3 Ways the Lost RID themselves of Christ.

If you haven’t noticed, many of these articles are written for 2 purposes. First, to strengthen the Christian in their hope of salvation. Second, to empower the Christian with information that could be used to reach the lost. The titles are designed to evoke some emotion that makes someone want to see what it’s about.

Today’s article does both because we know the lost world needs Christ, and it’s possible for the Christian to drift away [Heb 2:2-3].

HOW DOES THE LOST RID THEMSELVES OF CHRIST?

Whether a person does it intentionally or by neglect, the results are the same, they’re lost. So, here’s what scripture tells us how a person RIDs himself of Christ.

REJECTING CHRIST:

One of the ways to get Christ out of your life is to reject Him, reject His commands and totally reject His will for your life. This is what the Jews did during His personal ministry. “And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner:” [Mark 12:10].

Jesus warned, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” [John 12:48]

The result of rejecting Christ is found in the example of Esau, “For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected:” [Heb 12:17] The same fate awaits those who reject Christ, that is, to be rejected by God.

IGNORING CHRIST:

Probably the most common way to RID yourself of Christ is to IGNORE Him. We see this in most folks as they take zero consideration for their eternity. These may say they believe in God & Christ, may even attend a church service somewhere, but they make no effort to know what His will is about godly living, worship or even His commands about baptism.

Paul faced this attitude when he spoke with Agrippa. “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” [Acts 26:28] To ignore Christ is just as fatal as to reject Him.

Our Lord spoke about those who ignored His commands when He said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” [Mat 7:21]

Some say that doctrine is not important. But the Holy Spirit says that there is a ‘sound doctrine’ which means that some would be following unsound doctrine ignoring the Doctrine of Christ. [2Tim 4:3; 2John 1:9]

DELAYING OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST:

The last one will RID Christ from your life just as effectively even though the person in this position may say they want to obey the Gospel. Saying you want to do something has zero effect on one’s salvation. Christ said, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” [Luke 6:46]

There is something you must do. Saul (later called Paul) knew this, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Jesus then sent him to a Christian to tell him what to do. Nobody accesses salvation without actively doing what the Lord requires. The Jailor, upon hearing about Jesus, obeyed the gospel “the same hour of the night’ without delay. [Acts 16:33]

Don’t be like Felix; “And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” [Acts 24:25] He delayed, and we have no idea if he ever responded to the gospel. How sad.

All 3 of these can be applied to those outside of Christ as well as those who are in Christ. You see, we can lose our salvation when we REJECT, IGNORE or DELAY in doing the commands of the Lord. Please, Salvation has appeared to all men [Titus 2:11], don’t RID yourselves of that Grace.

What comes first Water or Salvation?

People in the denominational world want to rid water from God’s plan of salvation. Oh, they’ll say it’s important, one false teacher even said, “Baptism is not essential to salvation, but you aren’t saved if you refuse it.” That’s confusing. When you show them the simple instructions of the Master, (Mark 16:16) they still can’t see it. So, let’s take a different approach by asking, WHAT CAME FIRST, WATER OR SALVATION?

When you open your Bible, you won’t go far before you come to THE STORY OF NOAH’S ARK (Genesis 6-8). A novice could answer the question, WHAT CAME FIRST, WATER OR SALVATION?

Noah was commanded to build an ark. He moved with Godly fear and built the ark, according to the pattern (Heb 11:7). He entered the ark with his family. God closed the only door. It rained. The ark rose above the water. Everyone outside of the ark died. The ark landed on Ararat. Noah & his family were saved. He Heard God’s instructions, Believed, Obeyed, WATER.

A LITTLE FURTHER ALONG and you’ll read of the Israelites in Egyptian bondage (Exodus 1-14). Once again, a casual reading reveals a similar story. Moses heard God’s instructions. He believed. They obeyed God’s instruction. They found themselves by the red sea with Pharaoh’s army in pursuit. They walked on dry ground surrounded by WATER. They were free on the other side of the water, while Pharaoh’s army drowned.

