Ignoring the warning signs could be a sign of war

Pastor Jeff Struecker

My phone has been blowing up about interviews about Ukraine. And I can’t help but think when people want to interview with me, like why are you asking me to do an interview? There are a whole lot better people you could ask about this. I’m just a retired chaplain. I don’t know anything. So why are you asking me questions about Ukraine and everything going on in the world today? All of us were watching the news. Everybody was watching to see how things were going to play out. 


And as I was preparing this week’s sermon, this thought kept coming to my mind, and this thought wasn’t designated about the Ukraine and Russia as much as what we just sang two songs ago. It was a thought about us and about what was going on inside us.

  

You see, I’m convinced that people every day, all day long, ignore the warning signs. But I’m not talking about the geopolitical warning signs about what’s happening in Russia and Ukraine. 


Listen, I’m not one of those crazies that believe that Russia and Ukraine are happening in the bible. It’s all a matter of just a couple of days, and then the end is going to come. I’m saying that there is a war that goes on inside us, and when you ignore the warning signs that are happening inside you, it is a crystal clear indicator of the sign of war that’s already happening inside of us. There is a more vivid picture of a war going on inside a few people than what we read today. 


In John chapter 10, we are as a church studying through the bible book of John.  We are calling this sermon series Jesus in real life because I want you to know what you’re going to hear today should make a difference at school tomorrow, it should make a difference when you go to work, and if it doesn’t make a difference, I’ve done something wrong today, or maybe you’ve heard something wrong. 


See, Jesus was speaking to a bunch of Jews in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, and they pinned him in a corner last week, and asked him a particular question, Jesus, are you the son of God? 


If you missed last week’s sermon, you got to go back and listen to it because he answers that question more vividly than anywhere else in the bible.

Ignoring the warning signs could be a sign of war

We’re going to pick up right exactly where we left off last week after these religious leaders hear Jesus’s answer. They are so shocked and so offended that they’re going to try to kill him today. Quite literally, they’re going to try to kill Jesus for what he just said, and I think you’re going to be able to see that these guys are ignoring three warning signs and sometimes Christians do this. People around you do this all the time. I’ll show you the first warning sign that they ignore.

Don’t shoot the messenger

If you come from an English-speaking country, I know you’ve heard this phrase before. They asked Jesus a very specific question, John Chapter 10:30, Jesus gives a concrete answer, and they hate him for this answer. They decide I don’t like the messenger, so we’re going to do away with the messenger because I don’t like this message that I just heard.


Jesus made this statement. “The father and I are one,’’ and by doing so, he has just declared, “I am God in the flesh.” That’s what he said to them. 


In John chapter 10:31, after they hear what he just said last week again, the Jews picked up rocks to stone him, Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these works are you stoning me?” “We aren’t stoning you for a good work,” the Jews answered, “but for blasphemy, because you—being a man—make yourself God.”


I need this to hit you in the chest like a freight train. And I’m saying this because there are a bunch of morons all over the place that say, you know what, Jesus was a good moral teacher. He was a great prophet, but he’s not God. He never claimed to be God. I want to say, wait a second. Have you read John Chapter 10? Because when they heard Jesus’s statement, in John 10:30, they immediately picked up rocks and said, now, we’ve got to kill you for what you just said. 

John 10: 31-33

Again the Jews picked up rocks to stone him. Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these works are you stoning me?” “We aren’t stoning you for a good work,” the Jews answered, “but for blasphemy, because you—being a man—make yourself God.”

And I want to tell all of those theological idiots out there, listen, if he claims to be God and isn’t God, then you definitely can’t call him a good moral teacher. That man is telling lies if he claims to be God, but he’s not God. You wouldn’t call him a great prophet because a prophet that speaks lies is from the devil.


In fact, if what Jesus said isn’t true, he is the worst religious leader that ever stood foot on planet earth. Still, if what he said is true, this changes everything because he’s standing in their midst and he’s saying, when you see me, you’ve seen God. They are so angry and so offended, he has just broken the law of blasphemy in their minds that we have no choice, we have to kill him now and blasphemy in Jesus’s day, which he was a much more serious offense than it is in our day. 


You see, blasphemy is anything you do, anything you say that treats God with contempt. If you don’t give God credit for being God he deserves, you have basically just created or committed blasphemy. 


