Being Tethered to the Truth

Mark 11:15-19

How Can We Stay Tethered to Truth?

  1. By reading, studying and obeying God’s Word – daily.
  2. By dedicating yourself to sound doctrine.
  3. By interpreting culture through the lens of Scripture – not the other way around.
  4. By differentiating between the temporal and the eternal.

Well, good morning, Saylorville. If you brought a copy of Scripture with you this morning, you can find Mark’s Gospel Mark Chapter 11 as we conclude our series our summer series theology on fire and this message is a little bit really My heart coming out. So bear with me if you will.

By the way, how many of you got a chance to see the other side that just opened up today, huh? How cool is that, huh? Praise the Lord. I hope you all get to do that. Look upstairs, downstairs, up in the back loft, all of it’s new, it’s really well new-ish, whatever you want to call it. But we’re grateful to God, thankful for the faithful giving of God’s people here, that means you. And really, really grateful for our building committee. Some of them are represented here. I’m not going to make you stand up or anything. But we’ll probably get that out there who they are, because they are to be thanked for all the great work that they have done. We’re grateful.

So let me just start out by just asking a question. If you have ever wondered what it looks like from my perspective up here? That is looking at your faces and what your faces are saying to me, ’cause they’re saying a lot. I’ll give it to you in a series of emojis. I mean, some of you have a holy look. Here’s the holy look. You know, I mean, you guys are just, you’re so, some of you have that studious look, you know, you’ve taken 15 pages of notes, which you’ll never look at again. Some of you have an angry look, I’ve seen angry looks out there like, what are you talking about? Some have a tense look like, what’s next? And then there’s always a few out there that have the ho-hum look like, when is this going to be over? [LAUGHTER] There’s the cynical look like, oh my goodness. Is he going to go there? The most concerning look of mine, to me at least, is the indifferent look. You don’t really care. Then there’s the– I don’t get it. Look. There’s the contemplative look. You look like you’re really thinking this thing through. Then there’s the, I don’t really understand what you just said, but I really like you, so I’ll keep looking, look, and keep listening. And if I get really discouraged up there, I can always appreciate the adoring look. And that would be my sweetheart, usually right here, looking up at me.

But what if I could speak? And what if I spoke in such a way that you hung on every word that came out of my mouth? Now that doesn’t happen, I know it. But if I could speak in such a way, I’d be like Jesus on the day that he cleansed the temple. He actually did that a couple of times. He did it, he basically bookended his whole ministry, cleansing the temple, John chapter two at the beginning, and then all the synoptics have him cleansing the temple. on Monday the week of his passion just before he died. So in fact, before we read the text in verse 11 of Mark 11, and Mark, is the only one who tells us this, He actually the night before he went into the temple, looked around and then went back home. I think his heart was brewing before he got there the next day because he went into the temple, he looked around and we know what he did when he cleansed the temple. I think the tables were out, they were ready to make big bucks. And he saw that of all weeks, the passion week, the week of his own death. And so with that in mind, Mark 11:15-19,

And they came to Jerusalem and he (Jesus) entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written? My house, shall be called the house of prayer for all the nations?” But you’ve turned it into a den of robbers hiding place for thieves. The chief priest and scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him. For they feared him. because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.

And we’ll stop there. By the way, historians tell us that reverence for the temple precinct was at such a low in those days that the temple was used, the precinct was used as a kind of shortcut to get from one side of Jerusalem to the other. And you can actually see it in the text, if you’re like me, you’re thinking, “Oh my goodness, I never saw it. Look at Mark 11:16 again. We’ll put it up there for you.” Look at it says,

“And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple.”

This isn’t the money changers. This is just pedestrians passing through. Using in the temple.

When I was studying this, I thought of a woman who walked in here sometime back. middle of the week she walked in, I walked up, and said, “Ma’am, can I help you?” She goes, “No, I’m just using the restroom, that okay?” I, “Oh, yeah, I’m by all means, you know.” I mean, she just didn’t have any spiritual needs. Just wanted to use the facilities. And that got me thinking and wondering, how many people use the church? Maybe some of you?

