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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sabbath Sermon: How White are You?



“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead [men's] bones, and of all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23: 27)

Jews used to whitewash the tombs a month before the Passover to prevent pilgrims accidentally coming in contact with the tombs and becoming ritually unclean.
So Jesus rebuke was very real as they could see tombs and knew what lay within.
For those that do not know whitewash, it is a mixture of lime, powdered chalk and water.

It only lasts as long as the rains stay away.
It did nothing for the inside of the tomb.
It didn't treat the tomb against pest infestation or preserve the bones from the elements of nature.
Its only function was to give the outside of the tomb a bright and beautiful appearance.

The question for us today is, "Are we whited sepulchres?" and "How White Are We?"

Sermon aimed at Adventists
The reason I ask the question is because many of us come to a church, hear the Word, feel the moment and become whitewashed rather than blood washed.

Many of our lives are moved by sermons and discussions but they are not changed.
Many of our spirits are touched by the services but they are not cleansed.
Many of our dreams of heaven are lifted up on Sabbaths but our names are never retained in the Lamb's Book of Life.
Many of us have a beautiful exterior and a clean looking whited appearance just like the tombs.

To fellow Adventists and others we appear to be devout Adventist Christians.
To fellow Adventists and others we appear to be true born-again believers,

Anyone looking at us would think that we are God-fearing saints, and peace loving Christians.
Our public image would never lead any to suspect that it’s all a façade and that we've just been whitewashed.

You and I know we are whitewashed Adventists when we lose patience at the slightest hint of a storm in our lives.
You and I know we are whitewashed Adventists when we become habitually discouraged in the midst of adversity and fail to trust His heart when we can't see His hand.
You and I know we are whitewashed Adventists when we have a temper that is not controlled by God.

You and I know we are whitewashed Adventists when we are incapable of constantly speaking with kindness and tenderness to those around us.
You and I know we are whitewashed Adventists when we find joy and adopt an "I knew it" attitude when another person falls.
You and I know we are whitewashed Adventists when we feel pride well up in our hearts and fail to give God the glory for the things we achieve through His breath in our nostrils.

You and I know we are whitewashed Adventists when we bear grudges against others at the same time making a pretence of saying "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors" [Matthew 6:12]
You and I know we are whitewashed Adventists when we seek revenge after we have been aggrieved.
You and I know we are whitewashed Adventists when we spend a lot of the time attempting to right the wrongs of others, all the time ignoring our multitude of evils.

You and I know we are whitewashed Adventists when we only plan baby showers, kitchen parties and bachelor do's for those we are familiar with and neglect to do the same for those whose situations are probably much needier just because they are not as "popular" and we are not familiar with them.
You and I know we are whitewashed Adventists when we are moved by habit rather than by principle and faith.
You and I know we are whitewashed Adventists when we are moved by habit rather than by the Holy Spirit.

This point is crucial as I believe that many of us are at church on the Sabbath out of habit and not out of conviction.
That is why so many of us pay little attention to reverencing the Lord in His sanctuary.

Notices go up that cell phones should be off or mute but we leave them on ring or put them on vibrate and walk out of services to attend to them.
Notices go up that we ought to be silent and meditating but the church resembles a kindergarten class out in the woods with all the noise.

Announcements are made that we refrain our children in church but we let them do as they find fit in their uncircumcised hearts.

Do we realise we are here to worship the illimitable creator God?
Do we realise we are here to worship the immortal God?
Do we realise we are here to worship the eternal I AM?

Do we realise that the angels veil the faces when they worship Him?
Do we ever remember that Habakkuk wrote "the LORD [is] in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him" (Habakkuk 2: 20)

Do you think that the angels join in with us in the congregation when we show such blatant disrespect for God?
Or do we maybe think that this is not His holy temple so we are free to do the abominations of our hearts.
I assure you that the angels gather their light and depart, leaving a pall of darkness when such behavour is manifest.

No wonder it is that we have become so frivolous in our worship and begun to be caught up in things about which we pay no proper attention to.
No wonder we heartily sing ill-thought through lyrics like “tis love that makes the world go round, it’s you, it’s me it’s us that make the world go round”. Really? Since when do you have the power to make the world go round?

Where is the identification of the true Majestic God who holds the world in the palm of His hand in such absurd lyrics?
Even worse I have been appalled in this very congregation to see adults caught up in singing disgraceful ditties masquerading as choruses like "thumbs up, tongue out, making melody in my heart"
Can you really see the angels joining in singing something like that as worship to the Godhead?

