Society and culture today will teach us that the Bible cannot be relied upon as an authentic and factual piece of literature. Here we learn not necessarily to always take our Bible "literally," but to take it "correctly," and to "see to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy..." (v. 2:8)
Don't Let Them Fool You, Just Keep Trusting Him
From Futile Speculation to Futile Regulation: The Foolishness of Life Apart from Christ
Experts Are Everywhere but Can They be Trusted: How to Respond to Philosophy's Challenge
Our Journey to Get the Stain of Spaghetti/Sin Out of Our Lives
Why The Light Has to be Left On
What You Lose If You Leave This Chance To Serve This King
Our Colossal Christ and What You Must Quit When You Know Him
The First Thing We Ought to Pray for and Pursue
Investigating the Colossal Claims and Obligations of the Gospel
Male: Please note that in today's message, Todd briefly addresses the gift of speaking in tongues. For more in-depth teaching on this topic, please refer to the sermon entitled, The Gift of Tongues: What It Always Is, What It Never Has Been, and Is It For Today? This message can be found on the Watermark Media section of the website by accessing Media from the Watermark home page or by following the link in the notes.
Todd Wagner: You can't escape it even here. That's right. CSI is everywhere. We hope every time you see it it makes you think about what we're trying to wrestle through right here. We are going through a book that has been preserved. The reason any book is preserved in the Scripture is not because there's some historical fact that God wants us to know but because there's something that is unique to a specific issue that was being addressed then that God knew the church would continually run up against and face through perpetuity until he returned to state things as they are and put them back in order as they should be.
So this little group of people who were in this little Turkish community that they called Colossae was being hit with a lot of different ideas. These ideas challenged their confidence that the child in the manager was Immanuel (God with them), that that child growing up and his living and his teaching in which all the fullness of deity dwelled in him in bodily form, and what he did on the cross and what the grave being emptied meant.
There were people who attacked those who followed him who did not believe that their confidence in this Jesus was sufficient or complete and that the revelation of God through him and through his word was not enough. So they believed you needed outside intervention and you needed outside experience and you needed outside practices and you needed outside thinking and you needed to be extracurricular in your behavior in order to be everything that God wants a spiritual man or woman to be.
That is consistent with the attacks that we face even today. We are consistently told, "Your Bible is nice and cute. However, it is not sufficient." I had a friend tell me this week, "Todd, I want to talk to you about your view of Scripture." I said, "Great." He said, "I think you probably don't see the Bible the way I see the Bible."
I said, "Continue." He said, "I don't have a problem with the way you see it, but I think you might have a problem with the way I see it." I said, "Okay. What are we talking about here?" He said, "I think the Bible is true but not always factual." I said, "Let's get together. That is worthy of a breakfast. We'll talk about what that means."
What he means is basically this. "I'm okay with the Bible being a book that's useful and instructive to our life. I'll even give it the Jesus stuff. But there are things in the Bible that are not reliable. Science is something that will show the Bible to be futile and empty in terms of its ability to speak into our world consistently. The creation model that's potentially there and its ideas and views about how the earth came into being and how it's sustained and where it is headed…" Let's not get carried away with this.
The problem with that, by the way, is that the second you interject your allegoricalization or spiritualization of the Scripture in the hard sciences… By the way, the Bible is not a science book, so it doesn't try and make scientific statements. If it is God's Word, then it should be true in every statement of fact, and every historical reference and every archeological discovery should be confirmed in that Scripture.
When you start to surrender a certain area of your Bible and say, "It's good. It's insightful. It's divine, but it really isn't true in regard to biology, geology, chemistry, physics, history and the like, but we're still going to use it as a book to guide us in our belief and our systems of understanding in the soft sciences, or matters of the soul…"
The problem with that is while we might do that in a way that preserves what Jesus would have us believe about who he is and what he has done and what we need of him, we have opened up Pandora's box where somebody else will come along and say, "Well, not only is it allegorical in its creation model, it is allegorical in its redemption model, it is allegorical in its resurrection model, it is allegorical and spiritualized in its effect in all of our lives, and if you want to use the Bible as a good book to help you along the way, fine, but let's not make it authoritative."
When you open up that box of liberalism, you cannot shut the door where you want to shut the door. It's either true and factual, or it is not. That doesn't mean that we take the Bible in a wooden, literal sense because God uses language as a means through which he gives us his revelation. In other words, if somebody asks me if I still beat my wife, we all know that is a question I cannot answer and win.
If somebody asks me if I take my Bible literally, I cannot answer that question yes or no. I say, "I take my Bible correctly." Therefore, I read it as I read all literature. When I read my Dallas Morning News, even if it was reliable in all things that it stated, I would not take it the same way from the editorial section to the feature section to the comic page. I have to apply the principles I know of language and genre to interpret.
So when Jesus says, "I am the door," I don't think for a moment he meant he was a three-foot by eight-foot, three-inch thick piece of wood with a knob on it. If you take your Bible literally, you do. No, you take your Bible correctly. When he speaks in metaphor, and when he speaks in prophetic language, and when he speaks in an illustrative way, you have to know that. You also need to understand when the Bible speaks in other areas with historical narrative, it is meant to be historically true.
When people come alongside you and pat you on the head and say, "Sweet, dumb little Christian. It's nice that you have your Bible, but don't you know the Bible's not enough, if it's reliable at all? You need the wisdom of the ages," you become captive to their futile speculations even though the perfect God has spoken.
They will come alongside you and say, "Awe, sweet little Christian who has believed in your sweet little cross. Don't you know that that is not enough to make you righteous in God's eyes?" So they will take you captive with their futile regulations, even though the fullness of God has suffered and fulfilled the requirements of the law for you.
