The part of the chapter that I want to preach on tonight is the first half of the chapter, beginning of verse number one where the Bible reads: "Take heed that you do not your alms before men to be seen of them. Otherwise, you have now reward of your Father, which is in Heaven. Therefore, when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward."
What I want to preach about tonight is desiring to be seen of men. Doing your good work so that other people will see you, glorify you, praise you. Jesus spends quite a long time here talking about the fact that when we do righteous acts or especially charitable acts and help other people, we should not do it publicly and openly hoping to receive some kind of a reward from man in this life. He says that we should do it in secret and that our Father in Heaven will see in secret and reward us openly.
The Bible says in Proverbs 27, you don't have to turn there, but it says: "Let another man praise thee and not thine own mouth. A stranger and not thine own lips." Here, Jesus is talking about people who would give alms and then sound a trumpet before them, that people literally did that in his day, as ridiculous as that sounds. We probably can't really picture that, but probably the modern day equivalent of this would be to maybe do a Facebook status about the alms that you gave, a little Tweet or whatever would be the 2015 equivalent.
But what does it mean to do alms? Alms is when you give to the poor. This isn't talking about giving to church or anything. This is talking about giving to someone who needs help. Giving some money to a poor person. He's saying when you do it, he says "Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth." verse four, "That thine alms may be in secret and thy Father would seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly." Then he says in verse five, "When thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward, but thou when thou prayest enter into thy closet. And when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret and thy Father would seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly."
Prayer is something where people don't really know whether you're doing it or not. There's really no outward manifestation. We can tell who's reading their Bible and who's not, because when you talk to some people they clearly know the Bible and then other people have no clue what you're talking about when you refer to certain Bible stories. That's something that can be outwardly seen, but really prayer is one of those things where no one has any way of knowing whether or not you prayed. Really, the only motive to pray is that you actually have faith that the Lord's going to hear your prayers and answer them and do something for you. Really it's never to be seen of men unless you're just doing it in public openly and Jesus is saying that our prayers should be done in secret.
Obviously there is a time to pray publicly. The Bible says, "I will therefore that men pray everywhere lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting", in I Timothy, chapter 2. But the Bible talks about people making long prayers in public just in order to be seen of men, just in order to put on a big show. There is a time to pray publicly, but public prayers should be brief, and they should be from the heart, not "Okay, let me pray. Let's pray." You have it all printed out like these politicians and these big name televangelist types do. When we pray publicly, it should be from the heart, it should be short and sweet. The real prayer that we spend time with God should be privately in the closet, door shut, where no one knows that we're praying except us. Then the Bible says that God will see that in secret and reward us openly.
We should not seek to exalt ourselves and boast and show everybody, "Hey look how spiritual I am" because that is what hypocrites do, the Bible says. We should not be concerned with showing everyone all of our righteousness and how good we are and how holy we are. When you see a person that goes around doing that, they're usually a bad person. According to the Bible, these are hypocrites. These are bad people who are just putting on a fake show.
The Bible says in verse 17, "But thou when thou fastest, anoint thine head and wash thy face. That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father, which is in secret and thy Father would seeth in secret should reward thee openly." Here we're talking about fasting, which is abstaining from food. Or even abstaining from food and water for a short period of time. The Bible is saying that when we fast, nobody should know about it. We should anoint our head, wash our face, not walk around with a sad countenance just making sure that everyone knows how much we're suffering for Jesus right now when we're fasting.
Flip over to Matthew chapter 23 if you would. Matthew chapter 23 and look at verse number 5. This is talking about the Pharisees, who were big hypocrites of Jesus's day. And being a hypocrite simply means that you're being an actor. You're putting on a show for people and you want people to think highly of you. And the bottom line is, it only matters what God thinks of us, not what our fellow man thinks of us. We shouldn't go around trying to impress other people with how great we are. The Bible says that we should humble ourselves and let God exalt us in due time as he sees fit, but not to exalt ourselves. The Bible says, "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted, but he that exalteth himself shall be abased." Or brought down, the Bible says.
Look at Matthew 23: verse 5, it says, "But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi." Wicked people, such as the Pharisees that he's referring to ... They revel in being a big shot. Right? Making sure that everybody knows how important they are. They've got the clothes. They've got the attitude. They've got the titles. And they go around making sure that everybody knows how righteous, how holy they are, instead of just going around with a humble attitude, just being a normal, down-to-earth person with a servant's heart.
