Los Alamos Church of Christ

2016 Connections

Intellectual 1




In the apocryphal book of I Esdras is the story of three men, handpicked by the king, to compete in the National Riddle Contest. The riddle was: What is the strongest thing in the world?  A date was chosen and the town square reserved for the well-publicized mental showdown. Each contestant prepped diligently, hoping to outwit his competitors. Each dreamed of the great riches promised to the winner. Finally, the day of competition arrived. The first contestant smiled as he stood before the king and the overflow gathering. He spoke loudly and confidently. “Strong wine,” he argued, “is the strongest force known to man. Its powers can control and confuse the best of men.’



The audience politely applauded.



The second contestant waved off his competitor and proudly contended that he had found an even stronger force. “The king,” he said, “is far greater than wine. He alone wields power among the nations. Kingdoms far and wide bow to his authority.”



The crowd nodded their approval as they applauded, not wanting to insult the king.



Then a hush fell on the assembly as every eye locked onto the final contestant. They wondered, “How can he surpass the wisdom of the first two? What could be stronger than wine's influence or the king's great power?”



Walking slowly to the platform, the third contestant was fully aware of the enormous challenge. He bowed to the king, acknowledged his opponents, and then addressed the crowd: 'There is one thing that surpasses the influence of wine and the power of our king,” he said. “It is…



Pretend you are the third contestant.  Think of your answer to the strongest thing in the world. 



While you are coming up with your answer… let me recap what we have learned, so far, in our 2016… Connections.






Our challenge for the year is to find our sweet spot of worship.  We are attempting to discover how we are wired so we can know how we connect to God. 



--We have learned that God is infinite.  God in his joy of variety created creatures like these…


--We all reflect a portion of God’s infiniteness.  Only you can be you.  The human genome is the complete assembly of DNA - about 3 billion base pairs - that makes each individual unique. You reflect a unique bit of God. 



--God requires infinite worship.  There is a special place where only you can worship.  There is a thin place where only you can cross the veil in worship… in the temple of your body you can meet the Holy Spirit in worship!



--God is good.  God’s grace is enough.  God desires you. 



--Theme verse



ESV Mark 12:29-30 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”



Just as YHWH is one, we offer our “one” to him in worship.  You are not pieces parts, compartmentalized to do different tasks.  You are one in heart, soul, mind and strength all working as one to worship YWHW who is one.  We offer the unity of who we are in worship! 



That is what we have learned.  It is a lot.  Now we are ready to begin.  This morning we get to work.  We begin to look at our 1st temperament… The Intellectual.




I suspect the temperament of the intellectual is one of the most predominate in our community.  It is Los Alamos.  I suspect many of us are high up the slide in the intellectual wiring.  So, this is a good temperament to begin with.  But Intellectualism is one of the harder ones to find the sweet spot.  It will be a challenge for those of us who are intellectuals to connect… with all of who you are.  Our hearts, our soul, our strength in conjunction with our minds is difficult. 


As we study each of the temperaments we are going to look at Jesus.  Jesus is the perfect human.  Jesus is 10 on each slide.  I hope to demonstrate Jesus as our model.  Let’s begin by looking at Jesus… the intellectual…


Let’s quickly look at 3 Gospel stories which demonstrate his intellectual temperament.




The story begins when Jesus is 12… Luke story


ESV Luke 2:41-47 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.  And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom.  And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him.   After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.  And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.


12 year old Jesus the intellectual.  Jesus loved to ask questions.  Jesus loved to learn.  It would be hard to name another 12 year-old who would enjoy spending 3 days with a bunch of old preachers debating theology.  Jesus was amazing in understanding and in the answers he gave.


Let’s follow that theme and listen to some more answers Jesus gave…


ESV Matthew 22:15-22  Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his talk.  And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone's opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.  Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?"  But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, "Why put me to the test, you hypocrites?  Show me the coin for the tax." And they brought him a denarius.  And Jesus said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?"  They said, "Caesar's." Then he said to them, "Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."  When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.


The Pharisees thought they were smart.  Here is a question that will get Jesus in trouble if he says “No,” he is in trouble with the Romans.  If he says, “Yes,” the people will not like that answer.  But Jesus, the intellectual, took their question and showed their hypocrisy.  They were using the pagan’s coins.  If you use their coins, you have to pay their tax.  But make sure your heart is given to God. 


