Kingdoms – Kingdom of False Religion

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Luke 10

10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. 2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

We continue Our Kingdoms Series today and I know pastors are always saying this but this series is one of the most important sermon series of the entire year.  It is a series on worldview, and its aim is to help us think about the way that we think and the way that the world thinks.  And so with that said, we are going to get to the text we just read but not until the end of the sermon.  Today I am going to be more of the pastor as teacher rather what I normally am which is the pastor as preacher. But I want us a church to not only understand who we are and what we believe but how people outside of the church think, we want you to understand your own worldview but we also especially as we lead up to WorldReach want you to understand the worldview of others. What we want to say in this series is that Worldview Matters.  AW Tozer once said, “What comes to your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you”

He is right isn’t he?  What is more important than this?

You want to know why there is unrest in the world,

You want to know why there is always fighting in the Middle East?

You want to Know why Russia invaded the Ukraine yesterday?

You want to know why our country is so divided politically?

You want to know there are so many broken families, and so many marriages in trouble?

You want to know why you can’t get along with your teenager?

Its worldview, it is all worldview.

As we said last week our worldview provides the foundation on which we live, and move, and have our being.

And if one party is living and moving and having its being on the foundation of that set of beliefs and if another party is living and moving and have its being on the foundation of this set of beliefs, then those people can’t be united, and more than that, it is difficult for them to even communicate.  If your teenage daughter’s value system is being defined by Katie Perry and your value system is defined by Kay Arthur then you are going to have some major issues in communicating and being united.

On a much more global scale, look at any war.  When people go to fight with one another, in their minds they are not evil, in fact they are good.

Members of Al Qaida flew planes into to the World Trade Center because they believed they were purifying the world.  From our worldview perspective they were totally evil, from their worldview perspective they were totally righteous you see? Hitler was only carrying evolutionary thought of survival of the fittest to its natural end in World War 2, he was giving the fittest, the Arian race leibenstraum or living space so that they could thrive, and he believed that he was an agent of Peace and that would bring 1000 years of peace to the world. This is all worldview. Worldview is so important in this life, but especially in the life to come.  As I said when I began what you believe about God is the most important thing about you.  If there is a God, who is sovereign in the universe, who created all things and has all power, if that God exists, then really the only thing important in your life is how you relate to God how you know God.

I was giving a guy some marriage counseling one time, and he was telling me how his wife was not happy in the marriage and how his wife didn’t think he was a good husband and he said, “you know man the thing is, all my friends think I am a great husband, my parents think I am a great husband, my sister thinks I am a great husband.” After he went on like this for a while I finally stopped him and said, none of that matters.  You aren’t married to your friends, you aren’t married to your parents, you aren’t married to your sister, all that really matters is does your wife think you are a good Husband.

And in the same way all that really matters in your life is do you know God, and does God know you? Do you know the Risen Lord. If you do that will totally change you and it will totally change your worldview, how you understand the world around you.

 

Worldview Matters and not just in this life, it matters most especially in the life to come.  What is funny is that we live in a world that wants to say that Worldview doesn’t matter, that it doesn’t matter what you believe because really it is all just the same.

We live in a World that says COEXIST. All religion is basically the same, so just leave people alone, let them believe what they want to believe, they are fine, you are fine, just be happy that you have your religion, so just let them have their religion. In fact the western world is ok with religion and Christianity as long as you keep it private, as long as it doesn’t mess with public affairs, as long as you aren’t talking about it all the time. I mean you don’t like when the Mormons come to your door to talk about Mormonism, and the Muslims and secularist and Hindus don’t like it when you go talk to them about Jesus.  So why do you feel the need to be so missional, just leave people alone, and be happy.

COEXIST.

coexist1

 

What do people believe? Why do they believe it?

How does that belief system answer the deep questions of the soul?

Why Does it Matter?

So first of all What do all of these groups believe?

And as we said last week these symbols represent so much more than just a set of ideas, these are Kingdoms that people live in, that truly frame and direct their lives.

So the first Kingdom is the Kingdom of Islam

C – Well of course this is the Star and Crescent

Muslims believe in the one God Allah he is not Triune, he is one being and one person.  Muslims don’t believe in original sin but they do believe in sin, and their understanding of forgiveness, their understanding of justification, has everything to do with what are called the 5 pillars.

