Preached on the Lord’s Day of 28 August 2016
by Pastor Craig J. Scott
“And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him. And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.” (Mark 1:21-28)
How would you discern between true and false Christianity? What things come to mind as you discern what is true, real, and loving faith, and that which is dead? Would it be a particular doctrine that someone must assent to? Would it be the Sabbath day? Would it be confessional subscription and orthodoxy? Would it be morality—as long as someone is against abortion, homosexuality, and so on? What sort of things come to your mind if you were to be asked to discern between true and false Christianity?
Well, we have a picture of these two in this story. When the Lord Jesus Christ has been baptized, he has been tempted by Satan, he has taught in the synagogue in Nazareth, and now he comes to Capernaum in the northwest part of the Sea of Galilee. And he comes to a synagogue, the church, and worship. And in the synagogue we see what has been happening: A man demon possessed. The Bible being read and the Bible being preached. The people of God professedly have been worshiping God. And yet there is nothing. There is routine. No power. Dead. And then when Christ comes, when Christ enters this house, and we see something different, something efficacious, something of authority and power. And that essentially is the difference between true Christianity and false Christianity: Christ. The very name of our religion should answer that Christianity, Christ-ianity, followers of Christ. And in this story, as we flesh it out, we will see what happens when Christ is truly in the midst—personally of a believer—corporally as a church—but at the center will be Jesus Christ himself. And the first thing we see in true Christianity is the authority of Christ.
1. True Christianity Has Authority.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is in the synagogue. The synagogue is the gathering place of the church. You see, the temple was to be the place of sacrifices, but in villages, towns, and cities, when ten or more men came together, they would have a synagogue. And that would be a place of worship. And their place of worship is very similar to our worship. And the reason why is that the Christian worship is patterned, not after the temple—with its sacrifices and its instruments, and these things, no—but Christian worship is based after the synagogue. And in the synagogue there were no instruments that were at the temple, but there were the Psalms sung. The ruler of the synagogue would have come, and he would have led in prayer or other men would have led in prayers. They would have read from the Law. They would have read from the prophets, and then a man would come and he would expound the meaning of it, and apply it to the people’s lives, just like we do in preaching. And that is exactly what Christ has come to do in attending a place of worship. And while he is attending this place of worship, as often as happened, he was called upon to teach. When he entered, verse 21 says, into the synagogue, on the Sabbath, he taught.
We see a picture of this in Acts 13 where Paul was traveling from town to town. He goes to the synagogue of Antioch in Pisidia and it says that the rulers of the synagogue read from the law and from the prophets. Then they asked, men and brethren, has anyone a word of exhortation for the people, say so? Is there any traveling rabbi here? Any man of God here who would come and expound, and preach, and encourage the people? And Paul, that is what he did. He got up, he took the scroll, and expounded Christ to them. And this is exactly what Jesus Christ does here and elsewhere in the New Testament. They would have said, is there a man in the house, a rabbi? Or if they knew him personally, they would have said, “Jesus of Nazareth, we know you! Come, teach, expound the Word of God.”
So Christ comes. He would have stood to read. Then when he had expounded, he would have sat down and the people stood up. It is very different from today, but that is what happened. And he began to teach them. Then something remarkable happens. He teaches them, and they are astonished at his doctrine. For he taught them as one that had authority and not as the Scribes. He began to teach. And there is something different.
What did he teach? It does not tell us. But if we put the whole of Mark and Luke’s accounts together, he taught what he always teaches: The gospel. The good news of salvation, repentance and faith. That he is the Messiah and all who would believe in him would have the full forgiveness of their sins. He would teach that a true disciple bears fruit and lives in holiness. This is what he would have taught. But here the emphasis is not in what he taught, but rather the manner in which he taught. It was with authority. And the authority, as compared to the Scribes which have none—he stands apart because teacher after teacher has come into the House of God. Every week for months and years they have taught the very same Word of God. And yet something is different about Jesus of Nazareth.
You see, the Scribes, they taught in a certain way. The Scribes were loyal copyists and they would teach the Word of God because they had a good knowledge of the Bible. In the Old Testament, before the Exile, there were many Scribes, and they were simply copyists, secretaries writing down things for kings, or writing the scriptures word by word to preserve it from generation to generation. But after the Exile there was a problem. There were fewer gifted men. Only 42,000 or so men return from Babylon, and so they need men who know the Bible to teach. And that is where the Scribes come in. They knew the Bible, so they would teach. Ezra was a Scribe, and in chapter seven we see his knowledge as he preaches and teaches from the Word of God.
