Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

What is my Score?

Meditation for the week of April 15, 2012

Matthew 23:13  "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.

Many of us who preach the Gospel like to keep track of those that we think will be in heaven because of our work.  To me there is no greater joy then hearing someone tell me, sometimes years after I preached to them, that they responded to the Gospel of God’s grace because of my witness to them.  But sometimes I wonder how many will use me as their excuse for not believing in the greatest message that this world has ever heard.  Will I, like the scribes, Pharisees and hypocrites, be the reason that some use to reject this blessed saving Truth?  Will there be people cast away from the Lord forever because of me and my testimony?  When I was a student, we often took true/false tests where the score was based on right answers minus wrong answers.  If the Lord were keeping score in that way with regard to those I have seen saved minus those I have stumbled what would my score look like?  The scribes and Pharisees would likely have had a negative score

A scribe was a person who could read and write.  In this context they were the people who read and copied the Scriptures.  A Pharisee was a strict religious sect of the Jews who prided themselves on obedience to the old testament law.  They were legalistic and they were separatists.  They were proud of their outward observance of the law and of their knowledge of it, but they had no clue as to what it meant to be a true worshiper of Jehovah.  Hypocrites were play actors.  They were people who pretended to be something that they were not.  Likely the term hypocrite in this verse refers to both the scribes and the Pharisees.

The Lord reserved his harshest criticisms for these religious people who were actually making the worship of Jehovah burdensome to the average Jew.  The Pharisees knew the law and the prophets and expected the Messiah to come, but because they were so blinded by their own ambition and self-righteousness, they helped in crucifying the Messiah when He came.  There were some Pharisees that were saved.  Apparently Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were two.  Paul was also one.  You will notice that the Lord saved, healed and spent time with tax collectors and sinners.  He even realized that because of their deep need, when they were delivered from the consequences of their sins, they loved the Lord deeply.    Most Pharisees never loved the Lord, they only loved their position and prestige.

The word “woe” is used as a warning here.  It could be translated “alas”.  It probably means “your sorrow is coming.”  The Lord is not condemning great moral sin (though he certainly doesn’t condone it).  He was condemning self-righteous religious people who were not what they claimed to be.  Outwardly they did everything “right” and forced others to do everything “right” but inwardly they were rotten to the core. I believe that religious people who are not true worshipers of the Lord and who force their religion on those who have never been truly born again do a lot of damage to the preaching of the Gospel.   They themselves need to be saved, but they are difficult to reach with the Gospel.  Their sin is the sin of pride.  Their pride not only keeps them from truly worshiping the Lord, but they hinder others as well.

Today the two main sins that many religious self-righteous people preach about are homosexuality and abortion.  There certainly are other sins but of course the others might affect those who are doing the preaching.  Pride, backbiting, railing, covetousness, heterosexual sins and greed are also sins but often they are “acceptable” sins.  The Lord never said that the world would be saved by preaching against these two sins or by singling out any other pet sins and preaching about them.  We are to preach Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2).  We are to preach that all have sinned (Romans 3:23), and that there is none righteous (Romans 3:10).  The preacher of the Gospel that is effective has first been convicted of his own sin and has said like Isaiah in chapter 6 and verse 5,  “Woe is me!” Isaiah started out saying “Woe unto them” in the previous chapters but finally realized that the sin problem was personal.  Only then did the Lord cleanse him and send him to preach.

The Pharisees of our day who ridicule people caught up in sins that we do despise are doing the cause of Christ a great disservice.  It is time to be honest.  Sin is sin.  My sin is just as bad as your sin.  The only escape from this problem of sin is faith in Christ.  That faith is humbling.  It does not leave us thanking God that we are not like the great sinners (Luke 18:11).  Instead it leaves us thanking God for His mercy to us as sinners (Luke 18:13).

So how would the Lord score my service for Him?  How would He score yours?  It’s a troubling question, isn’t it?

Bruce Collins

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>