Sermons by Marlin Harless

HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH

THE KIND OF PREACHING WE NEED!
(Text: Isaiah 8:20)
By Marlin L. Harless

INTRODUCTION: I suggest we take a very careful look at the above text, for two reasons: 1. Why did the prophet utter the statement? First, God's judgments would punish His people for their sins: "Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks: And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel" (Isaiah 8:7, 8). The Lord instructed Isaiah that, "I should not walk in the way of this people" (Isaiah 8:11b).

"And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? (Isaiah 8:19). After assessing the situation, Isaiah recommends looking to God and the revealed word rather than necromancy! Then follows the words of the text: "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, It is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:20). The people should have confessed, and repented of their sins; and, therefore, seek God's deliverance, rather than seek after "familiar spirits, and wizards."

Beloved, what we have here is a present day picture of America; as a nation, we have largely forgotten God! When we have perplexing problems, we find a palm reader, or a thorough bred denominational preacher, and expose our spiritual bosom unto them! And follow their instructions to the letter! We refuse to confess our sins to God, and obey the gospel of Christ, and, thus set our spiritual house in order. Why? Please, let Jesus speak to you: "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).

I. WHAT ARE THE FRUITS OF MAN SEEKING AND FOLLOWING THE LIGHT THAT GOD HAS PROVIDED?

2. Throughout the scriptures, Light and Truth stand together, inseparably, as though spiritual twins! Light is always fully representative of truth, as truth also is of light! The apostle John says, "…That God is light, and in him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). Therefore, where God is, there will be no darkness! Sin always identifies with darkness, and the thief much prefers darkness to light. The world today needs this Spiritual Light that God only provides, but man has the tendency to reject it, just as the Israelites in our text did! Remember, too, that Spiritual Light is absolutely necessary, to dispel spiritual darkness; that is what the Psalmist meant, when he said, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105).

Isaiah, actually functioning as a prophet of God, had the responsibility, like all the others, to deliver God's message to the people, without altering, or changing it in any manner! Accordingly, he being "a man of God," "For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, {'not to stray from God as they were doing', emphasis, mine, MLH}, Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy, neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary; and for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence, to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem" (Isaiah 8:11-14). Beloved, I submit to you with all the earnestness of my soul, and strength, that this is "The Kind of Preaching We Need," today!!

Beloved, I can think of nothing that disturbs me more, than to hear a Bible teacher, or preacher, read a text from the Word of God, and, almost in the same breath, give a paraphrase of certain words, which he thinks are a bit offensive, or archaic and substitute his own words, for the words of scripture! Realizing, as we all should, that there are times when a word, or an entire sentence, might require detailed explanation, or special commentary. What I am saying, is this, we should be very meticulous, when using paraphrases, by attempting to clarify the meaning of a text of scripture! We should be aware, that a change in the "wording of the text," will necessarily require a "corresponding change in the meaning of the text"!! This is precisely the problem we have with the New Versions, and translations; when the words are changed, there is a corresponding change in the meaning of the text! The only exception is, that, the words being substituted, are the same in meaning!!

The man who advocates that (Romans 10:10 as translated by the NIV is reliable, reveals he is unreliable himself as a teacher of God's Word. {The KJV reads as follows: "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:10). The NIV reads as follows: "For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved" (Romans 10:10). Emphasis, mine, MLH}.

Someone may object and say, "Oh, but every man should be allowed to express his opinion concerning the translation issue." The real issue is that no man has the right to advocate false doctrine by either explicitly or by implication. To state that the "New International Version is a reliable translation" is to imply that what is taught in the NIV---in the above instance, "Faith Only"---is reliable. If not? Why not? So, when Clem Thurman stated in his Gospel Minutes that the NIV is a reliable translation, he implied that the false doctrine of the NIV is reliable. If not? why not?

Yet many brethren cannot be warned about such error in Gospel Minutes, but insist on bringing bundles into the church on a weekly basis for the members to take home. As Ira Rice once said, "You just can't warn some brethren."1 My friends, I call Jehovah God to witness this day, that this is "The Kind Of Preaching We Need!" Brethren, by the grace of God, we could correct, and possibly, restore, the false teachers and or change agents today, if faithful Christians would obey Paul's teaching: "Now I beseech you brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple" (Romans 16:17, 18).

II. WHAT IS THE CHRISTIAN ATTITUDE WE SHOULD HAVE TOWARD CHANGE AGENTS AND FALSE TEACHERS, IN THE BROTHERHOOD?

Beloved, the answer to this question must be found in the Word of God! Jesus said, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me" (John 5:39). Rather than to follow the Lord's advice, some professed Christians will seek the experienced wisdom, and expertise, of a Max Lucado; or possibly, a young man, who just recently graduated from one of our, so called, Christian colleges (?); who sat under two or three infidel, or atheistic professors, who regard Christ and His Precious, Rich, Red, Royal, Ruby, Blood, as a joke! Is it any wonder that America is coming apart at the seams? Beloved, I think not!!