Flip over to Luke chapter 14 if you would. Luke chapter number 14. And we always need to be careful that this doesn't creep into our attitude, where we start doing good things for God and we start achieving something for God and then we want to go around and brag about it, or make sure that everybody sees what we're doing. If we go out soul-winning, want to make sure everybody knows that we were out soul-winning. Everybody sees what we're doing. Anything that we do shouldn't have to be publicly shown. In fact, if you do something for God and no one knows about it, then you're getting a greater reward, the Bible says. Because he says the ones who sound the trumpet to be seen of men, he said, "Verily I say unto you, they have their reward." That's the reward. Everybody's seeing you do it. All the accolades you get. That's your reward and the Bible says you have no reward of your Father [which in heaven 07:53]. Is that really a trade-off that you're willing to make? Just that moment in the sun where everybody sees how righteous you are and then you're losing out on what God can give you, which is a much greater reward.
And there are a lot of people who do a lot of good works in this church that are unseen. They're behind the scenes. Obviously, I'm up here preaching the sermon. That's front and center, in the spotlight. Everybody knows that I'm here 3 times a week preaching. But what about the people who clean the building? What about the people who are running the sound and video equipment? What about the people who put together the bulletin or put together all the different activities that we do and the play?
There's a lot that goes into this church that isn't readily apparent, but yet people are working hard. And they could even come into those people's minds, "I'm not being appreciated. Here I am vacuuming the carpet, sweeping the floor, washing the toilets, planning this activity, planning the meals for the pregnant ladies or the ladies who've just given birth. And here I am doing all this work. I'm making the bulletin. I'm doing whatever. And nobody sees the work that I'm doing." But if that thought comes into your mind and you start feeling sorry for yourself because nobody appreciates what you're doing, you're looking at it all wrong. You should be rejoicing. Hey, nobody sees what I'm doing, but God sees what I'm doing. God appreciates what I'm doing, and in fact, I'm getting a maximum reward in heaven because I'm working behind the scenes, humbly doing my job, being a part of the team, a part of the church, making things happen. That's the attitude that we should have.
We shouldn't go through life expecting to be rewarded right now all the time and to be recognized and thanked for everything that we do. Because we should know that God's always watching. He's going to thank us. He's going to reward us and that's better anyway.
Look at Luke chapter 14: verse 8. It says, "When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; and he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that we he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. The said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just."
The Bible is saying here that if you do things for people that are never going to do anything for you in return, that's the best good deed you can ever do, because God must reward you for that. The Bible says, "He that giveth unto the poor lendeth to the Lord and that God will pay back that which is lent." When we are doing things with an attitude that says, "I want something in return" it's the wrong attitude and we're losing our reward in heaven. Here, he talks about a guy who goes to a wedding and takes the chief seat, sits down in the best place. Always going to the front of the line. God's saying that even on this earth, that's eventually going to get you humiliated because somebody's going to tell you, "Hey buddy, there's somebody here more important than you. You need to back down. You need to go to the back of the line." And then you're going to be embarrassed and humiliated. It's always better to take the most humble seat and have someone ask you, "Step forward. Go to the front of the line. Here, sit in a better place."
Then he goes straight into this story about making a dinner and inviting rich friends because you're thinking, "Hey, I want them to invite me over. I'm going to give these people a gift in order to give a gift in return." And what he's saying here is that we should do things for people that can't return it to us because they're poor, they're lame, they're blind, et cetera. Especially around Christmas-time, this really bothers me when people have this attitude where they're going to give gifts but then they expect gifts in return. And I think it's a terrible attitude when we ever expect gifts from anyone. The whole point of a gift is that it's not something that's earned. It's something that's given for free. Just like salvation is a free gift. And the Bible teaches that it's not of works lest any man should boast. It's not something that we work for, it's just given to us. I go into Christmas with an attitude that I don't expect anybody to give me anything. You should go into your birthday not expe- ... And my son's birthday tomorrow, so this is for you, son. You should go into your birthday, son, expecting nothing! Honestly, that is the right attitude because nobody owes us a living. Nobody owes us gifts.
I do like Christmas and I do like birthdays because it's a nice time to be able to do nice things for you. It's a good excuse to be able to give gifts to people and have fun and rejoice and everything like that. But, I don't like it when I feel obligated to give gifts to people that I don't want to give gifts to. It's an empty feeling. It's just like, "Wait a minute. Why am I feeling like I have to give someone a gift." If I give somebody a gift, I want to feel like I'm doing it out of the goodness of my heart. And the Bible says, "Not by constraint, but willingly, let every man give as he purpose in his heart," it says. Because God loves a cheerful giver. It's great when we give something as a gift because we want to. Because we love someone and want to show them affection. Sometimes I prefer to give people gives just at off times, not even at Christmas or birthday, just because then it's more sincere that way, like you're just giving it from the heart.
