Posts Tagged ‘Sadducees’

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“CURING BAD THEOLOGY – A Big God and Open Bibles” – Feb. 20

February 20, 2013

“Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?”  Mark 12:24

New Directions (The Meters album)I made an error  awhile back.  I realize that will shock many of you.  We were traveling to my son’s flag football game in a nearby small town.   We turned right rather than turning left and proceeded several miles in the wrong direction.  My wife had gotten on-line and printed out the directions; we diligently followed the direction but still ended up in making an error.  The consequences of having bad directions was for us to get a little lost and either be late to the flag football game or to miss it entirely.  I would argue that getting on-line and printing off the directions was probably a reasonable amount of effort given the potential consequences.

Now, consider if the potential consequence would have been that we would have driven off the face of the earth into a massive black hole that only exists in Marsing, Idaho.  I have a very strong opinion that a little more research is merited due to those consequences.  I would want satellite imagery. I would probably insist on following someone who had  special black hole sensing equipment.  I would insist upon a competent, experienced guide who had been there before. I would have not turned down any road that I was not absolutely confident in.  Actually, I think that I would have decided that risking death in a rural black hole for flag football glory was not really worth it.  I think that is a pretty normal thought process.

What sort of research do you think eternity merits?  How much are you willing to risk?

What do you think the consequences of an error regarding God are?

That is a statement that not everyone agrees with.  There are some people who believe that you can’t get theology wrong.   There are other people who believe that there are not any significant consequences to getting theology wrong.

That is an opinion that Jesus did not hold.  Jesus was very clear that people can get theology wrong.  The Sadducees could get theology wrong.  The Pharisees could get theology wrong.  Seminary professors can get theology wrong.  Best-selling authors and speakers can get theology wrong.  You and I can get theology wrong.

This passage is telling us that earnest, passionate, committed religious people can get theology very wrong!  These intensely committed religious people had their theology so wrong that they missed their Messiah.  That is a very significant consequence.

It does not take much searching to discover that people don’t always agree on their theology.  If you go out into the wider Christian world you will find groups that disagree significantly upon theology.  There are many people who claim the distinction of Christian whose theology are wildly different.

Have you ever wondered why this is; how can this be?  How do earnest, passionate, people come up with errors in their theology?

Jesus believes that we can get theology wrong.  Jesus did not say – “Hey Sadducees, you are being too linear, too propositional, these sort of questions are irrelevant. What really matters is the experience in your heart, or don’t waste your time on this stuff .  All that matters is that you focus on the Jesus way of living, or you can’t really know all these things – it is all hidden by cultural bias – no can really know the true meaning or the right answer is whatever your community affirms.”

Jesus did not say any of those things. Jesus gets straight to the point in verse 24 – you are wrong.  In verse 27, he tells them they are quite wrong.  Jesus believed that some theology is bad.  This is very important.  We can get theology wrong.  Theology has eternal consequences.  Therefore, we should want to listen to what Jesus has to say so that we will not make an error that has eternal consequences.

The great aspect of this passage is that Jesus doesn’t simply demonstrate that the Sadducees are wrong.  He tells them and us how they made the error.  He tells them how they came to the incorrect conclusion.   In verse 24, Jesus tells us the reason that the Sadducees were wrong – “the reason you are wrong is because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God.”  Jesus gives us two reasons the Sadducees got it wrong – quite wrong.  They knew neither the scriptures nor the power of God.  I believe that these two reasons for making spiritual and theological errors is as relevant today as it was for those Sadducees.

We do not have to look very hard to see individuals making conclusions and decisions with massive eternal consequences based on their not knowing the scriptures and not believing the power of God.

What do you use to inform your life; what do you use to make moral decisions; what do you use to make the discretionary decisions in your life?  We can do the same thing as the Sadducees. We can get trapped by our religion when we become so committed to an ideology, a method, a pet topic, what someone important to us said, what someone with credentials says, that we allow those other things to inform our lives.  We need to realize that there are many modern-day Sadducees out there who will lead us astray.  The idea of much liberal theology is that Christian theology should be interpreted from the stand point of modern knowledge and experience.

Jesus is saying that this should absolutely NOT be the case.  The scriptures alone are the primary source for informing and guiding our lives.

We can allow a lot of things to supplant the proper role of scriptures in our lives. We can allow other non-religious things to inform our lives – parents; friends; movies; music; media; scientific theories; teachers; professors.  We can allow all of that to inform the way we view the world and our lives.  These are all other ways not to have scriptures over our lives.

We must always have scriptures first; that is a question that I would like you to honestly evaluate in your life.  What informs your life?  When you have a decision to make, what do you use to inform your decision?  What you have to consider is that if the scriptures are not playing any role in your life, then how do you decide these questions:

How to interact with your family?

How to treat my spouse?

How to parent my kids?

How to respect my parents?

How I spend my money?

What activities to be involved in?

Where do I invest my life?

What do I care about?

If the scripture are NOT playing a role in those decisions then you are prone to making errors.

The second reason – Do not know the Power of God.

This is where all those Sunday school lessons really pay off – the parting of the Red Sea to let the Israelites cross; a giant dust cloud by day and a fire ball by night leading God’s people; the day being lengthened to allow God’s people to win a fight; all the miracles in the Gospels – a storm stopping with a word, five thousand people being fed, leprosy being immediately healed, a dead child being raised to life… If you believe that God made a sea split down the middle, that a stone brought forth water when it was struck by Moses, that five thousand people were fed from a Happy Meal, then you believe in the power of God.

