2003 Sermons

The Islamic Faith Compared With the Christian Faith 9/24/03

I John 2: 22 – 24

JESUS CHRIST said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; NO man cometh to the Father but by me” (John 14: 6).

Today there is a great tide sweeping the world of a religious movement needing Christianity’s attention. It is the Islamic faith. Islam is the faith. Muslims are the people who practice the Islamic faith.

Westerners often call the religion of Islam “Mohammedanism” and those who practice the religion “Mohammedans.” Adherents object because they say it makes it sound like they worship Mohammed and they don’t. They worship Allah.

Islam claims over 800,000,000 adherents, making it the second largest religious group in the world. Islamic peoples in over 70 countries are now riding a crest of cultural and religious resurgence.

Their growth in Europe has resulted in Belgium and Austria adopting it as one of the religions taught in public schools.


JESUS CHRIST’s birth was the fulfillment of numerous prophecies. One was that He would be a descendant of Isaac. That was a most unlikely reality. By man’s standard an impossibility.

Who was this man Isaac? On the pages of the Bible he stands out on history’s horizon like a mole hill between two mountains. On one side was the summit of his father Abraham. On the other the peak of his son Jacob. Compared to them his life seems insignificant. Yet, as with all things great and small God had a plan for him.

Of him God said to Abraham, “Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac: I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him” (Genesis 17: 19).

Let the story tell itself, and then let’s draw from it some vital conclusions. READ: GENESIS 16:1-16; 17:15-21; 21:1-21.

God’s plan became man’s parody when Sarah decided to devise a plan to do what she did not trust God to do. The Code of Hammurabi stated: If she has given a maid to her husband and she has born children and afterwards that maid has made herself equal with her mistress, because she has born children her mistress shall not sell her for money, she shall reduce her to bondage and count her among the female slaves.

Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was a strong willed woman who wanted to exercise her rights when her plan failed.

Hagar, Sarah’s Egyptian maid, “despised Sarah” and “mocked Isaac.” Obviously she was also a strong willed woman with a bad attitude.

God promised Abraham he would have a son by Sarah through whom He would bless all mankind.

Consenting to Sarah’s wishes Abraham at the age of 86 had a son by Hagar. Later God’s promise of a son through Sarah became a reality. These two half-brothers were Isaac, his son by Sarah, and Ishmael, his son by Hagar. Isaac was the son of promise.


A. God promised to bless the child of Sarah and make her descendants a blessing. The lineage of the Jewish race began with Abraham and was perpetuated through Isaac and his son Jacob.

Matthew and Luke in tracing the genealogy of Jesus, from a human perspective, note this fulfillment.

Most Americans are aware of this promise and marvel at God’s blessings on the Jews (Gen. 17:19). This is appropriate. However, most of us seem to think the Arabs are God’s outcasts. Not so. God also promised to bless the child of Hagar, Ishmael and his descendants (Gen. 17:20). God said of Ishmael “I will make him a great nation” (Gen. 21: 18). It was through the line of Ishmael that the Arab nations developed. These descendants have also been blessed. Note who constitutes the oil cartel in the middle- east. It is the Arab nations.

Ishmael was born before Isaac. He was conceived of Hagar an Egyptian slave girl whom Sarah gave to Abraham for the purpose of conception. When he was born, Abraham prayed that he would be the child of God’s promised blessings (17:18). The expression “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!” is a plea for him to be the heir apparent.

Evidently these two siblings contested each other on a regular basis. The scripture says that Ishmael was seen “scoffing” at Isaac. The verb tense used means he was always scoffing. Galatians 4: 29 reveals this scoffing involved “persecution.”

The descendants of these two are still antagonists. The perpetual conflict within the West Bank and Gaza as well as the constantly contested borders of Israel is an outgrowth. The Arab-Israeli conflict began in Hagar’s bedroom.

God never condoned polygamy; nor did He ever bless it even in the lives of some of His servants who violated His command regarding one wife.

Abraham and Sarah both had sacramental names given them by God. Abraham originally was called Abram meaning “honored father.” God renamed him Abraham which means “father of many nations.” God gave him this name when he was old and had no children. Sarah’s name had been changed from Sarai. Her old name meant “princess,” indicating that in her home land of Ur she was a member of royalty. Her new name meant “to rule.” She was to be the royal line by which God’s promise would be fulfilled to Abraham.

Strange as it may seem the first Jew was a Gentile. Abraham who came from beyond the Euphrates was the first person called a Hebrew (Gen. 14: 13). The word Hebrew means “the immigrant.” Sarah was the first female Hebrew, the fountainhead of the Jewish race.

God’s plan was for Sarah to conceive and bear a son.

Sarah amended God’s plan for Abraham to have a son by her young Egyptian maid, Hagar.

Things always go wrong when we decide God can’t keep His word and we have to do for Him what we don’t have faith to believe He can do.

When Hagar conceived, she chided the childless Sarah. Sarah became very jealous of Hagar. The mistress and the maid couldn’t coexist it appeared. Sarah dealt “harshly” with Hagar (16:6) so Hagar fled. In doing so she was violating the law which forbid a bondwoman to leave the service of her mistress.

God sent a angel messenger to Hagar on “the way to Shur.” Knowing Sarah had wronged her the angel nevertheless told her to return to Sarah. Two wrongs don’t make a right. She obeyed and returned. This is a beautiful illustration of submissiveness.

At the well where Hagar encountered the angel she used a beautiful name for God which means “You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees” (Gen. 16:13). The well where this encounter with God occurred she called “Beth-lahai-roi,” meaning “The well of Him who lives and sees me.”

When Hagar submissively returned she and Sarah grew to be even more jealous of one another and eventually this flared into anger. Finally Sarah pulled rank and demanded that Hagar and her son Ishmael be banished. Notice that this caused discord between Abraham and Sarah. Discord consequents when we disobey God. Having two spouses causes conflict.