But in what manner did the Scribes teach? They knew their Bibles, but there was no authority. They would have come to a passage of scripture and opened it up a wee bit. And then they would say, “This rabbi says this. That rabbi says that. This is true, that is sort of true. This father says this. And that tradition of the father says that.” And they would bind the people’s consciences, not according to the Word of God, but according to man-made traditions. All righteousness in the good things of the Law were put aside for the weightier matters in their eyes. Tithing mint, the technicalities of things, etc. Everything they would bring was a burden upon the people of God. And the people would not know at the end of the day what was from God and what was from man, and where the authority, if any, derived from man or God.
Christ’s Inherent Authority to Teach.
And that is when Jesus Christ stands. There is something very, very different. There is authority. He shows inherent right and power in what he teaches. You listen to this man. And he expounded the Word of God. He explained it and says, “this says God. This is his truth.” And he would apply it to the people so they could not escape. They could not doubt. They would not say, “It was quite interesting what the Scribe says, how this Rabbi says that, how that father says this, man says that…” No! No way! He just said sin, Law, wrath, judgment, etc. and you were in no doubt! He talked about love, grace, and peace. And there was authority in it. And the authority does not derive from what he teaches so much, though as true as it is, but rather the one who is doing the teaching.
Who was he? Well, a week before, a Sabbath before, he was in Nazareth. And he was in worship, and he was asked to explain the word again, so he came forth. He read from Isaiah 61, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He hath anointed me to proclaim the gospel.” And he closes the scroll. He comes away and then he says, “This day is the scripture fulfilled in your hearing.” And the people wonder, they marvel. Because he is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament. He is Messiah, he is Christ. He is God manifest in the flesh, and when he says something is sin, it is sin. It is not an opinion, it is not an interpretation. It is authoritative. When he preached on judgment and love and grace and the gospel, it was authoritative. This is God. Not what fathers say, nor Rabbi says, not man made traditions, etc. This is from God.
Christ’s Authority Over You.
And here we see the difference between true Christianity and dead Christianity. True Christianity recognizes the authority of Christ. He is God-man. His words are truth. His words are real. And his words are for me. Rather than the dead orthodoxy of opinions. Do you recognize this for yourself, friends? Do you recognize the teaching of Jesus Christ as authoritative? It is the only evidence of being saved. If you see him, you hear him, and you obey.
I do not know how many people I have met who have a [mere worldly] respect for Jesus Christ. I do not know how many men and women. This was just seen last month at Rosa Parks Circle, as we preached the gospel and handed out tracts. Man after man, woman after woman, came and said, “yeah I respect Jesus Christ. He’s a good teacher. He says truth.” And you ask them, “Do you go to church?” “No, no, I don’t go to church. I don’t need to go to church.” “Are you living in bearing fruit in your life? Are you walking with the Lord?” They reply, “You know I’m not doing the things I really should be doing, but I, you know, I know Christ.” That is falsehood! That is false because you asked him why are you not doing these things and why are you doing certain things because of the world? “Christ says this, but I’m gonna do something else. Culture, society, my own personal opinions—they are equal with Christ.” That is dead orthodoxy. That is deadness.
But Christ’s words are authoritative. They bear authority in your own life. When Christ speaks of sin, how do you respond? When Christ says, if you covet, that is sin. When you’re full of greed, and you have this insatiable desire for things that you can get rid of, what do you think? When Christ says religious hypocrisy is evil. How do you respond? When Christ speaks of judgment to come, and that he will judge—do you see these words as mere opinion? As interesting? As a private interpretation? Or do you see it as authoritative?
Or rather, let’s act more like the religious Scribe: You’re a Christian. You say you believe the Bible. But what is your opinion rooted in? If I asked you about sin, would you go to John Owen? If I asked you about Union with Christ, is it Paul, or John 15? Or is it a wonderful book by John Flavel? Do we see how quick it is to fall into the Scribe? Because at the end of the day (I’m not saying books are wrong. I read them. I love theological books, don’t get me wrong), but at the heart of the matter, where is your authority? Is it there in the minister preaching? No. Is it in the church? No. Is it in your parents and your family? And so on? Is it in the university or the media? No! Ultimately, your authority must come from Jesus Christ. And Christ gives a test about your life. Do you really see him as the authority in his teaching? Do you?