But I can honestly say that I got into each birthday and Christmas expecting nothing, because if you expect nothing, then anything that's given to you is a bonus. It's extra, instead of going into it and then getting disappointed because I wanted something bigger or grander than what I got. It's a horrible attitude to have. We should give people something at Christmas or at a birthday not thinking, "Well if I give them X, then I'm going to receive Y." Or even this attitude that tries to calculate how much is being spent. "Well I don't want to spend more or less or ..." It kind of just ruins the whole spirit of it. Sometimes I've gotten phone calls from relatives, "What are we doing for Christmas this year? How much are we spending?" This and that. I'm like, "Whoa! Nothing!" Just because it ruins it for me.
And Jesus is teaching here that whenever we give anything, it should be from the heart and it should be with no strings attached. Isn't that how salvation is? God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. And there's no strings attached. He gives you the gift of eternal life and even if you do nothing for him, you still have that gift. All you have to do is receive it. Now, you receive it by believing. You do have to take the gift. You can't reject the gift or ignore the gift. But when the gift of salvation is offered to you, you receive the gift by believing in Jesus Christ and then once you've received it, it's yours now and he doesn't say, "Okay, now you have to give this to me or else." No, no, no. This is a free gift, no strings attached. And then if you turn around and do good deeds for the Lord, he'll reward you for those because they have nothing to do with your salvation. The salvation is purchased as a free gift by the blood of Christ.
Even in marriage, this is something that can creep in. An attitude that says, "Well, I did this for you, so now it's your turn to do this for me." This is how a lot of people approach marriage, with a quid-pro-quo kind of attitude. A tit-for-tat mentality that says, "Well, I did this for you, now I expect you to do X for me." Or, "Hey, I gave you this, now well, why don't you give me this?" We are going to be a lot happier in marriage if you learn, as a husband, to just give something to your wife or do something for your wife expecting nothing in return. This attitude where you get angry at your spouse because you're giving so much and you're doing so much for them and this is a one-sided deal. Maybe you just need to give less. Maybe you just need to do less. If you can't give and do from the heart expecting nothing in return, you shouldn't give more than you can give without expecting anything back.
Then the same goes for wives, obviously. If you're a wife and you do a lot of nice things for your husband, when you get an attitude, "Well, I do all this for him and he doesn't do anything for me." You know you're doing it for the wrong reason. You should do things for people out of a heart of love and expect nothing in return.
I think that when somebody does something for you, you should thank them. Somebody gives you something or does something nice for you, ideally you should thank that person and maybe even do something nice for them in return would be great. But this attitude that demands that is a bad attitude.
I've had people give me a gift and then I didn't thank them for it and they just turned around and hated me and just vitriol and anger. It's like, wait a minute, why did you even give me this? I didn't ask for this gift. Why are you hating on me because I did not properly thank you for this gift because sometimes I'll get a lot of gifts because I'm a pastor. Because I have a lot of people who look to me and so people will send me all kinds of stuff in the mail. Sometimes I'll just get the mail and there's all kinds of stuff showing up. Whoa! Where did this come from? Cool! Yeah, okay, great! But sometimes I can't even keep track of stuff and so I don't always have a chance to sit down and properly thank every- ... Especially when it's from someone that I don't even know. It's hard to remember who stuff came from if you don't even know who they are, if you've never even met that person. Honestly, I just look at it as every good gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
In a perfect world, I'd be better at thanking people. And I'm not saying that I'm perfect. Obviously, this is something that I can improve on, but it shows a wrong spirit when you give something to somebody and then you just want to be recognized. And that's what it's all about. Is that why you give things to people? If I gave something to somebody, I'm not just looking for recognition, and if I am, then my spirit is in the wrong place. So, if you can't give something to somebody just because you love them and care about them and want them to have it and expect nothing in return, then just stop giving. Because you should be able to give with that attitude or not at all and not hang things over people's heads and get angry at people because they didn't give you enough credit or accolades or thanks for what you gave unto them.
The Bible says in Luke chapter 6, if you'll flip over there, just a few pages to the left in your Bible from where you are. It says in Luke chapter 6: verse 34, "And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? For sinner also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest." Watch this. "For he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil." The Bible's saying here that when you give, when you lend, hope for nothing again. Expect nothing in return. Don't do it with this attitude of, "You better recognize what I did. You better mention me from the pulpit or put my name in the bulletin or print my name on the golden plaque of donors. Make sure that I get all the credit and all the accolades." Is this what the Bible teaches? No.
Go to Acts chapter 5. Acts chapter number 5. Acts chapter number 5, the Bible says in verse number 1, "But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet." Just to give you the context, at the end of chapter 4 talks about how a lot of the believers in the early church ... Because there were a lot of people who had need, they were going out and selling pieces of property that they had and bringing all the money and laying it at the apostles' feet so that they could make distribution to the necessity of the saints. Here's a guy who sells a piece of land and kept back part of the price, and he brings part of the price, but he puts it forth as if it's the whole price, like, "I sold the land and here's all the money." Why is he doing that? Because he wants to receive recognition and accolades. He's doing it to be seen of men.