As with the temple, the church ought to be a place of prayer, of community, of good works, and truth, amen? Tethered to the truth.

[Hebrews 10:24-25], “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another and so much the more as we see the day approaching.“

So here’s Jesus, having done the recon on the night before he comes in, he’s flipping tables, he’s flipping chairs, he’s turning back pedestrians, he’s rebuking the leaders, and according to Matthew’s gospel, he’s healing, he’s healing lame people while he’s doing all this. And teaching. In fact, if you look at Mark 11:18, it says,

“The people were astonished.”

You see that word? That word “astonish,” that Greek word literally means to be struck out of your senses. They’re like, what? And the result, by the way, I almost preached this from Luke’s gospel because of this one line, Luke has them saying, “All the people were hanging on his words.” It’s the only time this word ever appears in the Greek New Testament, that word hanging. And it literally carries the idea of being spellbound. In fact, it pictures a neck being stretched out like you’re just leaning into it. Have you ever taught, you listen to somebody who just was so spellbinding, you just had the, you hung on every word. And you may have, but it’s, they’re not a dime a dozen, right? This is why when Jesus ended His sermon on the Mount Matthew 7:28, it says that the people were astonished. There’s that word. They were astonished because He spoke with, they might know the next word, authority and not as the scribes. And this is the reason why when the bad guys sent out a temple guard to get Jesus, then they came back without Jesus. And in John 7:46 they said, “Why didn’t you bring him?” And their answer was, “Nobody ever talked like this before. No man ever spoke like this.”

So we hang on to a lot of things. Do we not? We hang on to our jobs. We hang onto our positions, we hang onto relationships, we hang onto our health, and we hang onto our youthfulness, none of which, none of the above can we keep.

I mean, just the other day I was with, I got a couple of grandkids that are graduating this year. One of them was showing me all their graduation pictures. They’re great, beautiful pictures. and one of my other grandkids said, “Papa, show us a picture of you when you were this age.” So I got my phone out and showed them a picture of me then. And this is what they said, and I quote, “Papa, you were handsome when you were younger.” (audience laughing) I went home, I told my wife, “You know you’re getting older when your kids start talking “about you in the past tense before you’ve passed.” (audience laughing)

But you don’t have to be older to see things that you have held that you’ve held too tightly to be forced away from you. Am I right? Things that you hold on to that change, leave, slip away. You see people making choices in your life. you never dreamt in a thousand years they’d make. And then some of them die. The key to rightly responding to unforeseen changes in life and in culture, and there’s a slew of them coming, is there not? Is being tethered to the truth of God. If you’ve been around me, you know, that’s been the metaphor that I have just embraced for years now.

I remember a few years ago in our vacation Bible school, somebody had the great idea, the bright idea of giving all the kids a helium balloon on the last day. Well, you know where they all ended up. I mean, we had them in the rafters for weeks before they came down. Because that’s what kids do. The helium balloons were not tethered to them. And it occurred to me that those balloons represent how some of us hold on to truth in crisis. We hold on to truth like a kid at VBS holding a helium balloon. The point is, they don’t and neither do you. Truth like a helium balloon gets away from you, leaves you and then you’re left at best disillusioned by God and at worst as a rejector of the truth itself. However, if you and I are tethered to this book, to the truth of God, we hang on, it’s every word. You will rise above anything that your life or this culture has to throw at you and it’s slinging a lot of mud right now.

So here’s the question before us. How can we stay tethered to the truth?

This first one is like a big duh, but we gotta give it to you. By reading, believing, and obeying God’s word.