They will come alongside you and say, "Awe, sweet little small Christian. It's nice that you believe in your Jesus, but don't you know that there is greater revelation still that is out there? If you're serious about being spiritual, you will seek higher spiritual platitudes and you will seek revelation from angels and prophets and psychics and shamans and gurus who will take you, if you're really serious and not complacent and lazy about your faith, to greater spiritual insight and understanding. Don't stop with your cute little Jesus. If you're spiritual like me, you will be a mystic as I am."
Then they will come alongside you, and they will say, "Don't tell me you're done showing God how serious you are about living a life that's devoted to him. You need to adopt these specific demonstrations of piety and righteousness," even though Jesus has already shown us what true righteousness looks like and even though God himself has spoken the final word through Jesus Christ.
These attacks that are still prevalent in our day are the same attacks that were coming alongside a body of believers who lived 2,000 years ago in a little Turkish community. They were being threatened by these people who said, "You need philosophy. You need legalism. You need mysticism and angel worship. You need piety and asceticism or self-discipline and hardship and suffering and vows of poverty and certain dresses. That's what makes you holy."
Paul said, "Nonsense. Foolishness. You who have been set free from the elementary ideas of men, where men tell God, 'This is what will make me acceptable and righteous in your sight.'" God says, "I don't want to hear from you what I want. I will tell you what I want and what I have required of you and what I have done to meet that requirement."
That is what this book is all about, and that is why it's been preserved. That is why he tells us to firmly hold onto our faith and to whom this Jesus is and what he has accomplished for us. You don't lack anything. You need nothing to be more righteous, more informed, have more insight, or be more pious than an abiding faith-relationship with Jesus Christ and surrendering to him moment by moment in joy as you abide with him through a relationship with his Son and Spirit.
Let me share with you by starting in taking you back to Matthew 12. I hope you bring your Bibles every week. I don't care if we put verses up here. If you don't have a Bible and you want one and you'll read it, we'll get it to you. Grab the one we're using for The Journey and walk through that with us. We'll talk more about that next week.
Turn in your Bible to Matthew 12. Let me tell you what we're going to do. I'm going to walk you quickly through the first 40-some-odd verses, and I'm going to show you an obscure parable Jesus taught that is relevant to where we're headed today. In Matthew 12, Jesus was coming to a place where he was going to finally lock horns with the religious leaders of the day (the men who had represented to the nation of Israel the idea of what God wanted them to be in order to be holy people). Jesus was about to say, "These guys are leading you astray."
Jesus made a number of amazing claims up to this point, but he was about to make another amazing claim. He was about to show you what Paul later said is true, that he is the visible image of the invisible God, that in him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form, that he is the head of all things, including the church, that he is the Creator of all things, and all things were created for him and by him and through him and are sustained by him, and he is God.
He and his disciples are walking on the Sabbath day through a grain field. He runs his hands over some stalks of grain, and he uses that to feed his disciples. The Pharisee says, "Wait a minute. You're violating Sabbath law. You cannot do that because you are harvesting on the Sabbath, and our law says you shouldn't do that. In fact, God's law says you shouldn't work on the Sabbath, and you're out there working on the Sabbath. That shows you're not a righteous man."
Jesus says, "Let me ask you a question. Didn't David and his men eat during a time when they were in need? Didn't they go into the temple and eat bread that wasn't theirs? Yet you guys acknowledge that David was able to do that because he was a servant of God on God's mission, just like you and the priests in the temple are allowed to do certain things in the temple, and they're not considered to be violating the Sabbath.
Something greater than David is here, and something greater than the temple is here. Not a building made with human hands that holds the Spirit of God as he testifies his presence in your world, but the very body that embodies the fullness of deity is right here in your presence." Then he says, "For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." That's his way of saying, "Whose day is the Sabbath? It's God's day. I'm here to tell you that I can do what I want to do in the Sabbath." That is a very direct claim to saying, "That's my day because I am the man, and I am God."
That, rightly, shocked the Pharisees, and they said, "There he goes again. He's making a claim that we are uncomfortable with. So they set him up, and they brought him to a place where on the Sabbath day they were going to have a guy with a withered hand run before him to see if they could catch him.
They said, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?" Jesus said, "If you have a sheep that is caught in a hole, would you not pull that sheep out on the Sabbath?" In other words, "Is it ever unlawful to do acts of compassion?" They didn't answer him. He says, "Of course not, you idiots. God never tells you to let something suffer until the sun goes down. Likewise, I'm not going to let this man suffer if I have the ability to minister to him on this day. I don't care what day of the week it is. It's always part of God's law to be loving."
So he told that guy to come to him, and he healed them. Again, they were rather frustrated. While Jesus in Matthew 12 and the fruits of his belief system brought life, it says that the Pharisees plotted to destroy him. Let's see which philosophy is leading to good things here.
They go from there, and they now brought a demon-possessed man before him. In Matthew 12, Jesus takes that demon-possessed man, and he delivers him. The people said, "This guy… I'm starting to see if he walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and acts like a duck, he just might be the guy. Maybe we should follow him. This is not the Son of Man, is it? This is not the Messiah?"
Jesus says, "Well, you're seeing the works that evidence my words. Maybe you ought to think about the fact that I am," and so up rises the religious leaders, and they say, "No. Let me tell you how he does what he does. He is channeling Satan. He is a member of the Enemy's clan, and he is disguising himself as an angel of light. The way he is doing what he is doing is through the power of darkness. He wants to lead you astray. Don't follow him."
Jesus says, "Oh, baby. When you have done that, when you rejected the testimony of my Father at my baptism…'Behold, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased. Listen to him.'…when you've rejected my own testimony that I am God in the flesh come to deliver you, I am the long-awaited Messiah, and I've told you to come to me you who are weary and heavy-laden. When you take the work of the Spirit which is authenticating my words in my life and say it is the work of the Devil, you are in a waylay of trouble."