Christ gave a story, did he not? About a man who builds a house on a rock, and another on sand. And what happens when the storms of life come? The one on the sand had it all come tumbling down. You see, you can say you believe in Jesus Christ. You can say you believe in his teaching all you want, but what happens when the crunch comes? What happens when you have to make a decision over the Lordship of Christ and the Lordship of Self? Easy to say with the mouth. What happens when it comes to the crunch?
If you have a job that is not of necessity. A cashier. Whatever. When it comes to the crunch of working on the Sabbath. Where is the authority? When it comes to someone you are coming close to, a man and a woman, and there are invitations, let’s say. Where is your authority? As someone says to you, “let’s go drinking and dancing.” Who is your authority? Is it Christ? Or is it your own opinion? Where are you really laying the foundations? Is it like the Scribes and the opinions of Rabbis, fathers, traditions, culture. Or is it the Lord Jesus Christ? Nothing else but Christ will stand. Your life will be on sand and you will fall down.
2. True Christianity Has Power.
So when Christ is truly here, there is authority. But that is not all. At the heart of true Christianity is power.
In this synagogue there is a man who is possessed. When he speaks of an unclean spirit, it is simply saying a demon. That is clear from the synoptic account in Luke 4. He was demon possessed. Demon possession is when Satan comes inside an unbeliever, and so controls the faculties. Now, these things are hard. I find it very difficult myself. 2000 years ago there was this great explosion of satanic activity. I think the reason why is because at the time of the Messiah people were expecting the Messiah, and so Satan is letting leash so that the seed of the woman would not bruise him. But does it happen today? Men and women have different opinions. I personally think that it does happen. I have never seen it or experienced it, but I do not see any reason why Satan cannot possess a man or a woman today. I do not think it happens often. I do not think we should go looking for it, in a sense. But I do think it happens today. Yet not anywhere near as frequently as it did 2000 years ago.
This is something people deny today. They look at the Bible and say it is a primitive document. Or, people did not understand mental illness back then. So when it speaks of demon possession, it is not speaking literally of demon possession. It is simply the old way of explaining mental illness. But that is nonsense. This chapter even proves that in verses 32 and 33. There is a clear distinction between diseases and illnesses and demon possession. It clearly says when the sun did set and they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. And it speaks in Luke about those who were lunatics, those who had mental epileptic illnesses, and those who were demon possessed. There is always a distinction in the Bible between mental illness and demon possession. And so the Bible is completely true that if a man was possessed by a devil, that is exactly what happened: he was possessed by a devil.
But when you read these stories, they are always figurative as well. They are historical and real, but also figurative, just like diseases. When Christ healed a disease, the purpose was to show sickness and disease as sin and depravity. And Christ can wash and cleanse and forgive us our sins, and likewise when we see demon possession. Remember Legion? But when he was in his right mind, he came to the feet of Christ. These things are historical, but also figurative for us of Christ having the power to forgive sins. And it is important we recognize that because here we have in the synagogue, Satan. And Satan is often in the church, too. He is often there when people hear that authoritative Word of God.
Satan Seeks to Snatch the Word From Us.
Mark 4 tells us about how the sower goes out to spread seed—speaking of Christ as he speaks in the Word of God as you read it, as it is proclaimed through a preacher, and different responses happen. And this is one response: That immediately Satan comes in and takes away the Word from the heart (Mark 4:15). You get someone who hears as authoritative the Word of God, but they do not respond. Satan, quick as a flash, gets in there and takes away the Word. He distracts and calls you to remember that the oven is on at home. Suddenly, he speaks to someone in the mind and he says, “you need to think about this or that.” Suddenly, rather than hearing Christ speak in the preaching of the Word, politics come in. Somehow various things of discussion [occupy your mind], and 5 to 10 minutes later you have lost the Word of God. You cannot remember the Psalms you have sung. You cannot remember the prayers. You can not even remember the sermon.