Reluctantly Abraham complied and sent them into the desert with limited provisions. Poet and artist alike have sought to capture Hagar’s anguish in the desert when their supplies ran out. One of the finest masterpieces in the Dresden Gallery is a painting called “Hagar in the Wilderness.” The child is depicted lying on his back, dying of thirst, while his beautiful impoverished mother lifts her eyes to heaven and prays, “Let me not see the death on the child.” God answered her prayer and opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. God spared them both in keeping with His promise.

Ishmael grew to be a desert-dwelling archer. Our last glimpse of Hagar was her act of securing an Egyptian wife for Ishmael. She found for him a wife from her own land of idols and worldliness. Untaught faith in Jehovah by Abraham and influenced by a pagan wife, a different lifestyle and code of beliefs emerged. This is an illustration of the fact the extension of the faith is only one generation away. If one fails to pass it on to another, it is lost.

When Abraham was 100 and Sarah 90 she conceived and gave birth to Isaac, the child of promise. Sarah is the only one in the Bible whose exact age is given.

God kept His promise to them because Abraham believed (Rom. 4: 19 – 22).

As Isaac grew into manhood he went to dwell at Beth-lahai-roi, the place Hagar had lived. She impacted his life dynamically. She was his nurse and doubtless held him spellbound with stories of the Nile, pyramids, Pharaohs, and crocodiles. Had it not been for the strong and longer lasting influence of Abraham, Isaac might well have followed Hagar instead of the faith of Abraham and Sarah.

The child of Hagar is described as “scoffing” at Isaac, the child of Sarah. He had to learn this from his mother. Hagar had “despised” Sarah from the moment of her conception of Abraham’s son (16: 5). For Ishmael to have ridiculed Isaac would have been to mock all the promises of God inherent in him. This scoffing continues. From the lineage of Isaac came Jesus Christ and the Christian faith. From the lineage of Ishmael came Mohammed and the Moslem faith.

All of this happened because Sarah decided to do things her way rather than waiting on God. Does this same trait ever get you in trouble? The experience of Sarah is a caution against hasty action in times of trials and difficulties. It appeals for trust.

Sarah could not have anticipated that her single, disobedient decision would originate a rivalry which has resulted in the bitterest hatred through the ages which not even an ocean of blood can quench. We should always weigh the consequences of our decisions. They are often made in a moment with a lifetime of consequence. Sarah’s decision has endless consequence.

Likewise, a decision to receive or reject Christ as Savior has eternal consequence.

In Galatians 4: 22 – 31 there is an allegory using Sarah and Hagar to distinguish the difference in law, that is works, and grace. In verse 24 the account is described as “symbolical.” The word means an allegory which is an illustration.

HAGAR represents the Old Covenant of the law, a system of works.

She was a bondwoman. Her son, Ishmael, was “born after the flesh.” Ishmael was born the natural way; according to nature.

Hagar and Ishmael represent what is known as the “flesh principle,” rejecting God’s promise, rejecting the way of faith and trying to fulfill the will of God on your own terms. Persons operating on the flesh principle are trying to merit, earn, or deserve, by their works, what God gives freely.

Hagar represented “Jerusalem which now is,” meaning in bondage to the law.

This account is included in the Scripture to let us know we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and not by works of the law. It has always been so. We are saved by grace not genes. The true line of descent was Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

This is the line of faith. Abraham had two sons. One, Isaac, had faith. The other, Ishmael, didn’t.

Isaac had two sons, Jacob and Esau. Jacob had faith in Jehovah God and Esau did not.

SARAH represents the New Covenant fulfilled in Christ.

She was a free woman. Her son, Isaac, was “born through the promise.” Isaac was born the supernatural way; despite nature.

Sarah represents “the Jerusalem that is above” — “our mother.” This represents true faith originated salvation with heaven as its source. This depicts salvation by grace.

Arabs believe God told Abraham to sacrifice Ishmael instead of Isaac. Islam, meaning “submission,” was born among Arabian tribes who claim to descend from Ishmael.

In the first century after Christ, His devotees carried the gospel all over the known world. Christianity was embraced by millions. It conquered even the pagan Roman world. Rival religions paled before it. Pagan religions collapsed before it.

Had the devotion evidenced by these early believers continued, there would have been no fertile soil in which the Islamic faith could have rooted.

Unfortunately, Christianity succumbed to a malignant temptation that turned the conquerors into the conquered.

Having overcome pagan superstitions of the past, Christianity began to absorb certain traditions which the apostles found detestable. In Rome, most of it began by the worship of images, penance, a human priesthood, free use of wine, and adaptation of pagan feast days, which diluted Christianity.

Satan had devised a ploy to destroy the Christian faith. The first step was to do it from within by corruption. Prophetically Paul had written, “After my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you,…speaking perverse things” (Acts 20:29,30).

A young illiterate named Mohammed, who lived in the 600’s, was the founder of the Islamic faith. He grew up in Mecca, a city in southwest Saudia Arabia. His father died before his birth and his mother soon after. His grandfather and later an uncle became his guardians. They were desert dwellers.

At the age of 25 he entered the service of Khadija, a wealthy widow. Though she was 15 years older than he, they later married. They had two sons and four daughters. The sons died young. One of the daughters married Ali, son of Abu Talib. Many Muslims trace their ancestry through the Fatima Dynasty.

Mohammed was overwhelmed by the corruption he saw in the church of his day. Mohammed found a religious void and rushed to fill it with his authoritarian teachings. The emerging Islamic faith fed on the decadent representation of Christianity that prevailed around the Mediterranean at that time. Mohammed believed he was facing in Christianity the “Great Satan.” This is a term still used by Moslems to refer to Christians and the western world in general.