I mean, today, Eden Church starts their practicing for services when they launch in a few weeks our newest church plant in our engaged network. And John Nemmers, when he became a Christian, he was read his Bible, but he just was fallen in love with C.S. Lewis. He was quoting C.S. Lewis so often. I said, “You keep that up. I’m gonna call you one click, Johnny.” And he goes, “Well, like what do you mean?” I said, “You’re always one click away from the truth.” And that convicted him. I thank God that today he’s a man of the truth. He’s tethered to the truth of God. Still like C.S. Lewis, but not in the same way.

Just a couple of weeks ago, John Piper, celebrating 50 years of ministry, was asked to reflect on those 50 years, how he maneuvered through all the change for the last 50 years. But true to form, Piper reversed the question with the following words, and I quote,

“Since the issues that you will be facing in the next 50 years are utterly unpredictable, and in some cases unimaginable, Your best preparation right now in your teens and 20s and 30s is to gain the spiritual and intellectual abilities to interpret God’s never-changing word in Scripture. The best way to prepare for faithful, obedient, fruitful ministry in the next 50 years is to know your Bible deeply, thoroughly, confidently, joyfully.”

And I concur. All I could think of was that old Awana verse from the old King James. Remember, 2 Timothy 2:15,

“Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Study, that means to be diligent, be a dog on a bone with the word of God. And not just to know it, and not just to love it because I love the Bible. I love the Bible myself. I love to study the Bible myself, but I need to

“…be a doer of the Word and not a hear-only deceiving my own self.” [James 1:22]

So if we’re gonna be tethered to the truth, we gotta read, obey the Word of God, right?

Secondly, by dedicating yourself to sound doctrine, sound doctrine. When the Apostle Paul was in a Roman Mamertine prison facing death. It was basically his last will and testament to Timothy. And he said in chapter three in verse 10, 2 Timothy 3:10, he said,

“Timothy, you have followed my doctrine, my teaching, my manner of life, my purpose, faith, long suffering.”

He lists all kinds of character traits in his own life, but he starts top of the chain doctrine, theology, truth. That’s where it all begins. What you believe is way more important than how you behave. But if you really believe it, it will change how you behave every time. If what you claim to believe has not changed you, then you haven’t been changed. Because

[2 Corinthians 5:17], “if anyone’s in Christ, they’re a new creation. (right?) Old things are passed away. All things have become new. “

The word followed in 2 Timothy 3:10, It’s the normal word followed in the Greek, but it has an intensifier. It’s got a prefix which intensifies the word. In fact, it’s the same word as in Acts 1:3 where Luke is writing Acts, he says, he says, “I did a thorough examination,” have you ever read that? It’s the same word. He’s dedicating himself to the life and doctrine of Christ.

Charles Spurgeon made famous the line,

“The sovereignty of God is the pillow on which one lays their head.”

It’s a great line and it’s true. If you believe in the sovereignty of God, that’s very foundational or foundational, believe that God rules all things, amen? As I meditated upon Spurgeon’s quote, this thought came to my mind, [Pat Nemmers]

“God’s sovereignty is either a pillow, you lay your head on or a wall, you crash it into. “

But sound doctrine says you accept the sovereignty of God, he is in control of all things.

So just the other day, I went to On With Life. It’s a medical facility for those who’ve had many injuries, especially head injuries. And I visited this young man, his name is Nile. a friend that I mentor in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, informed me that Nile was on his way up there less than a month ago, this 18-year-old who had dedicated his life to Christ was in St. Louis. And as he was driving down the road, a drunk driver, careened out of control, hit a light post, caused all kinds of havoc and traffic. And so Nile got out of his car to traffic away from other human beings and got hit by a car. He had multiple injuries, punctured lung and eye that came out. They were able to put back in, I don’t know if his sight will ever come back, a crushing cranial injury and thus a brain injury. And I met him, not quite in a fetal position, but he was awake. He couldn’t talk much. But as I leaned into him and shared truth, he affirmed to me he loved Jesus Christ. And there was his mom and dad right at his side. They weren’t coming apart at the seams. Were they hurt? Yes. Were they sorrowful? Yes, did they cry? Yes, but they were unflappable because they trusted in the sovereignty of God. And that’s what dedicating yourself to sound doctrine will do when the crisis hits.

