Ephesians 5_15-17      Saved From Stupid

Rev. David Holwick   R

First Baptist Church

Ledgewood, New Jersey

May 23, 2010

Ephesians 5:15-17


SAVED FROM STUPID



  I. Stupid people are everywhere.

      A. Actual crimes committed by actual criminals:


         Two Kentucky men tried to pull off the front of a cash machine

            by running a chain from the machine to the bumper of their

               pickup truck.

         The front panel of the ATM was so secure that instead they

            pulled off the bumper of their truck.

         Scared, they fled the scene and drove home, leaving the chain

            attached to the ATM

         ... with their bumper still attached to the chain

         ... with their vehicle's license plate still attached to the

               bumper.


         A man walked into a convenience store, put a $20 bill on the

            counter, and asked for change.

         When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man pulled a gun

            and demanded all the cash in the register, which the clerk

               promptly provided.

         The man grabbed the cash from the clerk and fled - leaving the

            $20 bill on the counter.

         The total amount of cash he got from the drawer?

            Fifteen dollars.


         In San Francisco a man walked into a downtown Bank of America

            and wrote, "This is a stickup.  Put all your many in this bag."

         While standing in line waiting to give his note to the teller,

            he began to worry that someone had seen him write the note and

               might call the police before he reached the teller window.

         So he left the Bank of America and crossed the street to Wells

            Fargo.


         After waiting a few minutes in line, he handed his note to the

            Wells Fargo teller.

         She read it and guessed from his spelling errors that he was

            not the brightest bank robber in the world.

         So she told him that she could not accept his stickup note

            because it was written on a Bank of America deposit slip.

         He would either have to fill out a Wells Fargo deposit slip or

            go back to Bank of America.


         Looking somewhat defeated, the man said okay and left the Wells

            Fargo Bank.

         The Wells Fargo teller then called the police, who arrested him

            a few minutes later as he was waiting in line back at the

               Bank of America.

                                                                   #18672


      B. Stupidity isn't limited to criminals.

          1) A foolish world rejected Jesus.


          The preacher Harry Emerson Fosdick once said that Jesus was

             "Crucified by Stupidity."

          He said the leaders of the people had small, closed minds.

             The people themselves made stupid choices.

          And the whole Passion story of the gospels breathes with the

             stupidity of taking the short view of life.

                                                                   #17068

          2) Christians can be pretty stupid, too.

              a) We sometimes believe stupid things about our faith.

              b) We sometimes do stupid things.

              c) That's why we need to follow Paul's advice and be wise

                    about how we live, and not foolish.


II. Don't believe stupid things.

      A. Religious people are prone to this.

          1) In world's way of thinking, everything we believe is stupid.

              a) Resurrection, angels, heaven, miracles.

              b) Hard-to-believe stories in the Bible.

          2) Even in Bible times they understood that the smartest people

                would not fill the church.                  1 Cor 1:26-27

              a) Not that Christians were all stupid, but most were

                    uneducated.

              b) The reality is that the gospel is very smart and

                    explains human nature better than anything else.

              c) But sometimes Christians take this smartness and use

                    it in a dumb way.

              d) Some examples...


      B. Uncritical acceptance of "proof."

          1) Recent prime examples are Noah's Ark and Shroud of Turin.

              a) Many Christians think both exist as physical objects

                    and are genuine.

                  1> Noah's Ark would prove the Bible is true.

                  2> The Shroud of Turin would prove Jesus was really

                        resurrected.

                      A> It is scheduled to be shown in Italy soon, and

                           1.5 million people have made reservations.

              b) There are problems with both of them.

                  1> The problem with the Ark is that it gets discovered -

                        every two years or so.

                      A> The latest episode has Korean Christians taking

                            videos of the inside of the ark on Mt. Arafat.

                      B> Most likely it has all been faked.

                          1: The leader was seen climbing UP the

                                mountain with a big chunk of wood.

                      C> The Ark was real - but no one has found it yet.

                  2> The Shroud of Turin has been shown to be no older

                        than the Middle Ages, according to carbon dating.

                      A> Evidence of paint has been found in the fibers.

                      B> The image is unrealistic - the hands conveniently

                            cover his private parts, which wouldn't happen

                               in real life.

                      C> And the Bible itself describes a separate cloth

                            for his head, rather than a single long sheet.

              c) Evidence to support our faith is fine, but don't grasp

                    at every claim that pops up.

                  1> Our confidence is in the Bible as the Word of God,

                        not in gopher wood or a piece of cloth.

                                                                   #36212


III. Misguided approaches to faith.

      A. Seeing too much good.

          1) Christians want to be positive, and nice, so we often

                make overly optimistic assessments.

              a) But truth sometimes is not positive and nice.

              b) The prophet Jeremiah preached truth, while the

                   false prophets (wrongly) preached peace.   Jer 6:4

              c) Sometimes God fulfills promises, and other times he

                    fulfills judgment.

          2) You don't always get what you want.

              a) Genuine faith is more than positive thinking.

              b) It is realistic thinking.


      B. Seeing too many coincidences.

          1) I was visited by a mentally ill guy this week.


                He was pleasant, but definitely a little "off."

                He knew there was a God, because he was paid $7.00

                   to do a job, and the serial number on one of

                      the bills contained the numbers 7-0-0.