Mohammed professed to receive from the angel Gabriel, the pure word of God, called the KORAN, Arabic for “recitation.” The Koran teaches high ethical and moral principles in an epic poetic style that is music to Arab ears.

With lightning speed, Islam militantly conquered the Byzantine Roman and Persian empires. Allah’s horsemen routed proud rulers of the orient, north Africa, and lower Europe as far as Spain and Switzerland by A.D. 712. At the point of the sword, Christianity acquiesced. Once orthodox lands capitulated.

Their rigid discipline soon boasted a progressive society. They developed vast libraries, gave us our numeral system, invented the cifr (cipher). Six centuries before Copernicus they knew the earth revolved around the sun. Surgically they practiced anesthesia and by the 14th Century demonstrated the circulation of the blood.


THE BIBLE They recognize the Old Testament prophets as God’s messengers. They accept the teachings of Christ in the gospels but not the rest of the New Testament.

GOD Many Christians think Allah can be equated with our God. Why would our God espouse that which conflicts with Himself? Many of the teachings of the Koran conflict with and contradict most of our New Testament. No one true God would oppose Himself.

WOMEN Women are regarded in Islam as temptresses whose irresistible attractiveness rivals even Allah’s power to secure and maintain the allegiance of men. One of their prominent works, “Beyond the Veil,” by Fatima Mernissi, says, “The Muslim order faces two threats: the infidel without and the woman within” (p.12). It is a “whole system…based on the assumption that the woman is a powerful and dangerous being” (p. 14).

“The whole Muslim structure can be seen as an attack on, and a defense against, the disruptive power of female sexuality.”

Islamic law allows for a man to have four wives but he must treat all equally. He can divorce one by simply saying, “I divorce thee” three times before witnesses.

WAR The Arabic word JIHAD is sometimes translated from the Koran to mean “holy war.” It more clearly means “striving for the faith.” This striving can take the form of moral persuasion, preaching for conversion, or military conquest.

In the book, “Islamic Way of Life” the pillars of Islam are noted: “Last is jihad, that is, exerting oneself to the utmost to disseminate the Word of God and to make it supreme, and remove all the impediments in the way of Islam, be that through the tongue, or the pen, or the sword.”

Islam’s first wars were basically fought against polytheistic Arab tribesmen who resisted Mohammed’s crusade against idolatry.

Their militaristic temperament has been apparent from their beginnings in A.D. 622. The armies of Allah exploded across the basic Arab lands into Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and parts of India.

Around the turn of this century, Turkish Muslims turned on the Christian minority in their country and killed 5 million Armenians and 1 million Greeks. More recently, they overthrew the Christian government of Chad. Idi Amin killed a half million in his attempt to make Uganda a Muslim country. A prolonged bloody struggle continues in the Philippines as they try to turn it into an Islamic state.

Iran continues its repression of anything not Muslim. Saddam Hussein tried to enlist the Muslim world in a jihad against the coalition forces.

There are two primary divisions within Islam.

Shiites comprise about 10% of the Muslim world and are primarily in Iran, Iraq, and Kuwait. The word Shiite means “partisans of Ali.”

Shiites believe Ali’s 12th successor who mysteriously vanished in A.D. 878 is still alive. They believe he is yet to emerge and establish Ali’s kingdom on earth.

Sunnis believe Mohammed’s successors should be chosen from the community. Their doctrine is more flexible. Sunnite means “tradition of the prophet.”

There are a number of smaller sects. The Bahai faith grew out of the Shiite group.

LIFE AND DEATH Their concept of salvation is a works religion. They believe the angels in heaven keep a record of man’s works. At death, the angel places the record book in the right hand of the good and they go to heaven. The book is placed in the left hand of the wicked and they go to hell.

As a part of their good deeds, they pray five times a day facing Mecca. These prayers consist of recitation of portions of praise from the Koran.

JESUS In accepting the teachings of Christ they believe He was referring to Mohammed when He spoke of the Paraclete (the Holy Spirit) who would teach men all truth.

The Koran acknowledges Jesus as the Jewish Messiah who was rejected by the Jews. In the Koran He is even called “the Word of God.” It affirms Jesus’ virgin birth and miracles. They deny Christ as being God incarnate and reject the Trinity. They deny His atoning death and resurrection. Adherents of Islam believe God saved Jesus from the cross by confusing the Romans, causing them to crucify some one else.

They teach Christ was taken to heaven and will return to earth to help establish Allah’s kingdom.

They believe Christ will die when He comes to earth again and be buried in Medina next to Mohammed where they already have an open grave prepared for Him.

My Best to You

II Corinthians 13: 12

Jesus Christ bonds believers together. He has been the epoxy holding us together in love.

In leaving a church he had started Paul shared a farewell message. These elements are:

Paul prayed for them to be complete (Vs. 9). The word translated “complete” means to be spiritually mature . It was a word used to describe preparing an army for battle or a ship for a voyage. For the past year our Lord has been graciously equipping this ship of Zion for a wonderful voyage.

In all you do strive for perfection. Colossians 3: 23 is an exhortation to do all
you to an audience of one, the Lord.

God’s Word gives reason for comfort. The future is as bright as the promises of God.

Our English word “courage” comes from the Latin “cour,” meaning “the condition of the heart. King Richard was known as “Richard the Lion Hearted,” meaning, ‘King Richard the man with the heart of a lion.”

We are born with courage but events ware on us and a prefix emerges and we become discouraged. God come along with a big eraser and removes the prefix and inserts an new one “en,” encouragement He has done that in this church.

Scripture admonishes us to ‘let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”

As diverse as we are we are going to have differing opinions at times. We may not always think alike, but we must think with the same mental attitude of Christ. That is one of love and consideration for others.

You are sheep you must flock together.

What animal do you consider to be the best hunter in Africa? Is it the lion, jaguar, or cheetah? Lions hunt in backs. Cheetahs and jaguars depend on speed. The best hunter in Africa is the Spotted Dog, or wild dog. They hunt as a family. They hunt collaboratively.

Consider “one” in a collaborative.
1 divided by 1 equals 1. 1 times 1 equals 1
1 minus 1 equals 0 1 plus one equals 2
In a collaborative the integrator is removed and 1 and 1 is 11. 1 and 1 and 1 is 111.

It is like in Quantum physics in which there is no “I” everything is “we.”

A horse pulling contest was held at a county fair. The object was to see what horse could pull the greatest weight. The winner pulled 4,500 pounds. The second place horse pulled 4,000 pounds. It would appear that together they could pull 8,500 pounds. Hitched together they actually pulled 12,000. Their synergism enabled them to pull 3,500 pounds more.

Eleven frightened followers of Christ were together in the upper room. A transforming event occurred. When they were in “one accord” they transformed the world.

Think what you can do as a church if you pull together.

“Live in peace” is an exhortation needed in every church. This membership has seen what happens to a church that does not live in peace. No membership can worship the God of peace in a spirit of bitterness. We must love one another before our love for God is validated.

The peace of God which passes understanding is the environment in which we abide. Live to preserve peace among yourselves.

Verse 12, needs to be understood and employed. “Greet each other with a holy kiss.” Five times this is mentioned in the New Testament. First, it is self-evident this kiss is to be a “holy kiss.”

In synagogue worship the men sat together and the women sat together. The men kissed the men and the women kissed the women. It was the custom of that era and the habit in oriental lands today for men to kiss men and women to kiss women ON THE CHEEK!

The kiss was for two purposes. One it was a sign of agreement. Second, it was their way of being friendly. Don’t get so hung up on the method and the meaning. The important thing is to “Greet one another….”

These four attributes are possible only because of two factors mentioned in concluding this.

They are:
The God of peace and the God of love is with you.

The farewell ends with a blessing pronounced:
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (Vs. 14).

The “fellowship of the Holy Spirit” is the fellowship which the Holy Spirit created between believers and God the Father and between believers themselves. A Spirit filled church is a warm and friendly church.

The Royal Order of Edifiers 8/10/03

Ephesians 4:29

Jesus Christ said, “In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

In a world that tears people down Jesus builds them up.

If Jesus is your Savior let Him control you as your Master. If He is your Master model Him. Scripture says, “It is enough that a servant should be as his master.”

Acts 10:38 gives a succinct summary of the life of Christ: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good…”

There is your prototype, your templet for life. Pattern your life after Him. “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (I John 2:6).

Jesus seized every opportunity to build people up. Jesus was an edifier. In the word edification the root word for edifice can be heard. An edifice is a building. The process of edifying is the mission of building up.

He edified little children by telling His disciples to let the little children come to Him.

He edified the woman caught in adultery by saying, “Neither do I condemn you. God and sin no more.”

He edified Peter, who denied Him. After the resurrection when they encountered each other Christ ask one question three times, “Do you love Me?” Peter’s affirmation resulted in Christ edifying him by giving him an assignment, “Go feed my sheep.”

He edified one involved in His execution. On the road to Damascus Saul was stricken blind and the voice of Christ was heard to give him instructions to go into Damascus where someone would tell him what to do. Christ sent Ananias to him who put his hand on him and said, “Brother Saul….” In that simple statement Paul was edified.

Even on the eve of His execution He
comprehended the mood of His disciples and said to
them, “Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe
in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1).

If Jesus is your exemplar then do as He did.

Are you a people builder? Or, are you a member of Satan’s demolition crew.

I watched them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a busy town.
With a hove-heave-ho they swung a beam
and a side wall fell.
I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled?
The kind you would hire if you wanted to build?”
He replied, “No indeed,
common labor is all I need,
For I can wreck in a day or two
What it takes a builder a year to do.
I thought to myself as I walked away,
Which of these roles am I trying to play.
Am I worker who builds with care
Carefully measuring life by the rule and square.
Or, am I content to walk the town
Content with the job of tearing down.”

Are you a wrecker or a builder? When people see you coming do they fell, “Wow! Here comes an edifier!” Or, do they look for a back door? You know the kind of person, they brighten up a room just by walking out of it.

Let me be a bit personal for the sake of you pastor and staff. Sunday is a special day of ministry for them. Don’t burden them on this day with complaints and criticism. If an issue is important enough to be called to their attention deal with it professionally and call the office on a week day. Don’t burden the pastor before a worship service by laying some weighty matter on him. Build him up. Assure him of prayer. Edify him.

Apply that same principle to every person you meet here on the premiss.

From nature comes an admirable example of edification. Have you ever notices how geese fly in a “V?” Do you know why? They don’t know how to make a “G.”

Have you ever noticed one side of that “V” is longer than the other. Do you know why? It has more geese in it.

That “V” is aerodynamically lead. The lead goose emergences the greatest wind resistance. The formation reduces the wind resistance experienced by all other by 40%. All that honking we hear is goose talk. They are saying, “Go get ‘um. You’re the man, Atta boy. You rock.” They are edifying the lead goose. They also rotate when the lead goose gets tired he rotates to the back of the formation and another takes the lead. He joins the others in edifying the new lead.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if when people walk away from a contact with you feel edified, built up?

Jesus Christ said, “You shall be My witnesses….”

Your speech makes you a good or a poor witness. As His ambassador what you say and do reflects on Him. Ideally, it should be a commendation of Him to all who encounter you.

Are you a member of Satan’s demolition crew or Christ’s developmental school.

