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Visions of the Coming Days 
by R. Loren Sanford

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R. Loren Sanford, within his sober reflection, reveals the heart of the Father and the hope of glory for the body of Christ. With clarity and piercing biblical insight, he helps believers understand what is to come, and he gives practical advice on how to prepare spiritually--for the events that will unfold and for their role in all of it. Foreword by John Paul Jackson   


 

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Four Obstacles To Our Faith
By: John F. Lofton

 Mark 8:14-21

God takes no pleasure in them that draw back, withdraw, run and/or quit. Faith causes us to stick with God in the midst of problems. Quitters have a track record of dysfunctional episodes. What obstacles are causing you to run from God? What people are convincing you to capitulate to their paradigms? What circumstances are causing you to acquiesce to a down spiral of emotional instabilities? 

Jesus had a real knack for using everyday objects to teach us about spiritual things.

 

In this New Testament narrative, Jesus talks about things that we are familiar with and people we can relate to. He talks about yeast when describing the teachings of the Pharisees, the Herodians, and the Sadducees. Bread made with yeast (leaven) was a regular part of the diet of ancient Israel. The bread was made to rise by putting a piece of sour dough from a previous batch of dough in the flour, and this dough brought on fermentation of the whole loaf.

Now Jesus uses yeast in a figurative sense here when he says, "Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod."

 

The significant thing about yeast is its power. This power can become a source of good or evil.

In the parable of the leaven in Matthew chapter 13, Jesus used yeast to symbolize the pervasiveness of the kingdom which eventually transforms the world. (good use of yeast). Yet in our text here Jesus says "Watch out for the yeast..." because it is a bad thing.

 

Jesus warns us about 4 clear and succinct obstacles that will derail our faith.

Four things He classifies as yeast that if accepted by the Christian, can destroy his /her faith.

 

The yeast of the Pharisees was:

 

1. YEAST OF TRADITIONALISM

The Pharisees were traditionalists. They often held their own traditions above the law of God.

They lifted up the teachings of men so high that they were not able to recognize Christ when He was in their midst. And Jesus says "Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees."

There are a couple of reasons why traditionalism is dangerous.

 

Traditionalism says "I'll do it the old way even if the new way is better."

For centuries people believed that Aristotle was right when he said that the heavier an object was the faster it would fall to earth. Aristotle was regarded as the greatest thinker of all times and surely he could not be wrong. All it would have take was for one brave person to have taken 2 objects, one heavy and one light, and drop them from a great height to see whether or not the heavier object landed first.

 

But no one stepped forward until nearly 2,000 years after Aristotle's death. In 1589, Galileo summoned learned professors to the base of the leaning Tower of Pisa. Then he went to the top and pushed off a 10 pound & a 1 pound weight. Both landed at the same time. But the power of belief in the conventional wisdom was so strong that the professors denied what they had seen. They continued to say Aristotle was right, even though they knew in their hearts he was wrong.

 

In the text preceding the one we're studying today Jesus fed 4,000 people with7 loaves of bread and a few small fish. After performing this miracle the Pharisees came up to Jesus and asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. They were so caught up in their tradition that even this sure sign of the Son of God could not convince them that the new way (His way) was better.

 

Traditionalism says, "But we've never done it that way before."

That phrase is used over & over again in churches that are slowly dying, and can't figure out why. Let me ask you something, "If you've always done it a particular way but have never gotten any results from it, don't you think it's time to do it a way you've never done it before?"

 

The traditionalists didn't like Jesus because He did a lot of things in ways they had never been done before. Jesus wasn't concerned with the traditions of men; He was concerned with the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

 

If we want our faith to progress; if we want our church to grow; if we want to do great things in the Kingdom -- we need not be so much concerned with how things were done before -- but with how God wants them done now. Now does that mean that everything done in the past was bad, or should be forgotten? Certainly not! We build on past traditions that have been beneficial to the Kingdom, and replace the traditions that detract from the Kingdom. There is nothing wrong with having traditions. But tradition becomes traditionalism when we place preeminence of it over the commands of God.

