April 9, 2020
  • 11:59 pm From Atheism to Christ
  • 11:58 pm By die Tafel :Wie sit aan?
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  • 10:58 pm Santa Cruz Shelter in Place 2020: Day 17
Blind Religion 03: Double Blind

Today we conclude our three-part series on how Jesus can heal our blindness, especially the blindness of religion. It’s time to get out your notes and Bibles and get ready to dig in. This is going to be good. In the Gospel of John, chapter 9, after Jesus heals a blind man, the religious leaders hold an inquisition to figure out who to blame for healing on the sabbath. Then finally, the healed man is excommunicated from the synagogue. We pick up the story there… Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and so he went and found him. Then Jesus said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” – Well there’s a
fascinating line from Jesus, if you had really been blind, you wouldn’t be guilty of sin. Now what does he mean by
this, in John chapter 9? We’re gonna talk about that today, as you’re holding out the
promise that it may be possible that people who are
genuinely blind, and seeking. But if they are in a humble disposition, they understand and admit their blindness, that they’re not guilty of sin. We’ll talk about that, as we process the
conclusion of this series on John chapter 9. We’ve been walking through this chapter where Jesus heals a blind man, and then it turns into a religious fiasco, the religious leaders get involved and begin to kinda prosecute
and investigate the situation, very, in a cold and calculated way, and end up kicking the blind
many out of the synagogue, who’s now been healed, as he’s
just a threat to the system by, just by being there. And then today we pick up the story of what happens after that. So that’s where we’re headed. I was asked two years
ago, by a friend of mine, to listen to my heart. It kinda went like this,
I was trying to process a particular ethical issue,
and I was studying scripture, I was pouring through
scripture to try and find out what the right conclusion was on a particular ethical issue. And I asked a friend of
mine, who’s a wise Christian, a mature Christian, and
I explained, you know, there’s this way of
approaching the scripture, there’s that way of
approaching the scripture, and he said to me, “Well what
does your heart tell you?” And when he said that, I confess, my reaction was really negative. I just kinda shoved it away, and said, I said, “That’s the most
ridiculous piece of advice “I think I’ve ever heard from you.” And of course I said that inside, and didn’t use my,
(audience laughing) externally I’m sure I nodded, with a polite dismissive smile. But what does your heart tell you? And but that got me thinking, should I be, as a follower
of Jesus, someone who’s able to listen to my heart, and
at least that’d be part of the process of making a
decision about something. And what I’d like to do is just review what we talked about
last week on this matter, and push us a little bit further. But quickly, by way of review, we’ve pointed out that
religious Christianity, here I’m using the word religious in the pejorative sense of the word, religious Christianity
emphasizes scriptures that point to the bad in our hearts. And this is very true, that
is one part of the truth, the heart is deceitful, above all things, out of the heart comes all of our sin and our wickedness, very true. But also true is that
religious Christianity, they do that, while
de-emphasizing scripture that points to the good in our hearts, we’re all made in God’s image, and that God’s law is
written on the human heart for all people, et cetera. And then thirdly, religious Christianity functionally ignores the biblical teaching that the human heart is
made new through Christ. So that our hearts are actually renewed, and made new through Jesus. And it’s just worth reminding ourselves of these scriptures here, Ezekiel 36, talking about the new
covenant God promises. I will give you a new heart,
and put a new Spirit in you. And I will remove from
you your heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you, and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. I will give you a new heart, a new spirit, and put my Spirit in you. A new heart, a new spirit, and my Spirit. I want us to say those
three things together, to let it sink in, a new heart,
a new spirit, and my Spirit. Let’s say ’em together, ready here we go. – [Bruxy And Audience] A
new heart, a new spirit, and my Spirit. – Say it again. – [Bruxy And Audience] A
new heart, a new spirit, and my Spirit. – That’s a huge internal upgrade. That changes the interiority of the person who has entered into the
new covenant relationship. In the new covenant writings,
the apostle Paul says therefore if anyone is in Christ,
the new creation has come. Is this not what he has in mind? ‘Cause he said this new
creation has come in Christ, the old is gone, the new is here. He says, just a few verses later, that God made him, speaking of Jesus, who had no sin, to be sin for us, so that in him, we might become
the righteousness of God. You have become the righteousness of God. Back to the promises in the
old covenant, Jeremiah 31, when talking of the new covenant says, God says I will put my law in their minds, and write it on their hearts, Jeremiah 31. I’ll put my law in their minds, and write it in their
hearts, says Jeremiah 31. (audience laughing) (air blowing)
(audience laughing) Amen.