I am on a recruiting mission today. I am looking for people who will sign up to be members of “THE ROYAL ORDER OF EDIFIERS.”

Ephesians 4: 12 notes God gives to the church people “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body.”

The church is spoken of as “the body of Christ.” Be a body builder.

Our text gives two requirements for membership.

I. A NEGATIVE “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth”

Perhaps by translating the Greek word for “corrupt” “toxic” we might better understand it.

Does your speech ever get you in trouble? Down in Cajun country near Lafayette a stranger walked into a roadside café and said, “That Bill Clinton is a horse.” A local popped him knocking him down and out. When he recovered he apologized saying, “I’m sorry I didn’t realize this was Clinton country.” The local said, “It ain’t, it’s horse country.”

You need not only be careful what you say but where you say it. Solomon wisely said, “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from trouble” (Proverbs 21: 23)

An ageless axiom states: “Four things come not back: the spoken word, the sped arrow, the past life, and the neglected opportunity.”

We are very adapt at exonerating and exempting ourselves. Therefore, I pray the words of this message will slip by the defenses of your mind and explode with reason therein.

The Scripture warns against slander. The Greek word translated slander literally means “devils,” or “diabolical.” There is no characteristic so unbecoming of a Christian as to deserve the title “devilish” as that of a slanderer.

The word means a gossip, defamer, one who smears, back-bites, or slurs another.

In the vibrant book of James (3:3 -10) is found this exhortation.

As an adolescent my Mom gave me a little hand written note which I kept in my wallet until I wore it out. It contained this great truth that has influenced my life: “A soft answer turns away wrath.”

Scripture urges us not to answer a fool according to his folly.

Let all corrupt speech die under the holy breath of God.

II. A POSITIVE We are to speak “what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Vs. 29)

This is an appeal to let your tongue be sacred to what edifies.


Be careful in talking to or about youth. Build them up. Infants have confidence in their parents, grandparents, and others close to them. What they hear influences them dramatically. They tend to want to live up to what those they love say about them. If they hear negatives they come to believe them.”You are stupid” results in stupid conduct. “You are a bad boy” consequents in bad behavior.

One prisoner abused as a child wrote this haunting poem:
“Please stop the hurt
I’ve suffered from my birth.
Please stop the pain
And teach me love again.

Our life together is too dear
For your love to be replaced by fear.
You say you love me every day,
But you hit me when things don’t go your way.

I’m lost, lonely, scared, and sad
I tremble at the thought of making you mad.
My love is yours, but at times you’re so cold,
If life’s like this, take me before I grow old.”

Conversely, positive reinforcement results in good behavior.

One of the four things noted earlier that do not come back is “the neglected opportunity.” Don’t miss an opportunity to build up someone —– anyone.

You build people up by encouraging them to be their best and do their best at everything.

God does not require us to be the best at anything. He desires us to do our best at everything. Build people up to become and be their best for Christ. Christ did it.

He did it for little children by instructing His disciples to let them come to Him.

He did it for the woman caught in adultery by telling her she was forgiven and go and sin no more.

He did it for Simon Peter after Peter’s denial by giving him the assignment to feed His sheep.

After the resurrection He did it for one of His accusers, Saul, on the road to Damascus by telling him where to go to get help.

It is enough for a disciple that he be as his Master. The church is called “the body of Christ.” Let’s be body builders.

One wonderful way to do this is by relating Scripture. Many have been edified by the simple verse: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Exhort with the truth: “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

Who is the person you know who needs edifying most? It might well be yourself. You can build up yourself by reminding yourself of these and other great Bible promises.

You motivate someone when you give them a motive for their needed attitude or action. A motive is an urge within that incites action. When you build up a person you are giving them hope that produces proper action.

Motivating people is easy compared to keeping them from de-motivating you. Use the Scripture as your shield.

I talked to a widow recently who had not spent a night alone in their home since she and her husband moved in. He knew she was afraid to stay alone at night and had been her companion every night of their married life. At the time of his death she was all alone. She edified herself with the Scripture, “What time I am afraid I will trust in Him.” She has and told me her fears vanished. She edified herself with the Word of God.

Edify yourself and others with this truth: “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows them that trust in Him” (Nahum 1:7).

Jesus Christ offers you this edifying invitation:
“Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
To the lost He appeals, “He that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).

Cherish the Past, Celebrate the Present, Commit to the Future

Ephesians 4: 11 – 16

JESUS CHRIST said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

As a result of what our Lord has done, is doing, and will do to build His church we have reason to: CHERISH THE PAST, CELEBRATE THE PRESENT, AND COMMIT TO THE FUTURE.

Ever since His resurrection, by His Spirit, He has been busy building His church universally and locally. I believe in the local church because it is what Christ called His “body.”

Some contemporary thinkers speak in grandiose terms of belonging to the church universal, that is, the invisible church. They profess they don’t believe in or belong to the local church. Their involvement is with the invisible church. To them I would like to say, “That is so wonderful that I would like to contribute some invisible money to help your invisible church.”

Those who declare their belief in the universal but not the local church need to go outdoors and look around. As they stand basking in the sun, they might say I believe in the sun universal. Take away the sun local and there would be no sun universal. Take away the local church and there would be no church universal.

I believe in the local church because Christ believed in it. I believe in the local church because the Greek word for church is used 85 times in the New Testament to refer to the local church.

It is spoken of by Christ as His “body.” To me one of the most distinct evidences of His love and sense of intimacy with the church is found in the life of Saul of Tarsus. Saul had been appointed by the Sanhedrin to investigate the accounts of the resurrection of Christ. The Scripture describes him on his way to Damascus to interrogate by intimidation and if need be death to Christians there who professed the resurrection. He is described as breathing out threats of cruelty. Suddenly a heavenly light blinded him and he heard the voice of the resurrected Christ saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4).