I was trying to think of an example of this last night when I was driving on the interstate, and a great example came up in the conversation. It would be like cutting someone’s head off for flicking a cigarette out the car door while they’re driving down the interstate, that’s littering, it’s a crime, we’re going to have to cut your head off for it. 


Now, the Jews in Jesus’s day took blasphemy so seriously that they immediately passed judgment. The crowd became executioners because we take the holiness and the glory of God so seriously that we’re going to have to kill you for what you just said, and by the way, what they’re trying to do is write. And biblically, they have the bible’s authority to do it. If Jesus isn’t the son of God, the whole purpose behind this warning sign for us is to say they’re missing something.


They can’t see it; all they can see is there’s a messenger who just said something, and it doesn’t sit right with us, and because it doesn’t sit right with us, we’re going to kill this man for what he just said. 


In Jesus’ day, blasphemy was a capital offense that was immediately carried out, and they would just kill you right there on the spot. Jesus, you just claim to be God. Everybody heard it. There is absolutely no mistaking it. And now we have to kill you for it. 


I need you to know that people that try to treat Jesus as less than the creator of the universe, the one who called you out of sin and into a relationship with you anybody. Whoever does that with King Jesus is ultimately at war inside themselves, and they’re committing blasphemy by making God’s son less than he is. 


This is the first warning sign that the religious leaders can’t see it, and the bible wants us to see what’s going on inside these guys’ hearts.


It’s reminding us, listen, if you don’t like the message, don’t shoot the messenger. Pay attention to the message and make sure you understand the messages. This is the son of God standing in their midst and saying I did a bunch of miracles in front of you. Which one of those miracles are you going to kill me for? And they say,  we’re not killing you for the miracles, were killing you because of what you just said, because it’s so offensive to us.


Don’t miss the obvious

The truth is now we start to see just how blind these religious leaders are. They’re blind to the obvious. And the truth is that sin is going to blind all of us. 


Sin creates a blind spot that you can’t see, and you don’t even know that you have because there’s something not right between you and God, and now this sin is blocking you from seeing clearly what’s happening around you.


You and I need other good brothers and sisters in our lives that can see something that we can’t see in our lives who can point out, hey Jeff. There’s a blind spot in your life. I need you to see that this is a blind spot so that you don’t make a big mistake in this area. So, Jeff, I will come alongside you and help you make sure that you don’t make a mistake in this area because you’re being blinded deceived. 

John 10: 34-39

Jesus answered them, “Isn’t it written in your law, I said, you are gods? If he called those to whom the word of God came ‘gods’—and the Scripture cannot be broken—do you say, ‘You are blaspheming’ to the one the Father set apart and sent into the world, because I said: I am the Son of God? If I am not doing my Father’s works, don’t believe me. But if I am doing them and you don’t believe me, believe the works. This way you will know and understand that the Father is in me and I in the Father.” Then they were trying again to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.


You’re missing something because sin will do that to all of us. It does it to me. Sin will blind you from time to time from something that’s right in front of your face. And when we get to this point in John Chapter 10, I just want to take a half step back and ask how could these guys possibly miss the person that’s standing right in front of their face? Because they’ve seen the miracles. 


They’ve heard his message, and now he’s standing right in their midst and saying, I am the messiah, the one that you’ve been longing for thousands of years. He’s standing right in front of your face, and it was so apparent to everybody else. But the most religious people in town missed it. They missed it so bad. 


We will pick up in verse 34, Jesus answered them when they said we’re killing you because you claim to be the son of God, Jesus answered them. Isn’t it written in your law? I said you are gods. 


This statement comes directly from Psalm 82, and Jesus is quoting the old testament, which these religious leaders would have memorized, and he says, hey, you guys know this verse from Psalm 82:6. How come you have a problem with the word “gods’’? Isn’t it written in your law? 


Do you say you are blaspheming to the one the Father set apart and sent into the world because I said I am the son of God? Basically, Jesus is saying, look, you show respect for important people by calling them sir or ma’am, You referred to them as lord or you would call them god. That was a popular way of describing somebody that had a lot of power and a lot of respect in Jesus’s day from psalm 82. In the old testament, he says, I don’t get it. If you would be willing to use god to refer to a man, why do you have problems using God to refer to the one sent by the father and who’s standing right in front of your midst because of the works you’ve seen me do?