(audience laughing) People are just listening to the audio, don’t know what’s going on, they think Bruxy’s really
choked up about Jeremiah 31. Having a hard time moving on. And then in Galatians 5, and Romans 8, are just a couple of
chapters where you see, these kind of phrases walk by the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, live by the Spirit, keep in step with the spirit, live in the realm of the Spirit. This new covenant gives
us a new experience. So when my friend said, “You know, “you should also consult your heart, “what is your heart telling you?” Me dismissing that, and only
thinking of verses that say well the heart’s deceitful,
I can’t listen to it, it to miss the full counsel of scripture. Now this doesn’t mean then that we don’t, we don’t listen to scripture, and instead listen to our hearts. It means that when we listen to scripture, scripture tells us that we
should also be training ourselves to say what is the Spirit saying to me. And when we don’t, as we
talked about last week, we may end up where the
Pharisees are, in John chapter 9, where we have completely detached from what the Holy Spirit might be saying. And it’s just through our
reason and our intellect, trying to figure out scripture,
outsourcing our conscious in any given moment, which
can lead to great deception. And it also may explain
why religious people tend to be less intuitive,
empathetic and compassionate, because we’re not tuning
in to even just God’s law written on our hearts,
to our own conscience in certain situations. So as I’ve said to you before, it’s good for us to study the
Bible, and learn the Bible, and get super saturated with the teaching of Jesus especially. But the most important
part of any Bible study is when we close the Bible,
and then we walk away, saying are we gonna apply
what we’re learning? Are we gonna actually now carry
that with us in our heart? We’re not just people who
outsource our conscious to a book, but we saturate ourselves in the teaching, to refresh our conscious. But then we listen to learn to our hearts. And here’s where I wanna
push it a little bit further, is what I have noticed is that
within the Christian church, we can use this, I mean skillful leaders can use some of these misunderstandings about the human heart to then
reinforce a kind of sexism. And the sexism goes this
way, point number one, religious people tend to embrace the idea that women listen more to their heart, and men more to their head. Sometimes you hear that stereotype, especially within conservative
religious circles. Women are more heart people,
men are more head people. And then secondly, religious
people also tend to embrace the maxim that the human
heart is deceitful, can’t be trusted. There’s no parallel maxim
that we quote about the head? You know, the reason, we
don’t say, well you know, the reason you can’t be trusted, it’s deceitful above all things, as though it’s only the heart
that is fallen prey to sin, and remember then we say, and
women tend to be heart people. You see what’s starting to happen there? And then number three, therefore
this reinforces the idea that women are more easily deceived because women operate out of their heart more than their head, which confirms that they
should not be in leadership. And often that becomes
part of just the ethos that restricts women from leadership. Number four, all of this
gets multiple things wrong, as we’ve already, but just to map it out, men and women A, Both
use reason and emotion, B, in the Bible, hearts are not
the seat of emotions anyway. We’re actually using our language wrong, that would be the guts,
you know, we talked about having a gut feeling about something. The heart is not the seat of emotion. Number C, so when we talk
about the heat being deceitful, that’s not just saying, you
know, emotions can be deceitful. It’s our intuition can be deceitful. It’s also we say reason and
choice can be deceitful, the heart was kind of everything. Intuition, and C, it often
attributed more to women, may be a kind of rapid
subconscious reasoning, more than really feeling ones
way, sometimes intuition. And we talked about women’s intuition, and that’s a way of
dismissing it sometimes to say that’s just her feeling her way along, and then remember feelings are bad. Intuition itself is a kind of reasoning that happens at the subconscious level, and helps us get to a conclusion quicker than our subconscious minds might be able to process. And then D, our hearts
are made new in Christ, so that is what’s being
ignored most of all, in this conversation. But in a way then, a woman, often who, women throughout history
have been prevented from the full theological
education that men get, and for interacting at
higher levels of leadership, and theology, and discussion, and so women, all they
have is a new heart, a new spirit, and God’s Spirit. And so they may come to the
table throughout history, and say you know what, my heart
just thinks this is wrong, we probably shouldn’t be torturing people because of the love of God. Yeah, it feels, something about
it just doesn’t fit with me, and that could always be dismissed as, well you know, the heart’s deceitful, so. You know, you women, stay in your lane. We men are gonna use our
intellect to figure out. But here we are, John chapter 9, and we’ve just read through