Saul was a brilliant young lawyer. Under these conditions can’t you imagine his immediately building his defenses. “Jesus, you said ‘Me.’ What do you mean ‘Me.?’ Its not you I am persecuting, its the church.”

Jesus: “Saul, that is Me!”

That is how intimate He feels about His church. I want to treat the local church with the same dignity and love I do its Head.

The church is also called the “bride of Christ.” I know there are some sick churches but I am not going to use them as an excuse to diminish my devotion to His church.

In Ephesians chapter 4 several illustrations are used to help our understanding of the church. One of the primary analogies found in the passage related it as being like a human body.

The members of the body are as diverse as toes from tonsils. The diversity within the church must be recognized. Age is only one factor in the diversity but it is significant because each age has different attitudes and interests. Consider:









After age 40 we are slow to change. After 60 we tend to resist change. Believe it or not I am over I know I don’t like to change. I know things must and will change. In order not to retard progress I must ever search for what is working and use it. I must find what the Lord is blessing and align myself with it.

There is a tendency among those of us over 60 to want do things like they have always been done. Church Constitutions are the focal point of this type thinking in some churches. Some want a Constitution designed for the 50s by which to operate a 21st Century church. We can struggle and get out way but in doing so limit the churches capacity to minister in today’s world.

It is too much to ask a person who lives and works in a 21s Century world to come into a 1950s church and enjoy it.

For example, let me challenge you by this contemporary innovative thought. This church can reach the world with little investment. You have TV cameras and the Internet. This local church membership can develop a world wide “virtual” membership, by putting its live worship service in the Internet to be viewed by anyone in the world.


In doing that in the next few moments I may at times appear like the Quaker who was awakened by a burglar in the house. He got his gun, went down stairs, and when he turned on the light he was face- to-face with the intruder. He said, “I would not hurt thee for the world, but thou art standing where I am about to shoot.” Observe:

I. THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH Vs. 15 “Him who is the head – Christ”

I like that. Christ is the control central of the church.

READ: Eph. 1: 20-23.

He is not only the Head “of” the church, He is the Head “over” the church. He is the Organic Head and the Authoritative Head.

II. THE HEART OF THE CHURCH Vss. 13, 14 & 11
The heart of Christ’s church is purity of doctrine and order.

A. Purity of Doctrine
For a multiplicity of diverse people to live together in harmony there must be accord in what is believed. The uncommon common denominator must be belief in the same Bible truths. This is a point of entry for Satan to work. Verse 14 describes tactics used by Satan’s ambassadors.

One is “trickery” or “slight of men.” The Greek word so translated is KUBLIA, literally meaning to play with dice. It is a reference to tricky words. One of Satan’s classic twist of words has to do with Christ Himself. There are cult groups if asked will say they believe Christ is the Son of God. But if pressed and asked if they believe Christ was God the Son, they must truthfully answer no. He was Immanuel, God with us.

Another deception is “cunning craftiness” and refers to ingenuity in inventing errors. In a crafty manner Satan did it in Eden. He added to and took away from the Word spoken by God. He still confuses congregations with doctrinal errors.

At this point I must bring in a detail that is a bit personal. Therefore, I am speaking of a principle and not a person. This principle is one of the most humbling in a pastor’s life.

B. Dedication of a Person
In verse 11 it is said “He Himself,” the reference is to Christ, “gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.”

Ideally, the pastor is Christ’s gift to the church. The church that receives the gift receives the Giver. The church that rejects the gift rejects the Giver. I praise the Lord for this beloved church that nearly 35 years ago received the person sent by the Lord to serve Him as pastor.

The last two titles used here are a reference to one person. There is a rule in Greek known as Granville Sharp’s rule. It states: “When two nouns in the same case are connected by the Greek word “and,” and the first noun is preceded by the article “the,” and the second noun is not preceded by the article, the second noun refers to the same person or thing to which the first noun refers, and is a further description of it.”

That means the expression “pastors and teachers” refers to one person fulfilling two functions.

This is the only time in Scripture the under shepherd of Christ is called “pastor.” The Greek word for it is POIMENAS and means shepherd. The root meaning is to protect, tend, and feed the flock. Bible teaching is one area of protecting and feeding.

The other term describing this person’s role is “teacher.”

One way purity of doctrine is to be preserved is by a pastor consistently working as a pastor/teacher. Thus he protects the flock from false doctrine and teaches them true doctrine.

Order is essential for unity in the church. The pastor must be under Christ’s authority and fully surrendered to it. The members of the flock must wilfully put themselves under the authority of the pastor/teacher and learn from him.

You had a wonderful Godly loving pastor who was highly productive. He was admirably led of the Lord. His era as pastor should always be revered. Few have served as well as he. Your new pastor will be different. Who he is and what the difference will be I have no idea. I do know he won’t be a clone. He must be accepted for his gifts and ministry.

There are many forms of church governance that work. The important thing is to arrive at a form suited to the pastors gifts and abilities and the needs of the church.

When I came to Georgia there were those in the church I came to pastor who wanted me to wear the king’s armor. That analogy is based on David going out to battle Goliath. They wanted little David to wear the armor of the king which didn’t fit him. He had his own battle strategy.

Don’t try to make your new pastor wear armor that doesn’t fit him.

Let’s play the game of WHAT IF?

What if the new pastor comes in and says I believe our Lord would have us change our Constitution to provide a different form of governance? Would you be open to his ideas and changes?

What if he comes in and says you have had a wonderful missions ministry in meeting needs in other areas of the world but the local need has grow to where it demands a more extensive ministry? To do this I want us to maintain our foreign missions budget at its current level and increase our local outreach. In doing it we can give even more in the future to foreign missions as a result of the growth of the home base.

