humbly see himself as totally lost: lost because of sin and undone without God in his life.  He must feel sin-sick before seeking the Great Physician who offers the remedy that can heal him.  This attitude of heart is vital to receiving pardon.  

    1. Sinners must be aware of their spiritual poverty.  
    2. They must accept their slavery to sin before they can have the hope found in Jesus that restores thier broken souls.  
    3. They must be thirsty for righteousness and willing to take up Christ's sweet and easy yoke.
    4. They must feel cast down because of theirs sins before looking for a Savior to redeem them.  

This godly sorrow zeros in on the root of the problem called sin.  Godly sorrow regenerates a broken heart into a righteous and holy one.  


II.  OUR NEED FOR A SAVIOR:

“He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1:11–16)


Jesus came to all who would receive Him.  He gave them the right to become children of God, receiving Grace on top of Grace.  Our Lord came to gather the outcasts and the broken (John 3:181-9).  God has compassion for all the broken people in the world.  God did not come to us with harshness. Remember the prophecy of Isaiah regarding the arrival of Jesus.

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench” (Isaiah 42:3). 


Jesus came to restore us from our brokenness. He came to gather the broken to Himself.  God receives the broken.  He will restore them. Jesus has come, and it is Grace upon Grace to us. He takes away our shame and gives us peace and rest with Him.  

    1. Why did Jesus die on the cross?  
    2. Was there another way? 
    3. What is God’s plan for us? 
    4. What does God expect from us? 
    5. Why did He give us the Bible? 
    6. Why does He want us to obey everything in it? 
    7. Does God want us to live a righteous life to go to heaven?  
    8. Or can we live a good moral life and go to heaven?  
    9. Is there more than that? 

Indeed, these questions deserve worthy answers.  Such answers focus on our need for a Savior.  

“Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He *said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”  (Matthew 9:36-38)


Jesus was heartbroken for the lost. 
    1. Are you heartbroken for the lost? 
    2. Do you look on them with eyes of compassion as our Savior did? 

We're given the greatest gift ever.  But often, we stop short of doing anything with it!  Satan whispers,
"They don’t want to hear the good news...they wouldn’t accept the gift even if you tried."

That is so sad!  People need the Lord and the remedy for sin found in His Gospel.   And while it’s on them if they accept Christ’s terms of redemption, we must still share Jesus and be His light in this world of darkness. Thus we must share the Gospel with the lost to save them from the wrath of God.

  • Why the Bible? 

It is a common question. Some are so bold as to say that God in His Word never intended to keep us from doing whatever we enjoy. Nevertheless, God made it clear in Deuteronomy 10:12-13, that His laws were given for their good. It is like when you buy a car, they give you an owner’s manual full of things to do and not to do. Its purpose is not to restrict you, but to give you the best possible use and benefit from the car. The Bible is our God-given owner’s manual to teach us how to get the most out of life by walking in righteousness and holiness and at the end of life to pass on to your eternal reward. 

The main reason God gave us the Bible is to help us become like Him so that we can live with Him. God made us because He wants us to live with Him. God has done everything possible to make living with Him possible.  Notice what Paul declares in Titus 1:1-3.

“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that is in accordance with godliness, in the hope of eternal life that God, who never lies, promised before the ages began 3 and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior.” 

If we do what God commands, we will be like God, we will walk with God like Enoch, and at the end of our journey, we will find ourselves with God in heaven. 

God wants us to be like Him.  In Matthew 5:48, Jesus emphasizes this with statements such as “even as” or “just as” to show us how we must live to be like the Father.  

“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” 


In this case, “perfect” refers to our goal of maturity, the image of Christ that we strive to imitate.

John 13:34, Jesus declared,

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” 


Ephesians 4:32, Paul said, 

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.”

 
1 John 2:6,

“He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”


We must live like God to be in His likeness.  However, there is one big problem: 
    1. We do not always live like God. 
    2. We have not kept His Law. 
    3. We have sinned.  
    4. We have violated God’s Law (“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” –1 John 3:4).  
    5. Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned.  
    6. Romans 3:9-10 declares that there is none righteous, not even one.

So what is the result of our sins?  
    1. We cannot live with God while we live in sin.  
    2. God will not have us in heaven with Him while we walk in sin. 

Romans 6:23 defines the consequences of sin.   

“The wages of sin is death.” 


Death is separation from God. 

In Isaiah 59:1-2, we read,

“Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.”


