FROM THE PREACHER"S LENSES

Friday, December 6, 2019
Liberationwords1@gmail.com
Lagos, Nigeria
JESUS AND RELIGION; THE DIFFERENCE

ertain dictionaries have defined 'Religion' as a system (pattern, method) of worship. e.g. How to pray, what preparations to make before doing; the number of times, which prayers must be made every day, what direction to face during prayers, what words to recite during prayers etc.

Religion also includes what to wear and what not to wear; what and what not to eat. It also includes what obligations to make at any particular time of the day, week, month and year. The Holy Spirit in one self has no role or guide in religion. It is simply a rule of Dos' and Don'ts. It has rules for all spheres of living.

It is the Almighty Himself, who once upon a time, gave directives of a certain system of worship through Moses. This was 1,450 years before Christ came. This system of worship is contained in the first five books of the Bible, which are referred to as "The Books of Moses" These laws have been classified into three: Moral, Civil and Ceremonial.

I plan to pay more attention to the Ceremonial Laws in this sermon

So the topic of my sermon today is "Jesus and Religion; The Difference" Let us pray

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Ceremonial laws were essentially, rules for worship, the rites, procedures and regulations guiding them.

They consisted of (i) sacrifices for atonement of sins, generally. [Lev.1:4];

(ii). Sacrifices for Sins committed ignorantly or unintentionally [Lev.4].

(iii) sacrifices for Peace offerings [Lev.3].

Peace offering could be for voluntary thanksgiving or fulfillment of vow [Lev.7:15-16;22:21-25].

(iv). Sacrifices for Guilt (trespass) offerings (Lev 5 & 6).

What defiled anyone were analyzed and the sacrifices, which were to be made, to make clean again. (Lev. 5, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22; Num. 5, 19; Deut. 12, 14, 18, 23).

The appointed places for the various sacrifices were spelt out.

The ceremonial laws had quite a number of codes (Lev. 10, 16, 19, 21; Num. 18). The law included what and what not to eat (Lev 11, 17, 19, Deut. 14), what and what not to wear (Lev. 19; Deut. 22).

The Ceremonial laws also consisted of several annual feasts (festivals), which as a compulsion must be kept at their appointed times (Ex. 23; Lev 16, 23; Num. 28, 29; Deut. 16, 26). There were also the daily morning and daily evening and weekly and monthly rites (Ex 29, 30; Lev 2,3,24; Num. 15, 28, 29), which also were mandatory.

One needs to read these references in order to know what it entails and note the number of bulls, rams, goats, sheep and the quantity of grains (flour), oil and wine that were required on daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis for these sacrifices and feasts in order to fully appreciate what were involved for whatever they were intended.

Penalties for violating any of the laws were harsh and severe, attracting death sentences in many instances.

For example, Nadab and Abihu; eldest sons of Aaron, the chief Priest, one day did a mistake on duty. They offered what is referred to as 'Strange fire' They were burnt to death instantly. And as if that is not enough for Aaron, God commanded Aaron and his other sons not to mourn or they too will die (Lev.10:1-6)

In the book of Numbers 15: 32-36, a man was stoned to death at God's command for gathering firewood on a Sabbath day. The act was seen as a work and seen as desecrating the third of the ten commandments. He had violated the law of Sabbath meant to be kept holy.

We read in the book of 1Samuel 6 how King David led 30,000 elite troops in celebration, with all kinds of musical instruments and dancing, to bring the ark of Covenant to his care from the house of Abinadab living in Gibeah. The ark was put in a cart driven by a donkey. The donkey was about to stumble and Uzzar, one of the sons of Abinadab acted quickly to steady the Ark from falling. We read that the action of Uzzar displeased God and God killed Uzzar instantly. Only Aaron and his sons were allowed by God to touch the Ark of God.

Apostle Peter described this system of worship as 'A yoke that neither our fathers nor we, were able to bear" (Acts 15:10). Apostle Paul equally described the system as 'a curse' or in the Living Bible: "Doom of the impossible system" (Gal 3:10).

Under the Law system, God met with His people only at an appointed place (Ex. 25, 26, 27, 30; Deut.12; Lev. 17).

