Monday, November 26, 2007

The Difference Between True Spirituality and Religion...

I shared a message last Sunday from Acts 4:1-12 comparing and contrasting established religion with the true spirituality of Peter and John. These two disciples of Christ came into conflict with the weight of organized religion in their day. Notice the differences and evaluate your own religious experiences in light of the text. I have concluded that my particular denomination--The Southern Baptist Convention--looks a lot more like the religious leaders than it does Peter and John. I would give my church a much better evaluation though there have been times that we have fallen into simply maintaining religion.

Five Marks of Established Religion:

  1. Reliance on Human Power (v1) - The religious leaders utilyzed a military guard with which to maintain their religious dominance. Dissent is easily suppressed when you have military might at your disposal.

  2. The Need to Control (v2) - The leaders were angry that Peter and John were teaching the people. They weren't authorized. They didn't have permission. They hadn't been to the right schools.

  3. Insistance on Doctrinal Compliance (v2) - Peter and John were proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus Christ which contradicted the dearly held view of the Sadducees that there was no resurrection of the dead for anybody--especially Jesus.

  4. Ineffective Opposition (v3-4) - Peter and John are jailed (and silenced). The result is that thousands who have already heard the message are converted.

  5. Positional Authority (v5-6) - A "who's who" of religious and political leaders are assembled to determine the fate of Peter and John. Those with the authority, of course, must be right (smell the sarcasm). Peter and John are outnumbered and outclassed in almost every way.

Five Marks of True Spirituality:

  1. Reliance on Holy Spirit Power (v7-8) - What does an uneducated fisherman have that can silence the powerful elites? The Holy Spirit is enough!

  2. Miraculous Life-change (v9) - It's hard to argue when the recently healed are standing nearby. Peter and John may not have been to the right schools--but they have a stronger argument--miracles!

  3. Resurrection Power (v10) - Doctrinal conformity leads to legalism and death. Jesus rose again--what else matters?

  4. Biblical Confirmation (v11) - God was revealing His plans daily to the disciples through the inspired Scriptures. Nothing gives you more confidence than to know that God is working through you.

  5. Kingdom Authority (v12) - Jesus saves--not Caiaphas, not Annas, not the priests, not Peter, not John, not the Baptists, etc.

No comments: