MARK 3: THE SCRIPTURE KEEPING CHURCH
This morning we are continuing our sermon series on the 8 Marks of the Church. So far we have looked at the Spirit-filled Church and the Son-confessing Church. This morning we will be looking at the Scripture-keeping Church. Each week we have started with a myth about the church. The first two myths have been perpetuated by people who want to take the power away from the Holy Spirit and who want to reduce Jesus to just another good person or as C. S. Lewis put it to make Jesus out to be a “liar or a lunatic.” Our myth this morning is perpetuated by people who want you to believe that the Bible, the Word of God, is just another book. This is because they don’t want to live under its authority or ultimately under God’s authority. These myths about the church are misguided, dangerous or both which is why we need to be on guard in the church and be reminded of the truth.
The myth or urban legend I am going to recount to you this morning is from the 1970’s. It is the death of Life cereal spokesperson Mikey. Some of you might remember him. This new cereal was being introduced that was supposed to be “good for you.” These two brothers aren’t going to try it so they put it in front of their younger brother, Mikey. Mikey is the kid who hates everything so they believe there’s no way he will like it. But of course he does to their shock. The following comes from an August 19, 2021 article by Jake Rossen about the origins of urban legends. “In the 1970’s Mikey, the star of the Life cereal commercials was a big hit. At some point, word spread that Mikey had succumbed to a dangerous combination of soda and the effervescent candy Pop Rocks. The rumor grew so widespread that in 1979 the mother of child actor John Gilchrist, who played Mikey, got a condolence call from a stranger. The story likely stemmed from schoolyard discussions about Pop Rocks, which were fizzy carbonated candy, and how eating them seemed dangerous. It wasn’t, but the story was so widely believed that it seriously damaged sales of the candy. General Foods, which owned Pop Rocks, even begged John Gilchrist’s parents to let him film a commercial letting people know he was still alive, but they refused. The grisly story continued for years and all the negative publicity forced General Foods to discontinue Pop Rocks soon after. They have made a comeback, however, in case you’d like to test this theory out for yourself.” This myth was misguided but it’s interesting in showing how rumors spread and can cause harm. This morning’s myth about the church falls under the dangerous category. The myth we will talk about and study today is that “You can believe what you want about the Bible and be a healthy church.”
This is a dangerous myth because if you can put doubt in someone’s mind about even the smallest thing in God’s Word, you can cause people to not believe the bigger doctrinal truths found in there as well. This undermines not only God’s authority, but the deity of Christ, his work on the cross, sin, salvation and so much more. God’s Word points us to our creator who loved us and sent his son, Jesus, to die on a cross for our sins. It tells us how we are to live on this earth and how we can have eternal life. If you don’t believe the Bible is truth you will not believe that what Jesus came to earth to do is true and that he is the way, the truth and the life, and now your salvation is in jeopardy. It is definitely b slippery slope. Before we begin to dive into our scripture this morning, let’s pray: Heavenly Father, as we look into your Word this morning, open our hearts and minds to your Holy Spirit. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear your truth and help us to use your Word as a light for our path as we navigate our lives in this world we live in. Amen.
Our first point this morning is the Scripture Keeping Church and the Teaching of Jesus, found in John 14:21, 23-24. This is what God’s Word says, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”
I want to take a minute and remind you of what God’s Word says about itself. God’s Word is truth, it is living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword. God’s Word is a lamp and a light. It is God-breathed and eternal. It is successful in that it will accomplish God’s purposes no matter what, it will not come back void. God’s Word is able to save our souls and can keep us from sin. It cleanses us and will keep our way pure. God’s Word is inerrant and infallible. That is God’s Word. Just because someone doesn’t believe these things about the Bible, doesn’t mean it is anything less than these things. It is still God’s perfect Word given to us to show us what he is like, to show us how to live life on this earth in obedience to him and to point us to the author and finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ. But we have a problem and it’s not a new problem. The problem is that people take the parts of the Bible they disagree with and say it’s ok to not believe this or that all the while still calling themselves Christians and claiming to be in a relationship with Jesus. There are non-negotiable doctrines in God’s Word that must be believed in order to call yourself a Christian. It wouldn’t make sense otherwise. But there are also non-doctrinal things in the Bible that on the face of it you might say “it’s no big deal if I don’t believe this or that.” Believing whatever we want about the Bible is dangerous for numerous reasons concerning our faith and once we decide to not believe one thing here or there it will be easy to not believe more and more as time goes on.
In our scripture Jesus said that those who “has” and “keeps” his commands is the one who loves him. Where do we find the commands of Jesus? In God’s Word. To “have” the commands of Jesus means to make them your own, to take them into your heart, mind and soul. To “keep” his commands means to obey them. It means to live them out in our daily lives. It is more than just having a head knowledge of God’s Word. It goes deeper than that. It should go down to our hearts and to our very souls. To use a sports metaphor: we need to eat, sleep and breath God’s Word. Every ounce of our being, every single second of every day, should be in obedience to every word in the Bible. We can’t pick and choose what we want to believe or not believe. The mark of true love, the mark of a true Christian and the mark of a healthy church is obedience to the entirety of God’s Word. If we love Jesus we will prove it by keeping his Word. Not just keeping it the way we want to keep it, not just believing the parts we want to believe, but believing it as the inerrant, infallible Word of God, not adding to or subtracting from it. The person who believes in the Word of God this way will be loved by the Father and the Father and the Son will make their permanent abode or dwelling in them. If we believe the Word of God in these ways we will experience the immediate presence of God.