Saturday, March 31, 2007

Saturday Sermon: Crisis Christianity

1 Kings 1-2

The second hurdle on the Highway to Holiness is Crisis Christianity; it is rebellion in that those who are in this mold only obey authority as long as it suits their standards and purposes. They have “emergency urgency”; only when confronted with disaster do they run to the altar in repentance to seek God. The only thing that drives them to Christ is a crisis. Trusting in your way not in Yahweh. Remember our first sermon in this series:

Careless Christianitylooking for an opportunity outside the will of God leads to idolatry while you think it is the favor of God – they get taken from, taken away, taken over, and taken out.

Now we will look at another OT type that shows us believers who may be saved but they aren’t sold out. They have a mediocre Christianity at best, and not much of a witness or any measure of victory. Whereas Careless Christians are not really walking in any fullness, Crisis Christians have achieved some things but they let other things rob them of God’s fullness in their lives.

Crisis Christianityrebellion against the authority of God leads to false repentance while you think it is loyalty to God – they lose their place and they die after the altar or even at the altar

There are two main characters we want to look at in these chapters, Adonijah, son of David and older brother of Solomon, and Joab, the general of David’s armies. These were both men of power and position, but they were presumptuous, self-willed, and rebellious. They represent false repentance. Both ran to the altar, but while their emotions were there, their hearts weren’t.

1 Kings 1:5-10 – King David is dying and his son Adonijah presumptuously tries to take the throne although David has said Solomon, Adonijah’s younger brother would be the next King. Adonijah convinces Joab, the general of David’s army, to join in this plot to usurp Solomon’s rightful claim to the throne. Trouble starts when we want what is not rightfully ours. Adonijah shows us what full blown Crisis Christianity looks like.

1 Kings 1:33-53 – David gets word and has his men hold a ceremony for Solomon, which gets the common people to rally behind Solomon, and when Adonijah finds out, all his people scatter. Those things you muster up that you think are helping you will flee from you when trouble comes. Now vulnerable, Adonijah in desperation runs to the tabernacle and grabs onto the horns of the altar, claiming refuge and seeking mercy from Solomon by the authority of God.

1 Kings 2:1-6 – Joab was a nephew of King David, the son of David's sister Zeruiah. He was, overall, a very loyal and successful battle commander for David. Joab was very good at winning wars. Joab's dedication did not extend to his cousin Solomon however; Joab favored David's other son, Adonijah, to succeed David – a failed, but understandable (because Adonijah was the elder brother of Solomon) choice that cost Joab not only his high position in the kingdom, but his life. He received mercy upon mercy but kept rebelling.

Joab is one of the most complex characters in the Bible, a seeming mixture of good and evil. He was fiercely loyal but not fully devoted. He was like many of us, obedient but only to a point, and that point was fluid not fixed because it was based on feelings. If your loyalties are not with God above all, your feelings will get the best of you, and they will lead you into crisis after crisis. Joab shows us that crisis Christianity is produced by complaining and arguing with God, carrying out orders halfway, and disobeying when it is beneficial to us.

Joab had a history of rebelling against authority and it cost him the loss of his high place (2 Samuel 8:15-16, 10:6-7, 13-14, 11:14-17, 1 Chronicles 11:6). Lets look at five examples.

1. Joab's slays Abner, despite Abner's defection to David (2 Samuel 2:22-23, 3:21, 27-29)

2. Joab's dealings in regard to Absalom – orchestrating his restoration to David (2 Samuel 14:21-23), and yet later slaying him, despite David's order to the contrary (2 Samuel 18:14), and even rebuking David in the end (2 Samuel 19:5-7).

3. Joab's slaying of Amasa (2 Samuel 20:8-13), despite David's order that Amasa would be commander of his army continually in place of Joab (2 Samuel 19:13).

4. Despite David's order to number the people, Joab resisted and in the end defied the order and did not number Benjamin and Levi (1 Chronicles 21)

5. Though David had promised the throne to his son Solomon, both Joab and Abiathar the priest supported Adonijah in his plans to become king (1 Kings 1:7)

1 Kings 2:12-25 – Adonijah tries to lay claim to the throne by subtlety, he seeks to dishonor David as Absalom did and show his rejection of Solomon’s reign by this request. He is killed, he got what was coming he broke terms (1:52). Adonijah received remarkable mercy although he was guilty but he abused it. We get what we deserve when we break our vows. Adonijah lived a hard life. He didn’t enjoy fellowship with the king, and his family. He missed out on what he did have and could have had.