Has it happened to you? A few hours later, what did the preacher preach on? What was it again? “Um, I can’t remember.” Why is that? Because our thoughts have been on everything else but Christ. That is why. And that is a work of Satan. And he also blinds you. 2nd Corinthians 4:4 says, “the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” He blinds them. Speaking of the Jews (they are specifically in 2nd Corinthians 4), they would just be blinded to the truth of Scripture. Maybe that is you. You look at these words and they are true. But you do not see the gospel as beautiful. You do not see it as the truth. You do not yearn for the forgiveness of sins because you are blind to your own self-righteousness.
But Satan—and never think Satan can control man as if we have no will—that is a lie. If anyone says Satan made him do it. The devil may tempt, give words, etc. absolutely, but demons can not completely control a person. Man is always willful in demon possession. Christ says this in John 8:44. Speaking of the religious Pharisees, “Ye are of your father, the devil, and the lusts of your father, ye will do.” In the Greek it is much clearer: the enticing lusts of your father that is your own will to do. Your own burning desire is to do exactly what Satan does. To lie, to murder, to covet, to blaspheme, self righteousness, and self exaltation. You are in covenant, in league with the devil. He does not put a gun to your head and force you to do anything. He tempts and allures what you already desire. And that is exactly how Satan is in this synagogue.
Satan is Inside the Church.
He is in the synagogue. From every reading of the Greek, he has been there for a while. He has been in the house where the people of God gather and the Word of God is declared and proclaimed. And the truth of all this in the Bible is there, and yet Satan is extremely comfortable. He is absolutely fine. And he possesses this man—and that even in the House of God! This is a sign of dead orthodoxy. Where confessional biblical truth is believed and proclaimed, but there is no power. And there is no power because Christ is not at the center of it. Dead orthodoxy.
A minister of Tenth Presbyterian Philadelphia, a man called Donald Grey Barnhouse preached, I think it was on Revelation 3, that the dead Church of Sardis thought they were alive. They were busy. They were doing things. But Christ says they are dead. And he says this, he offers his own scenario: That if Satan had absolute control of the United States of America, I mean absolute sovereign control of this nation, what would he do? And this is how Barnhouse describes what Satan would do:
“All the bars would be closed. Pornography banished. Pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say yes, sir, and no ma’am. And the churches would be full every Sunday… where Christ is not preached.”
Why? Because Satan loves nothing more than to get people away from God. It is easy to speak of sin and salvation to the broken man, to the drunkard, to the addict, to the homeless. It is easy. I can tell you that you do not need to prove the awfulness of sin to them. They know it. They know they are needing forgiveness. Now, whether they come to church is a different ball game, but they know it. Middle class niceties: Yes sir, yes ma’am. Opening doors for people. Kindness. Churches filled to the brim and everyone smiling at one another. The truth of doctrine being proclaimed, and yet at the heart of it all there is no Christ.
The Culture War is not the Gospel.
Is that you? Is that me? Full of truth and doctrine. Full of moralism, of: “I’m against abortion. I’m against same sex marriage. I’m against homosexuality.” All these things are important, do not get me wrong, incredibly important. But is there Christ in you? If I asked you about sin. Would you speak about yourself? If I asked you, tell me of your experience of sin. What would it be? If I asked you about Christ Jesus this very last week, your fellowship, your communion, your Bible reading and your prayer. Can you even remember what you read in the Bible this week? There is a danger of dead orthodoxy in your soul if that is true. Routine, regular dead orthodoxy. But no Christ.
But when Christ comes there is power. That is exactly what happens. Satan fears him suddenly. He was fine for weeks, but now Christ is present, and Satan fears. And the words here are nothing but fear from Satan. For it says, “Let us alone, what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou to come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24). The language is here of combat, of fighting, of being uncomfortable. Jesus of Nazareth, the Holy One of God, Satan recognizes. Even Satan knows these things. As James 2:19 says, “thou believest that there is one God, thou doest well and the devils also believe and tremble.” It is not enough to believe the truth. It is not enough to believe in biblical morality. You need Christ! You need power! Because when Satan is here, he finds Christ and he fears! “Are you coming to destroy us?” He knows because Christ has come for this purpose.
John says the Son of God was manifested to destroy the works of the devil, to destroy his influence, to destroy his slavery over man, to destroy his temptations and the power of all these sinful things. That is why Jesus Christ came and Christ commands them to be quiet and come out. And what happens? The devil, the demon obeys. He cannot help but obey because it is the Holy One of Israel with authority to command him to come out, and so he comes out. And this is the true form of Christianity: power.
