“King Me or King Jesus?”Categories: Sermons
A few weeks ago, I realized something interesting about my preaching. Growing up, I heard many sermons about the authority of the Bible. Today, I frequently preach about the authority of Jesus.
I think this is a significant switch. The justification for the first tends to be, “Follow the rules ‘cause they’re the rules.” Frankly, that leaves me a little cold. By nature, I’m not a rule-follower. I gain no satisfaction from doing something because the rules said I should do it.
On the other hand, doing something because Jesus said to do it is very different to me. Jesus loved me before I ever existed. He left the glories of heaven to come to earth and shed His blood for me. Without my Savior, I would be dead in my sins. I owe Him everything, and that makes me want to honor Him in everything. Every little scrap of Bible that tells me anything to do that would make Jesus happy, that’s what I want to do. That’s what the authority of King Jesus means to me.
Lots of people claim they honor Jesus like that. I hope everyone here would make that claim. However, the way we handle the Scriptures and order our lives reveals the truth about us. With a tip of the cap to my wife, who came up with the title for this one, let’s consider whether we’re honoring King Me or King Jesus.
The first step in this analysis is to ask whether we are TWISTING THE SCRIPTURES OR SEEKING THE TRUTH. Consider what Peter says about this in 2 Peter 3:16-18. I think it’s kind of funny that Peter starts out by saying something about the writing of Paul that most of us would agree with—some of it’s hard to understand! Some will take those hard parts of Paul’s writing and twist and distort them. They get something out of them that the Holy Spirit didn’t put in. However, the result of this twisting process is not salvation but destruction.
We certainly see examples of this in the denominational world. One of the most glaring is the way that many handle 1 Peter 3:21. The verse says, “Baptism now saves you,” but by the time they’re done twisting it, the verse comes out meaning, “Baptism does not now save you.” That’s a lie, and everyone who believes that lie will lose their souls over it.
We must be aware, though, that we ourselves can twist the Scriptures in ways that are every bit as dangerous. I think the key question is this: When we come to the word, do we come in wanting to find something and then finding it? Or, instead, do we come to the Bible with silence in our hearts, eager to do whatever Jesus wants, desiring only to figure out what that is?
Let me tell you: If you want to lie to yourself about what the Bible says, if you want to slide around the hard truths of Scripture, the devil will be delighted to help you do it. He’ll feed you those sweet, sweet lies about marriage, divorce, and remarriage, the practice of homosexuality, women’s roles in the church, and so on. Believing those lies might reassure us, but it will not give us eternal life. For that, only the truth will do.
Second, we must ask ourselves whether we are FOLLOWING TRADITION OR HONORING THE WORD. We see this distinction in the words of the Lord Himself, in Matthew 15:7-9. Some brethren read this passage as saying that human traditions are bad. That’s not true. There is nothing wrong with traditions per se. We have human traditions in this church right now, and we always will. That’s not the problem.
The problem is when we elevate human tradition to the same level as the word of God. Again, there are obvious examples of this in other religious groups. Every church out there that’s got a catechism or a creed book, guess what they’re doing? They’re teaching as doctrine the commandments of men!
We don’t have any creed books here, but that does not mean that we have dodged the problem. Let me tell you what I’m afraid of. I’m afraid that too many members of churches of Christ do not honor the word of Christ. Instead, they follow “Church of Christ” traditions.
Let me explain. Brethren like this, they don’t know much at all about the word. If you handed them a Bible and asked them to explain the first-century pattern of worship, they couldn’t do it.
Instead, they come to church and follow that pattern not because they understand it, but because it’s what they’ve always done. If that’s all they know—that the right way to do things is what they see—they won’t be able to distinguish between tradition and the word. If the traditions of the church change so that the word of Christ is no longer honored, the religion of these Christians will change right along with the tradition.
Brethren, ignorance and tradition-following is a breeding ground for apostasy. Sheep who can no longer distinguish the voice of the Shepherd are going to go astray. The only way for us to avoid the problem is to continually seek Jesus in His word. We must love Him enough that we can tell His will for us from anything else.
Finally, the truth about our relationship with King Jesus will be revealed by our GIVING UP SOME OR SURRENDERING ALL. Let’s look here at 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. Paul doesn’t say here that his work is to take some or even most thoughts captive to obey Christ. Instead, it is to take every thought captive. King Jesus wants everything in our minds and in our lives to belong to Him.
Of course, all of us know people outside these walls whose every thought has not been taken captive by Jesus. On the one hand, they spend a lot of time crying out, “Lord, Lord!” On the other, though, they live however they want. Really, they serve themselves, not Him.
The problem is that this sad story can be about us too. We must beware the temptation of shunning only the sins we don’t care for. For instance, I myself never have drunk a drop of alcohol, and I’m not likely ever to do so. It’s no temptation to me.
Does that mean, though, that I’m righteous? Not hardly. I can go through my life never having had any alcohol, much less getting drunk, and still go straight to hell! I can give the sins I don’t care about to Jesus while keeping the sins I do care about for myself, and that is not surrendering to Him.
If we want to know the truth about how we feel about our Lord, all we have to do is look at our performance in the areas where we are tempted. How am I doing when it comes to gossip? How about loving my unlovable brother in Christ? How about generosity to the poor? We don’t have to be winning all the time in those difficult areas, but we need to be fighting. If we aren’t trying to surrender everything to Jesus, it shows that we already have surrendered to the devil.