Verse 3, "But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?" What's he saying? You didn't have to give anything. You didn't have to give any money. You didn't have to bring any ... It was your land. It was in your power. You could do whatever you want. But, "why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? Thou has not lied unto men, but Unto God."
Verse 5, "And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of 3 hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yeah, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things."
Why is it that God punished this so harshly? Where these people died for lying about this. It's because God didn't want this attitude to creep into the early church where people are putting on a big show and, "Hey, look at our good works that we're doing." And they're showing off. These people are clearly doing it for the wrong reason because they're lying about it, trying to make it seem they're doing even more for God than they're really even doing, just to be a hypocrite.
Look at Luke chapter number 6. Because not only does the Bible teach over and over again that when we do good deeds, we shouldn't do it to get something in return. We shouldn't to it to get accolades and glory of men. But we should rather do it so that God will be pleased with us and that we'll be rewarded of the Lord and let Him be the judge and let him exalt us as he sees fit. Let Him reward us. But also the Bible warns us about preachers who receive a lot of accolades of men, where they're glorified of this world and loved of the world. Let me tell you something, there are many preachers who go into preaching, pastoring in order to receive glory of men, in order to be seen of men, in order to be a big shot. Preachers are often big shots. They're preachers that are really popular and well-known and, in fact, they even hobnob with the Mayor of the city and the Police Chief. And they're in the Ministerial Association. And then they go to the Presidential Prayer Breakfast. And they hang around with the other big shot preachers. And they go to the big conferences and they preach at the conferences. And they get the steak and the lobster dinner. And they're glorified of men and lifted up and exalted. They're handed all kinds of awards and titles and doctorates and whate- ... PhD and all this stuff.
It's so funny these titles that a pastor use: PhD, D.D., M.A., M.S., B.S. And they use these titles ... Why is everybody laughing at that one? They use all these titles, why? To be seen of men. To be glorified of men. You think Jesus went around with a bunch of titles like that? Doctor? Unless you wear a stethoscope around your neck, don't call yourself doctor. All it is is foolish pride and vain glory. The Bible says, "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." Didn't Jesus take upon himself the form of a servant and was found in [fast 26:19] as a man? And He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death that crossed? Didn't He put off his robe from him and wrap himself in a towel and wash the disciples' feet? Or was He going around calling himself, Master of Theology, Doctor of Divinity? These titles are ridiculous and stupid. To get that many titles, it's like you're a professional wrestler or something. The Master of Disaster. The Doctor of Divinity. All these Masters of Theol- ... Masters of the Universe. He-Man and She-Ra. It's foolishness. It's ridiculous. Some of these guys that call themself doctor are as dumb as a brick, anyway. And they're Doctor So-and-So.
One of the biggest examples ... I got this newsletter from Sam Gipp. The guy, literally, couldn't even form on- ... It was a 2-page letter. There was not one paragraph that was in proper English. It was like reading an Uncle Remus story to read this newsletter. And it's like, "Sam Gipp, PhD." Whoa! Get a proofreader, buddy! You can't even form one good sentence and there's not a single paragraph in here that's in proper English. It was just a butchery of the English language, but he's a language expert. He only speaks one language: English. But he's an expert on translation of the King James Version. Whoa, buddy! Why don't you take it down a notch and why don't you remove those 3 stupid letters after your name, because you look like a fool when we're looking at your newsletter? The proof is in the pudding. If somebody's a language expert, we could probably tell that by the language that they use. If somebody's an expert, we probably need someone else to tell us that, not you to tell us that you're an expert on the King James Bible. "I'm and expert on language. Did I mention that I'm a PhD, Doctor of Divinity, Master of Theology, Battler of Science?" It's dumb! The world ... they take this stuff seriously. But God's up in heaven, not impressed. People who really love the Bible aren't really impressed by these titles that are given by man.
The only titles that mean anything are the titles that God gives. God gives titles of Pastor and Deacon, Bishop, Elder. Those titles actually mean something because they're actually given by God and they're not titles that have to do with exalting yourself. The only person who was ever called a doctor in the Bible were the Pharisees. That's it! Only the Pharisees use that title, doctor. But these preachers, "Doctor So-and-S-." Whoa, where you getting that title buddy? From Gamelio himself?