Let’s pick up where we left off. If I am not doing my father’s works, don’t believe in me now. Jesus will take it a half step further to try to convince him that they’re missing the obvious. But if I’m doing them and you don’t believe me. I want to add this here. Like at least believe the works. Like at least believe the miracles that we sang about just a moment ago. If you don’t believe me? If you don’t want to believe my message, would you at least then believe the miracles this way? You will know and understand that the father is in me, and I am the father.


If you read through the book of John, this is now three or four times again. They were trying to seize him, but he escaped their grasp. They are so furious by what they just heard him say because their own sin so blinds them. They even said to themselves one chapter ago, John chapter nine. A miracle just happened. It’s so great of a miracle that we can’t explain this away. In fact, we believed that this miracle was impossible, even for God.


A man was born blind, and now he can see, and we have no answers for this. And the guy who can see is saying the man by the name of Jesus is the one who healed me, and Jesus is standing in front of their midst, and they’re asking him questions about who he is. 


And he’s saying listen, if you don’t want to believe me because something is blinding you, would you at least look at my miracles? Would you at least pay attention to my miracles? And I got to ask why the math doesn’t add up for these guys? They’ve seen his miracles. They cannot deny, even say to themselves, we can’t deny that miracle, and they’re hearing him. 


For these religious leaders, they can’t conclude that he is the son of God. And I believe that part of the problem here is their understanding of the scriptures. Jesus says the scriptures cannot be broken, but you have twisted it, and you’ve distorted it, and you’ve made the bible say what you want it to say and you made the bible fit your tradition. Come on; all of you people do this all the time. You know, people who do this all the time and they take some of what the bible says, and they make it fit their circumstances so they can feel good about themselves instead of making themselves fit the bible because this is going to hurt just a little bit if you do it that way. 


Jesus is standing in front of these religious leaders, and giving them every possible proof. I’ll show you the miracles, and I’ll give you the message, you’re looking at the messenger and every possible approach. 


They still can’t see it because their tradition blinds them. After all these guys are following a set of religious rules. They don’t have the framework to see who’s standing right in front of their midst. The bible will tell us much later on in the book of Acts. It’s not until after Jesus’s death, and resurrection. He goes back to heaven and his people are so radically changed that they start to give away everything to take care of the poor that some of these religious leaders say, oh, that guy really must have been the son of God because nobody does what these people are doing. Unless something has happened in their hearts, something has happened inside them. I hope you can hear from Jesus today that if you want to get to know the messenger, you’re going to have to spend some time in his message. And I’m just going to tell you, Jesus makes it abundantly clear from the bible today. He believes the bible to be unbreakable, and I will use the word without error. 


If you want to know where Jeff is on this, If you want to know where 2 Cities Church stands on this issue. We are a church that believes without question, the bible to be without error, and I say that because I’ve met people that have this claim that yeah, I think that God is all-powerful and yes, I think that he gave his word to men a long time ago. But over time, stuff has changed, and people have distorted God’s message and the bible today is not even reliable. I want to use this discussion with him. I want to say, do you believe that God is powerful enough? That he could put his words into the heart, which come out of men’s pin as they write it down and usually their answers. Yeah, guess I could agree with that. 


Do you believe that God is powerful enough? The word they wrote down does come from God, not from them. And they’re like, well, you know, I guess I could give that one to you, but when you factor in thousands of years of translating the bible from one person to the next to the next, well, indeed it’s become so distorted that it’s not even trustworthy. And this is where I want to ask him. Don’t you think that God is powerful enough to write this and to put it on paper is also powerful enough to preserve it so that what you and I read today is still every bit as accurate as when it was written thousands of years ago? 


And when I get to this point, people struggle. So here’s my explanation to them. Why don’t you go back and do a little bit of research for yourself instead of believing what the internet tells you and look at the dead sea scrolls, the most significant biblical discovery of all time? 


Because in the 1940s, we found parts of the Bible that were written 2000 years ago, and the closest manuscripts to them were more than 1000 years later. We can compare 1000 years of notes or handwritten notes to see how bad this thing got twisted out of whack. 


I’ll tell you already, do some research yourself. Read the Dead Sea scrolls, read some of the earliest manuscripts, and you’ll see that there is virtually zero difference between those translations of the Bible 2000 years ago and what you hold in your hands today. 