It does not matter how many times we have sinned or how “bad” our sins have been. Even one sin can separate us from God and make us unable to live with Him.  In Luke 7:41-42, Jesus told a parable to a Pharisee who thought he was saved because he had sinned far less than a sinful woman who was also in Jesus’ presence.  In the parable, Jesus showed how the Pharisee was in the same condition as the sinful woman.  And though his sins might have been fewer compared to the sins of this woman,  he still could not pay the penalty for his sins any more than this woman could. Thus, we are all in the same boat: lost and unable to get out of our sinful condition by our good moral works.  We need a Savior to rescue us from our sins!  We need Jesus’ blood to cleanse us from our sins and thus restore us to our Father in heaven.

We must stress that no one will be saved because they may have lived a good moral life, for we need our Savior’s blood to wash away our sins.  A good moral life will not do it. We cannot make up for our sins by being good, even sinning once.  Let me explain.  

In Acts 10:2, we read of a man named Cornelius who was “devout, feared God with his whole house, gave much money to the poor, and prayed to God always.”  Yet Cornelius was lost because he had not done what the Lord required to obtain forgiveness.  He had to wash away his sins to be forgiven and restored to God.   


  • God’s Remedy to Sin:

Here is where the love of God and the Grace of God comes in. God made us with a specific purpose: to live with Him. And though our world is broken and is lost in sin, God does not want us to stay in that condition. So how does God provide forgiveness? 

Consider the two statements of the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15-16.

“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”


God saves people by making them disciples of Jesus’ teachings and providing salvation according to those teachings when they repent of their old ways of thinking and living and are baptized in water for the remission of their sins. In the Gospel of John chapter 3, he compared it to a new birth that begins with the water of baptism and continues with the teachings of the Holy Spirit that transform us by the renewing of the mind. Romans 6:3-18; 8:5-11; 12:1-2; Colossians 1:21-29; 2:1-5.

So, how do we remain forgiven after we are baptized? The beauty of the Gospel is that once we are in Christ, we can continue to have forgiveness of sins when we obey God and confess our sins to Him.

How do we obtain forgiveness after we have been saved? John gives us the answer in 1 John 1:7-2:5,

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.’” 


There is no better picture of God's Grace and what He can do with our sins.   God forgives, cleanses, and blots out our sins.  God removes our sins and erases them from His record.  This is how God deals with our sins through the fullness of His redemption, the thoroughness of His cleansing.  When God forgives us, He justifies us (Romans 3:24).  This justification requires godly sorrow, a deep understanding of what our sins have done to God.  Godly sorrow or brokenness declares, “my sins are first against God and second against men and finally against myself.”  Since God is righteous and holy, any sin is against Him.  
    1. My sins hurt God, others and, of course, myself.  
    2. My sins separate me from God and corrupt my relationship with those around me.  
    3. My sins cannot be excused, rationalized, or blamed on others or circumstances.  

Since no one can forgive himself of sin's stain and guilt, God must do it.  So we must approach Him on His own terms to find forgiveness or pardon.  Sin must be dealt with in God's way for true peace and reconciliation to happen.  Then we can then sing again because God has pardoned us.  We must face our sinfulness with brokenness and lay our sins at God's feet.  Remember, sin stands between God and us, between our joy and our righteousness.  Nothing can remove our sins except God's Grace, the precious blood of His Son.  Only when we bring our brokenness and transgression to God, do we find the forgiveness our hearts crave.

God forgives, cleanses, and blots out our sins.  God removes our sins and erases them from His record.  This is how God deals with our sins through the fulness of His redemption, the thoroughness of His cleansing.  When God forgives us, He justifies us (Romans 3:24).  Without understanding how grave our sins truly are (godly sorrow), it is impossible to have that poverty of spirit, brokenness.  There won't be any Grace for us until we are poor in spirit and broken because of our sins.  It will be impossible to grasp Christ's glory and His riches toward us until we understand our deadness, blindness, and brokenness due to sin.  In brokenness, we become aware of our sinfulness.  One must be broken before God to have God's mercy and lovingkindness (Grace). When we acknowledge our brokenness, we benefit from His power that can transform our lives into righteousness.  God will only forgive the broken heart, the godly sorrowful, who accepts his sinful condition before Him.  He is willing to repent because he feels broken and wants to be forgiven.  Such a heart seeks to humbly serve and bless others who are also broken because of sin. 

Thus we must empty ourselves to be filled with God's righteousness.  The brokenhearted are sorrowful and make changes.  

    1. So, will you come to Jesus our Lord with a broken and contrite heart, confessing your sins so that He may cleanse your heart?  
    2. Will you allow Jesus to transform your life? 
    3. Are you willing to experience the salvation that He and only He can provide?  
    4. Why not turn to God for refuge?  
    5. Why not refuse the urge to be self-sufficient and independent, for you need a Savior to save you from your broken life?!  
    6. Since your ways of living have failed, why not seek God’s ways and receive salvation and Grace?  

