Beware Ticky-Tacky Gospel Presentations

Matthew 16:5-12 ESV

“When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, ‘We brought no bread.’ But Jesus, aware of this, said, ‘O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread?

“’Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”


There is an old secular (non-Christian) song by Malvina Reynolds titled, “Little Boxes.” The lyrics speak of housing neighborhoods where the houses are “ticky-tacky,” i.e. they are all made of the same inferior or cheap material. They are cheaply built and they are of low quality (substandard). But then the song includes the education system (in America, I assume) where, if we all follow what we were taught, we all come out the same. A name for this might be “brainwashing,” i.e. we are taught to all think alike.

Another expression which says something similar to this is “cookie-cutter,” denoting something mass-produced or lacking any distinguishing characteristics. It can also mean that the same approach or style is always used and not enough attention is paid to individual differences (source Google). Now that does remind me of my schooling. We were all expected to excel in all the same areas regardless of our individual skillsets. And I was a slow reader, and slow in comprehension, so I did horrible on timed tests.

It didn’t matter that I could recite for you all what the book was about and what was said by the various characters. I didn’t know the title of the book I just read (I am still like that at age 72), and I didn’t know the names of the characters or the name of the street they were standing on when something happened. And it didn’t matter that I attempted to jump the hurdle. I made the effort. But my legs got caught in the hurdle, and I fell, and I bled, but still I was downgraded because my legs would not go over the hurdle.

We were all expected to perform equally even though God made us all different. And not just that, but we were all trained to stand with hand over heart and pledge (vow) allegiance (fidelity, loyalty, faithfulness) to our government, to flesh and blood, even to ungodly men in their deceitful scheming. And then we were taught patriotic songs to sing to our government, songs of worship and devotion to a worldly entity. But this kind of faithfulness and worship and praise should go to God and to God alone.

So, the majority of us walked away from that education system – which was also in the gatherings of the church where we also vowed our fidelity to our government and sang songs of worship to our government – brainwashed to trust our government unquestionably and to believe that our nation was the “good guys” going around the world doing “good deeds” to our neighbors, and that it was the “other guys” who were the crooks, the liars, the thieves, the murderers, and the like. But that was all a lie many of us bought into.

The Church

Like I said, even in the gatherings of what we understood to be “the church,” we were being taught government worship, and we were being taught cookie-cutter and ticky-tacky gospel presentations in many cases, too. Although in the church I grew up in we were taught holy living and repentance and obedience to our Lord, and the forsaking of our sins, we were taught these “canned” (ticky-tacky) gospel presentations where the Scriptures were taught out of context to teach half-truths (lies).

We were given a short list of Scriptures that we were to use to share “the gospel,” and to teach them in a particular order to give a particular message. The problem with that was that these Scriptures were being taught outside their true context, and many or some of them were made to say what they do not say. I still remember the first time I realized that what I was taught about Romans 6:23 was not at all true to the context of Romans 6. It is not teaching what they said it was teaching.

Yes, when we believe in Jesus with God-given faith our sins are forgiven, and we are promised eternal life with God. But read all of Romans 6. That “free gift of God” has stipulations. It has conditions we must meet. We must be crucified with Christ in death to sin and raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him. Our old self is to be crucified with Christ in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved (addicted) to sin. For if sin is what we obey, it ends in death.

But if we have been delivered from our slavery to sin, and we have now become slaves of God and of his righteousness, in practice, the fruit we get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin – if we continue living in sin and not in righteousness, and if we obey sin, and sin is what we practice, and if righteousness and obedience to our Lord are not what we practice – is death, not life eternal with God. But if we receive God’s gift of salvation by faith, via death to sin and living to righteousness, in his power and strength, we have eternal life with God.

Now, this is not the only place this teaches this. This is all throughout the New Testament. Jesus taught it. Paul taught it over and over. And the other apostles taught it. Our salvation is not a “quick fix” so when we die one day we get to be with God in heaven. The Scriptures teach our salvation as progressive sanctification and as conditional upon our walks of surrender and obedience to our Lord and our forsaking of our sinful practices. For Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to his righteousness.

And our salvation will not be complete until Jesus returns and he takes his bride to be with him for eternity, only IF we continue in Christ and in obedience to his commands, and we no longer live in sin, making sin our practice. And provided this faith is steadfast until the very end. It is a lot like the Jewish marriage contract. Our groom is now preparing a place for us, and one day he is going to return to take his bride to be with him. And then our marriage to Christ will be consummated and our salvation complete.

So, beware the (ticky-tacky) teachings of those who are not teaching the truth of the Scriptures in their true context. Test everything you read or hear against the Scriptures (in their full context), for many false teachings are out there which are being propagated as truth but which are half-truths (lies) because the Scriptures are being taught out of context and twisted to say what they do not say. And in most cases this is purposeful. And examine everything you were taught in your life against the Scriptures in context.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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