Here’s what I’m trying to tell you, church, spend time in the word of God if you want to get to know God. Because the same guy who’s writing this, John, says the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we could touch him and see him and hear with our ears, the word of God was right in front of us, and we call his name, Jesus. 


They missed it because they held on to their religious rules so much that it blinded them, and couldn’t see.


Don’t waste time on religious people.

We don’t have a record of what was going through Jesus’s mind immediately after verse 39, but in verse 40, Jesus decides, I’m not wasting my time with religious people anymore. And he leaps, and the bible is going to tell us what he does next. The story picks up in verse 40. So, Jesus departed Jerusalem again across the Jordans to the place where John had been baptizing earlier and remained there. 


Jesus is in Jerusalem. He is in the epicenter of the faith when he’s having these discussions, and trying, again and again, to convince people in Jerusalem in the temple that he is the son of God, but they don’t want to hear it. So in verse 39, he decides, I’m done, and I’m going to go somewhere else, and then verse 40 he goes back to John the baptist hometown. 


He decides I’m going to hang out with the people that John the Baptist was hanging out with. I want to ask the question at this point, Why did Jesus run away from Jerusalem? Was he scared? That’s an easy answer. It’s a yes or no question, no. Was he frustrated? Well, perhaps because look at who he’s hanging out with when he gets to the part of the Jordans where John used to be, many came to Jesus and they said, John never did assign a miracle, not like this guy.


John never did assign. Still, everything John said about this man was true. Now you get a chance to see who Jesus decides to spend his time with and many believed in him there, who were the kind of people that Jesus leaves the religious leaders to go hang out with sinners like me and you, he says, I’m done with all of these religious people that think they’ve got it all figured out. 

John 10: 40-42
So he departed again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him and said, “John never did a sign, but everything John said about this man was true.” And many believed in him there.

If you’re having trouble figuring out who I am referring to, when I call this term religious people, I’m talking about those of you who are working hard to impress God by doing good works. I’m talking about people praying and following these five tenants of Islam, hoping that you’re going to get into paradise. 


I’m talking about all of those billions of people out there that are maintaining all of those holy days and hoping that one of these days you’ll be able to escape this middle territory and one day be with God because of the good works that you’ve done. That is a lie straight from the pit of hell. 


Jesus came so that you could have an intimate relationship with the father, but he is very, very hostile against the religious people of his day. In fact, Jesus has no time for them and in John Chapter 10, he just blows them off and says, you know what? I got better things to do than hang around and have religious arguments with you all day long. I’m going to go to the people that will listen and I’m using this as a way of illustrating, we have these little sponge cubes, you can’t see this from your house because it’s so small. 


But when the little video plays before the service starts, these are the core values of our church. This is what makes Two cities Church who we are and this little core value right here says reach far. I need to explain that to you because that little world symbol on there can confuse you. By that symbol, we do not mean going halfway around the world on a mission trip. If that’s where God sends you, do that without any hesitation, that’s not what we mean by that. 


The far in reach far means your neighbor. It refers to the co-worker that is one meter away from you in the cubicle right next to you. The far in reach far refers to this kind of person who is far from Jesus, and what we say as a church is 2 Cities Church exists to push back the darkness and change eternity, and we do that now by having religious arguments with people all day long. 


We do that by going to people that are far from Jesus and introducing them to the one who radically changed us, who cleaned us up, and who made us into people. That’s the far in reach. So what I’m saying is as a church, all of those life groups that we do, we would much rather have somebody show up to a life group who doesn’t know how to act in church, don’t know how to talk, the wrong kind of words coming out of their mouth because they’re far from Jesus. I would rather have that person show up into one of our groups than somebody who came from another church with a whole bunch of religious arguments and a lot of religious criticism, and a lot of accusations and judgment. You know what? Stay at your church where you’re at. You’re better off there than being with us. 


We would rather be with people far from Jesus because Jesus would rather be with people far from him than the religious leaders who want to have arguments all day long about nuances from the bible. The Bible is describing for us today how bad we can miss. Humans can miss the warning signs. 


The warning signs are telling us that there’s a war going on inside every human being’s heart, and there are some obvious signs that there’s a war within you. And if you ignore those warning signs, it could be catastrophic. So my challenge from the bible today is just don’t blow off the warning signs because sometimes the messenger is there just to remind you of the message. 


Sometimes the obvious is there to point out that you have a blind spot and you need another brother or sister. We call these life groups around here to come alongside you and to help you see.