He says, "When you reject the testimony (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) there is no other testimony to give you, and you are damned." So for that generation of people who continually repressed the revelation of God, he said they have committed what was called the unpardonable sin.
It was not that the individual members of that sect did not later come to believe in Jesus, but he's saying, "You men have gone public with what you believe, and that is that I am not God's man. As a result, this generation will suffer greatly for it. Individuals will escape that judgment because they will choose to believe in me, but the nation of Israel will not move into its place of Kingdom blessing because it rejects its King. But…" He goes on to tell a story in Matthew 12:43.
"Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find * it . Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came'; and when it comes, it finds *it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation."
What in the world is Jesus talking about? I just showed you that what we have is a group of men who looked very religious in the way they dressed, in the way they behaved, and what they did on certain days of the week. Jesus is saying, "Because God in his grace took you as a group of people for the last thousands of years…starting with Abraham, then with Isaac, and Jacob through his different decedents, and through Moses he gave you the law…he revealed to you that worshiping God in your foolishness and through the reasoning and ideas of men about what would make you ultimately righteous…"
He said, "You no longer are practicing child sacrifice like the rest of the heathen states are. You're no longer worshiping dead trees that are carved into faces, and you're no longer forming calves made of gold and calling them your God. You have been delivered from that, but let me tell you what you have done. You have exercised the filth of idolatry and gross immorality from you as a nation, but you have not wed yourself to the strong one who can defend you against that which will lead you to death. You have not brought into your life that has been vacated of immorality a love relationship with God."
The problem is that that spirit of rebellion that went out from you that manifested itself in immorality has come back and he has brought with it another spirit. It is the spirit of self-righteousness and self-dependence. That house which used to be in great disorder and the world knew was dysfunctional, deserving of judgment and in need of mercy had a new white little fence that had been put up and painted. New shutters were put on the house, new shingles were put on, and we brought in the whole crew to redo the lawn and the landscaping.
Now the house looks like it's pretty and a good place to live, but inside of that house there are still maggots and black mold and asbestos and death, and you are now in a worse state than you were before because you look religious, but you are rotten and dead. You are white-washed tombs. This nation that looks more holy than the other nations because it doesn't practice in the spiritual futility of immorality is now practicing the spiritual futility of self-dependence and righteousness.
There is no humility in you and, oh, I wish these people would have hearts that are true and not just houses that look pretty. I wish inside the home there was love and not just legalistic behavior on the outside. He says, "Oh, that you would know that I have desired compassion, what is in the heart." God has always been about the heart of man.
He doesn't want a relationship that looks good. He wants a relationship that is good. There are scores of women in this room today that would say the exact same thing. "I don't want a man who holds my hand on Sunday who doesn't divorce me. I don't want a man who buys me gifts at Christmas, so the kids think we still love each other. I don't want a man who still wears his ring.
I want a man whose heart is given to me, who loves me, who cherishes me, who honors me, who isn't just non-divorced, but who is one with me. I am dead in my home because we have the appearance of marriage, but there is no love and no life here. Though legally we look like we're more spiritual than those who have run from each other, our home is just as empty and full of death as those who have filed in a specific court of law."
You don't want somebody who gives the appearance of oneness with you. You want somebody who truly loves you and will serve you and care for you and celebrate you. Don't you? Why do you think that God would want any less? He wouldn't.
So we get to Colossians, and we're at this place where you will find that progressively he is dealing with attacks that will continually come across the church until he returns, and we're starting to attack the early church just some 30 years after Christ himself had been ascended into heaven.
It starts in Colossians 2:8. "See to it that no one takes you captive…" It says, "You have been set free from the foolishness of thinking that you could work your way to God." (The elementary principles of the world, you'll find out later that it says.) "See to it that no one [puts you back in a prison camp of futility when God has set you free into the kingdom of light] through philosophy and empty deception..." And here's the key. "…according to the tradition of men…"
There is progression that goes through Colossians 2:8 through the end of the chapter which says the folks in the West (in Athens and in Greece), the intellectual folks of the day, the intelligentsia of the world will always come against the Christian, pat him on the head and say, "It's nice that you have your Bible, but your Bible is not enough. You need more." Paul said, "Don't you let them take you captive with their futile speculation. The Word of God is spoken. You don't need to hear from anybody else."
In verse 11 it picks back up, and it says, "Don't let anybody take you captive with their futile regulations." He talks about how Christ has finished his work in you, and he has circumcised your heart, not just some piece of foreskin that doesn't ever make you righteous, and he has dealt completely with your sin and delivered you into a good place.
So don't you think you need to act a certain way that they would tell that you need to act that in a legalistic way will qualify you for God. Don't let them take you captive through their futile regulations because the Word of God has suffered for you and fulfilled the requirements of the law. Now we get to verse 18, and look what it says.
"Let no one keep defrauding you…" Literally, let no one judge you down. If you have your Bible, look back up there in verse 16 where it says, "Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink…" and these other things. The point was that the judge of the universe has spoken. You are holy because of whom who you have believed in and what he has done. Don't let somebody tell you you're holy because you obey certain behaviors and you abstain from certain activities. You are holy because of whose you are not because of what you do.
Then in verse 18 he picks that back up where he says that same idea. "So don't let them judge you down and in doing so take away your prize of security and rest that you have in Jesus. You don't need to ascend to higher enlightenment. You don't need to go to the library or Plato's feet. You have the Word of God made more sure revealed. You don't need to climb the mount of legalism and religion in order to be holy. The Word of God has suffered for you."
Now he's about to go to another area. "Don't let them tell you that you need to seek a relationship with some experience and some mystical relationship which will make you more insightful, more holy, more mature, and more able to walk in victory." When he says, "Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize…" in Colossians 2:16 and Colossians 2:18, he is in effect saying what he said in Romans 8. Look what it says right there.
