Monday, May 1, 2017

Are You Religious (Part 2)

Last week we looked at the question “Are you religious?”  We focused mostly on people who have not yet come to faith and explored Experience and Evidence as the basis for our belief. This week we will consider modern day Sadducees and Pharisees - those who profess to be in the body of believers but are more concerned with laws, tradition, and power.

Romans 3:22-24
This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Things to think about:
·       Who were the Sadducees and Pharisees in the days of Jesus?
o    Sadducees – wealthy, politically aligned with Rome, held the majority of seats in the ruling council (the Sanhedrin). Did not believe in the afterlife, resurrection, angels or demons, only the written word of God.
o   Pharisees – more middle-class, politically aligned with the common man, minority of seats in the Sanhedrin. Did believe in the afterlife, resurrection, angels and demons, and importantly – gave equal credence to oral tradition as well as the written word of God. Therefore the oral traditions added many of the “supplements” to God’s word, creating the myriad of rules and traditions that bound the people.
o   What do you see as the major flaws with each?
o   Can you think of modern day parallels of either?
·      Where the both could agree is on their dislike of Jesus.
o   He criticized their hypocrisy – Matthew 23:1-4
o   He claimed His deity – John 5:18
o   He drew crowds that threatened their power base – Matthew 26:5, Acts 5:33-39
·      When are we like the Sadducees and Pharisees?
o   What “laws” do we sometimes hold others too that we ourselves don’t always keep?
o   What traditions can be so important to we would exclude someone from the “group”?
o   Are you in a position of authority or influence at your church or para-church organization where you would bristle at someone challenging your status? 
·      Why do you think religious people sometimes have a tendency to rely on rules, hierarchy, and tradition?
·      Our Bible passage for today tells us that:
o   There are no “do’s and don’ts” that provide righteousness
§  This righteousness is given through faith
o   The object of our faith is not Moses, the prophets, the Pope, Billy Graham, or any other person except
§  in Christ Jesus
o   No group of people are better than the others
§  There is no difference between Jew and Gentile
o   Nobody has a corner on good living
§  for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God
o   Any merit we have comes from Him, not us
§  All are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus
·      So let’s take the instruction from the Apostle Paul next time we meet someone who’s doctrine may not squarely align with the truth we have before us:
o   2 Timothy 2:25 - Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth

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