1 Kings 2:28-34 – Joab is killed. Religion you don’t believe won’t save you (Exodus 21:14). One day you might find it is too late to be bailed out of your prison (Esau). Joab had what he wanted but he forfeited it by his own willful, continued rebellion. He did many great things, but he just never sold out. It eventually cost him his place and finally his life.

1 Kings 2:46 – Throne established by killing the arch rebels the predominant sins against our souls. If you only flee to the altar for safety when you are actually rebellious. When you are either setting yourself up as king or by continuing to do only part of what the king wants you are in for crisis Christianity and you may even die at the altar (trying to repent when it is too late).

Are you living like Adonijah in rebellion to God? You want to assume the throne when you know it isn’t yours to take, you are found out, you run to the altar, you are given mercy, but then you want to try and assert your “rightful place” to the throne again, even when you know it is the Lord who established the throne for someone else.

You think it isn’t right, and that is why you leave the altar and leave the will of God. You don’t think God is right or fair and you want mercy but wonder why you get justice when you leave from the altar. You didn’t really mean it you only were in fear, then when it settled down you started right back again, not as out in the open but in a more subtle way, but be sure your sin will find you out and you will have to face the music. It was always about you and not about God, and that is what leads you into crisis after crisis. In your rebellion you presume on God’s goodness but one day the boy who cries wolf will get eaten by his own devices.

Perhaps we are like Joab. We don’t like what God is doing or the way He is doing it, so we do a little bit our own way and it is a downward spiral. When we are all the way down we rush to the altar but our rebellious ways will cost us eventually. If you keep on rebelling and not giving true repentance when made to come to the altar then the crises will continue to get worse and eventually they may cost you, not just your place in life, but your very life itself.

Many Christians won’t be close to God unless they are forced to be by a crisis situation. Even when there many fool themselves by going through the motions of repentance and the emotions of getting right with God, but their motivation wasn’t right, and they aren’t right. Your heart is what God wants, not just actions but attitude and affections.

So many run for protection after running in rebellion. Now we should run to God, but we must realize that we cannot go back. We must come to God with righteous intentions, not rebellious ones. We run to the altar for protection and provision, not to live to the flesh, but to die to it.

These men knew where to run to, but they needed to be running there all along in repentance not rebellion. Indeed, the name of the Lord is a strong tower, but the righteous run in and they are safe (Proverbs 18:10). Are you running in real repentance or rebellious repentance?

Some Christians are trying to be loyal to God, perhaps even fiercely, until God violates their principles. That is what happened to these men. Are you placing your principles as to what is right and wrong above God’s? We need to decide the matter once and for all, before hand, or we will give in to our own way.

We need to trust in God’s intentions for our life. Proverbs 3:5-6 isn’t about some mystical guidance it is about God’s Word; it is about thinking God’s way versus thinking my way. That word for acknowledge doesn’t mean to give God a tip of the hat it means to give him the keys to the car! It means you agree His way is the right way, over and above your way and you will do it. In all your ways, not in some of your ways, or not in those ways you don’t want to, or those ways you think you know better. Are you hearing what God says and yet not doing it? Are you even listening to Him at all? It isn’t about what you really feel in your heart, it is about what God really says in His Word, even when, and especially when, it runs counter to your dreams, your goals, your knowledge, your ideas, and your intuition.

Are you trusting in yourself, do you know where your passions lie? These were passionate men but their passions were misplaced. What about yours? Are you too focused on your own goals and not God’s, are you too cautious, are you not a good listener, are you given to give in to depression instead of focusing on the goodness of God and His promises, is it always about what you don’t have instead of what you do have? Know what your own limitations are and know how to counter them with God’s Word. Don’t trust in your way trust in Yahweh.


Even So... said...

The Crisis of Comments...

Steve Weaver said...

Good stuff. I have difficulty preaching the historical narratives of the Old Testament, but you pulled that off well.

Even So... said...

God is wonderful...Steve, you may not believe this but it is true that I just got off the phone with Matt Gumm (Gummby of Still Reforming) and we were talking about you, how I got to meet you, respect for you and your dad (yeah, Jeremy too), thanks for coming over and the encouraging comment...

Even So... said...

Oh, I meant I was on the phone before the first comment I left, I was away from the house and also on the phone with Matt, got home, complained about no comments, and then...