Look what the Bible says in Luke chapter 6: verse 26. It says, "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets." The Bible is telling us that there's nothing new under the sun. And he's saying, "In the past, all men spoke well of the false prophets." And he's basically saying it's no different today. He's saying, "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you!" Now he's saying, "For so did their fathers to the false prophets." The people today that are praising the false prophets are the children of the people who praise the false prophets of the past. False prophets have always been spoken well of by the world. Jesus said, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you." He said, "Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you." He said, "They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them." The world loves its own. The preacher of the word of God, that is a true prophet. He's not of this world, so he's hated of this world. He's not going to be accepted of the world.
I love this phrase in II Corinthians 6. You don't have to turn there, but in II Corinthians 6, the apostle, Paul, is talking about some of their trials and tribulations as apostles. I love this phrase that he says to describe himself and his fellow preachers. He says, "As unknown, and yet well known." I love that phrase. "As unknown, and yet well know." What does he mean by that? He's saying we're not famous and popular in the world circles, but we're well known in God's sight. We're well known amongst God's people. We're not looking for accolades on this earth. We're unknown. We're unknown preachers, but [we're known 31:23]. Is Paul unknown today? No, because God exalted him in due time and he's immortalized in scripture. We can look in the Bible and see all these great prophets of God, by name, lifted up because God exalted them in due time. But there are a lot of prophets in the Bible that are unnamed. When you're reading the Old Testament, it'll just say, "A man of God came and preached." Or, "The Spirit of the Lord came upon this prophet and he preached." That guy, even though he's unknown, is well known because we're reading about him in the bible. Someday in heaven, we'll meet that guy and he will be exalted and lifted up and we will see who that great preacher was.
Think about this. This is a very important point. Between the Bible times of the New Testament and the day that we're living in right now, don't you think there have been a lot of faithful preachers and great men of God that have been raised up over the last 2000 years? Most certainly, there have been men of God in every generation. Missionaries, preachers, pastors, and even just church members who weren't pastors, but that were great soul winners and preached the Gospel on the many people and had many people saved. Great Christian men and women through the years. Great preachers. But they're unknown unto us. We do not know their names. They're not in the history books, but yet their reward is great in heaven.
On the other hand, we have a lot of famous preachers of the past over the last 2000 years. These famous preachers are the preachers that the world has chosen to exalt and lift up for us. According to Jesus, these men are false prophets. That's why all men speak well of them. That's why they're lifted up as being great men of God.
Now, listen to this scripture. Don't turn there, but in Ecclesiastes 9: verse 14 it says, "There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it: Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man. Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not hear. The words of the wise are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools." The Bible's telling us what the world looks at is the guy who's got the money and they want to hear his wisdom. The poor man's wisdom is despised. What the world wants is the shiny, TV preacher and evangelist. That's who they're looking to as a great man of God. The man who saved the little city throughout history over the last 2000 years is unknown and despised and we won't know his name until we get to heaven.
The reason that this is so important to understand is that many people today are misguided in this thing of being a historic Baptist. Instead of just reading the Bible in our generation, this living, breathing document, the Bible, God's holy word, which livith and abideth forever, with the Holy Spirit right now, on September 27th, 2015, we can open this book with the Holy Spirit and today read this book and understand it and allow God to speak to us. We can get a full understanding of sound doctrine from the Bible and the Holy Spirit today. Then, we can go to church and in real-time, sit and listen to a preacher who has the Holy Spirit living inside of him preach the word of God to us today. We can just look at the Bible, listen to the preaching, and the Holy Ghost is there as our teacher and that's all we need to understand everything that God has for us to understand in 2015. But there are many people who have this idea that we need to go to preachers of the past in order to somehow validate and vindicate what we believe today. In order to show that what we believe is right, we have to go dig up some preacher from the 16, 17, 18, 1900's and he's going to vindicate what we believe just to show that we're preaching the historic Baptist position or whatever.
Let me just tell you right now. I don't care what the historic position is on anything. All I want to know is what does the Bible say right now? What does the Bible say right now, because I don't know what was happening in the 1800's. No one does. The reason that sometimes people can get mixed up on this is because we live in a day where everything in being documented. Everything! Every sermon that I preach is being recorded: audio, video. Then, the text is being transcribed and uploaded to the Internet and it's just immortalized. It'll never go away. I could say, "That's it! I'm deleting all my sermons. I'm deleting all this text. I'm deleting all this video." It'll never go away because the Internet never forgets anything.
I feel bad for the kids that are growing up. Every stupid thing they do is being uploaded and then shrined forever. When we were kids, we did stupid stuff and people just forgot about it after a while. You live it down. Nowadays, it's hard to live anything down because it's always going to be there when you Google it.
