May 2023 (Religious Hard Hearts)
Dear FBC Gallatin,
Since God calls churches to preach the Word that He inspired and provided for our good, I believe God teaches us certain key truths from His Word in different seasons of our church depending on where we happen to be in the exposition of His holy Word. And we have been learning important lessons at FBC Gallatin the last several weeks in Matthew; that true spirituality is not about the family you are born in, or the religious sect that you belong to, but according to humble faith alone. And we’ve seen that God is not showing favoritism based on religious resumes, but actually rebuking and calling out those with very long religious resumes based on their unbelief and pride in their very own religious pedigree. The contrast that we have seen in Matthew 15 and 16 must not be missed, but we must see that God takes delight in humble faith over prideful hypocrisy.
This much seems obvious enough, but to those who are pridefully religious, they often take personal pride in their accomplishments, hometown, and their own personal good works and conduct. And most people in our world follow that equation and esteem others who check these religious boxes. This was true during Jesus’ day, but it is also true in our day as well. On the other hand, those who are religious outsiders, and who don’t have their act together, and who don’t look the part, or act the part, they are usually seen as outcasts and lost. But what we have observed in our series, is that if the outcasts are driven to Jesus in humility and desperation, then they are accepted by Jesus while the religious elite are rejected by Jesus.
This contrast is so important to see and take to heart because we see what true religion is all about in the way Jesus responds to these two kinds of people. It is not about legalistic rule keeping and self-righteousness, but faith filled desperate trust and belief in Jesus because sinners everywhere are saved by grace alone through faith, and not works of the Law or adherence to manmade expectations. So the challenge to us today is clear, we must embrace full hearted faith in Christ’s gracious mercy on us sinners, and reject any self-centered pursuits of personal salvation from our own efforts and our own way. God sent His Son not for the healthy, but for sinners and those who know they are sinners, as opposed to self-righteous prideful hard-hearts.
Soften your heart today and trust Christ alone for your cleansing and hope. Worship Jesus for all he can and does do for you, and reject all the inclinations you may be tempted by that leads to self-made salvation attempts like the Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees. I am praying that all those at FBC that are tempted towards legalism are corrected through Matthew 15-16, and all those who are prone to careless licentiousness like the Sadducees would also be corrected by the Word. And also, that all those who know the Gospel would trust Christ all the more, and be even more thankful and committed to the Gospel of Jesus’ free and unmerited favor on undeserving but oh so grateful believers transformed by this good news Gospel message!
Pastor Daniel Pelichowski