In Romans 8, if you'll just follow along with me, Paul is saying this. In light of all that God has done through Jesus Christ, "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things [everything that we need] ? Who will bring a charge against God's elect?" That's the question.
God is the one who justifies, not the works and behaviors and attitudes and appearances of man. Who is the one who condemns? It's Christ Jesus. The one who died? Yes, it's he who was raised, who was at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who then will separate us from the love of Christ that we sang about and celebrated this morning? Will tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, or peril or sword? Of course not. Rest in him. It is finished. Don't let anybody tell you you're lacking and needing more.
Do you know that you guys are consistently being attacked with the exact same things? There are traditionally a number of great errors that have come up against the church. They are consistent with the same errors that were existent then. You have Western man and his love of wisdom. You have Semitic man and his love of works. You have Eastern man and his love of mysticism and meditation and ascension to higher realities.
Then you have a very pious man who (all around the world) follows the same idea that if you eat and don't eat certain foods and don't touch certain things and dress a certain way and take certain practices on in their fullness, and you live in hardship and poverty and surrender and isolation, then that is a sign of your devotion.
You guys run up against that all the time. It takes a form of sacramentalism which held the church captive for over a thousand years. The work of Jesus is fine, let's not throw out the cross, but we'd better make sure we add to it the sacrament of baptism, the sacrament of marriage, the sacrament of last rights, the sacrament of confession, the sacrament of…yada, yada, yada, yada. These things, along with certain behaviors and responses, are what will make you holy: Jesus plus our system.
By the grace of God, some little German monk said, "I have problems with that. I can think of 95 things that are wrong with that." So he wrote them down and nailed them to a chapel door and said, "This is a problem." There was a great reformation, and people were delivered from the bondage and foolishness of that tradition of men. Some still choose to live underneath it, but nonetheless, at least there is now a clear teaching rooted in God's word that you don't need to add anything to this Jesus.
Some of us are threatened by this idea of liberalism, which is that you need to take something in addition to your Bible because the Bible is not ultimately reliable. So you need to interpret things loosely and find other things to make you spiritual. That's been a great threat to the church.
There's another threat to the church which has been this idea that you need to have what is called cooperative grace,which means that you in your own effort and choosing much participate with what the spirit of God has made available in order to get yourself to a place where God will help you as you help yourself.
That idea of cooperative grace runs directly against the grain and teaching of scripture…that man is dead in his trespasses and sins, and there is nothing he can do to earn righteousness before God, and the grace of God ignites your heart to believe in him, and the grace of God which is available to all men is born in you and you cry out for God to give you what he has provided that you might be (according to the kind intention of his will) called and justified and sanctified and one day glorified from beginning to end, and that it is his work.
Lastly, is this idea that was born through what is called the holiness movement or perfectionism, which is this idea that you would come across something in your spiritual life and experience which would project you to a new level of spirituality which would allow you to no longer be stuck with just your Bible and your knees and your community.
Now you can go over here and listen to this individual, and he will allow you to CLEP out of the disciplines of the faith and allow yourself to take a quantum leap in your spirituality, and many times teaching that you will no longer sin if you'll just get this second blessing.
What was developed is this idea called the doctrine of subsequence, which was separate and apart from your acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you need to seek a baptism, a filling of the Holy Spirit which would come. Initially, this filling would be identified with the fact that you would sin no more. There was a man who was a part of this holiness, perfectionist movement who was walking down Swiss Avenue one day with Lewis Sperry Chafer (the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary). Chafer was challenging him in this idea that this man sin no more.
By the way, this is not just some crazy idea from the nineteenth century. There are men and women who I meet today who have said they have exchanged their life of sin for this life of righteousness and no longer struggle with sin. Therefore, if there's a problem in the marriage, it can't be with them because they no longer sin because of their identity in Christ and this awareness to this classic teaching that has been reborn to them.
"The problem is not that I am difficult to live with. The problem is that my husband is not as holy as I am." You laugh, but there is no way to fight against somebody who is deluded into thinking that they don't sin. They just do what this character walking down Swiss Avenue said to Chafer. All of a sudden, in the midst of talking about how he sins no more, this wind blew his hat off, and the man cursed.
Chafer said, "What was that?" The man said, "That was a mistake." Chafer looked at him in disbelief. That's the kind of foolishness that gets associated with individuals who believe they have attained to some teaching insider spiritual experience, which has projected them to some level of righteousness that is separate and apart from the sanctifying work of the Spirit of God that is progressively to happen in your life as you discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness, throw yourself and avail yourself to community, and are rebuked consistently by the Spirit of God working actively in your life.
Now watch, because this idea from Eastern man that Jesus is fine, but he's not enough, that you need a shaman, that you need some spirit guide to take you through the forest of darkness that is out there, continues to run up against what we're doing today. While most of you are not channeling a spirit or most of you are not actively involved in the central powers of the universe through pyramidology or crystology and trying to channel the central forces of nature through you, this idea also has come and challenged us.
Just like legalism and cooperative grace or Arminianism and sacramentalism and liberalism have come through the church, this idea of mysticism is active and alive in the church today even as it was alive then.
There are churches today where men will stand before you and tell you that what you need is not just this Jesus but this blessing which will come. It might not come from a shaman but from this prophet of God who will speak to you things that you and your little Bible cannot show you and you and your relationship with God in community with his Holy Spirit cannot see. So we need prophets and apostles who will take us to another plane.
What happened initially is in 1901 a guy by the name of Charles Parham in Topeka, Kansas, who was a disgruntled Methodist preacher, was looking for more. He called together a small band of followers and founded a Bible college and said, "We need to go back and get the apostolic ministry of the early church."
He took these people who did not know how to rightly divide the Word of Truth and did not understand the book of Acts was a transitional book that was moving us from a time of law to a time of grace, a time of the Spirit's coming and going to a time of the Spirit's indwelling, a time of law to a time of faith, and a book that was transitional and was descriptive and not prescriptive.
He went there in Acts 2, and he talked about when the Spirit of God came at Pentecost, even as Jesus said that it would, what happened there is normative and needs to happen to you and to me and to us. God is going to raise up on this last day this new wave, this outpouring, this "latter rain," he used from the book of Joel 2. It will come upon us, and we will become the spiritual people which will take the church where God wants the church to go.
Young Agnes Ozman, after hours of singing and wanting and waiting for the Spirit of God to come, began to speak in ecstatic tongues and languages. They said, "There it is, just like we read." It was in the book of Acts when the apostles spoke in languages they did not know, which is not to say a prayer language or a language that nobody knew, but they spoke in the specific dialects of the people who were there that day.
In fact, they thought they were drunk. They didn't know some of those languages, and they said, "Look at these guys. It's early in the morning, and they're drunk. They're up there babbling like a bunch of fools." Peter said, "They're not drunk. They're speaking directly to individuals who are here in languages that prior to this they did not know. It's evidence, if you will, that the Word of God is no longer proclaimed just to the Jew, but now it's proclaimed to the entire world."
There were 13 known dialects that were there in that particular region. God used each of those apostles to communicate the grace and glory of Jesus Christ to them in that moment as a way of saying judgment has fallen upon Israel, this wicked and perverse generation. The kingdom will not come to them, but the kingdom's still going to come because the King came. You're going to respond to who he is, and you're going to hear him proclaimed. These men in that moment spoke in dialektos, dialects, that folks understood.
About Topeka, Kansas… Young Agnes Ozman started to speak in such a way that they go, "Here it is. This is it. We're full of holiness now. It has come." It didn't take off, really, in Topeka, Kansas, but Charles left and went down to Houston. He came across a guy down there by the name William Seymour. William Seymour is a young black charismatic man. By charismatic I mean a gifted, vibrant, and energetic fellow.
He went out to California in 1906. On Azusa Street, there is what was called the Azusa Street Revival where William took Charles' testimony of Agnes and said, "Just like the Spirit of God fell in Topeka, it fell on me in Houston. It's going to fall on you, and we're going to get busy about being holy folk." So here came the Holy Spirit again, and there was a great breakout that the Los Angeles Times covered. It rippled out across the country, but it stayed largely within this first wave (this Pentecostal movement). The Assemblies of God was born out of that.
Then in 1960, there was an Episcopalian rector by the name of Dennis Bennett in Van Nuys, California. All of a sudden, he had heard about this great movement of God within the Pentecostal church, and he wanted the same thing to happen inside of his little Episcopal church. Low and behold if that same Holy Ghost didn't fall right there and then in Van Nuys, and he started speaking tongues.
So that whole church got the Spirit, got the charisma, and got fired up about this Jesus. They're going to ascend to a new level of spirituality that the common book of prayer and biblical community and worship in the Word couldn't take them. So then they took it, and all of a sudden there were some Methodist churches and some Lutheran church and some other churches that started to embrace this. They were told to stay in their denomination and bring a revival around them. It was called neo-Pentecostalism or the second wave.
They jump from there to the universities. In 1962, it went up to Yale, and a bunch of folks at Yale (InterVarsity Christian Fellowship) got fired up about it, including five Phi Beta Kappas(so you know they can't be fooled). The Spirit fell on them. This idea that they would speak in these unknown languages comes from the Greek idea of glossolalia. The context of Acts 2 was always knownlanguages, but here it was just going all over the place. These folks were known as the GlossoYalies. This group of folks took it to another level.
Then the second wave of God's outpouring. This neo-Pentecostalism took another jump in the 1970s through a guy by the name of John Wimber, and the Signs and Wonders Movement was born (Peter Wagner). They said, "Here's what needs to happen. We need not just to hear from the Spirit of God, which will manifest itself in present in your life by the second blessing which will come separate and subsequent to your faith in Christ, you need more! You need revelation. You need this blessing and this outpouring."
The Scriptures tell us that you're baptized in the Spirit the moment you believe, but they were taking the text and they were twisting them and distorting them. They were taking their experiences about having Scripture justify them as opposed to taking their experiences and running them through the truth of Scripture and figuring out what was going on. They went to a place to say, "That must be this," instead of, "No. This has never been that."
Through the Signs and Wonders Movement, there were all kinds of prophets that were born who told you, "No longer do you need just your Bible. You now need something else. You need to hear from the prophets and apostles. We need to accompany the work of God with the evidence of signs and wonders and healing ministries.
Then it went to being slain in the Spirit where you would stand and just like men in the Old Testament when they came across the presence of God would fall down. Now you get in a room and the Spirit is called and the Spirit comes and men are slain in the Spirit, something that even the dictionary of charismatic and Pentecostal theology will tell you is a completely unbiblical practice.
Yet folks today are going again and again into settings like this looking for a chance to ascend to a higher level of spirituality, to go through some experience by some prophet, by some teacher, by some apostle, who will allow them to all of a sudden become some super-saint because they were just in certain rooms where certain things happen and people got crazy. They weren't just slain in the Spirit, but now they started to laugh hysterically and dance around the room where the power of God was being shown through these different symbols of deliverance and super‑spirituality.
I want to show you some clips of this. It's hard to watch, but this is the kind of stuff that Paul was telling them then. "Don't you buy it. Don't you let it come. These people, who are wolves in sheep's clothing will be pastors, they'll look like Christians, but they're going to teach us something that Jesus never called you to. It's not true spirituality, and you don't need it. You don't need some prophet to tell you that you're supposed to start a Bible study and make disciples. Jesus himself told you that.