The thing about it is because we live in a day where every baby that's being born is photographed every day of its life, as opposed to the previous generation. We have a couple pictures from each year of our life. We've got a couple pictures here and there. We got a couple home movies that are clicking on silent film. Home movies of us when were kids on those silent videos and everything. We just have a little bit. If I were to ask you about your grandparents and your great-grandparents and your great-great-grandparents. You'd be like, "Whoa, I don't really know." You know about your grandparents if you spent time with them, but your great-grandparents? You could hardly even tell me their names probably. You could hardly tell me anything about their life. My great-grandchildren are going to know who I was. If they want, they can listen to me preach for thousands of hours. They can watch thousands of hours of video, picture documentation. They can look at all this stu- ... But that's now the way it's been throughout history is what I'm trying to say.
Nowadays, any preacher who's preaching in [podunk holler 38:38] to ten people ... All of his sermons could be on the Internet and enshrined and immortalized and it's all there. What you have to understand is that, in the past, because there wasn't all this technology and all this video and audio recording, the only people who's words have survived are the popular preachers. The only way that you'd be enshrined from the 16 or 1700's all the way until today is if someone was printing a book that you wrote or printing a sermon. That would only be the very popular because that would be so expensive.
Think about today. Who is preaching today on mainstream TV media? Who's books are being sold at Barnes and Noble. That's the type of people that we would have stuff from in the 16, 17, 1800's. Only the big shots of the big shots because there's so little that survives from several hundred years, because printing was so expensive. It was super expensive just to print one book. If we go back to before the printing press when things were hand written ... You think that every godly preacher etched in stone for all those hundreds of years? So, all we have are the most famous, biggest name preachers of the past to go on.
The question for you, tonight, is this. Are the big-name preachers today ... Are any of them preaching the truth? Are any of the TV preachers serving God faithfully? No! Because, today, who are the big preachers? Who are the famous theologians whose words would have been immortalized in the past? Oh, men like Pope Francis? Joel Osteen? Rick Warren? Kenneth Copeland? T.D. Jakes? Joyce Meyer? These are the people that are popular today. Billy Graham? John Hagee? What people don't understand is that there's nothing new under the son, friend. The big, famous preachers of today are phony. Guess what? The big, famous preachers of the past were phony too. You are making a big mistake when you want to dig these guys up. You want to dig up these preachers from the past and let's figure out what they believe.
When the Bible says, "I will get me unto the great men who have known the way of the Lord." It's talking about people that are alive. He didn't say, "I'm going to get me unto the great men and go to a graveyard with a shovel." When he said, "I'll get me unto the great men who've known the way of the Lord." He's talking about people that are alive because people that are alive ... We can actually know what they're like because they're here. We see them. We hear them. These people from the past ... All we know is that they were big names. They were popular. They were loved of the world and that's everything we need to know about them. They're the wrong people to be listening to.
We need to honestly just get to the place where we listen to the Bible, number 1, and living, breathing preachers, number 2. People that we actually can know what they're about and not be stuck on preachers from hundreds of years ago. By the way, preachers from hundreds of years ago ... They're not preaching on the issues that we need today, anyway, because they dealt with the issues of their day. The reason I bring this up is because so many people will point to the greats of the past. Men like Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Billy Sunday. D.L. Moody. And bring out all the carcasses of these so-called great preachers, but here's the thing about it.
The true story is that Billy Sunday was the Billy Graham of his day. He was an ecumenical preacher that was bringing all the denominations together. If he showed up in a town to preach, his stipulation was that all the churches in the town had to cancel their Sunday services and all come to his meeting or he won't come to the town. He'll go to the next town. That way they put pressure on each other. "Hey, we want the big shot to come, the big baseball big shot." I don't even think he was that good at baseball. Christians love to fall all over themselves when a celebrity turns to Christianity. They get all star-struck even though God's not a respecter of persons. So that the Presbyterians, Methodists, Catholics, Baptists can all worship together. And then he'd show up and preach his false doctrine, false gospel, wrong salvation, not a baptist by any stretch of the imagination.
Then, at the end of the sermon, this is what he would say, "Pretend like I'm Jesus. If you want to be saved, come down and shake my hand and you'll be saved. If you come shake my hand, it's like you're taking Jesus's hand." I'm representing Jesus. Come on up here and shake my hand and you'll be saved. Everybody would line and shake his hand and it was known as the hand that shook a million hands. It's quoted today as, "1 million saved." Billy Sunday had one million saved under his ministry. But, really, probably a lot of people just wanted to shake his hand because he's a celebrity. That's not what the Bible says anywhere. Shake a preacher's hand and thou shalt be saved. Where is there anything like that in the Bible? Hey, pretend like I'm Jesus and come shake my hand and if you shake my hand you're saying, "I accept you Jesus." Come shake my hand. He's shaking his hand, his hand's getting all sore and whatever from shaking so many hands. The hand that shook a million hands.