The very first message I preached after becoming a widower was six weeks after my wife died. And the message was titled, “When Your Theology Comes To Bear.” What I meant was, and here’s my point, everybody’s, listen to this, everybody’s real theology is revealed. Both in the ups and downs of life, certainly in the downs when the disappointments, the tragedy, sadness, hurt, but also in the ups of life, in the joys and happiness and your accomplishment. Your theology is going to be put under test. When you start taking things to yourself, you start giving yourself credit for all the blessings in your life, that’s a sign that your theology is very weak. The extreme ups and downs of life will always accentuate what you you believe, mark it down.

And so just the other night, my wife and I were in the home of a couple in our church who have, they love the Lord, but they have endured excruciatingly difficult times. Hard decisions, life choices of their children which are just breaking their hearts. And as we went back and forth, I didn’t have great answers. We were there to encourage him, but they encouraged us because they were tethered to the Word of God. They were not moved. Yes, they were hurt, but they were not moved. The truth of God kept them steady, right? What did Elizabeth Elliot once say or no, it was Cory Ten Boom.

“We might shake upon the rock, but the rock will never shake under us.”

And they were held tethered to the truth of God.

Here’s a third way in which we can be tethered, and it might be the only thing you need to catch, I mean, it isn’t, but it might be the thing that you really need to hunker down on. By interpreting culture through the lens of Scripture and not the other way around. Because that’s exactly what’s happening, and about, I don’t want to exaggerate this, but I’m going to say, in over 50% of evangelical churches today, that’s exactly what they’ve done. They’re interpreting scripture through the lens of culture rather than the culture through the lens of scripture.

Here’s an old proverb, everyone here should memorize. I put it up there for you, out of the King James, out of the New King James, the New King James, and I’ll tell you why in a moment.

[Proverbs 14:12] “There is a way that seems right to a man (right?) but the end is the way of (what?) [death.]

Okay, these are Solomon’s words. And I give it to you in the New King James You see the italicized words? That’s what the new King James does for us. It’ll italicize words that are not in the Hebrew or Greek. And so for instance, in Psalm 14:1,

“The fool has said in his heart, (what?) “There is no God.

Do you know that “there is” is not in the Hebrew? Literally the Hebrew says the fool has said in his heart, “NO, God!” It makes a difference, doesn’t it? Now it might mean just like your English Bible, and I think this is the idea. So don’t get me, I’m not trying to get you to distrust your English Bible. I think that’s the idea. But I put it up there because this literally is, there is a way right to a man. That’s the way it literally renders in the Hebrew. But I think that’s, I think that our English translators have got it right, but couldn’t they also put, there’s a way that “feels” right to a man. Because that’s the way our culture operates on feelings. This is exactly what happens when we interpret scripture through the lens of culture. We end up feeling our way through decisions and beliefs and behavior. And churches today are untethering themselves from the scriptures. They’re using the Bible and I put quotes around the word “use.” And they’re untethering themselves from Scripture, faster than the kid with a balloon and vacation Bible school. And our constantly changing culture is applying continuous pressure on us to change. Is it not? To cave in to our beliefs, to just give in to compromise. Stay tethered, believers in Jesus.

I mean, take life from the beginning. I did, I actually watched the debate the other day. And I’m not a biologist, but I know life doesn’t begin 15 weeks after conception. And it might be political suicide to take, to make life from conception, your platform, but it’s theological suicide to believe otherwise.