What will you do if your new pastor says he wants to build his own staff? Or, suppose he evaluates the gifts of the current staff and feels some have the gifts to provide the ministry he feels compelled to initiate and others, though significantly gifted, don’t have the specific gifts needed to accomplish the mission. He then asks certain ones to stay and others to seek the will of the Lord in another ministry where they can more fully exercise their gifts. What do you do?

The humbling aspect for the pastor is to know some day he must give account to the Good Shepherd. That keeps the under shepherd from any ego trips.

A dad who had been away on a trip returned with a gift for his little girl. After visiting together for a while dad settled into reading the paper and the child to playing with her new game. Soon dad’s subconscious began to pick up on sounds of frustration coming from his little daughter. He put down his paper and got down with the child to show her how the game worked. Later at bed-time the child said, “It was a lot better game than I thought dad.”

If you get involved in a vibrant fellowship that teaches the Bible and is Christ-centered, one that is growth oriented, you will have cause to say, “Church is a lot better experience than I thought.”

The church is described as being like a human body with many functioning body parts. Body parts differ but each contributes in its own way. Imagine having two noses; one each where your ears are. Think about having one oval ear where your nose is. Each in its place fulfilling its function makes for a better body.

Observe in verse 8 that every member is given a gift by Christ. That is, a measure of grace that enables them to fulfill some function in the church. This is further defined in vs. 16.
The body is – – –

A. UNIFYING – “joined and knit together”
When one member of the body hurts, all hurt. Another wedding lives in my memory as an illustration of this.

Those fingers hurt so bad that my body sat up much of the night to keep them company. That is the way the body of Christ works.

There is no excuse for persons involved in one ministry to criticize another. They are part of ONE body.

Be an exhorter, and encourager, and edifier.

Like breeds like. Negativism produces negativism.

A dad who was a doctor was on a wilderness outing with his son. The some was badly injured in an accident. The dad knew what to do and that it would hurt his son said, “Son, dad is going to hurt you, but he won’t injure you.” The dad knew the pain must be identified and dealt with. I am going to make a statement that is going to hurt some, but like the dad who did because he loved his son I am doing it out of loving concern. One statement I have heard here from a number of sources is “Our group doesn’t feel like we are getting enough attention.”

If you are doing what you are doing to get attention you have the wrong motive. Live by Colossians 3:23: “Whatsoever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord, not unto man.”

In 1588 the small and greatly out maned British fleet encountered the vast Spanish armada off the coast of Gravelines, France. Outnumbered by more than two ships to one the British faced a formidable force. The commander of the British fleet walked out on deck to find two officers quarreling with each other. He caught them both by the nap of the neck and forcing their gaze toward the Spanish armada said, “Gentlemen, there is your enemy.”

The church faces formidable opposition. We dare not quarrel and bicker among ourselves.

B. SUPPLYING – “every joint supplies”
Christ has given you Spiritual gifts that enable you to contribute to His cause. No one need feel left out.

Reputedly there once was a church with four members whose names were Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

The church had financial needs and Everybody was asked to help. Everybody thought Somebody would do it. Anybody could have. Amid this confusion you know who did it? Nobody. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

Then the church needed a work day, and Somebody was asked to help. Somebody got upset because Anybody could have done the job just as well and, after all, it really was Everybody’s job. In the end Nobody did it. Nobody did a good job.

Thereafter, when there was work to be done Nobody could be counted on. Nobody visited the sick. Nobody gave generously. Nobody shared his faith.

Finally the day came that Somebody left the church and Everybody and Anybody decided to follow. Guess who was left! Nobody.

C. EDIFYING – “effective working by which every part does its share”

In the word “edification” you can hear the word edifice which means a building. To edify means to build up. In this instance it means to build up spiritually. We are to do that.

If the average car has as many parts that don’t work as the typical church, it wouldn’t run down hill. Are you doing your part?

“I’ve been a weight for long enough on the church’s back.
From now on I’m going to take a completely different track.
I’ll work and pay and pray and carry my load instead.
And not have others carry me like people do their dead.”

D. MULTIPLYING – “causes growth of the body”
Dawson Trotman in “Born to Reproduce” gives this illustration of multiplication. If one Christian won one person to Christ and spent six months helping to mature that one before each of them won someone else, the world could be won in 16 years. At the end of six months, the two would become four. At the end of one year the four would be eight. Multiplying this conversion, maturing, conversion cycle every six months the total in seven years would 33,000 converts. If that process continued for sixteen years, the total would be nearly three billion converts. To win our community it is not enough to add members, we must multiply.

There Was a Man Sent From God 11/9/03

John 1: 6, 7

Jesus Christ had an advocate, his name was John. What a man! His wardrobe and diet indicated he was a man close to nature. His attire of camel’s hair worn with a wide leather belt reveals him to be a man of the open country. He was no fashion plate.

His diet, though not unusual, was that of a naturalist. Locus is actually a bean in the carob family, high in protein. Honey is a wonderful food in itself.

I. HIS PERSON “There was a man….”
He was a human being subject to all appetites and challenges as we. Scripture teaches that every human being has an area of strength and of weakness.

Doubtless you have noticed this about your friends. One of our daughters said recently ever body has weaknesses and things we don’t like. You just have to decide whose faults you are willing to accept.

Your new pastor will have a number of strengths. He will also have weaknesses. The challenge regarding a pastor is that in preaching he advocates Biblical ideals. As a result people tend to expect him to be perfect. Often when he isn’t some person tend to disapprove of him. When he makes decision they don’t like they in turn don’t like him. Learn to love him while not liking some of the things he does.

Accept him for who he is and don’t try to make him some one he isn’t. Don’t make him have to wear the “king’s armor.”

