S-1117 4/26/09 3SAE/3B Hymns: (O)#191 vv 1-3; (S)#210; L.S. #190; #43 SOD; #205; (C) #191 vv 4-6
Texts Acts 3:11-21; 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36-49
Theme: “Le No One Deceive You!” (1 John 3:7)
Question: “Have you ever been deceived?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the Epistle lesson: “Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous” (1 John 3:7).
Saints in Christ, on this 3rd Sunday after Easter, John, the youngest of the apostles gives us good advice—advice that we should take to heart and head. “Don’t let anyone deceive you!” But you say, “Well, I am pretty sharp. I know what I am doing and no one can pull the wool over my face!” But don’t be too cocky.
Consider the many in our town, state and country who have been swindled thousands of dollars by crooks. Some even lost their whole estate. We, of course hear of the big cases, like Madoff who swindled over 50 B$. But there are others who deceive us. How many people have been deceived by their own churches when they no longer hold unto the truth of what Scripture teaches? Such as Homosexuality and Lesbianism is ok by God. Abortion is acceptable in the sight of God. Women’s ordination is taught according to Scripture. God has told me to raise a million dollars or I won’t come down from pillar. Just recently, the HIV and AIDS Network of the United Church of Christ (UCC) said condoms should be handed out at places of worship. The statement was issued (on March 19th in Cleveland) during a presentation to the denomination’s Wider Church Ministries Board and also advocated making condoms available at faith-based educational settings.
In our local newspaper there is this warning: NOTICE TELEPHONE SCAM A telephone scam is going around. The recorded message says that your Debit Card has been suspended, press one to reactivate or they give you a phone number to call to reactivate. This is a scam to get your account number. DO NOT GIVE OUT YOUR DEBIT CARD NUMBERS OR ACCOUNT NUMBERS TO ANYONE! First State Bank (The Chronicle, Tuesday April 21, 2009 p. 3).
Beloved in the Lord, John, the author of our text reveals his deep desire to spare us the pain of being deceived. He is not talking about being deceived financially, but more importantly spiritually. He warns us by calling “little children” reminding us that we belong to the Lord and ought not to listen to the devil and schemes and be deceived.
Perhaps, you have watched a western movie and it seems like there is a person who comes to the town selling snake oil. The salesman tells the crowd: “I have a snake oil that will heal your entire ailment. John is warning us saying, “Don’t let anyone sell you snake oil”. The best offense is a great defense. To be rooted and grounded in the Word of God. Yet, we know there are many so-called-theologians who teach that the Bible is not the inerrant Word of God, that the resurrection didn’t take place (at least physical resurrection) etc.
The problem though is that many don’t know the Bible. Many don’t come to church. Many don’t know the TRUTH and are easily deceived. This is a warning call. DON’T LET ANY MAN/WOMAN OR THING DECEIVE YOU.
Last Sunday’s Epistle lesson from First Corinthians 15, Paul wrote, “I want to remind you of the gospel preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the Word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”
The warnings of John and Paul expressed to the believer in their days, are just as relevant to those who are of the Church in our day. I think often of the “Solas” that are a part of our Lutheran heritage. “Sola Gratia,” “Sola Fide,” “Sola Scriptura,” and “Sola Christe.” We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, as revealed to us in Scripture alone. But we are living in a day when such thinking is considered to be too narrow... too restricted. But narrow... limited... exclusive... that is what God told His people, when it came to Him and their relationship with Him. They were to look to Him only.... seek Him only... listen to Him only... serve Him only.
But people are not content with what God has given them. They want change. People are screaming for change. They are always seeking, searching, and studying other elements out there and thus deceive themselves. BUT for John, for Paul and for all Christians the emphases ought to be and should be WE PREACH CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED. The Apostle Paul stated clearly, that the Gospel he preached was very specific. “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures...’ (1 Cor. 15:3-4). That’s it! Christ... the Christ of God... God come in human flesh... the sinless Son of God... giving His life for sinful humankind... dying for our sins... being buried and then raised up to life once again on the third day.... now living, that those who have faith in Him will also live. PAUSE.
But what is happening in our day? Dr. Schuller at the Crystal Cathedral, a short time ago, sponsored, for those wanting to be on the cutting edge of ministry in our day, a re-imagining conference. But what is there to reimagine? Christ gave His followers the great commission that they should “Go, and make disciples.” And how were they... how are we... to do this? By baptizing and teaching. BUT if we are honest, we can see where the problem lies. It lies in this thing called “TEACHING”. The church is not intent in teaching today. We want members, but we don’t want to turn them off by teaching the truth of God and His Word. So where do people go to learn? They go to exactly that place that they shouldn’t go. They go outside the church, they go elsewhere than the Bible. PAUSE.
Maybe you have heard about this - beginning this past January, “Oprah & Friends” is offering a year-long course on her satellite radio station, on the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles. As examples of this course of study - Lesson #29 asks that we go through our day affirming that “God is in everything I see.” Lesson #61 tells each person to repeat the affirmation “I am the light of the world.” Lesson #70 teaches the student to say and to believe, “My salvation comes from me.” By the end of the year students will be steeped in New Age teachings such as belief there is no sin, there is no evil, no devil, and that God is “in” everyone and everything. The course claims to be a “new revelation” from “Jesus” that a woman by the name of Helen Schuchman, received by means of an “inner voice” that spoke to her. For seven years, she diligently took dictation from this inner voice. And now, thanks to Oprah, these teachings are being shared to help people work through the troubled times in which we are now living. However this “Jesus” bears no doctrinal resemblance to the Jesus of the Bible.
But God... the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob... God... the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has given us His Word. And in this Word we hear today, the voice of John saying “Let no one deceive you!” We are to read, study, and inwardly digest this Word. We are to know that Word so that we may not be deceived. We are to be grounded and rooted in this Word. We are not to take away from His Word. We are not to add to His Word... We are not to look elsewhere for answers... but to His Word alone. And as for this Word of God... while written by men, yet none of it “had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21). And while it is true that we might often wish that much more would have been told to us... yet, in the Word of God... in our Bibles... we have all we need to know about salvation! That which we find there written... was written “that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing we may have life in His name” (Jn. 19:31). By means of this Word of God - comes saving faith (Rom. 10:17)... by holding firmly to that Word we are kept in the faith (1 Cor. 15:2)... by means of that same Word we are taught, rebuked, corrected and trained in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).
But in all of this remember... it isn’t the book... it isn’t the Bible... it is rather Him whom the Bible reveals to us... Jesus the Christ of God... in whom we must trust for our salvation. “Salvation is found in on one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
In God’s Word there are warnings for us to heed and hear. It was spoken at the time of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Paul and ours also. And these words are given so that we may know the truth that will set us free. Change will not come for the world, but from the Word of God. He will change our sinful heart to be righteous in His sights.
Let no one deceive you John tells us. That is a good advice because you and I know better. The Government is not the answer to our problems. The Democrats and the Republicans are not the answer to our predicaments. Only Jesus. Jesus is the answer to all of our needs. Jesus is the One who changes us and makes us His beloved children. He is the One who forgives our sins. He is the One who clothes us with His garments of righteousness. The Apostle John said: “God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in Him.” And this truth no snake oil salesman can sell us, because Salvation is found in no one else. That is why John calls us “LITTLE CHILDREN” what type of love the Father has lavished upon us. What love? Unlimited and unrestricted, and there is no need for a stimulus package. We have it at all times. Amen.
Now the peace of God…