But wait a minute, this is a guy who was a super left-wing preacher of his day, pushing hard for feminism, women's rights. Are these the type of things that we as Independent Fenuel Baptists have as our values today? Yet, we will promote this guy. "Oh, a great preacher of the past," and everything. "Don't destroy our heroes." I'm not trying to destroy your heroes, but you should have 2 kinds of heroes. Heroes in the Bible and people that are actually alive so we can actually see what they're really like. Not these people from the past. Especially that aren't even the same belief as us. They're coming from these other denominations that are in serious doctrinal error. Some of these guys are from denominations that baptize babies. Is that what we believe? Some of these guys that are lifted up and exalted are from denominations that believe you can lose your salvation. Is that the Gospel that we preach? Salvation by works?
People bring out Charles G. Finney. I've heard this in Independent Fenuel Baptist churches, where Charles G. Finney is brought out and lifted up as a hero today. This is a guy who believed that to go to heaven, you have to stop sinning. Not even just be sorry or try not to sin. No, no, no. He believed in sinless perfection and that you had to be perfectly sinless in order to be saved. You cannot be saved if you sin at all. He wrote plenty of books about it. There's plenty of information out there. Yet, this guy is lifted up as Charles G. Finney, the great man of God. Total fraud.
The list goes on and on. You go down the list of these people and you see that these guys are not what they're cracked up to be. Yet, these people will be lifted up as proofs of certain doctrines. Well, of course this is the right doctrine. It's what Charles G. Finney preached. It's what D.L. Moody preached. It's what Billy Sunday preached. If it's good enough for Charles Wesley and Spurgeon, it's good enough for me. But, a lot of times people don't bother to look up the doctrine of these people. What about John Bunyan in Pilgrim's Progress when he teaches that you could lose your salvation? What about that, when he explicitly states in Pilgrim's Progress that you can lose your salvation? Yet, that is lifted up as one of our heroes of the faith.
You say, "Well why are you doing Pastor?" Or, "Why are you bringing it up?" We need to understand this, that the preachers who are exalted of the world and lifted up, past, present, and future, are the wrong preachers. We need to beware of prophets, the Bible says. We need to say woe unto those preachers where all men speak well of them, because that's what was said of the false prophets.
I'm going to read you this quote. There are a lot of quotes like this that I could read and these quotes are really telling. You'll have people try to say, "Well none of the great preachers of the past believed this or believed that." But there are a lot of quotes where you can read between the lines and figure out that there were a lot of unknown, faithful men of God of the past who've always been preaching the truth. One of the issues is repentance. Where there are those who think that repentance is where you have to give up your sins to be saved. Or be willing to turn from your sins in order to be saved. Everybody will say, "That's the historic position. This new thing of salvation being by faith alone." That's what they'll try to say. It's funny because this quote from Spurgeon, who's on the wrong side of this preaching that you've got to turn from your sins to be saved. By the way, he's also teaching Calvinism.
You'll read quotes from Spurgeon ... For example, there's a quote from Spurgeon where he says, "Well, you know, there are a lot of people out there, a lot of preachers out there who are saying that Romans 9 isn't talking about personal salvation, but that it's rather talking about the nations of Israel and Edom." Which is the truth. If you actually look up those references in the Old Testament, that is what Romans 9 is talking about: the nations being chosen. It's not talking about God choosing Jacob to go to heaven and Esau to go to hell. It's talking about the nation of Israel and the nation of Edom. Look up the scriptures. Look up the references that are referencing Romans 9. See, he teaches the opposite but here's what he says, "Oh, there's a lot of preachers out there, lot of preachers out there, who are teaching that this is about the nations, not the individuals." What's interesting is, you can't find the writings of those guys. You can't find all the quotes to show that, historically, look at all these Baptists who believed it right. Who were right about Romans 9. You know why? Because it's gone. Because nobody cared, because they were real men of God who were hated of this world.
It's funny how Charles Haddon Spurgeon said this, because when it comes to repentance, the true meaning of repentance in the Bible, in regard to salvation, is a change from unbelief to believing on Christ. Or a change from trusting in one thing to get to heaven, to now trusting in Jesus to get you to heaven. Maybe you were trusting in your works and then you switched to trusting in Jesus Christ and his finished work on the cross. Or maybe you were trusting in your religion of Buddhism or Hinduism or Catholicism and then you turned to the word of God and Jesus as your savior. That's the true meaning. It's a change of mind about what saves you, for example.
Well, listen to what Spurgeon said. This is in like 1872. "Just now, some professably Christian teachers are misleading many by saying that repentance is only a change of mind. It is true that the original word does convey the idea of a change of mind, but the whole teaching of scripture concerning the repentance, which is not to be repented of is this much more radical and complete change that is implied by our common phrase about changing one's mind. The repentance that does not include sincere sorrow for sin is not the saving grace that is brought by the Holy Spirit." It's this Calvinist thing of, "Well, repentance when you're really sorry for your sins and that you're so sorry that you're not going to do them anymore and you're willing to change and you're going to turn your whole life around."