That’s why I’ve shared this story in a different way a few years ago, we led Rich to Christ, Rich came to know Jesus, brand new Christian, came to our community group, and the subject of life came up from conception, and Rich goes, “What do you guys have against a woman’s right to choose?” And you could literally hear a pin drop. And so, but when, because he had become a Christian and he had tethered himself in the scripture, he was tethered to the Bible. He just didn’t know the Bible. And so when we opened up Psalm 139, he went, “Oh my goodness, I’ve never seen this.” And he embraced it. Which is what Christians do who come under the authority of scripture and tether themselves to it, amen?

The latest in cultural shifts, they just keep coming. the mud keeps coming. There’ll be another shift in a week or two. Believe me. But whether it’s the gender thing that everybody makes a B-line to and the LGBTQ+ community, if you need to tether yourself to the truth of God, here’s how Paul put it in Romans 1:26-27.

“For this reason, God gave them up to dishonorable passions. (I didn’t say that. God did.) For their women exchange natural relations. for those that are contrary to nature and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another. Men committing shameless acts with men and receiving them in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

Listen, this is what you must tether yourself to. not as an angry weapon, but as a loving appeal to the authority of God, tethered to the truth of God. Listen, humans have been struggling with same-sex attraction from the time sin came into the world. They have not always had a culture that encouraged, endorsed, and promoted it. You do. Tether yourself to the truth, amen? Racism and gender when it comes to tether yourself to Galatians 3:28, where in fact memorize this scripture, memorize where we’re told there’s neither Jew, in Christ there’s neither there’s not Greek, there’s not slave, there’s not free, there’s not male, there’s not female, they’re all one in Christ Jesus. Tether yourself to that truth.

And some of the shifts that are taking place in our culture are happening in the church. I’ve already mentioned it, but I don’t know what the percentage is, but there are many evangelical churches that you could almost, those of you who are members of this church could almost sign off on, except they have gone from complimentary position to an egalitarian position. Complimentarianism says that God made men and women. We’re all saying there’s, it’s all level at the cross, but he has a structure. He has order in the family, in the church. Egalitarianism blurs the lines of distinction between men and women. And that’s why you see many, an evangelical church, you see women in the pulpit as pastors. You need to tether yourself to the Word of God. And here it is, this isn’t my words, these are God’s.

First Timothy 2:12,

“I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority (There’s the key word in this passage) over man, rather she is to remain quiet.”

No jokes on the quiet part here, okay? The fact of the matter is, this is what the Bible says. And I’m not here to apologize for what the scripture says. And again, do not utilize these scriptures in an angry as an angry weapon. Don’t weaponize the word of God. That’s Christians have made such a mockery of the name of Jesus by weaponizing truth. God never intended us to weaponize the truth. But rather use it as a loving appeal under the authority of God because you’re tethered to the word of God, amen?

Fourthly and finally, we will be tethered to truth by differentiating between the temporal and the eternal. Now, the Apostle Paul said something that was really cool. He said this to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:12, he said,

“…take hold of eternal life.”

…which is a very interesting, it is not a covenant. He’s talking to a Christian. What do you mean by that? “Take hold of eternal life.” In fact, in the Greek, it’s the middle voice. In the middle voice means you take hold of it. It’s your responsibility to lay hold of eternal life. And what does he mean by that? How do we do that? Let me suggest a couple of ways.

One, by loosening your grip on the temporal things you’re hanging on to right now. I couldn’t help but think of that. Remember that 70s group 38 Special? Hold on loosely, but don’t let go. If you hold too tight…Oh, forget it, you know… whatever. Bust into a song here. But Jesus said this. He told us to loosen our grip. He said, [Matthew 6:19] ‘Don’t build up treasures on earth. That’s where moth and rust crept in, thieves break through and steal,’ and some of you have thieves metaphorically speaking, coming into your life, they’re stealing all kinds of things. They’re ripping it out of your hands. Jesus said, “Lay up for yourself, “treasures in heaven where neither moth, “nor rust, corrupts, thieves can’t break through, “they can’t steal it.” [Matthew 6:21]

“Where your treasure is, that’s where your heart is.”

