Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Church, A Den of Thieves?

Temple Baptist Church - 4-15-2018
Mark 11:15-19


A.  Lately, I have been preaching on the local church.  As I was reading my Bible on the deck Saturday morning, these familiar verses stood out.

B.  In Matthew, Mark, and Luke we find the story of our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem and His cleansing of the Temple.

C.  In the Wilderness, there was the Tabernacle; in Jerusalem, there was the Temple; in the New Testament, we find the local church.

D.  All three of these had a common purpose: a place where men met with God in worship and a place where God met with men in fellowship. 

1 Kings 8:48-49  And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name:  (49)  Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause,

2 Chronicles 7:14-16  If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.  (15)  Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.  (16)  For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.

E.  Here, we find God’s love for the place of worship.  What was to be known in all nations as the house of prayer had become common and a house of thieves.

Mark 11:17  And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.

1.  The Anger of the Lord!  This account is one few times that we see Jesus Christ angered. 

John 2:15  And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables;

a.  He found a change in the people’s attitude toward the temple.

b.  He found a change in God’s intended purpose of the temple.

2.  The Den of Thieves!  The House of the Lord had become Commercial

Mark 11:15  And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;

a.  Churches that have become commercial.  John 2:16  And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.  (Some raffle off things, have even have coffee shops in them, support their projects by selling donuts, having bake sales, etc.  God’s church business is to be funded by the tithes and offerings.  Religion is big business and you can get rich if you find out what the people want and adhere to it.)

b.  There are churches that are all about the money.  1 Timothy 6:10  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.  (We are not to worry about the finances of the local church.  The offerings are God’s, not ours and we operated within the finances that come in.  Since when has God been broke?  Televangelists have done much harm to the world’s perception of religion.)

c.  Often, preachers speak of families that will not trust God with the tithe and then the same preachers worry over the offerings.  I often say, when we receive the Lord’s tithes and offerings, “You give as unto the Lord and it will be just right.”  That is why I do not normally take up special offerings.

2.  The House of the Lord had become Common!  Mark 11:16  And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.

a.  A vessel was something for common use.  Sanctuaries have become auditoriums.  A “sanctuary” is something reserved or set aside.  To carry a common vessel “through” was to make the sanctuary a thoroughfare or common use.  The new trend is to have a multi-purpose place of worship.  I have seen a church on Hwy. 25 North that was such.  It could be used for worship or play as it was a glorified gymnasium with chairs set out for services.  The sanctuary is not a place for play or food and drink.  It is a place of worship.

b.  Churches in our day, for the most part, have become common through becoming casual.  The church is a holy place where God’s people come to worship Him.  It is a special place.  It is a sanctuary that is set aside.

c.  The modern-day churches uses three things to attract the worldly.

1)  Their Music that appeals to the flesh.

2)  Their Message that offends no one.

3)  Their Methods that are unbiblical.

d.  Here at Temple, we will respect God’s house—both the pulpit and the pew.  It may seem a little old fashioned, but our forefathers had it right and we will keep it right.

3.  The end result: The House of the Lord was no longer the House of Prayer!  

Psalms 66:18-20  If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:  (19)  But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.  (20)  Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.

Conclusion:  Every generation will have to make a choice concerning what they want in a church.  As each generation passes through the “valley of the shadow of death,” a new generation will choose either the Old Paths of the fathers or the New Paths of the world.

Hebrews 10:23  Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

1 Corinthians 15:58  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

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