The Gospel is the Power of God unto Salvation.
As for the unconverted, the power to believe the gospel and be converted. If you are a believer, do you know why you came to Christ? The power! He took the soul that was dead and full of selfishness and he turned it to love him. God with the power to command the light turn to darkness—he has shown that power in your heart to give you a knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ! Within the heart one says, “me, myself, and I.” The heart says, “this man, that man, this philosophy, that university, this school of thought,” etc. And the power comes in and says there is only One: It is Christ Jesus, the forgiveness of my sins, he alone. And this is what true Christianity is.
When Paul comes to Thessalonica, it is a people full of idolatry and paganism. He says, I remember when I came to you. He says, our preaching was not in word only. It was not a dead word where we came and people were interested, etc. No. But in power and of the Holy Ghost (1 Thes. 1:5; cf. 1 Cor. 2:4). Where the Spirit of God applies the Word to the soul of man. Paul speaks to those who are high and mighty. Those who have it all down, they understand it. They get it. And he says the Kingdom of God is not in word only, but also in power. That is when you know that Christ is in the midst.
For the Christian, the power is daily growth. For the Christian, the power is daily. And the ordinary means of grace: The Bible reading, prayer, fellowship, worship. Daily, gradual, progressive growth. Where you learn to pray and grow, you learn to read the Bible and delight in it. There are sins in your life and you struggle with them, don’t you? You struggle, but over time there is power. God comes and Jesus Christ sends his Holy Spirit to you. You are blessed in the means of grace and you are having power and victory over sin. It is the angry Christian praying, reading, becoming meek, kind, and gentle. It was the power of Christ. It is the gossip who cannot stop opening his or her mouth about other people and slandering. But knowing it is a sin, grieving it. Coming to the Word and prayer, and his power changing and transforming you.
True Christianity is Transformation, Not Mere Moral Reformation.
But overall, there is no Christianity without Christ. The key part of Christianity is actually following, loving, and knowing him. Having an intimate relationship with him. Where you can say in your mind, yes, I remember where I read on Wednesday and Thursday and Christ spoke to me in his Word. I remember my prayer on Friday, I was cold and hard and I tried. But soon after there was power, liberty, freedom and I had a sense of Christ’s presence. It is in the times of anxiety and worry when rest and peace come in. It is a time of suffering and sadness and sorrow, and the comfort comes in. That is Christianity. It is transformation, not moral reformation. The nicest, most polite, orthodox man and woman in the church will go straight to Hell if there is no Christ. And we know Christ is in our lives because of power. The power to believe. The power to grow, the power to see Christ as authoritative and follow him all the days of your life.
Our Piety Should Be Built on Christ Alone.
And we struggle with this. Do we not at times, brethren? We lack the power. And so often we are more of the Scribes than Christ. So often our Christian piety is built upon the Puritans, Calvin, Spurgeon, and less on Christ. I say read these men. I do. But where is the heart of your faith? If I asked you about Gethsemane, do you go to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, or do you go to someone else? If I asked you about the cross, would you go to the end of these gospels? Would you go to Romans? If I asked you about the priesthood of Christ, would you go to John Owen or William Symington? Or would you go to Hebrews? You know I am not saying, don’t read these books, but where is the heart of your faith?
There are many men in universities in this very city and others. Where are they? Princeton, the bastion of Orthodoxy. And yet you will get more PhDs on Owen, Edwards, and so on than anywhere else. You can go to Oxford and Cambridge in England and again you will find works upon works of the Puritans. There is no more place of dead spirituality than Oxford and Cambridge. It does not matter how much you know at the end of the day about these guys, do you know Christ? And do you want his power? Do you want it? You have to be with Christ! I cannot give you, you cannot get it on your own, you have to spend time with Christ to do it.
For me, one of the best verses for this is 2nd Corinthians 3:18, “We all, with open face beholding as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, our changed into the same image.” That is it. You behold Christ, you have changed. That is it, I am not going to give you anything special. I’m not going to give you 10 points and what to do. It is simple: behold Christ and be changed! Behold him by faith. Behold him in love. But behold the person of Christ. When you read your Bible day by day, look for Christ. Look for his truth and pray, wrestle, and fight until you get the power. Do you see him more beautiful than your sin? To see his meekness better than your anger! To see his love for the brethren more than your gossip, or your slander, or whatever it is. To see him as altogether lovely.
