An Appearance of Godliness (Pt 21) – Celebrity “Christians” and their Fan Clubs

Mat 11:7-11 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? (8) What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. (9) What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. (10) This is he of whom it is written, “‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’ (11) Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

A friend recently told me about an experience he had years ago when he was at a Bible conference. He said that a very famous preacher was the featured speaker and just before he was about to come on “stage” my friend saw and heard numbers of young seminary students rushing down the aisle to get front row seats. They were excitedly muttering about how so and so was about to speak and they wanted to be right up front close to him.

This is a terrible and widespread evil in the church today. Christian celebrities and their fan clubs. After all the widely publicized sin scandals uncovered among those on high pedestals, you would think we would learn. Apprarently most do not.

I remember having a somewhat similar experience long ago. Another popular and essentially worshipped celebrity of the church was holding a conference on youth ministry. There were many hundreds of people in the audience and of course the thing opened up with what you would expect – pastors and other church leaders trying to be “hip” (I suppose that word evidences me as out of touch. “Woke”? “Lit” Whatever). But they were trying to be “relevant” for the younger people present. And as you can imagine their first opening tactic was to play music soooo loud that it literally vibrated your chest! Words were of course totally unintelligible but we were all told they were fine, Christian words.

At the “intermission” all pastors and youth ministers were requested to come “backstage” to meet with the celeb personally (this of course promotes churches connecting with him and giving more $$$) and so I went back rather reluctantly. What did he have to say? “I want you all to know that I LOVE your kids, and I am going to go out there on that stage in a moment and I am going to LOVE your kids to Jesus!” That said it all for me. The guy oozed arrogance. I have marked him as a phoney ever since.

Now, I would suggest to you that Jesus, in the Scripture quoted above, was confronting the crowds with this very same celebrity motive and mentality.

Mat 11:7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? (8) What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.

You recall that the crowds had gone out into the boondocks to see John the Baptist because the buzz around town was that a prophet, or Elijah, or maybe even the Messiah had shown up. But mostly they went out there not to repent of their sins, not to hear a message about repentance, not to prepare themselves for the way of the Lord. No. They went there for the show. They figured that they wanted in on some temporary excitement that was in reality nothing more than a weed being blown around by wind, but it was exciting and entertaining – a circus if you will.

Jesus then told them who John really was –

(9) What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. (10) This is he of whom it is written, “‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’ (11) Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

What should these crowds have been doing? What should have been their motive? To go out to hear God’s Word preached by His messenger, and then to respond to that message in real repentance and humility, preparing themselves to receive the Messiah who was even then at hand. But they weren’t. They were just like the crowds that ran after Jesus later only in order to get more bread and fish from him for lunch.

Professing Christians go to conferences and concerts. Why? To hear the Word of God? To see Christ more clearly? To repent of their sins? No. They go for the show. They go for an appearance of godliness that is devoid of God’s power. They go for….well, just look at the advertisements for the thing. Big names. Famous names. Going to be there in person. Going to give autographs after the show. And the Lord says of such people that they are nothing more than a weed being shaken by the wind. Those that travel far and wide to see them are fools. “Hey, why did you drive for 4 hours to get here and spend hundreds of dollars for a motel and food and tickets? Oh, well, I heard that a weed was going to be shaking and I just had to see it.

But all of this is far worse than stupidity. It is sheer disobedience to the Lord. It is a means the enemy uses over and over to plant his evil servants among us and delude us and enslave us. It feeds the oppression of the weak and innocent. It promotes a false gospel and takes people to hell. It scandalizes Christ’s name to the world – how many of these famous ones are going to be found out before this year even ends – that they were fakes and perverts and abusers all along?

And so we are reminded once again:

2Ti 3:5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

Avoid such people. STOP seeking them out.

1Co 2:1-3 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. (2) For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (3) And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling,

The Promised Remnant – CRC Sunday Sermon

April 11, 2021

Sunday School Songs

10,000 Reasons – Bless the Lord (CRC #82)
Chorus
Bless the Lord O my soul O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

Verse 1
The sun comes up it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Verse 2
You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

Verse 3
And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

Tag
Worship Your holy name
Lord I’ll worship Your holy name

Ending
Sing like never before O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
Worship Your holy name
Worship Your holy name

Jonas Myrin/Matt Redman
2011 Atlas Mountain Songs/sixsteps Music/Thankyou Music
CCLI #108183

How Long Till That Day
Verse 1
O how long will you be still
How long shall I wait
Sorrows toils and ills prevail
God come be my strength
Tears like rain fall to the floor
Cries like tempests crash the shore
Saviour rescue me I pray
How long till that day
Verse 2
O how weak my feeble frame
How long shall I faint
Burdened by my guilt and shame
Lord I need Your grace
The war against my sin remains
Satan’s lies assail my faith
Give me pow’r to run this race
How long till that day
Chorus
You abound in steadfast love
You are strong to save
You are faithful to Your promise
Worthy is Your name
Worthy is Your name
Verse 3
O that day when Christ will come
How the dawn will break
Every cry will turn to song
When we see His face
Christ my Saviour and my Lord
You’re my hope and my reward
Jesus You are coming soon
How long till that day

Jody Cross/Pat Sczebel/Robert Brockman
@Gospel Commonwealth
CCLI #108183

Sunday Service

Pastoral Reading
Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
    which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
    and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
    and its circuit to the end of them,
    and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
    enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
    enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
    and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.

12 Who can discern his errors?
    Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
    let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
    and innocent of great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Opening Hymn
Give Praise to God (CRC #1)

Prayer
Focus this week: Jessica Brown

Offering Hymn
My Sheep Know My Voice (CRC #15)

Chorus
My sheep know My voice
And day by day
They abide in the fold
And go not astray
They love Me because
I have made them My choice
And they follow My call
For My sheep know My voice

Verse 1
My sheep know My voice
And the path that I take
They follow wherever I go
My sheep know My voice
And come at My call
But a stranger’s voice
Do they not know

Verse 2
My sheep know My voice
And the pastures of green
Where I lead them so often to feed
My sheep know My voice
And the cool sparkling stream
Where beside its still waters I lead

Verse 3
My sheep know My voice
And the valley of death
Through which I shall lead them someday
But no danger nor harm
Can touch one of them
For I will be with them alway

Scripture Reading
Ezra 9

Preaching the Word
The Promised Remnant – Jeremiah 24
YouTube link

Closing Hymn
Romans Doxology (CRC #47)