When little David was about to go out to battle Goliath they tried to get him to wear the armor of the king. It didn’t fit. He had to be his own man. Accept your new pastor for who he is, don’t try to recreate him.

Don’t transfer to him all the negatives you might have built up regarding any previous pastor. Don’t impose your biases on him. We tend to do so. Some people dislike brunets simply because of an unpleasant experience they had with a brunet in the past. Some folks don’t like people from Texas because of an awkward experience in that happened to them in Texas.

This man, your new pastor, deserves to be accepted on the basis of who he is.

He will be accompanied by his wife. She should be accepted as a woman sent form God. Love her. Accept her for who she is. She is not the associate pastor or social chairperson responsible for attending all social events of the church. Of all things she is first of all the pastor’s wife and mother of their children. Her primary function will be to help provide a home environment into which he can go and find it a haven in which to be renewed. You older women accept her as a younger wife and mother to be encouraged and helped.

Much of the success this church enjoys will be determined by which side of a little conjunction you tend to live. That conjunction is the word “but.” Statements on the left side of the conjunction tend to be positive and those to the right negative.

For example: “He is a wonderful preacher, BUT he doesn’t play softball with the youth.”

“He has a good delivery, BUT it is hard to get an appointment with him.”

“He is an outstanding Bible expositor, a compassionate evangelist, a warm hearted pastor, an inspiring preacher, an exceptional administrator, and has unusual business acumen, BUT he wears the loudest ties.”

Become an individual and a church living on the left of the conjunction, or better still omit the conjunction and use a period.

II. HIS PLACEMENT “sent form God…”
As the Lord assigned John the Baptist to be the forerunner for Jesus so He has assigned your new pastor to this position for this time. He is being sent from God. The Lord has a mission for him which He will reveal to you through your pastor. At this time not even your new pastor knows fully what the Lord has I mind but the Lord does. As you pray for and work with your new pastor the Lord will increasingly reveal to him how He wants the church guided.

Your pastor is here by divine appointment. If you treat him only as a man you deprive yourself and church of blessings. No sensible pastor has any ego about being given divine authority. It is humbling to a spirit filled minister to realize he is responsible for exercising divine authority to the glory of the Lord and not to feed his ego. Some few pastors fail miserably and that causes people to look at the genuine with suspicion.

Let your new pastor guide you through the Constitution Revision Team to devise a constitution for the present time that will enable you to move into the future more rapidly and harmoniously.

I have spent months studying your constitution in light on my experience and study of other churches. I was graciously offered the opportunity by the CRT to work with them to make changes. I deferred in order that the pastor might lead this effort. If he desires I will be pleased to serve with him and the team as a consultant.

In general take out of the constitution the policies and procedures and put them in a “Policy and Procedure Manual” that can be interpreted an applied using a radical concept called “reason” or “logic.”

The letter of the law kills. The spirit of the law gives life. By having policies and procedures there is adjustability. In a constitution they become a straight jacket. A manual is a guideline to be followed if at all possible but allows flexibility in extenuating circumstances.

A progressive growing church must provide for flexibility and rapid decision making. I would remind you of the title of a significant book: “It is Not the Big That Eat the Small, It Is the Fast That Eat the Slow.” When he comes give him time to set his agenda. Some of you have shared with me good ministry concepts you would like to see enacted. I have deferred to the judgment of your new pastor. I urge you to hold your ideas and rather than try to get him to approve your agenda right away let him first set his own agenda for the church. The fact he does not think your idea should be implemented should not be taken personally. It may a good idea whose time has not come.

If he does not approve your idea don’t let that be cause for you to reject him personally.

If you truly believe that the pastor is under divine appointment you will respect him, avoid criticizing him, and not gossip about him.

“How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?
And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?
And how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach unless they are sent? (Romans 10: 14)

III. HIS PURPOSE “…he came to bear witness…”

As the shepherd of the flock he is to feed the flock. He is to bear witness of Jesus Christ. In calling a pastor a congregation is indicating he is to be their teacher. Look to him for spiritual guidance. Don’t confuse yourself by listening to media ministers and reading authors who are not doctrinally sound. God has given you a spiritual guide. Hear him prayerfully. Learn God’s Word from him and apply it.

A witness tells what he or she knows. Your pastor has subjected himself to the best possible formal theological training. He has associated with the most competition leaders available. He has taken advanced clinical and seminar courses and attended the best conferences. You have a learner as a leader. Follow him.

Paul said to the church at Thessalonica, “You became followers of us and of the Lord” (I Thessalonians 1: 6).

Paul was following Jesus so closely that to follow Paul was to follow Jesus.

Pray for your new pastor to follow Jesus so closely that as you follow him you will be following Jesus.

Give him time to study, pray, and prepare to feed you. If he is to minister well to you he must be often and long alone with Jesus Christ.

You owe your pastor three things:
He is a man who needs prayer.
He is sent from God and deserves your respect.
He is to bear witness of Jesus Christ and needs your help.

He is a MAN under a MANDATE to deliver a MESSAGE. Pray for him, respect him, and help him.

Here is how you can get rid of your pastor: Pat him on the back and compliment him and he will work himself to death.

Rededicate your life and ask for a job to do and he will likely die of a heart attack.

Get the church to unite in prayer for him and he will become so effective a larger ministry will open for him.

To more fully comprehend his role consider these texts.

Acts 20: 28: “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

I Peter 5: 2, 3: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by constraint but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; not as lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”

I Thessalonians 5: 11 – 13: “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and esteem them very highly in love for the work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.”

You owe your fellow members four things. Four things are incumbent on you as a congregation according to this text:
1. Comfort and edify one another.
2. Recognize those who labor and are over you. Respect their authority and responsibility for leading.
3. Esteem them very highly in love.
4. Be at peace among yourselves.