The construction plan and the furnishing of the sacred Temple (Sanctuary) where "I can live among them" (Ex. 25:8; Deut. 12:5) were specified by God.

Only a particular family, the family of Aaron, a Levite, could minister as Priests (Ex. 28, 29; Num. 3, 4, 18). Any other person who presumed to assume the office of the Priesthood was to be executed (Num. 3:10; 18:1-7).

Saul, the first king of Israel, lost his throne because he did a duty, which only the Priests were allowed to do. Enemies in thousands were fast approaching. He needed God's help urgently. For a whole 7 days He had waited for Prophet Samuel whose duty it was to offer a burnt offering to seek God's help but Samuel did not show up. 7 days is a lot under tension, more so that his troops were rapidly slipping away (1Samuel 13). So he performed the Burnt offering himself.

Under grace, what Saul did was very sensible but under the Law System, it was disobedience and disrespectful to God. So he lost his throne.

Man just couldn't meet these requirements in order to please God and it required the presence of God Himself on earth to relieve man of these aforementioned burdensome and harsh system of worship with a better and perfect one.

So, He came and was known and called Jesus.

The purpose for which those rules were promulgated (decreed), necessitating the slaughtering of numerous animals, day in day out, observance of days, weeks, months and numerous annual festivals was for one purpose; shedding of blood to appease God.

Blood is the only thing that is acceptable to God to forgive our sins. Our sins have separated us from God and the penalty is death. We are not talking about taking away our breath i.e. physical death, but cast to hell where is so dark, so much anguish and pain for eternity, time with no end.

To be freed from hell requires another life as ransom. And that was the whole purpose of all the slaughtering of animals, because only blood can atone for sin.

God said in the book of Leviticus 17:11 "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul"

Another life must therefore be sacrificed to redeem a life that is condemned.

Now, the blood requirement have been met with the shed blood of Jesus when He was brutally killed on the tree (Matt 5:17-18; Heb 7:18-28; 8:7; 9:6-28; 10:1-3; 12:12-13).

Jesus said, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. No I came to fulfill them and to make them all come true.

For verily I say unto you: Every law in the Book will continue until its purpose is achieved (till all be fulfilled (KJV)" (Matt.5: 17-18)

After all the blood in Him has been spilt, at His point of death, it was recorded: "Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished---- said "It is finished (John 19: 28-30) and the "thick veil hanging in the temple split apart" (Lk 23:45), bringing an end to all the Ceremonial and legalistic rules of worship, which had been in place for 1400years and hence forth, Christ became "the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." (Rom 10:4).

Jesus, knowing what changes, the end result of His death would bring to the law system of worship, had said earlier "God is a spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth" (John4:24), meaning there will no longer be any particular pattern or any particular place by which and where we compulsorily have to worship God, but according to the dictate of the Holy Spirit, which can be anyhow, anywhere and everywhere.

Knowing also how easier it will become to make heaven by believing in Him and in His plan of salvation for mankind, said: "for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matt 11:30).

Without gainsay (contradiction), the yoke of the law system was not easy neither is its burden light.

The truth actually is that the moment our fore parents sinned, God knew instantly that man is not capable of being sinless and He had promptly provided a way of escape, which will be by grace through faith in Someone who was to be revealed later, after many years. We saw this in Gen.3.15.

In Genesis 12 and 15, we saw clearly that God had laid the foundation of our salvation in Abram's type of faith in Him and that faith in One seed of Abraham, who will be revealed in future, shall our redemption be perfected.

It is God Himself who will come in the flesh and believing in His plan of redemption will save anyone from hell other than any good deeds.

But 430 years after God had sealed our redemption by grace through faith with Abraham, He gave the laws, which I have been talking about to Moses on Mount Sinai.

Does this look like confusion? So, which one now, Grace by faith or good work?

Paul clarified it in His letter to the Galatians in chapter 3.

17 Here's what I am trying to say: God's promise is to save through faith-and God wrote this promise down and signed it and so it could not be canceled or changed four hundred and thirty years later when God gave the Ten Commandments.

Earlier in vs 15 He wrote,

Dear brothers, even in everyday life a promise made by one man to another, if it is written down and signed, cannot be changed. He cannot decide afterward to do something else instead.