 

The 2nd obstacle to faith is:

 

2. SECULARISM

Jesus said, "Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod" Jesus was speaking of the Herodians. They were the group who we find plotted with religious leaders as to how they might kill Jesus.

The Herods were a royal family who had flourished among the Jews in the time of Christ. The Herodians were those who followed the Herod family and supported them. The Herodians were "secularists." They believed the world could be changed by the Herods and their politics and policies. They put their faith in the government and not in God.

    

A. Secularists believe that Government can solve all the problems.

- Government has all the answers.

- Government has all the money.

- Government has all the power.

- Government has the right to decide right and wrong.

 

B. We see this prevalent attitude in our society today.

- People turn to the government. instead of turning to God.

- They feel that if they can only get the right political platform then all the world's problems can be solved.

- Government will take care of our finances.

- Government will take care of our crime problem.

- Government will take care of our health care.

- Government will take care of the teaching of our children.

- Government will tell us what is right and what is wrong.

- Government will tell us what we can preach and what we cannot preach.

 

Secularists believe that Government must make our decisions for us because we are incapable of making them on our own. But Jesus said, "Watch out for the yeast of the Herodians." Watch out for those disingenuous political pundits who you only see in your community during an election year. Watch out for the duplicity of government officials who think it is acceptable to have an affair and keep the office they vowed to honor, all for the sake of pride and not principle. 

Politics should be driven by Godly principles and not the other way around.

 

The 3rd yeast that Jesus spoke of was:

 

3. SKEPTICISM

In a parallel passage in Matthew 16:6, he doesn't mention the Herodians but he mentions the Pharisees and Sadducees. This is probably because of an amalgamation of the two groups.

 

The Sadducees were known for their skepticism when it came to anything supernatural

 

Skepticism eats away at the core of our faith.

  • Many who claim to be Christians don't believe God created the world. They say that man has progressed through biological macro evolution. But if I can't believe that God created heavens and the earth, neither can I believe that I was created in His image.
  • Many who claim to be Christians don't believe that the Bible is without contextual errors. But if I don't believe that every word in the Bible is true, I can't believe that any word in the Bible is true.
  • Many who claim to be Christians don't believe in the virgin birth of Christ, His sinless life, or His resurrection from the dead. But if I cannot base my faith on these facts about Christ, I have no faith, I have no hope, I have no salvation. When I cease to believe in the supernatural, I cease to have faith in a Savior.

 

What is true salvation? We should avoid spiritual perfectionism but also spiritual defeatism. We must have a balance. We are not defined by race, we are defined by revelation. We cannot allow the world to set a standard for us.

 

The last "yeast" that Jesus indirectly warns us of is:

 

4. PESSIMISM

The disciples were pessimistic. They were upset because they had forgotten to bring bread with them.

The whispering of the disciples was met by the Master's compendious reply. It was a reply that consisted of several closely knit questions with the purpose of arousing the 12 out of their unwarrantable pessimism.

 

From these questions we surmise that Jesus was telling them that concern about bread was unnecessary. Pessimism is dangerous in the life of the Christian for it tends to tell Christ that there are things that He is unable to do. And when we tell Christ there are things He cannot do in our lives we are usually right. He can't do them because we will not allow Him to. And when we tell Christ that there are things He can't do in our church we're usually right. He can't do what He wants with our church if we won't allow Him to.

 

When you reduce Jesus to merely a carpenter’s son, He can’t be your savior.

 

Let's realize that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.

 

CONCLUSION:

Today we've seen that Jesus warned His disciples to stay away from four obstacles to our faith.

Stay away from traditionalists who will hold you back from making progress in the kingdom of God.

Stay away from secularists who will have you focus on the wrong solutions to problems.

Stay away from skeptics who will lead you to question your faith until there is no faith left.

And stay away from pessimists who by their pessimism limit Christ's power.

 

Just saying………………….