                Pretty amazing, huh?

          2) Christians can also read more into circumstances than

                God intended.

              a) Any and every event is given meaning by God, but

                    that doesn't mean it will be obvious to you.

              b) Judas got 30 pieces of silver for betraying Jesus.

                 He probably told himself, "This money is great!

                    God must approve of what I have done."

              c) Don't guide your life by positive or negative

                    coincidences, but by the clear teaching of the Bible.


      C. Seeing too many enemies.

          1) Many Christians are suckers for conspiracy theories.

              a) Taking Christ off the airwaves, etc.

          2) Just because something negative seems to be in line with

                what we believe, doesn't mean it is true.


      D. Magical thinking.

          1) The temptation to convert religion into superstition.

              a) If I pray a certain way, or cross myself, or

                    never miss communion, I will get what I want

                       from God.

          2) God does not give us a magic wand.

              a) There will always be mystery in how he operates.


IV. Don't believe the right things in a stupid way.

      A. Be careful of speaking above your level of knowledge.

          1) The world as we know it is filled with misinformation.

             There are a lot of ideas that are floating around out there

                that just aren't true.

             But because they have been spoken and repeated so many

                times we just assume that they are true.

          2) Christians have a tendency to want to sound spiritual.

             So, they will launch into some subject that they don't

                really know what they are talking about.

              a) One of my favorite illustrations is the guy who has

                    never read the book of Revelation but he has read

                       all of the "Left Behind" novels.

                 So, he now believes he is an expert on the Apocalypse.

                 He will give everybody his opinions and tell everyone

                    what is what.

              b) Sure, he has read Lahaye and Jenkins but he hasn't read

                    Jesus Christ.

          3) You are not an expert on everything.

              a) Christians tend to spout off on any topic.

          4) Recognize your area of expertise.

              a) As Proverbs says, the wisest approach is often a

                    closed mouth.


      B. Don't say stupid things.

          1) Pat Robertson has gotten into trouble repeatedly in this

                area.

              a) He objects that his words are taken out of context.

              b) Perhaps so, but Christians should be aware that people

                    will always focus on our missteps.

                  1> Don't give them that opportunity.

          2) Speak, and live, as if people are watching closely.


             1 Peter 3:15 - we must say the truth, in a wise and gentle

                 way.


             Ephesians 5:15 - we must live wisely, giving careful

                thought to what God's will really is.

              a) Our own reputation is secondary, but the reputation of

                    Jesus matters a lot.


  V. We are all stupid sometimes.                               Eccl 7:20

      A. We should admit it when we are wrong.

          1) The Millerites.


             In the 1840s, a New York farmer by the name of William

                Miller began predicting that the world was coming to an

                   end on April 3, 1843.

             He wasn't a professional preacher, but he was a Baptist,

                and his careful study of the Scriptures convinced him he

                   had figured out when Jesus would return.

             He gave sermons filled with hellfire and the coming

                destruction, to overflowing crowds.


             On April 3rd, thousands of Miller's followers prepared for

                the worst.

             Some committed suicide, or murdered family members, in the

                belief that the dead would not have to pass through any

                   suffering in the last days.

             But God didn't return that day.


             So Miller changed the date.

                But each time, nothing happened.

             Eventually he himself died, and his tombstone simply reads,

                "At the time appointed, the end shall be."

             I have no problem with this statement.


             But some Christians wouldn't settle for that.

             So they argued that Miller was correct and Jesus had come

                when Miller said, but he came spiritually instead of

                   physically, and set up a special judgment for believers.

             (The Seventh Day Adventists grew out of this.)


             Instead of admitting they were wrong, they reinterpreted

                the event.

                                                                     #36236


          2) In our own day, Harold Camping is doing the same thing.

              a) Previously he predicted Jesus would return in 1994.

                  1> He fudged somewhat by putting a question in the

                        title.

                  2> This time he is much more specific.

              b) What will be the response of believers if he is wrong

                    again?


      B. Learn to be wise instead of stupid.

          1) Use your mind, as the Bible tells us to.

              a) Ignorance is not spiritual.

          2) Use the Bible correctly.

              a) Proof-texting - believing something is true because

                     of a single verse - is dangerous.

              b) Study how the whole Bible works together.

          3) Humble yourself before the one who is wiser than Solomon

                - Jesus.



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SOURCES FOR ILLUSTRATIONS USED IN THIS SERMON:


This sermon generated a lot of discussion.  Many found it very

interesting.


#17068  "Jesus Was Crucified By Stupidity," by Wayne Brouwer, (original

           source unknown); April 7, 2002.


#18672  "Sin Is Stupid," Nick Lica Illustration Collection, quoting from

           Wayne Rice, STILL MORE HOT ILLUSTRATION FOR YOUTH TALKS

          (Zondervan), pages 51-52.


#36212  "Real Enough? Relics, Gopher Wood, and the Sufficiency of

           Scripture," by Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., President of Southern

           Baptist Theological Seminary, <http://www.albertmohler.com>,

           May 13, 2010.


#36236  "Reinterpreting Reality," by David Holwick.  Some of the details

           of this illustration are derived from the article "Great

           Disappointment" in Wikipedia.org.


These and 35,000 others are part of the Kerux database that can be

downloaded, absolutely free, at http://www.holwick.com/database.html

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