I find it beyond comprehension that we do not analyse the things we sing and are not more perceptive.
The question to ask ourselves is are we here to make ourselves happy and worship at the altar of self or are we here to worship at the feet of God?
If we are here to worship God then He should be our focus and we should not seek to please ourselves.
I enquire of you, when was the last time you heard a special item delivered in this church that stressed and taught any of our distinctive doctrines?
When was the last time you heard a special item that called for repentance and surrender to the will to God?

The theological content of just about every item I have heard rendered is so ecumenical it could fit in at any Christian church and I dare say that much of the lyrics could fit in with Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and the omega of apostasy, pantheism (its love that makes…)
Even if it was a biblically sound issue that we witness to the world through song, our songs would fail to mark us out as a remnant people as they are not distinctive to our faith.
Where are the special items about the state of the dead, where are the special items about the sanctuary message, where are the special items about the three angels message, where are the special items of His impending return.

My heart is pained and I fear that to a large extent the entertainment syndrome has crept in without us even noticing it and we continue to believe that we have so far been immune to it.
I see this not only in the direction our music choices and tastes have been heading but also in the discourses.
Just about every week I am here I cannot but cringe at the hilarity that is all around me?

Do we really believe that the pulpit is the place for making jokes?
Do you think that matters of life and death should be presented from our pulpits laced with anecdotes intended to make us laugh?

In your reading of the Bible have you ever come across a discourse by the prophets [+ Jesus, disciples] that is littered with anecdotes and jokes?
In your reading of early Adventist literature have you ever come across a discourse by EGW
[+Charles Fitch, Eld Stockman, George Butler, Joseph Bates, John Loghborough]
that is humorous?
If not, then why do we sit week after week laughing at comedy from the pulpit while priding ourselves that we do not have puppets and clowns in our church and have therefore remained conservative.

Have you taken time to read what the Spirit of Prophecy has to say about the conducting of church services and the responsibilities of the preacher?
If not, then why not?

Why are we so blind to see what is going on around us? No wonder the Bible says he would deceive, if possible, even the very elect [Cf. Mark 13:22].

Finally on the characteristics of whitewashed Adventists, a whitewashed Adventists will tarry at the doorway of sinful pleasures!
This is commonly referred to in Adventism as grey areas.
I have a whole sermon on that fallacy, but suffice to say; if it is grey it means there is an element of darkness in it. If there is an element of darkness it means it is of the devil.
Dallying in a grey area is the equivalent of the residing in a Laodecian state of being lukewarm.

You are either hot or cold, anything in between may as well be cold.
You are either a sheep or a goat, there are no in betweens.
You are either on the left or the right, you cannot sit on the center.
You are either in the light or you are in the darkness.

And if you stay as far in the light as possible, you will never have need to be bothered by anything you may consider grey.

Now, when Jesus used the term whitewashed, He was speaking directly to the Pharisees.
He was referring to their brand of religion, which focused on exterior brightness.

Jesus never hesitated to tell it like it was, and the Pharisees needed to hear the truth.
Jesus looked them squarely in the eyes and said, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead [men's] bones, and of all uncleanness" (Matthew 23: 27).

Outside they gave the appearance of being honest, God fearing men. But inside, they were brimming with corruption and disbelief.
You see, pharisaic religion was characterized by an outward show of piousness without an inward glow.
Many of us come to church, we sing, teach, and learn, but on the inside our sinful nature is out of control.

We look like Christians on Sabbath but the rest of the week we live like devils.
We have the appearance of sheep but our teeth, our appetites and our behavour are those of wolves.

The Scribes and Pharisees excelled in obeying the outward letter of the law, but they neglected the inward spirit of the law.

They stood on the street corners and prayed long prayers to impress the people with their sincerity. But they had forgotten that God looks on the heart.
They paid their tithes and gave their offerings in full public view, but they forget that God loves a cheerful giver.
They painted a picture of devotion and dedication, but they forgot that God knew of their crooked, underhanded and shady dealings behind closed doors.

The Pharisees never bowed down to graven images in public, but they had a gross over-estimate of their own self-worth and thus made self an idol.

They never used the Lord's name in vain, yet every time they called upon the Lord, it was a vain utterance.
They did not openly commit robbery of another man's purse, but they secretly took from the treasury of the Lord.

Like them, many of us today say amen when the preachers talk about tithe and offering,
[+gossiping, adultery, pride, lies] and everyone around us thinks we are agreeing, BUT inside our hearts, we know that we are nothing but tithe and offering thieves before God [+gossip-monger, adulterer, boaster, liar].
If you steal from God [+gossip, adulterer, proud, liar] then no matter how many times you say amen you are still a thief [+gossip-monger, adulterer, boaster, liar] and you are of your father the devil [Cf. John 8:44].