You don't need a prophet to tell you anything other than God has already revealed the knowledge of his Word and his will. Paul said, "That's why you ought to apply yourself to it. You don't need to act like some crazy person talking in some unknown dialect. They'll think you're drunk and crazy, and they won't be drawn to Christ; they'll be driven away from him." Have we seen that happen? Watch this.
Yeah, that's power, people. I'll tell you. If you watch more, they'll tell you if you'll just send in some money, you can get that power. Not by being in that stadium, but you can get it right through the TV. You can activate your miracle for…I think it's been dumbed down all the way to $77 right now. I have seen a guy on TV sit there and go, "Are you struggling with lust? Are you struggling with pride?" I'm sitting there going, "Yes. Yes, brother. Yes. Deliver me."
"Well, you just pick up that phone right now. Call 1-800, and you'll no longer be a man who is a victim of that." I want to say, "I wish it though it was that easy." There's no call to living in humble submission. There's no call to repentance that is sustained in accountable community and surrendered to the Word of God and meditation on the Word of God and all the things that involve trusting and obeying that the Scriptures have always called us to.
We talk about CR (Celebrate Recovery) as a place that we send folks who are really caught up in hurts and habits and hang-ups that are destructive to their life. Nothing is going on at CR that is mystical or magical or will ultimately heal you other than a simple, clear process through which you will meet your Savior, confess your sin, and walk in obedience with him in a way that will free you from whatever darkness has gripped your life.
That is different than these experiential things that you go into in certain churches (some even near here) where there is an "in" group and an "out" group, folks who have gone through this program and folks who haven't through this program, where you've gone through some reality therapy and there have been some behaviors that have happened in this room that have changed your life. "This experience has brought me to a new level of self-forgiveness and freedom." I'm telling you, it is divisive, and it is not bringing us together underneath our head.
Look what it says right there in your Bible in verse 19. "… and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God." Verse 18, "Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement [so called humility] …" You, who think you found it in Jesus and you have all that you need. No. I'm much more humble than you. I need to keep seeking.
As I've said before, spiritual seeking is in vogue; spiritual finding is not. So they're more humble than you who've arrived. They're going to keep going, so they're going say, "I don't have enough yet. I need more." It goes on to say in this little section. " … and the worship of the angels [or mediums who will speak] , taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause…" And this is key. *"…by his fleshly mind…" *
In other words, Paul is saying they are really prideful and haughty, and they have believed that their own experiences are to be taken over the revelation of God through Scripture. Look what he says in verse 20. Don't let them take you that way. You don't need anything but this Jesus. "If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees…"
Now watch this. He's going to say, "Don't go back to the very first place men have always gone in order to relate to God." One of the ways that they always have tried to do it is by trying to have some spirit that would speak to them when God is calling them to repentance. They've had some vision which they are to follow instead of following the revealed, cleared, testified and authenticated by works that would call them to a place of humility and dependence that would bring about the transformation that God says. Men have always gone to these same tactics.
We're about to read something way back in Genesis 3. Where God told Adam, "Have a faith relationship with me, walk with me, abide with me, and you don't need that tree over there. You don't need to eat of the tree of the fruit of the garden. It's a symbol of your faith and love for me. I've given you everything you need pertaining to life and godliness."
What does Adam do? He adds to it. He says, "Eve, let me tell you something. God said we're not supposed to eat of it. We're going to be even more spiritual than that. Don't even touch it, because that's what real holiness looks like." Well, the Enemy was all over that. He said, "You heard that if you touch this tree, you die? Watch this. Let me pick this apple and hold it. Do I die? No."
The demonstration of righteousness is not that you wouldn't touch that tree. The demonstration of righteousness is that you believed what God said, that you didn't need what your own ability to discern wisdom and lies would bring you. Trust in God. He is good. He's not withholding anything from you.
Men always go back to this idea. "If God says this is good, let's just add to it and make ourselves even more holy." It has the appearance of being spiritual, but it's not spiritual at all when you add to something that God says is perfect. You don't need to go there. There is perfect revelation. You don't need some prophet.
If God wanted to speak through a man today, could he? Absolutely. We are to judge that prophet who speaks today the way we're always to judge prophets. He says, "You judge these sheep by their fruits." What's the fruit of a prophet? Not just what whether he's gentle and kind and good, but the fruit of a prophet is his prophetic word.
You will find again and again within The Third Wave, within the movement with Paul Cain and others within the Vineyard Movement, when these prophets were raised up, Mike Bickle and others of the Kansas City Prophets… Their prophecies were vague and obscure. They were never, "Thus sayeth the Lord." They could be tested, and they were consistently proven at times to prophesy in ways that did not get fulfilled.
So he's saying, "If you have guys doing that…they're saying they're for me and they're not batting a thousand…they aren't speaking for me. So don't let them take you under. You have everything you need. Don't go somewhere looking for an experience from your shaman, your guru, or your prophet. You go to your Jesus (the author and protector of your faith), and you run hard after him in the context of community and love and accountability.
Last week I talked about how legalism will sometimes tell us you have to believe in Jesus plus not do or do certain things like this. There are demonstrations of so-called righteousness. It comes back up again here in verse 20. Look what it says. "If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world [this idea of how man was made righteous], why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 'Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!' (which all **refer **** **** to**** things destined to perish with use)…"**
Food has no efficacious spiritual value. God has sovereignly decreed that food would come into you and be processed and passed and done away with. It is temporal. In the Old Testament dietary laws, God did say, "I don't want you to eat certain things," but never because eating certain things or not eating certain things would make you holy.
It was a demonstration of the fact that God didn't want you eating catfish and bottom-dwellers and scum suckers because he didn't want you to be identifying with death. He wanted you to identify with life. So there are benefits to the dietary law of the Old Testament, but it was never to make them righteous. It was a symbolic teaching. It was a shadow of true righteousness he began to reveal through his people Israel.
