Sermon series: It's a Miracle
Scriptures: Matthew 9
The clearest evidence of what a person believes is revealed by a person's behavior. Politicians, for instance, often claim to believe certain things that their voting records belie. In Matthew 9, we find Jesus under attack for his lifestyle. He responds by quoting the Bible, specifically Hosea 6:6, and then behaving in a way that was perfectly consistent with what He believed. In so doing, He provided a model for being biblical.
In this sermon we will learn how to be biblical people.
1. Being biblical means having biblical emotions (13, 36)
Jesus is attacked for enjoying a party in the home of a new convert. This convert, Matthew, was in a profession (tax collecting) that had acquired a reputation for ungodliness. In response to this attack, Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6, elevating compassion as a hallmark of relationships. Then in v. 36, Jesus models the biblical emotion of compassion.
As we read and study the Bible, it should impact—not only the way we think—but the way we feel about the people and circumstances around us. A biblical person will feel compassion for those in need. A biblical person will feel shame for personal sin. A biblical person will feel joy at his and others' forgiveness and salvation.
2. Being biblical is practical (1-33)
Not only did Jesus feel compassion, He acted in a practical way to help the people around Him. In verses 1-8, He healed and forgave a paralytic. In verse 25 He brought life back into a dead child. In verse 22, He cured a woman who had suffered for many years. In verse 30, He gave sight to two blind men. In verses 37-38, He pressed His disciples to labor in prayer for people who suffer and struggle.
It is important that our emotions be biblical—that we sympathize with people in need. But it is even more important that we act on their behalf. A Christianity that is not practical, is not biblical. We can be biblical as we help sick people in our congregation, feed poor people in our community, sacrifice to send missionaries to reach lost people, pray faithfully for those in need, look for opportunities to help the helpless around us, and tell lost people about faith in Jesus Christ. Being biblical is being practically involved in lives around us.
3. Being biblical can be controversial (10-13)
Jesus created a controversy when He spent time with a man who had a reputation for being sinful. This passage is not the only such event in the New Testament. The woman at the well in John 4, the woman who anointed His feet, the woman whose adultery was forgiven, are beneficiaries of the biblical lifestyle of Jesus. Each event was controversial.
Biblical behavior may open us to criticism. Those who do not understand the Bible may not understand such biblical behavior as tithing or evangelism. They certainly will not understand taking moral positions opposing legalized gambling or abortion, or affirming sexual purity. Whenever biblical behavior involves us in controversy, we should first accept this as God's will in our lives--after all, it was true of Jesus. Secondly, we should respond with grace and kindness. Jesus did not resort to the world's responses when He was involved in controversy.
Being biblical people requires a balance of emotion and action - and it may involve us in some degree of controversy. Believing the Bible alone will not make us biblical people. Isolation from contact with the world will not make us biblical people. An ability to identify the sins of others will not make us biblical people.
We become biblical people when we believe God's word, when we care about people around us, and when we act on their behalf. Controversy does not deter us from biblical living.
As a college student, I wanted to tell my next door neighbor about Jesus. He was a very profane and vulgar person and I was afraid to witness to him. When I finally blurted out that I wanted to talk to him about God, he began to tell me about all the Scripture he had memorized. He showed me awards and trophies he had won in Scripture memory contests. He knew far more about the Bible than I, and sincerely affirmed its divine inspiration, but he was not allowing it to impact his life at all.
In his book Loving God, Charles Colson recounts with biblical shame an event that occurred when he was a young marine. He tells of stealing from a helpless peasant simply because he was powerful enough to do so. This sin still embarrasses him even though he has been convicted of far more serious crimes. It is a biblical emotion to be embarrassed by our sin. (Source: Charles Colson, Loving God, Zondervan, 1997, pp. 99-101.)
Being Biblical Means Being Practical
First Baptist Church in Salem, Arkansas is a growing, biblical church. Surrounded by rural people, the church ministers in practical ways. Recently the church started a building program, bought land and cleared it to begin construction. I asked the pastor, "did you sell the timber from your land, to help finance construction?" He responded, "no, our deacons cut the timber and gave firewood to all the lost people in our county." This is an example of being biblically practical.
Being Biblical May Be Controversial
When our son Joel was in the 2nd grade, he came home from school one day very upset. When we inquired as to why, we learned that he had taken a spelling test that day and had looked at the blackboard to correctly spell a word on the test. He knew he should not have looked, that he had cheated, and he felt awful about it. Because we valued being biblical in our family, we talked about a biblical solution to the problem. He agreed that he should go to the teacher and admit what he had done. Because he felt so badly we decided to take him to the teacher's home, rather than wait until the next day at school. Tearfully, he stood on the teacher's porch and told her what he had done. (Tearfully, I watched and listened, while standing in the teacher's front yard.) The teacher assured him that he was forgiven.
However, that evening the teacher called me. She was very angry that I had "embarrassed" our son by making him admit that he had cheated on a test. Our (both mine and Joel's) actions were biblical, but the teacher found them offensive.
Additional Sermon Starters
Living Biblically (1 Thessalonians 1:9)
Observe the behavior of the Thessalonians. They not only believed the Bible—they also lived like they believed it. Notice that they: 1) turned to God, 2) served Him, and 3) anticipated His return.
Believe and Behave (James 2:19-20)
James emphasizes the importance of both believing and obeying Scripture. Explore the importance of believing what the Bible tells us, and behaving as the Bible tells us. Demons believe the Bible's declaration about the unity of Deity, but are not saved, because they do not obey the command to have faith.
Moral, But Not Biblical (Mark 10:17-22)
The rich young ruler illustrates the folly of obeying the commands of Scripture without trusting Christ. The rich young ruler was obedient to the Old Testament Law, but he had no relationship with Christ. Although he could be moral, he could not be biblical without Christ.
Creative Worship Ideas
Wounded by Christians
Imagine or identify someone who has been hurt by Christians. Begin the message with an "interview" of a waitress in local restaurant. She could be an actual person in a taped interview or a church member acting the part. Question her about the behavior of people who are obvious church attenders. The point the waitress will make is that the belief system of worshipers does not always impact their behavior. Church members do not always behave biblically.
Living What You Believe
Prior to the 3rd message point about controversy and biblical behavior, show a brief video clip from the movie Chariots of Fire about Eric Liddell's controversial stand against competing on Sunday. Be sure to secure appropriate legal permission to show the clip.