Although the Scribes and Pharisees were labeled as devout keepers of the Law, they were just the opposite.

They were totally void of the most basic ingredient of the Law… the law of love.
They could recite the letter of the Law with great oratorical skill, yet they could not love.
They could rattle off the Ten Commandments with breath taking accuracy and rapidity, yet they had no love.
They wore copies of the Law, pinned to their vestments and painted on their foreheads, but with all their polished outward display of whitewashed pious religiosity, they had no love.

No wonder Christ referred to them as whitewashed sepulchres.
They had a brilliant appearance, but beneath the surface lay all the dirt and decay of their selfish desires gratified through the years.

Many of us today can quote large passages of the Bible, yet we have never lived any of the passages personally.
Many of us today can rattle off the Ten Commandments but we have yet to discover how they truly apply to us as Christians.
Many of us make it our duty to right the wrongs of others and yet we forget that this privilege should be done with love.

Are we truly any different from the Pharisees that were referred to as whitewashed sepulchres?
Jesus goes on to utter these words:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, [thou] that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under [her] wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate (Matthew 23:37-38)

Jesus is talking to Pharisees (Christians).
Is it possible that this is what Jesus thinks of us?
Do we stone His messengers?
Is ignoring their message any different or better than stoning them?
How sad it would be for us to hear these words uttered about us.

I praise God that it is not too late for us to get rid of the whitewash and to be thoroughly purged of our sin.
Isaiah 1:8 tells us, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

Through the man of God, God invites us to come to Him for cleansing.

Even if our sins are numerous; even if our hearts are decaying with pride [+lust, jealousy and envy],God tells us to COME!
Even if we have a malignancy of hatred and malice in our hearts that render us filthy in the eyes of God; His invitation to us is still COME!

In one breath some of us praise God and in the very next we destroy people around us with our words of rejection and hatred but He still says COME!

Some of our hands are lifted high to God on Saturdays in praise but they are buried deep in greed the rest of the week but God still says COME!
Some of us live our lives worshipping at the altar of self but He still says COME!

Most of us are doing nothing actively to save souls that are perishing and we seem to think that it is sufficient for us to come warm pews in church… even for us Gods' call is COME!

Our loving God is offering us a pardon; He is giving us a chance to get back into fellowship with Him. God is taking the initiative.

He is making the first move... inviting us to come and be covered with His love and mercy.
He knows that we are a sinful people.
He knows that our flesh has been weakened by Adam's fall.
He knows that our hearts are corroded with the filth of the world.
He knows that we are prone to choose the quick fix of whitewashing to hide our shame.

Above all He knows that through His death we have the power to overcome all these inherited and cultivated tendencies by the power of the Holy Spirit.
He is offering a better solution than our weak whitewash.
God is offering us a permanent solution for the dirt and grime that continues to consume our lives.
It's not a whitewash… He wants us to be washed white and to do that He has to wash us in the BLOOD of Christ!

Though Our sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow!
Though My sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow!
Though Your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow!

We need to be washed white through His promise of perfection.
We need to be washed white through His majesty and mercy.
We need to be washed white through His boldness and blessedness.
We need to be washed white through His lowliness and loveliness.
We need to be washed white through His truth and trust.
We need to be washed white through His liberty and liberality.
We need to be washed white through His surety and strength.
We need to be washed white through His power and protection.
We need to be washed white through His service and sacrifice.
We need to be washed white through His righteousness and redemption!

I ask the question of you, are you whitewashed, or are you washed white?
How White Are You?

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord" (Isaiah 1:8)
God is inviting us today to take a stand for Him in our personal lives.

Many of us Adventists sitting here are headed to hell if we do not change our wicked ways.
Many of us Adventists sitting here know in our hearts that we have not sacrificed all at the feet of Jesus and that the world still has a hold on us.
Many of us Adventists sitting here know that were God to come this very minute that we would have to hide from His brightness and beg of the mountains to fall upon us.
Many of us Adventists sitting here know that the lives we lead do not accord with the truth that we profess.
Many of us Adventists sitting here know deep down in our hearts that we are whitewashed and that we merely put on a pretence for those around us.

Remnant, Jesus is coming soon!
If there ever was a time to play church, it is not now.

I beg that as the year ends that we will rid ourselves of the white wash and replace it with the blood of the Lamb of God. [Amen.]

2 comments:

  1. To get the Audio please visit the link below:
    http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?ynumydnm1ie

    Blessings

    ReplyDelete
  2. DUH HII IMETULIA CKIDOGO NAHITAJI KUIFANYIA KAZI UNAPATA WAPI NONDO KAMA HIZI?KIP IN TACHI 2 JESUS.C U.

    ReplyDelete