a whole chapter of men, using their intellect, to
get God completely wrong. Their intellectual engagement
through scripture alone, without being open to the new
thing the Spirit is doing, causes them to miss. So we can all miss Jesus,
we need each other, men and women, working together, at all levels of
involvement in the church, to see the fullness of
what scripture is saying. So with that in mind,
brothers and sisters, let’s open up our Bibles
to John chapter 9. John chapter 9, so we have
walked through everything, and we’re starting at verse 35, verse 35. And verse 35 begins, you see it says Jesus heard that they had thrown him out. This is the now healed man, be excommunicated from the synagogue. He’s been thrown out, and may I say, this is very sad, but
sometimes these sad situations, and some of you can relate, you come from a religious background, or from a family background, where committing to following Jesus has put you in a situation
of either being thrown out, or family distance, or
strife being created. Some of you come from other
religious institutions, where now there is a
separation between you and your background. Being thrown out is a sad thing here, but sometimes, whether
it’s being thrown out of a religious institution,
or of a religious seminary, or school of thought, may be sad, but if you’re thrown out of that, and straight into the arms of Jesus, there’s also something beautiful about it. And that’s what’s happened with this man. He’s been thrown out of religion, but straight into the arms of Jesus, and into the Jesus community. Now, and something beautiful is happening. So Jesus heard that he’d been thrown out, and he goes and he finds him. He finds him. At the beginning of the chapter, Jesus notices him outside the temple. He’s not welcome in the temple
because of his blindness. Jesus notices hurting people, who have been rejected by religion. And once again now Jesus not only notices, but now he goes and finds,
and seeks rejected people, who are outside of the religious system. He finds him. And he says, “Do you
believe in the Son of Man?” Do you believe in the Son of
Man, that’s a great question. Do you have faith in, do
you trust the Son of Man. He goes straight for the
centrepiece, which is Jesus. We’ve said that Jesus is that
singularity in cosmic history, where the fullness of divinity, and the fullness of
humanity come together, where we can turn to Jesus and see the fullness of who God is, and the fullness of who we should be, and are called to be, all in Christ. And so Jesus brings our
attention to himself, and rightly so, that’s the best thing that he could do for us. And so he says to this
guy, he doesn’t say, do you believe in God? You haven’t lost your
faith in God, have you? You still believe in God? He doesn’t say do you
believe in the scriptures? Do you believe in the holy Bible? He doesn’t say do you believe
in any particular institution? He doesn’t say do you
believe in The Meeting House? Surprise, he doesn’t say that. He says, “Do you believe?” He doesn’t also say do
you believe in faith? Sometimes people will say,
“I’m a person of faith.” And I appreciate that, but as Christians, we wanna go a step further. I’m not just a person of faith, I’m a person of Jesus. Jesus is the centre of everything, not just faith in general. He doesn’t use any of these vagaries. Are you a person of faith still? “But do you believe in the Son of Man,” which is a Jewish idiom for the Messiah, for the coming Messiah. “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” And the man says, “Well who is he, sir?” Verse 36, “Tell me, so
I can believe in him, “I’m ready to believe in him,” which in this context
means to really trust, and have faith, and
follow, faith and following are kind of mixed together
in the New Testament use of the word faith. I’m ready to commit to him, to follow him. “Yeah, I’m ready to
believe in him, who is he?” And Jesus says, and I love
this, “You have now seen him,” verse 37, you’ve now seen him. “In fact, he is the
one speaking with you.” And then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Wow, and then he just focuses
his intellect, his will, his decision, and his
affections all on Jesus. And he worships him, he honours him, he gets lost in the
beauty of who Jesus is, and he lifts him up, proskuneo
here is the Greek word, used of worship of God. To fully exalt, and
submit to, and delight in, and be in love with God, this is what he offers to Jesus here. He becomes his centrepiece. That’s a beautiful story arc for this guy. And then Jesus said, you know “For judgment, I have
come into this world, “so that the blind will see, “and those who see will become blind.” Whoa, part of it gives
hope for the outcast, and the other pronounces judgment on the religious establishment, in light of the context of
the flow of this chapter. And the Pharisees pick up on
that, look at the next verse, some Pharisees who were
with him, heard this. So Jesus had found the healed man, but the Pharisees had found Jesus. They were tagging along,
they were watching him, and eavesdropping, and so they asked, “What, are we blind too?” You’re not saying that we’re blind. In the way the Greek language
constructs this question, it intends, it expects
a negative response. You’re not saying that