Instead of it being what the Bible says that salvation is by believing in Christ, now it becomes this whole thing of turning over a new leaf and so forth. I just love how he says, "Oh, there are these preachers that are deceiving many people and saying that repentance is just a change of mind." But, where are all their books? Where are all their writings? I've got the Spurgeon Devotional. I can Google Spurgeon sermons and find every single one of them in triplicate online. Why? Because he was pastoring the biggest Baptist in church in England at that time. What about all the other Baptists who were actually preaching sound doctrine who he's constantly criticizing? Those are the real preachers and we don't know their names and we never will know their names.
We don't know who the faithful preachers of the 1800's were, the 1700's were, the 1600's were, because they're not in the history books, and if they are in the history books, they're probably being slandered and lied about. "Oh, man this weird cold ... these evil people ... these horrible, wicked, sect, or cult or whatever." We don't know the true story. What we need to understand is that the only thing we really know for sure is what we live in right here in 2015. What's the lay of the land right now? The real preachers are hated of the world. The false preachers are exalted and lifted up on TV and media. What did Jesus say? The exact same thing. Case closed. To get this idea that back in the 17 and 1800's, all the popular preachers were great men of God. But it's just now that it's different. No, no, no. You're wrong. It's always been that way.
So, all that to say this. Go to Ephesians chapter 6, lastly. Ephesians chapter 6. All that to say this. We should not seek to be recognized by man, because that recognition is something that Jesus says that we should avoid. The Bible says that that which is highly esteemed by men is abomination in the sight of God. So, if we're going to be one who is lifted up and loved of this world and receive all the glory and accolades, we're going to have to become and abomination to God. The question is, do you want to be an abomination to God and do you want to be loved of the world? Or do you want to be loved of God and an abomination to this world? Because those are pretty much the two choices. You can't please both.
As we go through our lives, we need to check our motivation. Any time you're doing alms, any time you're praying, any time you're doing good deeds for the Lord and working hard for the Lord you need to check your motivation and ask yourself, "Am I doing this to be seen of men?" When you give someone a gift or do something nice for someone, even if it's your spouse ... Why are you doing out of love with a sincere heart? Are you doing it to be rewarded of the Lord? Are you doing it so that he'll be pleased with you or are you doing it because you want to get something in return and you want to be seen of men?
The Bible says in Ephesians chapter 6: verse 5, "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eyeservice as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the sill of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free." This can encourage us that when we do good deeds and nobody sees what we've done, we know that whatsoever good thing any man, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
There's no doubt you're going to be rewarded for the good things you do. You don't have to go out and make sure, "Hey, everybody! Everybody see what I'm doing here? Everybody see the good deeds ..." No, no, no. God sees no matter what. He will certainly reward you and that's the only reward that really matters, because at the end of the day, the praise of men is very hollow. That's why God calls it vain glory. Vain means empty and worthless. Glory of man is empty and worthless. The praise that comes from God, only, is worth something. It's very valuable, and that's what we should strive for in our lives. That's what should motivate us, not this thing of, "I want to make sure that I can be a big shot some day and rub elbows with important p- ..." You know, everybody's important if they're saved. They're a child of God. You can't rub elbows ... Who are the important people? We're all important. We're all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. Don't get this big shot attitude. Don't get this attitude of quid-pro-quo where everything you do, you want to be recompensed for right here, right now.
If you're one of the people that helps make this church a success. If you're one of the people that pitches in and does your part and you feel like you're not being recognized, then you ought to jump for joy that you're being recognized, because the less that you're recognized, the more of a reward you're going to get. That's the right attitude. That's a humble attitude that we should all have.
If you plan to be a preacher one day ... I know there are a lot of guys in this room that want to be a pastor some day, want to be a preacher. You need to get this settled in your mind, why you want to be a pastor. Why do you want to go into the ministry? What is the purpose? If the purpose is to be a big shot and a big name and well-known and loved, then you're going to preach the wrong message. The temptation is going to be there to get popular and take the shortcut instead of just getting up and preaching that which is true, whether it's in season or out of season, and letting the chips fall where they may.
Let's bow our heads and have a word of prayer. Father, we thank you for your words in this scripture, Lord, where you taught us not to do our righteousness to be seen of men. Lord, help us to be righteous, but help us to be righteous in your sight and not seek to put on a hyper-spiritual facade to impress those around us, Lord. Help us to be humble people. Help us to be lowly of heart. Help us to be servants, not big shots, Lord, because the big shots of this world are an abomination to you. And in Jesus name we pray, amen.