That is why, when the picture of true righteousness came, you no longer needed the shadow, or when the person of true righteousness came (Jesus Christ) you no longer needed the picture. That is why we find that Paul and Peter told them, don't worry about what you eat or drink anymore.
If you're a Jew and you love Jesus, get yourself a ham. It's okay. If you're a Catholic and you really love Jesus Christ, you can go ahead and get your filet mignon on Friday, and you don't have to eat fish. If you choose to not eat ice cream over Lenten season, you Protestants, good for you, but don't think for a second that is going to somehow elevate you to a place where God's impressed. It is crazy.
Last week I said about alcohol, "Don't let somebody tell you that you can't have a beer and be a devoted follower of Christ." I was very clear about the fact that drunkenness was a sin, but I wanted to say this too, just to clarify some of that a little bit. You can drink and partake of wine and beer and not get drunk and it still not be done in a way that honors your Lord.
Very quickly, in 1 Corinthians 10, look at what it says. "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God…" In other words, there's something more important than you in play right here: honor God with what you do.
Here's my point. We know that drunkenness is a sin. We know that even being dissipated with wine… Even if you don't blow a 0.08, or whatever it is these days, and are legally drunk, you can still get to a 0.01 and be a little looser, a little crazier, a little less in control of yourself, and that doesn't glorify God. But, specifically, you can have one beer and be affected in no manner or no way and still eat or drink in a way that isn't to the glory of God.
What do I mean by that? I mean if you cannot have your pizza without a Budweiser and still have joy and contentment and peace, you have a problem. If you can't unwind at the end of the day without a glass of wine or a Perrier or a bag of potato chips, you are not eating or drinking to the glory of God.
If you can't have your turkey without red wine… I don't even know what color wine goes with what food, but the point is if you're saying, "I cannot go get chips and salsa without a margarita because I'm really not getting the Mexican experience," or if you can't go to Cancun without a cerveza there is a problem. Christians can go anywhere without anything but Jesus Christ. If you can't go a week without your cheese fries, there is a problem. It's not just that you're missing 4,000 calories. It's that that is a god to you.
There are some folks who are out there who are going to just say, "I'm just not going to be okay if I don't drink again." I'm going to say, "That's really a problem." I don't care if I ever eat meat again. I don't care if I ever drink again. Just don't keep me away from an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ.
Let me just pull you over here and tell you Jesus says, "Todd, you abide with me and walk with me and if you want to have an O'Doul's, a Sharp's, or a Michelob, I could care less as long as it doesn't dissipate you or hurt somebody that you're in the presence of. You are free, buddy. Don't let anybody tell you that something you do or don't do makes you holy. Don't you think for a second that food will ever allow you to ascend to look me in the eye."
Let me show you some pictures real quick. It's not just food, it's practices. These are the demonstrations that folks are going to tell you you need to adopt and to bring alongside you. We're going to move quickly through these. You dress this way. It looks holy. You cover yourself up because you're humble in public and that's going to be a real holy way to live. You go through certain practices in order to allow yourself to truly show your repentance and that's what repentance looks like.
If you want to meditate on truth and use different means that are going to help you do that, fine. None of that is what will bring your forgiveness. You want to live apart from the conveniences of modern culture and be Amish? Go for it. You want to broaden your phylacteries and tie God's word to your arm? I don't care. Just make sure it buries itself in your heart. You want to bow to the east three times a day? Perfect. Just don't think that's what makes you spiritual.
Go the Wailing Wall if you want. Make a pilgrimage. Put God's word in a box and put it on your head. They were doing it back when Jesus was alive. He doesn't care if it's on your head or not. Just make sure it's in your heart. You want to not drive a Ford? Great, but don't think that makes you holy. You want to make your way all the way to Mecca and turn in a circle or meditate with some guru on some hill? You want to dress like a Buddhist and put a dot on your forehead? Don't let somebody tell you that's a sign of spirituality.
Doesn't this look spiritual though? Look at this picture. You go, "Man." There's something about that. You just go, "Golly." I'm going to tell you, there is no pillar that is missing in your life if you are built on the foundation of Jesus Christ. One of the pillars of Islam is you make your little pilgrimage over there to Mecca, and you get in that little whirling dervish of celebration… Doesn't that look religious? All those different things that are out there? Didn't it look pious?
Look what God's Word says about this. In verse 23 it says, "These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence." You are still undelivered and in a captive state unless the perfect Word of God has dealt with the corruption of maggots and death that is in your life.
There are people who are going to tell you if you behave a certain way and sacrifice your body and crucify your flesh, even to the point of dying for the sake of the cause, it will ensure your salvation. If you commit suicide for our faith, if you wear these things, you smear dirt on your forehead, you put a dot on your forehead, you take communion, you get baptized…
Some of these things are things God calls us to as the first act of obedience, but Paul's saying, "That doesn't make you righteous. That shows that you have a faith relationship with the one who calls you to morality." Guess where we're headed in Colossians 3. We're going to finish two chapters of who you believe in that is right, and we're going to go to two chapters of how you behave because of what you believe in.
I want to tell you, you are not more holy if you dress with robes over you when you go through the city, but just because you don't have to wear a robe to be holy doesn't mean you should dress like some of you dress when you come in here. There is nothing about the way some of you shop at Limited Express that in any way suggests that you have a relationship with a God who says you should focus on something more than you.
There's a reason they look at us and go, "I don't know who your God is and what your process of being holy is, but it sure isn't showing up in the way your women dress, and it sure isn't showing up in the way your men behave." So we weaken our gospel because we do not look like Jesus says we should look when we surrender to him.