Don't let Satan immobilize you because of your guilt, for he wants you to give up before you are restored to a relationship with God.  Remember, God can blot out your transgressions and continue His unfailing love toward you and me only when we confess our sins to Him with complete brokenness and poverty of spirit.


CONCLUSION:

Indeed, we live in a world of broken people hurt by sin.  Some are willing to change, thus repenting from their sinful ways.  They acknowledge that God is the only real answer for their brokenness. Our gracious God can help us put our lives back together.  He is willing to mend and restore our broken lives.  God will never despise a broken and contrite heart.  He delights in those who admit how broken they are.  He will help them (Psalm 51:17; Isaiah 61:1; 66:2; 57:15).

Is it not marvelous how God responds to our brokenness, the brokenness caused by our sins!  It is an extension of His Grace and lovingkindness. God responds to our brokenness when we are humble of heart.  He is well pleased.  But He rejects the haughty spirit—the humble heart yielding to God's will. A broken man weeps bitterly over his sins and repents before his God, for he recognizes his spiritual poverty.  He humbly confesses his need for God’s mercy, God’s forgiveness, and His Grace.   In the spirit of brokenness, the poor in spirit surrenders to the need for righteousness and obedienceThe broken heart stands before God without any pretense, for he strips himself of self-sufficiency, self-security, and self-righteousness.  The broken and poor spirit will humbly admit that he has sinned against his Lord and thus is not worthy of being God's son in His kingdom.   We cannot enter heaven any other way.  God demands that a man’s heart be broken, and his spirit humbled before he may enter His heavenly kingdom.

Lack of surrender to God is merely the result of a selfish heart.  Our selfishness robs us of the power of the Gospel to transform our lives.  Our pride and self-sufficiency must be broken, and our love for sin surrendered.  God wants the broken to know the depth of their sins and the need for a Savior to rescue them from their desperate spiritual poverty.  Only the poor in spirit will allow Jesus our Lord to rule their hearts.  Those who are brokenhearted will heed the Gospel Message, the good news, to set them free from the slavery of sin.  God's Grace will not benefit us unless we accept and grasp the enormity of our guilt, that is, our brokenness, before a righteous and holy God.  The brokenhearted grow in the awareness of their sins and plead to God for mercy.  The brokenhearted seek to be pure in heart and do not question the efficacy of the Law of Christ.  They do not argue with demands implied by that message.  

In Psalm 51, David teaches us to acknowledge our sin and its guilty stain. He also shows us the remedy for sin: restoring our soul to God.   King David repented of his adultery with Bathsheba when his pride and self-will were finally broken.  When he confronted the ugliness of the evil he had committed in the presence of a Holy God, David realized that he had to lay aside all pride and rebellion.  His guilt and repentance brought David back into a relationship with God.  David’s moving phrase in Psalm 51, "Create in me a clean heart, O God," reflects an earnest desire from a broken heart that wishes to repent and to be restored to God.  It portrays the height of God’s Grace and genuine repentance (godly sorrow, brokenness).  

But, salvation is presented as conditional, for God's Word declares that one must acknowledge his sin, turn away from it with godly sorrow, accept the responsibility and come to God for fellowship.  However, there must be a full intent of returning to God so that He may run to meet us.  One must choose to repent and turn from all evil and lawlessness to walk in righteousness.  This moving Psalm gives hope to the broken sinner.  It is the picture of the prodigal son in Luke 15 where we see on parade: full repentance, grace, complete forgiveness, full restoration from the depths of sin, and the indescribable hope in God for the hopeless.  As we read David's pleadings, we notice the profound and dark valley of tragedy lying prostrate before the highest mountain of God's character and GraceCan we not rejoice in the goodness of God toward the broken and contrite heart?!

 God’s plan of salvation is based on a Fatherly God who desires to save the hopeless and helpless.  God, our Father, so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son on the cross to give us the remedy for sin.  

The kingdom of Christ is only for the “poor in spirit.”  The poor in spirit have brokenness of heart.  They seek and look to God for help.  They strip themselves of all self-sufficiency, self-security, and self-righteousness.  They are not proud, thinking that God owes them something. They are aware of their spiritual poverty.  They acknowledge they must be beggars before God to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Kingdom citizens beg and do not boast or brag (John 15:5; 9:39-41).  God wants broken hearts that recognize that their goodness is not enough to measure up to God's standards.   You see, this is a big problem with our people today, for they think they're good enough and don't see the need for God to save them.  