Some Christians will try to de-mystify the scriptures by saying those things could not have happened.  They error because they do not know the power of God.  What you believe about these miracles and these stories counts for everything because it says what you believe about the God of the Bible. . . the God you worship.  Is he a God with Power?

2 Tim. 3:5 “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” 

That was the Sadducees.  We are told there in 2 Timothy to avoid such people.

What we believe about God’s power translates into every aspect of our lives.  Does God have power to see you through suffering; Does God have power to overcome sin; Does God have power to convert people; Does God have power to answer prayer.  Nothing is too hard for our God.  We serve a big God – we are the ones who place limits on Him.

Think about how much time you are willing to spend researching the consumer reports for the new plasma flat screen TV?  How much time are you willing to spend researching for your next car?  How much time are you willing to spend researching hotels for your next vacation?  Why are we willing to spend so much time doing that research? It is because you do not want to make a mistake.

How much time are you willing to spend considering the things of God that have eternal consequences?

There is an afterlife.  There are consequences of eternal magnitude that are based on our theology and we can make errors in our theology and what we allow to inform our lives.  God has given us the tools to remove those errors. He has shown us the way.  We just need to take it.  We just need to do it.

We remove those errors from our lives by serving a big God with open Bibles.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for giving us your word to guide us.  Thank you for giving us your Spirit to teach us all things.  You are all powerful and nothing is impossible for You.  Father, teach me to know your ways.  Show me your scriptures and write them upon my heart.  Show me your power that I may live in the confidence of You.  Lord, you are my all in all and it is by your scripture that the path of my life is set.  Keep me in your way.     Amen

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WEARING THE SANDALS OF THE SANHEDRIN – Jan. 26

January 26, 2013

“If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” John 11:48

Consider if you were a member of the Great Sanhedrin during the Roman occupation of Israel.  The Romans were the sole superpower of the time.  They were masters of subjecting other countries.  You don’t conquer the known world without learning the skills of maintaining such an empire.

English: Español: Trabajo propio. Máxima exten...

English: Español: Trabajo propio. Máxima extensión del Imperio Romano. Superpuesto en un mapa físico. Deutsch: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the Romans conquered a people, they granted some ruling authority to the locals for one primary purpose.  The restlessness of a conquered people could be abated when it appeared that they were ruled and judged by their own people.  That policy of limited self-rule effectively kept the peace in subservient providences for centuries.

That was the situation during the time of Christ.  Both Herod and the Sanhedrin had jobs allowed by the Romans with the primary purpose of keeping the people from rebelling against Roman rule.  If they could not do that, then the Romans would go to “plan B,” which was to get someone else or do it themselves.

Israel was a rebellious brew that always threatened to spill over.  It was the job of the Sanhedrin to keep it under control and they did a very good job for many years.  However, they had a monumental failure.  Their failure to beat down rebellious fervor resulted in exactly what they had feared about Jesus – “the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation”.

They were absolutely right.

In 66 AD, a growing movement got away from these guardians of Roman rule and flourished into open, armed rebellion.  The rebellious Jews were actually able to push the occupying Romans out, for a while. That was until Titus and his armies showed up.

The destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem.

The destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rebellions are a serious problem in empires.  An empire cannot tolerate even one rebellion for fear that it might spread.  The Romans knew that.  Therefore, Roman treatment of the Jewish rebellion in 70 AD was a message to all those other conquered peoples in the empire.

It was brutal.

Israel was never the same after the Romans got done with Jerusalem.  The chief priests and Pharisees concerns about the Romans taking away both their place and their nation had become a reality.  Jerusalem wasn’t even called Jerusalem for 200 years.  The center of Jewish society, the temple, was gone; the sacrificial system was gone; the Sadducees were gone.

How could they have been so absolutely right and so absolutely wrong at the same time?

The Sadducees and the Pharisees were being pragmatic when dealing with Jesus.  They were considering the practical consequences of the nation following after this Carpenter.  They knew what the Romans could do.  They were right about what the Romans would do.  History showed that they were right.  The pragmatic solution was to sacrifice a single life so that the entire society would survive, albeit still in bondage.  That was better than what happened in 70 AD.

Their problem was that they did not consider all the practical consequences regarding Jesus of Nazareth.  They only considered the practical consequences within this physical world.  They did not consider the implications of Jesus being who he claimed to be.

Once you believe Jesus’ claims, you have a game changing variable – GOD.  God is a player in all that we do, whether we acknowledge that or not.  The potential, practical consequences of different actions and inactions in this life are changed when you consider God.  There are clearly impossible consequences in this world.  Yet, the impossible is possible when you remember that God is for you.

“For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)

When you consider God in your decisions, you will find that everything gets turned upside down.

The Pharisees tried to save their lives and their nation and ended up losing both.

Jesus told us that, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 6:35)

What was the difference? – GOD

The Pharisees were willing to violate the law and condemn an individual so that they would live in bondage.

Jesus was willing to sacrifice himself to free the nation, “and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.” (John 11:51) –

What was the difference?  – GOD

We must always remember to look beyond the practical consequences of this world and realize that none of those consequences stand when God is for us.

With God, there is nothing that is impossible.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for reminding me that nothing is too hard for you.  Thank you for being all powerful and sovereign over everything.  Father, forgive me for those times when I don’t trust you or logic is used to cover a lack of faith.  Lord, teach me to lean on you; instruct me on how to trust you in all things.  Show me the balance between wisdom and blind obedience; between testing you and having trust in you.  Amen

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