So you may not be holy if you wear a little phylactery on your head, but you're not holy either if you wear a two piece just to show everybody that you're free and you can because it doesn't matter. Folks, it matters. We are called to love as he loved and to do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit. If this is about making you think I look good so I would get exalted, where is Jesus in that?
So it doesn't surprise me that they think they have to look somewhere else to a god other than the Jesus that we say we know and we behave the way we do. The deal is that none of this can change your flesh. I'll give you two illustrations.
I have a friend who talked to a woman who came out of the Amish culture. By the way, the Amish people are nothing more than followers of a radical Mennonite named Jakob Ammann who thought that the Mennonites were becoming too soft on their view of how to breed modern society and their worldview.
So the Amish people (the followers of Jakob Ammann) said that they were going to have nothing to do with the modern conveniences of the day. You go to the certain parts of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Kansas and Missouri and other places like that and there are Amish communities and strongholds. You'll look at those people, and you'll see the sacrifices they make. They look holy.
It looks spiritual, but there are some people in those Amish communities that even though they are living according to a certain lifestyle that vacates certain things, there is still a corruption in their heart because they have not dealt with their sin the way that the Bible says they should deal with their sin. This woman said, "The Amish are some of the most materialistic people I've ever known." My friend said, "What are you talking about?"
She said what they go through with their little buggy is the same thing that we go through with our car. When you are an Amish person, you covet your neighbor's buggy, and you want your buggy to be made out of the same fine wood that his is. When you get the same fine wood that his is, you want to carve certain ornate things into it to make your buggy look that much finer. When you get the outside looking better than your neighbor's, you want to go inside and upholster it and make it look good on the inside.
There's a lot of pride that goes with having the nicest buggy in town. When you get your buggy fixed up, then you go from a little donkey, and you upgrade to an actual horse. Then you go from a horse to a Tennessee Walker. See, they have their Yugos and their Chevys and their BMWs and their Lexuses in their community. It's the same problem. They have a materialistic heart. The outside looks right, but inside there is covetousness and death.
Jesus is saying, "Don't impress me with your buggy. Impress me with a heart that loves me enough." You want to ride in a buggy? God bless you, but don't present that to God as part of your resume and demonstration of righteousness. You present yourself thrown before the foot of the cross.
Last illustration. The Beatles ran across this. The Beatles were looking for love anywhere and looking for life anywhere, and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was the guru of gurus in the 1960s. He was the modern father of transcendental meditation that said, "You don't need just Jesus. You need to go where I go, you need to empty your mind and ascend to a higher state of nothingness and astral projection and peace that you can get only through this little practice and behavior."
The Beatles, as they came in the know and became friends with some famous people, heard that the Maharishi was about to go and take a vow of silence, but because you are who you are, he'll give you one last audience before he zips the lip. So John, Paul, Ringo, and George took a shot over to England where the Maharishi had his little temple, and they sat down there with him and a few other folks (Mia Farrow and Jane Asher who was Paul McCartney's girlfriend at the time).
They all got in there. First Ringo and his wife left…Ringo's the most honest of the four Beatles, always has been…because the food was too spicy and not as good as his. Not long after that, Paul and Jane left. Paul said later in a book (and I read some stuff this week) that Lennon wrote a couple of scathing songs about the Maharishi.
In fact, George and John wanted to finish the three-month program (they were the last two to leave), but after two months they finally left because they realized they had been scammed. They realized that this man who looked spiritual, this man who looked holy, was, in fact, nothing more than an insecure, fame-grabbing, shrewd businessman who they all felt was jealous of The Beatles' worldwide fame and popularity and was trying to bring them in subjection to him. He thought that if The Beatles worshiped at his foot, then he should be sought after more than the people sought after them.
They found that this man who said that he was chaste and holy was trying to work Mia Farrow into a private pillow. They said, "This guy is just as ruthless and insecure and lost as we are. He looks holy, but it is foolishness. They asked Lennon when he got back, "John, what happened over there?" He said, "We made a mistake," so off he went to someplace else.
If you go anywhere but to the cross of Jesus Christ to make yourself holy and righteous, to make yourself linked with the power of God through which you might be transformed from glory to glory, you have made a mistake. That is the point of Colossians 1 and 2. Don't you leave it. This baby born in the manger is Immanuel. He is God with us.
If you know him and what he has done, you have found everything. You go tell it on the mountain, over the hills, and everywhere. You don't let Greece or Israel or India or TBN push you off it. You learn to love your Jesus and his word and his people, and you take on a spirit of selflessness and sacrifice and love, just like your servant leader and glorify him.
Father, I thank you for my friends and a moment to gather together and just reflect on the completeness and fullness and finality of who Jesus Christ is. Lord, we come to you this morning, and we say that we are holy. Not because we speak with a wild tongue, but we are holy and increasingly transformed because we control the tongues you have given us. That is the mark of spirituality.
We are holy not because you prosper us or because we are slain in a moment or laugh hysterically in a situation, but because whether we are in want or abundance, whether we are hot or cold, we love you. We don't look for experience. We look to live by faith and, in all things, to be strengthened by the power of Christ who mightily works within us.
We thank you for this morning and how you have stated the case once again in order before our eyes, and I pray we would not be pushed off our Jesus, that we would love him and seek him and discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness and surrender in a way that is consistent with your Word. We must decrease so that you might increase. All the while, we hold up before you nothing but the cross of Christ as the means through which we are both compelled and saved. We thank you, Lord. Amen.
From a book that is 2,000 years old comes evidence that has been preserved about the greatest truth the world has ever known and how it can transform our lives. The book of Colossians walks through the radical change that happened to some in an ancient east Asian city, revealing the struggles they faced, the resistance they met, and the transformation they found as a result of the hope they had. Join Todd Wagner as he studies the Colossians scene to discern how their journey can reveal truths that can change us.