I. So the first step in getting right with God is called the

Shahadah or the Testimony – and this is very literally a testimony – you have to say and believe “I testify that there are no deities other than Allah alone and I testify that Muhammad is his Messenger.”

II. The second Pillar or step is called

Salat or Prayer – And a good muslim prays five times a day.  A muslim must face East during these prayers praying toward Mecca.

III. The third Pillar is called

Zakat or giving to the poor – And this is a gift of 1/40th of everything you have to the poor, to those without.

IV. The Fourth pillar of Islam is

Sawn or fasting – And this is a fast from Sun up to Sun Down during the Arab month of Ramadan

And then the final step or pillar is the

V. Hajj or the Pilgrimage to Mecca – So of course Mecca is a city in Saudi Arabia and all Muslims are to go to Mecca at least once in their lifetime, and there are several symbolic practices of Islam that must be performed there.

That is really the foundation of Islam now why do Muslims believe what they do, well it is because of the teachings of the prophet Muhammed and specifically the Muslim Holy Book the Koran. And of course there are a lot of nuances to these pillars and of course so of course Muslims read the Koran and recite the Koran but in large part Islam is wrapped up in these 5 pillars.

So, if you know any Muslims this is central in their life, some of you here today may have come from a Muslim back ground, you may be a Muslim or maybe at least you certainly identify with Islam and I know that prayer is important to you.  I Know that Ramadan is an incredibly special time for you, I know that the Hajj was a week that you will never forget, in fact any Muslim that I have known has had pictures of their Hajj in their home. It is a week that no Muslim wants to forget.

And so it is these pillars, it is the Koran that frames the Muslim worldview that shapes their understanding of the world, this is the Kingdom of Islam.

O – The next symbol is the Peace sign.

And of course Peace is an idea, or a moment of harmony and no violence or discord. But Peace for some is more than a moment, it is a movement, it is the idea of being a pacifist.  Where peace is your highest conviction, and so for those of you who hold to pacifism, there is no room for you convictionally for war, or really even for common disagreement on any grounds. People, the pacifist would say, should strive for peace and unity before anything else. The common sentiment of the pacifist is, can’t we all just get along, can’t we lay down our arms and love one another, the anthem of the pacifists is John Lennon’s Imagine – and it is awesome song and we hear the song and we just want to sing along.

“Imagine there’s no countries, It isn’t hard to do, Nothing to kill or die for, And no religion too, Imagine all the people, Living life in peace…
You may say I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one, I hope someday you’ll join us, And the world will be as one”

E – The next symbol is this kind of male and female symbol and it has come to be identified with the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender group.  And people may say well this isn’t a religion, it isn’t a worldview, it is a sexual decision.  But I would say that is not how this shakes out it is certainly not how people in the LGBT community view their lives and if you are here today and you are a gay man or lesbian woman or you are transgender. I would say that you agree with me on this.  In basically friendship I have had with a gay man or woman in many ways their sexual orientation is their most defining characteristic, it is their most important identifier.  This decision or as you might say if you are a gay man or woman this realization of who you are, that you are gay, is the most important thing about you, and therefore it totally defines your worldview. And so if that is true and it is typically true of the LGBT community then this is very appropriate, this has been raised if you will to the place of religion. It is a Kingdom, a defining worldview, a lens through which everything else is viewed.

X – The next of course of the Star of David and it symbolizes Judaism and I know a lot of people here of course know a lot about Judaism, of course our savior came from Judaism, Jesus was Jewish.  And there are probably a lot of different opinions here on God’s plan for the Jewish people, someone here may be a Jewish person or at least of Jewish decent.

And just like all of these worldviews there is more to Judaism than I could express here, but Jewish man or woman finds peace of finds his or her meaning by obeying the commands of God, there are 613 commands in the Tanakh, or the Hebrew scriptures, what we know as the Old Testament. And the faithful Jewish man or women obeys these laws.

