Christian Universe ™
A Little Leaven...
May 31, 2009
Jesus presented two sides of the leavening agent. A little sin introduced into a congregation, and accepted by them, can destroy the whole lot. The kingdom of heaven is also likened unto leaven--a little righteousness goes a long way. A few Christians make the world a better place.
A Little Leaven…
A sermon by Bernie Parsons
presented to the Globe church of Christ on 05/31/2009
Matthew 16:6: “Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
7: And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.
8: Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?
9: Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
10: Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
11: How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
12: Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”
Leavening agent where it is not desired, such as in unleavened bread, leads to serious consequences. A little leaven spreads throughout the whole batch of dough. Likewise, a few false doctrines sprinkled throughout God’s word corrupt the listeners.
Matthew 15:1: “Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,
2: Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
3: But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
4: For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
5: But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;
6: And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
7: Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
8: This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
9: But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
10: And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:
11: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
12: Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
13: But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
14: Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”
Jesus warned His followers to avoid the man-made sayings of the Pharisees, who thought that they could replace God’s word with their own traditional philosophies. Today, we are faced with the same circumstances as then. The Roman Catholic church openly admits that their own declarations of truth are equal to anything found in the Bible.
I quote from one official Catholic Website, New Advent.com:
“Holy Scripture is therefore not the only theological source of the Revelation made by God to His Church. Side by side with Scripture there is tradition, side by side with the written revelation there is the oral revelation. This granted, it is impossible to be satisfied with the Bible alone for the solution of all dogmatic questions.”
Sadly, not only the Catholics, but Protestants as well, and even some in the Church of Christ, tend to make up doctrines and present them as truth. Therein lies the leaven that leavens the whole lump. Others blindly follow these blind leaders, and believe the lies.
2 Thessalonians 2:11:” And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
If we want to follow the blind teachers, we shall blind ourselves to the truth. Let us make certain that we are not contaminated with false, man-made doctrine.
On the other hand, a leavening agent is sometimes desired, such as when making a bread that needs to rise.
Matthew 13:33: “Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”
One recipe that I recently read called for 1 tablespoon of baking soda for each 8 tablespoons of flour, or four tablespoons for two cups of flour. A little leaven causes the whole lump of dough to rise.
The kingdom of heaven is the leavening agent for our present world. All of the world is not comprised of this leavening agent, but the agent—the kingdom of heaven—affects the whole world.
Matthew 5:13: “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14: Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15: Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
It only takes a little salt to enhance the flavor of food. We Christians are the salt of the world. Every person in the world is not a Christian, but Christians can affect the entire world. We can change the world. We can make the world a better place for everyone.
We are scattered throughout the world, just like the leavening agent is spread throughout the flour before making the dough. We can cause the entire world to rise, as it were.
We are the light of the world. The entire world is not light. In fact, the world stands in darkness—the darkness of ignorance of God’s will, and the darkness of sin. We shine in the dark world, attracting those who are lost in the darkness. All of the darkness is not dispelled, and does not got away. But we continue to shine the light of the knowledge of God and His son, Jesus, into that dark world of ignorance and sin.
John 12:35: “Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.
36: While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.”
If we walk in the footsteps of Jesus, we walk in the light. If we walk in the light, and believe in the light, we are children of light. We must let our lights shine before mankind. Only by living righteously while those around us live in unrighteousness, can we provide the leavening agent to make the world a better place.
Jesus told His followers to:
Mark 16:15: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
Not everyone would believe. But that is no reason to stop taking the gospel everywhere.
Romans 10:13: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
14: How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15: And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
16: But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
17: So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
18: But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.
19: But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
20: But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.
21: But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.
Romans 11:1: I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
2: God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,
3: Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.
4: But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
5: Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.””
1 Corinthians 9:9: “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
20: And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
21: To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
22: To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”
Jesus knew that all would not heed His voice, and the apostle Paul knew the same thing. That didn’t keep Jesus from dying on the cross to save that remnant, nor did it keep Paul from enduring hardships and danger, including putting his very life on the line. The point is not that we can save everyone, but that the few who care enough to listen to the word of God, and to seek Him, are worth all of the effort that we put forth.
Remember: Matthew 13:33: “Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”
Maybe we cannot save the whole world, but we can make the world a better place.