we’re blind too, are you? And they would expect
you to say no, no, no, of course not, don’t, please
don’t misunderstand me, I didn’t mean to suggest
that, no, no, no, no. But that’s not the response they get. You’re not saying that
we’re blind too, are ya? And Jesus says, “If you were blind, “you would not be guilty of sin. “But now that you claim to
see, your guilt remains.” So the second half of that sentence, because you claim to
see, your guilt remains, that’s a judgment upon religion. That’s a judgment upon these people who, you remember their theme,
we know, we know, we know, we have a system that
is secure and airtight, and we’re sticking to it. It has no openness to anything new. The wind of the Spirit
cannot get in, it’s airtight. And this is a great warning to us, that when we think we’ve
got it all put together, so much so that we’re just
never open to anything new, we’re never open to
being in a humble space, of just receiving a bit more, and having God kind of shock the system with some new understanding, revelation, whatever it may be. When we’ve got it all airtight, we’re in a dangerous position,
’cause God’s always bigger than whatever you think he is. Whatever you think he is,
there’s still more to learn. There’s still some new
surprises ahead for you, always. And when you finally have
said no, I’ve got it down, and that’s been the challenge
of the Christian church, because at different times in our history, we’ve created a creed
or a statement of faith, and then we’ve kind of
freeze dried our Christianity at that level, and said now this is it. This is truth, and everything has to be passed through this filter, and we’ve suggested that anything that would counteract this
particular creed must be wrong, and then we’re not open to
any newness of the Spirit, and we’re in the same position
of the Pharisees here. He says, “You claim you can
see, then your guilt remains.” We know, we know, we know. And yet just before that,
he holds out hope though, for everybody else, he
says, “If you were blind, “you would not be guity of sin.” Jesus raises a question, that
doesn’t fully answer here, it’s not his main point. The condemnation of religion is something that’s first and foremost in this chapter, but Jesus just plants a seed here. He says it’s possible there
are people who are blind, genuinely blind, they know it,
they’re calling out for more, but right now they can’t see, and God is not holding
their sin against them. He’s praying from the cross,
“Father, forgive them, “they don’t know what they’re doing.” there are people who
may be genuinely blind, who are under the grace of God, and then there are people
who think they see it all, who are actually spiritually blind. It’s interesting then, the
man’s journey in this chapter. He went, well if you were to
map it out in the chapter, he goes on this journey,
the man, first of all, relates to Jesus, as the man. There’s this man, Jesus, who healed me. And then he goes on to talk
about Jesus as a prophet. He’s asked well, what do
you think about this man? He said well I think he’s a prophet. Great next step, if you think
Jesus is a wise teacher, guru, enlightened one, prophet. He speaks truth on behalf
of God, great next step. Jesus will take you further,
as long as you’re open to that. And then, he says I think he’s from God. He speaks of Jesus as the
one who has come from God. God is really blessing him. And then finally in verse 38, he is Lord, and he is worshiped. That is a beautiful story
arc for someone’s life. And it makes me just kind of
stop and think, where am I, where are you, where are
people at The Meeting House? Where do you find yourself
in this story arc? Is Jesus an interesting man of history, or is he perhaps a prophet,
someone worth listening to? Or is there really
something special about him, he’s from God. Those are all wonderful next steps, but here’s our prayer for all of us is that we come to the point of saying you are Lord, which means you’re the one who has the right to tell me how to live, which means you’re the one
I go to to get a clear view of who God is, which means you’re the one I go to to learn how I should live, and what humanity should be like. And you are my answer to everything, you are the centrepiece of the universe. And I come to you, and I worship you, I fall in love with you, I adore you, I lift you up, I celebrate you. I focus on you as the
centre of all things, and that helps me become the
person I was designed to be. That what I centre on changes everything. Jesus, as Lord, then is where Jesus wants
to help us all get to. And the wind of the Spirit, (air blowing) is always blowing us in that direction, to a worship experience of Jesus. But, having said that, if we’re gonna conclude
this series appropriately, it’s worth saying how do we miss that? As Christians now, on the other side of the resurrection of Jesus, on the other side of Pentecost, where the Spirit has
been given to the church, how do we sometimes still downgrade Jesus, or relegate Jesus to the sidelines? Or how do we not listen to what the Spirit
inside us is even saying? How do we not allow the
fruit of the Spirit, that beautiful love, joy,
peace, patience and kindness, and goodness, faithfulness,
and gentleness, and self control, how do we not allow that begin to flow from within us, that love and that joy, how do we become the
grumpy goats of the planet? What happens to us? And so I just, I was thinking
of a portion in scripture, and you see it in your
notes, Hebrews chapter 5, I want us to turn there also, before we throw it open to Q & Eh. Hebrews chapter 5, where I
think the writer of Hebrews is addressing how this sometimes
happens with Christians, and so I want us to look at
this, in the light of John 9, look at Hebrews chapter 5, and we’re gonna look at the
last few verses of Hebrews 5, and the first few verses of Hebrews 6. Hebrews 5, starting with verse 11. And then we’ll throw it open to Q & Eh. Hebrews 5, starting with verse 11, the writer of Hebrews says this, we have much to say about this, in the middle of his
teaching, he kinda pauses, and he laments that the
Christian church he’s writing to is not maturing the way he had hoped. And this is his little lament, before he gets back to teaching again. He says, you know, we have
much to say about this, but it’s hard to make it clear to you, because you no longer try to understand. You’ve just gotten complacent
with this teaching. The Greek here literally
says you are lazy listeners. You are lazy listeners, you just are, you just got caught up in
going along with the motions, and not really leaning in
to learn, actively learn. And he says in fact, though by this time, you ought to be teachers,
you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of
God’s word, all over again. By this point, you should be teachers. That’s the goal of Christian maturity, is that as you are taught,
and you grow to maturity, the goal is to get to the point where you can then reach backward, and begin to teach someone
else, and help them grow. The goal of becoming a disciple is that you can then
go and make disciples, teaching them to obey
everything I commanded you, says Jesus in the Great Commission. So the goal of your maturity is that you can then help
other people become mature. And he says this is where
you should be at by now. It’s been months, maybe it’s been years, and you have been always using the excuse I have so much more to learn, I’ll just be a passive recipient. And that’s actually created
kind of spiritual laziness. And he says no, you guys
need to catch the vision, that by now, by now, not
one day before you die, when you are finally aged and
can be like an old Yoda guru, but now, by now, you
should be teachers as well. And he’s lamenting. And so I just shared this with you, I think, are some of
us caught in this trap of being in the same place? They should be teachers,
but instead you need someone to teach you the elementary truths, the word here for
elementary truths stoicheia, is a Greek word, that
means the small bits, the bite size building blocks
of something, like the ABCs. And he says, it’s like you need
to go back to kindergarten. That’s where you at,
you should be a teacher, but instead, spiritually,
you’re in kindergarten, learning the ABCs all over again. And he says you need milk, not solid food. Well that’s a downgrade even further. He put them down in kindergarten, then he says no actually, you need to go straight to the nursery. (audience laughing) You can’t even handle solid food. You need someone to give you your bottle. And that you should be
growing more than that. Anyone who lives on milk,
being still an infant, is not acquainted with the
teaching about righteousness. Ah, moral sensitivity,
righteousness or justice, depending, they’re the same word, depending on, it’s translated differently, in different context,
righteousness or justice has to do with making right decisions and just living in a right relationship with God and one another. Things being made right, and you being an active
participant in that, in your relationship with
God, and with one another, righteousness, living right, making right relational decisions. This, he says, is ultimately
the mark of maturity, this ethical sensitivity, I’m
gonna make better choices. That’s where it’s headed. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use,
have trained themselves to distinguish good
from evil, there it is. That’s a fuller explanation of what he means by righteousness. Solid foods for the mature,
who by constant use, have trained themselves. We’re responsible or our own training, and the training here is
the word in Greek gumnazo. Three guesses what that refers to. (audience laughing) Gumnazo, it’s literally,
physical training, going to the gym, and working
out your heart muscle. Your soul, that makes decisions. He says you should be
training yourself in this. And this is the thing,
religious people sometimes just get lost in the theological debates, so they’re actually
becoming a better person, a more moral person, a kinder person, a person filled with
the fruit of the Spirit, is put secondarily. And it’s almost seen as
that’s more infantile, that’s the baby step, ’cause our mature, us mature people, we wrestle
through deep theology. But Paul says the maturity
is actually learning how to be a better person, making wiser, more righteous decisions, that’s maturity. And in fact, he will
go on now in chapter 6 to point out how arguments about theology are the baby steps, that
can keep us from maturing. He says therefore, let us move beyond, this is chapter 6 now, let’s move beyond the elementary teachings,
the ABCs about Christ, and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation
of things like repentance, from acts that lead to
death, and faith in God, instructions about cleansing rights. This may be Jewish rituals, and do those fit in or not fit in to the New Testament church, and the end of religion debate,
and the laying on of hands, which may refer to Yom Kippur, woulda been the first thing
that may have come to mind to some Jewish believers, the
laying hands on the scapegoat, who would go out into the wilderness, atonement theories and debating about how, how is sin actually removed, verses the fact that we
celebrate that it has, and we think about how I can
live as a new righteous person. Or it could be referring to
rituals within the church, or the resurrection of the
dead, or eternal judgment. Oh let’s talk about heaven,
hell, and how that works out, and how God judges, and
these are all true things, the writer of Hebrews says
we should be learning, but with caution. He says watch out that your pursuit of what we might think is deeper theology, is not actually the thing that’s keeping up at an
infantile spiritual level. And so sometimes within the
church we say I wanna go deeper, I wanna dig deeper, and what
this passage is pointing out is sometimes what you think is deeper is actually what’s keeping you at the infantile level of development. It’s a playground for your
brain, at the baby stage. He said but what really will
push you towards maturity is the constant training
of making better decisions discerning good from evil,
and walking in righteousness. And emphasis on application. Reading a passage like this, and saying how am I going
to make better choices, is actually, that’s maturity. Not let’s just get into the theology, and the theological questions. Good, but those are baby steps. That changes our whole
relationship to scripture, theology, and growth. We wanna learn our theology,
we wanna study scripture, but we always wanna push
ourselves towards application, does that make sense? Or else we’re gonna be stuck
in the rut of the Pharisees. Okay, let’s throw it open to Q & Eh, and then we’ll wrap it up with a final thought, and move on. What questions do you
have about either passage, John 9 or Hebrews chapter 5
and 6, someone over there. While you’re headed there, did anyone send in a text question? All right, Tim says, “Some
of the most religious people “are fellow Christians, how
should we follow Jesus’ example “in dealing with them?” Yeah, that’s great, thanks Tim. Our fellow brothers and sisters, one of the beautiful things about it is that we have Jesus in common, so we can go to them,
first of all, as family, give people the benefit of the doubt. And come to people as family. First thing we always wanna
do is ask lots of questions, and make sure we’ve got
the message straight. Don’t just judge from a distance. I’ve heard someone say always walk a mile in someone’s shoes, before you judge them, because two things will then be true, one you’ll be a mile away from them, and number two, you’ll have
their shoes, so that’s good. (audience laughing) But you want to get into their world, and understand them better. Ask questions and clarify that what you think they’re
saying they’re really saying, and then, bring them back to Jesus. In fact, continue to ask questions, if what you’re saying is true, how do you square that with
this teaching of Jesus? How do you square that
with this warning of, and as much as you can
phrase what you have to say in the form of a question, that will be helpful, I think. We’re gonna be talking about
that in a series coming up in a few weeks, on evangelism. By the way, have I have
told you what’s coming up in the next couple of
weeks, in this service? I haven’t yet, let me just
say that now, before I forget, ’cause we do have a series
on evangelism coming up, and how to ask questions. Now I know this was about how to challenge fellow religious Christians, but it’s true for both Christians and non-Christian discussions. Start by asking questions,
help people connect the dots. Also I should just
mention what’s happening over the next couple of weeks. Next week is State of the Union Sunday. It’s that once a year snapshot where we say how we’re doing as a church, and we just kinda give a
report on the year that was, the year that lies ahead,
what are our dreams and hopes, where are we at as a church. That’s next week, and
then I’ll be teaching from scripture that’ll
partner with that report. And then the week after that, I’m excited, we start our series on mental health, called “Peace of Mind”, and we had a fantastic “Ears
to Hear” event recently, with twice as many people
there as I expected, and just high participation, just amazing. And that’s also gonna help inform how we approach this series. So I’m looking forward to our “Peace of Mind” series after that. And then the “Evangelism”
series will happen after that. Okay, good, let’s, who’s
got a mic over here? – Yeah, hi Bruxy.
– Hi there. – [Man] This passage in John actually brought up something
here that confused me. Jesus has said before that
I did not come to judge. – Good.
– But then in John, he says, “For judgment I have come.” – Isn’t that interesting. – Are these in contradiction?