And Paul said to Timothy in the same context as he said, “hold on to eternal life,” He said, in

1 Timothy 6:7,

‘You brought nothing into this world. It’s certain you can’t carry anything out.’

Right? I mean, that’s not even rocket science. We see it all the time. You’re going to leave it all behind. If we’re going to grab hold of eternal life, we’re going to need to let go of a couple of things. Right now, some of you are holding on way too tightly to something in your life. Right now, I want you to bow your head. Right now, every one of you bow your head and every one of you close your eyes. And I want you to fill this, I just want you to put the words into this blank. ‘Lord, as I pray, I’m holding on way too tightly to, what goes in that blank right now.’ It’s probably a really good thing. Some of you have kids on your mind, some of you have your spouse on your mind, some of you have your job on your mind, you have your reputation on your mind. You need to give that to God. Will you do that? All right. Look up again if you would.

And secondly, how we take hold of eternal life first by loosing our grip on temporal things that we’re hanging on to, secondly, by becoming a people of prayer. You’re wondering, I was getting way too far away from the text, wasn’t I? I mean, Jesus said this in all of the synoptic accounts, [Matthew 21:12-13]

“My house shall be called a house of (what?) prayer… (and then Mark adds) “for all the nations.”

If we’re gonna be tethered to God’s word, we better be tethered to God’s home.

In just a few weeks, we will resume a season of prayer. Once a week, at six in the morning, later in the morning, and if we have the same number of people show up, that showed up last year, that’ll be less than 2% of you. And that’s a shame. If we’re gonna stay tethered to the truth of God, we better be tethered to the home of God. And I challenge every one of you to reconsider your priorities and be in the house of God and make it a house of prayer for all the nations.

Finally, if we’re going to grab hold of eternal life, you better believe the gospel, because some of you haven’t done that. If you were to visit my wife’s grave, etched on her grave is her own testimony of coming to Jesus. Just etched right into the grave, the stone, rather, including her favorite verse, which is John 1:12, where it says,

“As many as received him, to them God gave the authority to become the children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

The word received, you know what it literally means? It means the lay ahold of. That’s what it means. No one casually believes in Jesus. You take hold of Him. You repent of your sin. Your pride. Your resistance to God. Your narcissism and everything else, your materialism and everything else that’s got a grip on you because you have a grip on it and you won’t let go. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Receive Him. Lay hold of Him and you’ll have everlasting life. Believe that He died and rose again for you. So that when it comes to die, that’s all you got to do is let go and be with Jesus, amen?

Last night, a big chunk of our family got together. We celebrated this guy. The guy just off center, Noah. Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of getting a brand new liver. He would have died without it. So we celebrated that God gave him an extended period of life on this earth. And he’s making good use of it, I might add.

But let me tell you something. Unless you get a new heart, you’re not going to get that extended life in eternity. And that’s what some of you need. You need to tether yourself to the one who will give you a brand new heart. And the Bible says that [Romans 10:9]

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Will you trust him today? And those of you who have, will you recommit yourself to be tethered to the truth of God?

Let’s pray.

Our Father, we’re grateful. We’re grateful for this series, we’re grateful for what you’ve done, we’re grateful for the Word of God, and help us not to be people who use your church or use your Word, but tether ourselves to the Word of God through all of the struggles and ups and downs of life, and all of the changes, and they’ll keep changing in our culture. To not deviate from the truth, not twist or distort it, but believe it for what it says. And God, we know that you’ll help us to keep our heads above the fray if we do so. And I pray for those Lord in this groom that have never tethered themselves to Jesus. If that’s you, dear friend, acknowledge your pride, acknowledge your sin, ask Jesus who died and rose again for you to save you and come into your life. Would you do that right now? And Lord, would you make fresh commitments, take place all over this room, online, where people are saying, Lord, I recommit myself. to your eternal Word. And we’ll thank you for that in Jesus’ name. Amen. Let’s stand.


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