They marveled!  Then the Sadducees thought they would have a go at Jesus…


ESV Matthew 22:23-33 The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question,  saying, "Teacher, Moses said, 'If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up children for his brother.'  Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother.  So too the second and third, down to the seventh.   After them all, the woman died.  In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her."  But Jesus answered them, "You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.  For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.  And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God:   'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not God of the dead, but of the living."  And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.


“We’ve got a stumper question”, the Sadducees thought.  They thought the riddle of the seven husbands was unanswerable.  Jesus answers their riddle… There is no marriage on the restored earth.  Then he asks his own question…  “Isn’t God the God of those who are alive!”  Bam Jesus, the intellectual, maxes out on the 10 scale!


If you like these 3 stories, you might be an intellectual. 


Let’s see if that is the case…





One of the things we are going to do with each of the temperaments is take the Temperament Test. Here are 10 questions which we will score to give you some rough number as to each temperament.



I need to say, be as honest as you can.  These are not trick questions.  But they were difficult to come up with.  If you want to skew the answers you can.  Think a bit and give a straight up as answer as you can. 



On a Scale of 1 -10… with 10 describing you…



1. I love discussing hard theological questions. 



2. I spend more money on books than music.



3. I watch documentaries on TV.



4. I believe much of the difficulty we have in the Christian life is because we don’t understand Scripture well enough. 



5. I place importance on doctrine when picking a church home. 



6. I like Greek word studies in sermons.



7. I love to attend Bible class.



8. I spend time studying the Bible using the internet and commentaries.



9. I love listening to educated speakers present biblical truth.



10. I get excited about God when I'm learning new theological truths.



Add up all the numbers… that is your percentage of being an intellectual.  Raise hand… over 50…60 note the number over 60. 



Look for what is our congregation is… X number of hands over 70%.



Place your number in the first box in your notebook.  When we are finished you will have a rough indication of your slides temperaments.





For you intellectuals who are still thinking about what is the strongest thing in the world… Here is the answer from 1 Esdras 4.  Intellectuals are thinking, “1 Esdras is not in the Bible.  I know all 66 books and 1 Esdras is not amongst them”.  You are right it is in the Apocrypha; the part in Catholic Bibles that is not in Protestant Bibles.  Let’s read the answer.


ESV 1 Esdras 4:14-17 "Gentlemen, is not the king great, and are not men many, and is not wine strong? Who is it, then, that rules them, or has the mastery over them? Is it not women?  Women gave birth to the king and to every people that rules over sea and land.  From women they came; and women brought up the very men who plant the vineyards from which comes wine.  Women make men's clothes; they bring men glory; men cannot exist without women.”



In the story they agree women are stronger than wine or kings.  But the third contestant cheats, sort of, He gives two answers.  Here is part b of his answer…



ESV 1 Esdras 4:36-40 The whole earth calls upon truth, and heaven blesses her. All God's works quake and tremble, and with him there is nothing unrighteous.  Wine is unrighteous, the king is unrighteous, women are unrighteous, all human beings are unrighteous, all their works are unrighteous, and all such things. There is no truth in them and in their unrighteousness they will perish.  But truth endures and is strong forever, and lives and prevails forever and ever.  With it there is no partiality or preference, but it does what is righteous instead of anything that is unrighteous or wicked. Everyone approves its deeds, and there is nothing unrighteous in its judgment. To it belongs the strength and the kingship and the power and the majesty of all the ages. Blessed be the God of truth!"



Truth is the strongest thing in the world!  The 3rd contestant wins with his 2nd answer and King Darius grants him anything he wants… let the Jews return to Jerusalem.  Which King Darius allows.    Truth is the strongest thing in the world!



All the intellectuals say… amen?




There has never been or ever will be someone who is just like you.  This isn’t a testimony about you, but rather a statement of God’s infiniteness. The significance of your uniqueness is… only you can worship God like you.  No one can take your place. You are invaluable and irreplaceable.  AND God desires you.  BUT God desires all of you… with all your mind!


Join me in reciting… The Shema…



ESV Mark 12:29-30 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”


My temperament is God’s gift to me.

My temperament is my gift to God.

My temperament is my gift to the body.

My temperament is my gift to the world.




Tim Stidham

January 24, 2016

Los Alamos Church of Christ