But so much of that which gave Jewish men and women comfort in the past is no more for example, Yom Kippur the day of atonement.  As many of you know when the Temple was still standing in Jerusalem on the day of atonement the high priest would make a sacrifice before God in the most holy place and this sacrifice gave the people great confidence that God had heard their prayers and that their sins were forgiven. Well now the Day of Atonement is just a day of prayer and fasting, a hope that God will be merciful, but there is no surety, there is no Temple, so there can be no sacrifice. And of course the Jewish people are still waiting on a messiah, on the one who will come set Israel right and will set the whole world right through them.  So, obviously Judaism is a worldview, a very powerful Kingdom.  In the AD 130s the Emperor Hadrian made all of the Jewish people, living in the land of Israel, leave. And so Jewish people dispersed all over the world, there were basically no Jews in Israel from like 130AD until the 1870s like 1750 years, and of course in 1948 Israel became a sovereign nation again.  And so for 1750 Jewish people were pushed around the world, they were persecuted they were hated, they were outcasts and somehow Hebrew customs and traditions survived, this is very powerful worldview, a powerful Kingdom.

I – The next symbol can mean different things but it represents Wicca, or Neo Paganism – this is Witchcraft or an a subscription to the dark arts.  And there may be some people here that have lived in this lifestyle, it is certainly a worldview and I think it could be defined by meaning through power, or satisfaction through power, a very spiritual power, beyond the natural world kind of power. Typically Wicca does consists of a lot of partying, and drug use, and Wiccans are not ashamed of that but the end of Wicca is to have an experience with the supernatural, with the demonic.

Rational westerners like ourselves don’t like to talk about spiritual things or spiritual forces.  But there certainly is a spiritual realm and people who ascribe to Wicca, are having spiritual experiences that are very powerful.  So, powerful in fact that this shapes the way they live and move and have their being.  It shapes their worldview.

S – The next symbol is the Yin Yang – Which of course is the symbol of Taoism and in this symbol kind of represents in this graphic all Eastern thought and religion. Eastern thought and religion is obviously very broad, and too much for me to talk about in one short section of a sermon but ill just give two thoughts. One on Taoism and One on Buddhism. So, actually the Yin Yang is very central for Taoism, basically saying for all of the Yin in the world – which is good, Yin means good, there is corresponding Yang – which means bad, and so the trick in life is finding the balance between that which is good and that which is bad.

Buddhism is actually very different, the goal of Buddhism is to rise above the good and the bad of this world, to rise above cravings and desires and all of the rest of life to where you can find Nirvana or non-existence.  So, Nirvana isn’t heaven, the goal of Buddhism is actually to not exist.  And when you don’t exist, you won’t feel pain, but you won’t feel happiness, you just won’t be.

T – And I want to be fair here I have given a very short explanation of all of these worldviews, and so let me give an equally short explanation of the final worldview which of course is Christianity and I am of course of this Kingdom I am a Christian a follower of Christ.

Christians believe that there is one God who is three persons Father Son and Holy Spirit.  God created the world and everything in it good and made man in his own image, but man sinned, man disobeyed God and fell out of favor with God.  But God is loving and merciful and he rescued man by sending his own son Jesus to become a man, and to die for man being punished by the Father for the sins of man on a Roman cross.  Jesus however rose from the grave and calls on all men to follow him and believe on him to be saved by him and to live with him now and forever in his eternal Kingdom.  But for those who never find Jesus, they never find salvation, and therefore they must face the wrath of God against their sins in a place of punishment called hell. So, obviously Worldview Matters and all of these groups believe in very different things and for different reasons.

So, how do all of these worldviews Speak to the Soul, How do they answer the very deep questions of the soul and I want to spend a little time here because every human soul is asking some of the same very basic questions.  We looked at these questions last week when we looked at the Kingdom of man.

The first question is which Kingdom fulfills? There is a deep desire in every human soul to be justified, to believe that you have a reason for being alive, to believe that your life really counts, that it really means something.  Justification, Its kind of a Christian word but every soul long for this and every worldview speaks to this.

Last week we said that the Kingdom of Man says you have to justify yourself by winning, by being successful, by being on top.

C – And it is interesting to watch these worldviews interact. Because many who are Muslims, not all Muslims, but many who are Muslim hate the Kingdom of man. In fact if there were a symbol for the Kingdom of Man it would probably have been the world trade center. Be successful, be on top, make a name for yourself, and that is how you justify yourself.

What’s interesting is Islam actually has the same hope for justification

Islam says justify yourself too, but rather than justifying yourself through success Islam says justify yourself through your commitment to the pillars.  Allah will not be satisfied with you, if you fail in one of these areas.  Fear is very central in Islamic thought; it may be the driving motivator in this whole worldview.