The writer of the book of Hebrews explained that Those sacrifices (offerings) i.e. the blood of several animals that were spilled under the law, were just a foretaste, a shadow, a caricature (ridiculously poor imitation), a mock practice or mimic of the real thing that would take away man's sins. They were a dim foretaste of the good things Christ would do for us (Heb. 10:1).

"This system of law was to last only until the coming of Christ, the Child to whom God's promise was made"! (Gal. 3:19).

Apostle Paul's argument was that, were those sacrifices profitable and able to cleanse man's sins, then it would not need to be repeated year after year.

"The sacrifices under the law system were repeated again and again, year after year, but even so, they could never save those who lived under their rules, if they could, one offering would have been enough; the worshippers would have been cleansed once for all, and their feeling of guilt would be gone. But just the opposite happened; those yearly sacrifices reminded them of their disobedience and guilt instead of relieving their minds. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats really to take away sins" (Heb. 10:1-3).

Think of it yourself; Has it ever been possible for our Medical Doctors to transfuse animal blood into a patient that needs blood? If it is not possible, how then can we expect animal blood to appease God to cleanse our sins?

And even in the Law System, only animals that had no defect were used pointing that God accepts only pure blood. So, it is only the sinless blood of Jesus that can be acceptable to God.

Paul wrote that the law System has its benefit. He wrote to the Galatians in chapter three that of course, the Law System had its useful purpose. It allows us to be aware of the depth of God's holiness and the level (standard) of Holiness, He expects from us, which no human being has ever met and which no human being can ever meet.

This is because according to the Lord (Matt.5) and expatiated by James "The person who keeps every law of God, but makes one little slip is just as guilty as the person who has broken every law there is - - - " (James 2:10-11).

Paul expressed same this way, "For Moses wrote that if a person would be perfectly good and hold out against temptation all his life and never sin once, only then could he be pardoned and saved" (Rom 10:5).

The law serves, to make us see what great sinners we are. For the more we know of God's laws, the clearer and obvious our shortcomings become (Rom 3:20).

"The Jewish laws were our teacher and guide until Christ came to give us right standing with God through our faith" (Gal 3:24).

But after we become saved by faith in Jesus, we realize that our acquittal is not based on our good deeds, "but on what Christ has done for us" (Rom 3:27-28). And this makes us humble, void of any boasting of what we can ever do to earn our salvation.

Unfortunately, however, there have always been, and there are still, those who rather than accepting the plan of salvation brought by Christ, stubbornly pre-occupy themselves with a great deal of zeal in the practice of the unprofitable Jewish legalistic system of worship or its modified fashion. Some faiths have either revived or modified it and call the practice (religion) by other names which, all are helpless in making anyone righteous nor able to lead anyone to salvation.

After listening to all my exposition, you will have seen that to wake up to eternal life of peace and joy after you die, the only option you have is to invite Jesus into your heart and henceforth He will help you to forsake all your previous bad habit and you will be living the rest of your life for Him. Let me now invite you to invite Christ the Saviour into your life.

You may wish to say this prayer after me.

God, I know I have a little time here on earth.

I do not want to go to hell after I die, rather I want to live with you where you are.

I am a sinner and I know that no sinner will be allowed in your house.

I however believe now in the salvation plan you made through the blood of Jesus Christ to forgive all my sins.

Lord Jesus please forgive all my sins.

I believe that for my sins you were crucified.

You paid the penalty due to me as a result of my sins and I thank you most sincerely.

I confess you as my Lord and Saviour and I believe that God raised you from the dead after three days.

Now Jesus, please take control of my whole being hence forth.

Give me the strength to forsake sins but let me live the rest of my life for you in holiness.

In your name I pray. Amen.

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You are now saved and your name written in the book of life.

God has forgiven your sins, I can assure you.

The next thing is to buy a Bible and a daily guide. The Guide will lead you into a portion, which you will read every day.

God will always have something to say to you each time you read it, which will enable you to live a victorious life over sins, temptations and all vicissitudes and difficulties of life.

You must also join a Bible believing Church, where you can fellowship with other Christians because you cannot live a victorious Christian life by yourself alone.

But be careful because many Churches are established for different various purposes. You must join one which is heaven based rather than earthly wealth.

May God help you.

Continued from Part 6

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