Accordingly, let's plug into the power of God's Word! Jesus said, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:8, 9). These people were not earnest or sincere in their worship; rather, their attitude was simply, "will worship," that is, to suit or please themselves! If Jesus were on the earth today, He could say the same thing about America!! Just think of all those people out there, many, many, many, millions, who think they are worshipping God, when they sing, clap their hands, and tap their foot, during the Communion Service; and, if Christ were here, He could say, "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."

Beloved, these are the things we should be attempting to preach to a lost and dying world! We need to understand, that, a preacher who is preaching from one of the new, perverted, adulterated, versions, or translations of the bible; and the people sitting in the pews, are following him, and using their perverted versions; there is no way they can, under these circumstances, be worshipping God "In Spirit and in Truth." Let us assume that the preacher's text is (Psalm 51:1-5). In the NIV, it has David saying, "I have been a sinner from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." Guess Jesus did not know what He was talking about when He said that the kingdom of heaven is of such characters as little children. Did Jesus mean, Let the little sinners come unto me? (Matthew 18:1-4). According to the NIV He must have. 2

Faithful Christians; all elders, deacons, and preachers, should be telling fellow Christians, that we must not attempt to remove the "Ancient Land Marks!" "Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set" (Proverbs 22:28). God has designated certain spiritual Ancient Land Marks which must never be removed!! For example: "Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm" (1 Timothy 1:7). If a person intends to teach or preach, he must be willing to prepare himself, absolutely, no exceptions!! A person must know what he, or she will teach; this is the solution to the sad state of affairs highlighted in the preceding text, and, also, the following text: "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils," {demons, emphasis, mine, MLH}. Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron" (1 Timothy 4:1, 2,). False teachers deny The Ancient Land Mark of "baptism" for the remission of sins! (Cf., Romans 6:3-6).

Beloved, when the conscience is destroyed, then man becomes animalistic, cold, and brutal, he has no sense of values, the man himself becomes his own worst enemy; God may send him "strong delusion." "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).

When man rejects God's plan of salvation, and persists in doing things his own way, Bible, or no Bible; sometimes God just turns him loose, and lets him wallow in the muck and mire of sin, his eyes sunken in their sockets; his breath becomes thick and heavy; his liver is almost destroyed by alcohol; he gets the jitters, and jumps behind bushes, thinking some one is hunting him down; during the night, it is worse, he fears the darkness!! The fact of the matter is, this, man destroys himself by rejecting God, His love, mercy, grace, and pardon! That is why Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).

III. WARNINGS AGAINST FALSE TEACHERS, AND CHANGE AGENTS.

Paul said, "These things teach and exhort: If any man teach otherwise. And consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings. Perverse disputing of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself" (1 Timothy 6:2d-5). "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry"(2 Timothy 4:3-5).

Beloved, there were 'many vain conversationalists' in the first century, as there are in the 21st century. "For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teachings things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies" (Titus 1:10-12). Please note how these people are described!!! The inspired men used "plainness of speech"!! "Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech" (2 Corinthians 3:12).

My friends, hear me, are you listening? The enemies of God are doing today precisely what Jesus, and the apostles said they would do!! "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not" (2 Peter 2:1-3).

Brother Max Lucado has given Satan to have the advantage over him, by preaching false doctrine, changing the name of the church of Christ, and writing many books, one estimate being thirty nine million copies in print, that tickle the ears of many of the worldly famous, who have sold themselves to sin, and spiritual wickedness in high places!!! His books portray him as a spiritual counselor; moreover, his denial of the baptism of the Great Commission is a matter of record!! Suffice it to say, that, I have no objection to brother Lucado writing his books, however, it is a foregone conclusion, that no man can lawfully make merchandise of the Word of God!!!

The following text fits like a glove: "Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy one of Israel to cease from before us" (Isaiah 30:8-11). This text is a clear picture of some churches of Christ today!!!

CONCLUSION: All Christians should thoroughly enjoy hearing Christ centered sermons, preached by book, chapter, and verse preachers; and read articles that are in this same category, thus, we could be far more successful in fine-tuning our souls, and "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Dear reader, are you absolutely sure of your salvation? If you aren't, then you could be lost and not realize it!! Our Lord has asked you to do certain things to become a Christian! For example: 1. You must hear the gospel of Christ, (Romans 10:14). 2. You must believe the gospel, (Romans 10:14). 3. You must repent of past sins, (Luke 13:3, 5). 4. You must confess Christ before men, (Matthew 10:32, 33). 5. You must be immersed or baptized, for the remission of sins, (Romans 6:3-6). 6. You must be faithful until death, (Revelation 2:10). Beloved, will you do it Today! Today! Today?

E-Mail Address: mlharless@kvinet.com Dear reader: In the event you find errors in this sermon, spelling, misquotes, scripture references, etc., please feel free to inform me of the same! [Telephone number: (304) 247-6895] Thank you! MLH

ENDNOTES:

1 By Gary L. Grizzell-The NIV Is Spiritual Poison

2 By Gary L. Grizzell -The NIV Is Spiritual Poison

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

1. The King James Version of The Bible, The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, The Fifth Improved Edition

2. The American College Dictionary

3. The American Heritage Dictionary

4. The Expanded Vines, The Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, by W. E. Vine

5. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament

6. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Words

7. Thayer's Greek -English Lexicon of the New Testament

8. The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, by George Ricker Berry, Ph.D.



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