The Power of Prayer.
And for me, the hardest is prayer, just from personal experience. For me it is the hardest thing. It is easy reading the Word of God, but prayer is a discipline. We have turned prayer into talk-to-God-while-you’re-jogging nonsense. I am not saying there are not times where you cry to the Lord, you want to speak to him, you want to say something like, “I have got to thank you in case I forget.” I am not saying that is wrong, but prayers are in your own private room. It is the closet. It is wrestling, it is fellowship and communion. Because you struggle with praying, don’t you? Because I do. Sin, temptation, thoughts—you must fight and wrestle. But pray for Christ. Pray for his truth. Pray that he would give you these things. My friends, from my own personal experience, whatever value it has: Prayer will be the key to having Christ in your soul, and it has power. Really pray. Because it is an effect of all these things.
But the response? It says when Christ came, he spoke, his power came, and the man was released. Satan went away. It is a picture of forgiveness. And they were all amazed. Amazed, the word means startled. They were truly affected by it. “And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him. And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.” (Mark 1:27-28). You see, when there is power in the church, everyone is affected.
How often has a drunkard, by the grace of God, been saved and everyone is amazed? I knew Johnny. Man, he was down and out, but then he came to Christ and, wow, the change in this man! Maybe you know something of that. Idols and things in your life and you changed and people knew. What changed you? What is different about you? Christ. It is amazing, that is what happens.
The Gospel Brings Transformation.
We all want America to be somehow like Barnhouse’s illustration of that nice abortion ban, same sex marriage banned, and everyone is going to church. If that is what your real hope is, I would fear for your heart. You do not understand the gospel. Nothing less than souls being converted, changed, transformed. That is Christianity. Are you truly wanting your nation to change? Are you truly wanting abortion banned? Do you truly want people to see the beauty, the absolute beauty of biblical marriage? Do you want to see people genuinely live to the glory of God? Nothing else but the power of God in the church will do. God works in the church. He uses the church. He influences everyone around through the church. And it starts with you individually.
So top down, pray for Barack Obama to be saved, absolutely. Pray for conversion in the highest levels, absolutely. But it starts with your life. You may have a form of godliness, but if you deny the power thereof, people will not take you seriously (2 Tim. 3:5). Not to be derogatory, but we all know people who profess Christians and their life is just full of sin and hypocrisy. Do we take them seriously as Christians? Of course not. And the world is not foolish when it comes to these things. They are not stupid. They see the hypocrisy a mile off. But there is power. You have more influence on your family, your friends, your community, and your workplace. Do not be more religious. Do not be more orthodox. Though, read theology more, absolutely. The heart of the power is Christ himself. Because there is a warning, and I want to end on a warning.
A Warning of Apostasy.
Capernaum, in Matthew 11:23-24, this city knows these things, and he says, “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.” Most people in this congregation go to church. Most of you know the gospel. It is for you to believe in these things for yourself. I do not know anyone’s individual soul. I don’t. If you are the religious hypocrite, the Scribe who honors Christ with your lips, but your hearts are far from him, turn to him. He will forgive you. He will love you and comfort you and you will know his power. Because don’t on the Day of Judgment, say Lord, Lord, I knew the Westminster confession. Lord, Lord, I was against abortion. Lord, Lord, I was against fornication. Will he say, Depart from me, I never knew you? Be warned. And come to Jesus Christ alone for your Christianity, for your salvation, and by his loving grace, his power. Amen. And may the Lord Jesus Christ bless his holy Word. Let us pray.
Our Father in Heaven, forgive us if we have ever been hypocrites. Forgive us for dead orthodoxy. And forgive us for not recognizing Christ for who he truly is. But bless us with him. Make him the center of our lives. Help us to speak about him often because our hearts are in love with him. And send the power to grow in life and godliness. To grow in the fruit of the Spirit. And help us to behold him so that we may be conformed into his image. Lord, thou art the one who knows the heart. If any be professors, but as external, save their soul, and show them the full forgiveness of sins in Christ. In his precious name, amen.