– Yes. – [Man] Could you explain this? – Yeah, thanks for raising that, so good. It’s John 3:17, right after John 3:16, and the most well known
verse in the Bible, and John 3:17 were Jesus
said, “I have not come “to judge the world,
but to save the world” And you think oh, that’s nice. But then here, Jesus talks about judging, verse 39 of John 9, oops, I closed my Bible to that page, I think it’s verse 39. Let’s double check. Yeah Jesus says, “For judgment
I’ve come into this world.” you know, Jesus says I’m not
gonna be the one to judge. I think that some of this gets explained in what Jesus says in John 12. John 12, verse 47 to 48, we
might have a slide for this, if you guys can find it, John 12. Yeah, “If anyone hears my
words but does not keep them, “I do not judge the person. “For I did not come to judge the world, “but to save the world.” Then he goes on to say, “There is a judge “for the one who rejects me
and does not accept my words, “the very words I have
spoken will condemn them “at the last day.” So seems to me what Jesus
is saying is two truths, and they’re, rather than contradictory, they are complementary. And that is, I’m not judgmental, I haven’t come to
condemn, condemn, condemn. I’ve come to offer life. But whenever a choice is offered, how you respond to that choice
becomes an act of judgment. I’m offering you life,
through my teaching. If you don’t accept it,
then you are rejecting life. And those very teachings
that offered you life will be the thing to condemn you. That’s what will be
ringing through your ear on judgment day. So I’ve said this before, by 10:05, you will have decided whether or not to take the 10:02 train. (audience laughing) Even if your decision was I’m
not gonna make a decision. I’m gonna stand here, I
need another half hour to figure it out. Some decisions you are going to make by virtue of the fact that
they are right in front of you. So by coming into the
world and offering life, Jesus is bringing about
a kind of judgment, even though he’s not coming
to condemn, or to judge, he’s just coming to save, to offer life, if that makes sense. I think that’s how those two fit together. That’s a good question, thanks. Anything else? One more, one more over there, great. – Good morning.
– Good morning. – [Woman] This is kinda
going back to the beginning of what you were talking about. So how do we get better at
listening to the Spirit, and keeping in step with the Spirit, and how do we recognize
when we get it wrong? – Hey that’s really good, thank you. That’s exactly how I wanted
to conclude the message. Obviously, you are
listening to the Spirit. (audience laughing) And the Spirit has guided
you to ask that question. As a perfect segue to our conclusion. You see in your notes, in your take out, doing spiritual cardio, that’s
a great set up for this. It was my intention to
bring us back to this, as our last thought, because I think this is
what’s most important for us. In taking away from this
series, we could say, wow, these lousy Pharisees, they were so disconnected
from their own hearts, they were all in their heads, they thought they were
basing on scripture, but in the process, they missed the Messiah, shame on them. And take away a sense of
pride and superiority, they actually closed us off to being open to the
newness of the Spirit. So that would be a wrong
take away from this series. So I wanted to just bring us back to then, how could we not go the
way of the Pharisees, but be open to the newness of what Jesus is doing, all the time? And be trained in righteousness,
and making decisions, in that Christian maturity. In order to do that,
just let me remind you of what Jesus has said. The same day, apparently, as
what’s happening in John 9, earlier that day he said, it’s recorded two chapters
earlier in John 7, where he says, “Let anyone who is thirsty, “come to me and drink. “And whoever believes in me,
as the scripture has said, “river of living water will
flow from within them.” Those two things are true. First we come to Jesus,
he gives us the new heart, the new spirit, and God’s Spirit. And then, rivers of living water start flowing from within us. Now we do need to train
ourselves to listen, not only to come to Jesus,
and say what does Jesus say, but then Jesus helps us learn how to hear what the Spirit is saying, from within us. This is not an either
or, it is a both and. This is not a stop reading scripture, just listen to your heart. This is be super saturated
in what scripture is saying, which will train your heart, help you recognize the
voice of the Spirit, and then will go and help you
listen to your heart better. And that always, it’s always both and. So, for those of us who like lists, and it helps us think in orderly fashion, here’s everything I’m
saying, but in list form. Number one, come to Jesus
for life and healing. First of all, and that’s faith,
and that’s often symbolized in baptism in the church. That’s your outward declaration of an inward commitment, baptism. For some of you, that’s the next step. Number two, soak in his teaching. Both the Bible and the church. That’s reading your
own Bible, continually, bathing your heart in
the teaching of Jesus, but also doing so in community, together with brothers and sisters. Number three, listen to
your own changed heart, then in meditation, in stillness, listening to your conscious, listening to what the
Spirit is saying to you. Don’t dismiss that, listen to it. And that, that’s sometimes
not more complicated than it sounds, you just
stop and you say what, at an intuitive, internal
level do I seem to hear the Spirit saying to me? And you should now being to do that with some measure of confidence, if you trust what scripture has said, your heart’s been made new. And God’s Spirit is there speaking to you. Number four, make mistakes
and learn from them. So you might ask the question, as I would, how can I do this, and not make a mistake? And the answer is you won’t,
you’ll do it imperfectly, but that’s not an excuse not to do it. We do everything imperfectly. So you still do it, and