Without brokenness and poverty of spirit, we can only endure one ruler.  Guess who?  Self.  Why?  Because we deceive ourselves, believing that we must fight to preserve our own little kingdom of death rather than repent and follow Jesus, who must rule over us.  We must empty ourselves to be saved.  Without accepting our grave sins, it will be impossible to have brokennessThere won't be any Grace.  It will be impossible to grasp Christ's glory and riches found in the Gospel without brokenness.  In brokenness, we become aware of our sinfulness (Romans 3:10; 3:23).  A failure to recognize our brokenness can only alienate us from God's Grace and power to transform our lives of sin into righteousness.  Thus we must empty ourselves that we might be filled with God's righteousness. 

So, will you come to Jesus our Lord with a broken and contrite heart, confessing your sins so that He may cleanse your heart?  Will you allow Jesus to transform your life? Will you be willing to experience the salvation that He and only He can provide?  Why not turn to God for refuge?  Why not refuse the urge to self-sufficiency and independence, for you need a Savior to save you from your broken life?!  Why would anyone turn such a great salvation down?!  Why not find God after failure and receive salvation and Grace?  

Don't let Satan immobilize you because of your guilt, for he wants you to give up restoring your relationship with God! Remember that God can blot out your transgressions and continue His unfailing love toward you and me only when we confess our sins to Him with complete brokenness and poverty of spirit.  

May we teach the Gospel of Salvation to all the broken people in this world and give them the hope to mend their lives.  May they bring their broken lives to God to be mended and be made whole again.  May all men have brokenness of heart, sincere repentance, sorrow over sin, and a heartfelt appeal to God for His Grace and lovingkindness.  May they have a spirit of brokenness that weeps bitterly over their sins, and may they repent before God before it’s too late.  May all people know the depth of their sins and the need for a Savior to rescue them from their brokenness of spirit.  May they have a heart of humility to heed the Gospel Message to transform their broken lives into vessels of righteousness to God’s glory.  

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."  (Matthew 5:3-4)


Our beautiful song, “Just as I Am I Come Broken To Be Mended,”  expresses the blessings of brokenness.  It speaks of the submission that comes from our brokenness of heart.  There is no salvation but in Christ, for there is no other way to plead our case to God but through His Son who shed His blood for us in Calvary (Romans 5:8; Titus 3:5).  To be saved from our sins, we must humbly come to Christ.  He has promised not to cast out those who come broken to Him to be mended (John 6:37).  Jesus has already paid the ramson for our sins through His blood (Matthew 26:28).  So, we must come to Him with our brokenness to rid our souls of the dark spots that sin has caused in our souls (2 Peter 3:14).   So, why wait to be mended from your brokenness?  Come now just as you are to enjoy the blessings of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2).

However, there must be motivating penitent feelings to come to Christ to be mended.  Our brokenness leads us to genuine repentance (2 Cor. 7:10).   That was David’s case after confessing his sin to God (Psalm 51:1-2).  When we come to Christ with our brokenness, we can find all we lack:  spiritual blessings and healing (Revelation 3:18).  The broken in sin are spiritually poor, wretched, and blind (Revelation 3:17).  But they must come to Christ to partake of these spiritual blessings, for they are only found in Him (Eph. 1:3).  Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).   Our Lamb of God came to welcome, pardon, cleanse, and relieve us from the burden of sin.  God’s love made this happen ( John 3:16).  God’s love sent His beloved Son to be our sacrifice for sin.  Therefore, the broken in sin must believe in Christ to be saved.  Come to Jesus, our Lamb of God, turning from all sin and humbly submitting to Him.  Let God mold you into what He wants you to be.  

I hope the words of this lovely song stir your soul the way it does mine.


Just as I Am, I Come Broken To Be Mended

Just as I am, without one plea 
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come,  I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot.
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

I come broken to be mended 
.I come wounded to be healed.
I come desperate to be rescued.
I come empty to be filled.

I come guilty to be pardoned.
By the blood of Christ the Lamb,
And I'm welcomed with open arms,
Praise God, just as I am.

Just as I am, I would be lost,
But mercy and grace my freedom bought.
And now to glory in Your cross,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

I come broken to be mended.
I come wounded to be healed.
I come desperate to be rescued.
I come empty to be filled.

I come guilty to be pardoned.
By the blood of Christ the Lamb,
And I'm welcomed with open arms,
Praise God, just as I am
Praise God, just as I am
Praise God, just as I am.


Luci