Today, we heard the second sermon in a series titled "The Care and Feeding of our Souls." The first sermon, "Live Long and Prosper," addressed our physical and financial health. Physical things like these can affect our souls in a very real sense. Today, Rev. Singleton focused on our spiritual health.
Our culture is actually quite into spirituality these days. There are a multitude of ways in which we are told we can gain spiritual power. Meditation, yoga, crystals, candles, rituals, and even self-esteem exercises are touted as the path to spiritual power. These things seem to have one of two basic ideas: that spiritual power is hidden in us, or that it is hidden in some physical thing that we can extract it from if only we know how (and you can find out how if only you join this group or listen to this teacher, for a small fee.)
The text for this sermon was taken from the book of Colossians, especially chapter 2. In the book of Colossians, Paul stresses the importance of the spirit; specifically the regenerated spirit that has died to sin and been raised in Christ. His message is that the great Mystery which was spoken of in the Old Testament is no longer hidden! In verse 2, Paul states: "My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ."
Now, stick with me, here, because we not only know what the mystery of God is, but we know how to access it. This is where the "No Shortcuts" section starts. It turns out that there is a very simple way to improve your spiritual health. The problem is that it is not available in a pill or religious ritual. The way is very simple, but not very easy. No one can give it to you. You have to do the work yourself.
I want you to think about something. If the mystery of God is Jesus Christ, then the way to be connected to this mystery is to be connected to Christ. Verse 8 says: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ." This is very important. As I said, there are a multitude of philosophies and traditions out there! Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6). John wrote of Jesus: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1). Paul explains that Jesus is the head, and we are the body. We must remain connected to the head in order to grow (Ephesians 4:15). We need to be careful of relying on human rules and rituals to increase our spirituality (Colossians 2:16-21). But what can we rely on?
I am so glad you asked! In Ephesians 6:17, Paul talks about the "Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." Who is the Word of God? Jesus Christ. How do we get to God - i.e. "access spiritual power?" Through Jesus Christ. How do we get to Jesus Christ? Through God's Word! What is another name for God's Word? The Bible. Romans 10:17 says "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (NKJV)" You have to hear the word. It doesn't seem to matter how. Don't get worried about the Bible translation, or whether you are reading it yourself or listening to it read by someone else. The point is, that it is really the only way to get to know Jesus.
There are plenty of ways to get into a spiritual state. There are plenty of philosophies and methodologies out there which will help you to tap into your spirit. But there is only one way to the Spirit of God. Mark 1:8 records the words of John the Baptist: "I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” In case you missed it, John the Baptist was referring to Jesus. Jesus himself told us how to receive the Spirit of God: “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14:15-17). The Spirit comes through Jesus. Jesus will ask the Father to send the Spirit to those who love him, and keep his commands. How can we know what his commands are if we don't hear his words?
Strangely, the Sunday School lesson this morning dovetailed very well with the sermon. I say it was strange, because we were actually making up a lesson that should have been taught on December 9. I can only believe that God wanted this message to be understood this morning by everyone at Second Baptist Church, young and old. Maybe he wants you to hear it also. It really does matter what you believe. It really does matter who you follow. There is only one truth. The Bible was given to us so that we could know what that truth was. If something doesn't line up with the word of God, do not listen to it! It is a false religion. As we told the kids this morning, there are plenty of voices out there trying to tell you what to do. Some of those voices are right, and some of them are wrong. The only way that you can know which is which is to ask whether they agree with God. The only way you can know if they agree with God is to know what God says. And the only way you can know what God says is to read his words! As Rev. Singleton said, there are no shortcuts to spirituality.
Next week, Rev. Singleton has promised to tell us about things we can do to grow spiritually! In the meantime, take some time to read God's word. If you don't have a bible, you can use the website that I frequently link to - BibleGateway.com. There, you can pick any version of the Bible that you like, and even have it read to you if you wish! Also, if you go to our Freebies page, you can print a page called "God's Words for Me" where you can record the verses or passages that are speaking to you today. Spend some time with God this week so that you can learn to hear his voice!