you do it imperfectly. You make mistakes and you learn from them. That means action and assessment. You act, then you listen,
you learn, you discern, you compare with scripture, but scripture may not give
direct chapter and verse for every decision, and so then you say what is my heart saying, that’s been informed by
the teaching of Jesus, and then you act. And sometimes you find out
that you made a mistake. That’s where assessment,
honest assessment, feedback, in getting together with
brothers and sisters and saying here is the scenario,
this is what I thought, this is how I acted, but I
don’t think I heard right, or acted right, can
you help me through it? And they may notice
something that you didn’t. And so in community,
assessment is a good thing. Sometimes we feel like I’m
not allowed to make mistakes, and so again, and within
religious circles, we don’t learn from our mistakes, we just try and deny them, to
pretend everything’s perfect, and we miss a beautiful opportunity. So we act, but we also assess together. And then number five, rinse and repeat. Now we do all of this together then. This is not a one time process, but everyday we move though this. I wanna encourage us, in
closing in this series, to have the way of religion
really highlighted to us, through these Pharisees,
who were in their head, and who used reason, logic and scripture, to fully miss the Messiah. And to blame innocent people. And to make hurtful decisions
that separated family, and cut others off from community. And to say what is it, what does it mean then to
avoid the way of the Pharisees, and to like this blind
man, who gains his sight to fall on Jesus’ feet, and worship him. And then in so doing, as we drink from the fountain of Christ, then to have those living
waters flow from within. And it’d be the people who now say ah, that’s just the beginning,
now I need to train myself in what this is like, so that I mature, so I mature, so I mature. My prayer, for The Meeting House, as we head into 2020,
throughout this series has been that we become a people
who learn what it means to listen to our heart. And now we know what we
mean when we say that. It’s a scripture informed,
Holy Spirit filled heart, that we together, in
community, admit our mistakes, but we train ourselves,
we train ourselves, and that this becomes, this
church becomes a gymnasium for spiritual cardio. Now I realize for some of
us, I couldn’t have picked a more unattractive analogy. (audience laughing) Including for myself. But I’m praying that this next year, we exercise one another,
we challenge one another, and that’s where I think
Home Church is so important. I encourage you, if you’re
not in a Home Church, as we kick Home Church back up again as we head into February,
that you find a Home Church, sign up for one, and get
into that interactive assess, assessment and learning together. Otherwise this is not enough. This, I hear a sermon, I walk away, I read my Bible by myself during the week, it’s not enough. I hope that you really take that training, gumnazo, seriously. We train ourselves for maturity. Let me pray for that, Heavenly Father, as we head into this new year, I pray that your Spirit will be welcomed by us, your voice, speaking through scripture, through our own hearts, and through our brothers
and sisters around us, through the church, that we will have ears to hear
what your Spirit is saying. And we will welcome, we will welcome your ongoing training and discipline. I pray that we would sense real maturity, and growth and delight, not that we have all
the theological answers, but that we are becoming people who are more and more like Jesus, in the decisions that we’re making. And I thank you that I get
to be a part of a church that cares about this kind of growth. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

Jean Kelley



  1. Ken Anklovitch Posted on January 21, 2020 at 6:50 pm

    Hey Bruxy, I just came across you today. I watched the first two videos in this series, this is the first Christian teaching I have ever heard that makes any sense to me. I don't call myself anything in particular in regards to my religious faith but the closest would be the teachings of Buddha and the Advaita tradition. I live in a small village and regularly attend the local Christian Church which is slowly dying as the older people pass away and the young people are not showing up except for Christmas and Easter. It is mentioned, virtually every Sunday, that we are saved because Jesus died for our sins. I can't think of anything that turns more people away from of attending this Church. What kind of God would sacrifice is own son to save us? I can't in the slightest way understand this. I would be very interested in your comments.

  2. Dave Weber Posted on January 27, 2020 at 4:40 am

    This series – and especially this sermon is so germaine to what I am experiencing now, in my own walk with Christ.
    Thank you so much, Meeting House, for posting these to YouTube, so we can watch them, even though we may not have been able to make it to church that morning.
    That part about how I can get lost in the weeds, even when I think I am "going deeper" into my studies "to better understand" or "have a clearer grasp on the background of my faith"… That spending time in community, airing what I have learned, so that others can correct me if I have interpreted things in error. And, maybe more importantly, putting on my shoes, and applying the things I DO know, exercising that connection between gut/heart/mind and muscle, and learning from my mistakes as I do that keeps me in a better position for growth than a steady diet of "book learning."
    I don't even know if that made sense… lol!

  3. Ben Weeks Posted on January 27, 2020 at 6:20 am

    Excellent points brother!

  4. mickbolz Posted on January 27, 2020 at 9:08 pm

    This is a great series and love the example of generosity of viewing Jesus as – Man to Prophet to from God To Lord… This series is a most necessary massage to the Church in general