X – The Jew very clearly, and very similarly is saying justify yourself. Find righteousness in the law, and I know that many of us who are Christians understand this as Christianity is explained in the New Testament against the backdrop of Judaism.

S – Taosim and Buddhism both kind of give up on justification.  There is a sense in both of these that says, well you can never justify yourself so just learn to live with the good and the bad, or just don’t be, run, forget about the world, forget about your soul.

I – Wicca says find justification in an experience.  It may be evil, but it doesn’t matter, connect with a spiritual force and find your meaning there…and again as I said before, these forces are real, and the experience I have had with people who have been involved in this is that eventually they end up losing their souls in one of two ways,

  1. Either they can never reduplicate the kind of spiritual experience that they had and so they get lost in a drug addiction
  2. Or two I believe this these people actually become possessed by a demon.

I know this is not normal talk for an educated white collar church like this. But I have seen this in our country and it is very real in other parts of the world.

The member of the LGBT community says justify yourself in being who you and carrying out your sexual desires are and in sticking up for yourself.

E – The LGBT community has become a revolutionary group, and this community has been very effective as we have all seen in bringing about change and when I talk to homosexual men and women it is the normalizing of homosexuality or transgender or whatever it is that is the highest end that is where justification is found.  In fact I am in a group of pastors that have a monthly call with Dr Russell Moore of the Ethics and Religious Liberty commission and this week we were talking about a discussion that is going on right now in the Florida State School board about allowing transgender students to play sports, now wouldn’t that be interesting, and this could lead to a lot of interesting scenarios, “I’m not good enough to make the boys basketball team, so I can become a girl and play for the girls squad.”

These are real conversations that are going on right now all across our country.  There is also a lot of discussion about degenderizing bathrooms, this is a worldview, and this is a Kingdom that thinks very differently than probably most in this room. But to normalize that which is abnormal is where justification in this Kingdom is found.

What about satisfaction where is satisfaction in any this found… And what we are going to see is that when you give an honest look at these worldviews, much like the Kingdom of man, in all of these Kingdoms satisfaction is very hard to find.

X – As we mentioned earlier in post temple Judaism they hope that their prayers and fasting work but there is no evidence of that, there is no sacrifice.

In Wicca – there certainly isn’t satisfaction people are living from one experience to the next that is why we see so much drug use here, that is why we see so much death among wiccans.  There is no satisfaction.

The members LGBT community may find some satisfaction when a bill is passed or an opinion poll shows that people’s opinion of homosexuality is changing. But while people may believe something is ok, while most people may believe something is ok, does that make it right? In order to understand justification and thereby satisfaction you first have to answer the question who decides what is right, who designed this and I have said this before but clearly anatomically and clearly scripturally, and clearly historically homosexuality was not God’s design and therefore it will never satisfy.

S – In the Eastern religions the pathway to satisfy your desires is to say you have no desires, that you don’t exist, that your desires cannot be satisfied so forget about them, and we all know that isn’t real, it isn’t true.

C – In Islam how could you be satisfied, it is worldview based on fear and performance.  Your relationship with Allah is not personal, he is an overseer making sure you do and live right.

O – That pacifist can never be satisfied, because people don’t just find peace, people find peace when that peace is based on something real, not just on our imagination, not just on a hope that maybe there could be peace someday. People find peace when they find truth, and there is only one source of truth and one source of peace. And he will one day bring a perfect peace and Lasting peace.

 

 

 

 

Which brings us to the final question and that is what lasts?

In looking at all of these worldviews, at all of these Kingdoms I think there are a couple of obvious observations, no matter where you stand, and it is that they are not all the same, that they do not all believe the same things, and thus only one of them can be true. So when trying to answer the question what lasts, I think maybe the better question is which on is true?

Which one is right? Which one is real?

What comes to your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you, so who is God?

Who is God?

And we look at all of these worldviews and much like the Kingdom of man they really all have this similar theme and it’s either – you have to be perfect or you have to be nothing.

C – You have to perform the 5 pillars, O – forget about your country and your religion be nothing, don’t believe in anything, and imagine a peaceful world, E – Normalize that which is abnormal in other words reject the normal, turn truth on its head X – Obey 613 command perfectly – Be perfect,  I – Find the experience lock into to the power – and lose yourself in that – give yourself to the dark arts, S – Be nothing, you are nothing anyway.

Be Perfect or Be Nothing. And the reason the world says, hear me and I believe this in the heart of every person and it is we know that we are supposed to be perfect. I have shared this before but I have had the opportunity to be with several people shortly before they die, while they were lying on their literal deathbed and its interesting that one of the last things to go with all of us is that sense of regret. People will say, you know I really tried to be a good parent, or I wanted to be a good man, I wish I would have done this or that.  And I think that deep down inside the heart of every man we know that we are supposed to be perfect, there is enough image of God in all of us that we know that.

But we all know that we aren’t perfect, and so people through the centuries have come up with some system to address this problem.

And they all say, be perfect or be nothing. But Christianity says, You aren’t perfect, and you aren’t perfect, and you aren’t perfect.  You have your sin, you have your baggage. Christianity alone says, you don’t have to hide it. That is so unnatural for us, we all want to hide our sin, but Jesus says, don’t hide your sin.  I know you are a sinner, I know about that, I know about that, and I know about that.  And I love you, I still love you. And Jesus loves you so much that he was willing to die for your sin, he was willing to pay the full price for your sin on the Roman Cross and He was willing to die for you.

Romans 5:7-8

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

After being fully dead for 3 days, he rose from the grave. Jesus defeated death, Death has no power on him, and on all who believe in him. Did you hear that, Jesus defeated Death. If you believe in him, and trust in him, and live in him you will never die.

See Jesus didn’t save you from sin to be nothing, Jesus saved you from sin to be everything to live in his perfect Kingdom forever, to be a King in the Kingdom of Christ. Here is what I know, there is a stirring in your soul right now, because you know this is true, there is enough Image of God still in you, and enough Holy Spirit of God in this place that you can see this. Don’t miss Jesus.

The one who is going to last is the one who is true is Him, and this world only has one King, and this world only has one savior. His name is Jesus and he is forever. He is the answer to the questions of your soul, he fulfills, he satisfies, he lasts.

The third question of the is

Why Does it Matter? Why Does all of this matter?

And if you aren’t a Christian, everything hinges on this. “What comes to your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about You”

Do you know God, Does He know you. This whole world says be perfect or be nothing, Jesus says, I know you aren’t perfect, but I love you anyway, and have forgiven you and I am going to make you perfect, and I am going to give you everything. Don’t you want him, won’t you just trust him.  But if you are Christian today, if you are following Christ Why Does this Matter to you? It matters church because this is the world that you live in, this lost and confused world, that certainly isn’t coexisting, that isn’t fulfilled, or satisfied, and that is believing in something that could never last.

Luke 10 the passage where we began is the account of Jesus sending out the first missionaries, this is the first commissioning service, Luke 10 is like the first WorldReach.  Today I will say to you what he said to them,

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”  Jesus said this 2000 years ago, and though the church has come a long way since then the Harvest is still plentiful and the laborers are still so very few.  There are still 6,897 unreached people groups, meaning a group of people with less than 2% Evangelical Christian

But I am so confident, and I am praying and I hope you are praying that the Lord of the harvest would raise up laborers.  You are those laborers church, you are those called to harvest to the victory that Christ has accomplished, you are those laborers. So go, get out into the Harvest, Make Jesus Known, Make Disciples. We can do this, The Holy Spirit of God is with us to do this. These disciples in Luke 10 went out with nothing, you go out with the Spirit of God. So we can do this, I fully believe that within my lifetime that we can make disciples of all people groups, I believe that before I die we can accomplish the Great Commission.

Here is your step, last week we gave you this booklet, and challenged you to pray this prayer, “Father where do you want to Send Me?” and we are going to have some time of pointed prayer, but there is someone, one of our partners that is touching each of these groups, join them.

The Harvest is plentiful, that doesn’t just mean, “there is a lot of work to be done” it means “there is a lot of work to be done but you will be successful, the Harvest is plentiful” So go bring the Kingdom of God near to these cities, near to these Kingdoms.

We want 300 of you to go out this year on short term mission somewhere around the world, and those 300 will make a dent but more than that, we are praying for 5 people among you, to say look I’m willing to leave Birmingham and go, and plant a church, and go on the mission field.  God is sending me, for the rest of my life vocationally, to go. And I know that God can do this work.

So who is ready to go, who is being called? Who will be the faithful laborer? And at this time Taylor is going to come back up and lead us in a time of response and lets respond.  What comes to your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you. So lets think about Him now and respond to him.

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