And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;” (1Cor 10:2)

KEEP READING and you’ll come to the story of a man named Naaman who had leprosy (2King 5:1-14). He HEARD about a cure and BELIEVED it was true, so much that he brought great wealth to pay for it. However, those weren’t the instructions. The instructions were to dip seven times in the Jordan river. He became angry and wanted a modification to the instruction. That wasn’t in the message either. So, after a little reasoning with his servant, humbly he went to the WATER in obedience. Then, and only then did he receive the cure.

IN THE NEW TESTAMENT we read of a man born blind, (John 9:1-7). This story has some amazing similarities to the others. He HEARD some instructions. BELIEVING them, he went in faithful OBEDIENCE to the pool of Siloam. WATER was the dividing line between blindness and sight.

WITH ALL THESE ACCOUNTS before us, we ask again, WHAT CAME FIRST, WATER OR SALVATION? The answer is clear…WATER. God desired water to be the dividing line between the Fully convinced believer and Salvation.

NOW, AS WE LOOK AT His command for salvation under the New Covenant, what do we find?

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16)

And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”

(Acts 22:16)

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” (1Peter 3:21)

But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.”

(Acts 8:12)

THIS IS THE PATTERN of the New Covenant. Jesus commanded baptism, the Apostles taught it and believers obeyed it prior to their salvation. The question now becomes; do you love Jesus enough to do what He says? (Luke 6:46; John 14:15) Or will you follow the pattern of the Pharisees? “But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.” (Luke 7:30)

For further study there are additional scriptures on the (here).

PHARISAICAL

PHARISAICAL is defined as; practicing or advocating strict observance of external forms and ceremonies of religion or conduct without regard to the spirit; self-righteous; hypocritical. The term comes from the group called “Pharisees.”

The way it is most commonly used is when one person suggests a close adherence to the word of God in the Plan of Salvation, Worship and Godliness that others will claim that person is being PHARISAICAL. It’s a rebuke by someone who ISN’T closely following the Bible against the one who does.

Is that a fair use of the word? Does this usage follow with how the Pharisees were practicing Judaism? Let’s examine the Scriptures to see if this is so.

JESUS REBUKES THE PHARISEES

Matthew 23 is a great place to learn what Jesus felt about the Pharisees. The first 12 verses He describes their practices to the multitudes. He says:

  • Do what they say, not what they do. v3
  • They bind heavy burdens on others that they won’t do. v4
  • They do what they do to be seen by men. v5
  • They love the best seats & greetings. v6-7

After this, He then addresses them directly with a series of “WOE UNTO YOU” statements some of which are:

  • You shut up the kingdom of heaven against men and you don’t enter either. v13
  • For a pretense make long prayers. v14
  • Neglected the weightier matters of justice, mercy & faith. v23
  • You appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. v28

Upon examination of these verses and others, the conclusion you MUST come to is that the Pharisees were:

  • Ignoring the commands of God for their traditions.
  • Saying one thing correctly but not doing it. This is called hypocrisy.
  • When they did keep the commands of God, their heart wasn’t in it. Mat 23:23
  • They bound EXTRA commands on people that God never commanded.
  • Mat 7:21-23

“For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” [Mark 7:8-9]

SO, WHAT IS PHARISAICAL REALLY?

To be ‘PHARISAICAL’ is to:

  • Not follow the commands of God
  • To create new commands not from God
  • To say that you’re following God but aren’t.
  • To hold to traditions rather than the commands of God.
  • To appear to be righteous but are actually disobedient.

If anyone in our modern times is ‘PHARISAICAL’ it’s most likely to be the denominational churches and not the Lord’s church. Can we be guilty of hypocrisy? Certainly, but to call someone who is keeping the commands of God with his whole heart, ‘PHARISAICAL,’ is to make a false accusation. It’s usually the one who ISN’T KEEPING GOD’S COMMANDS that calls another ‘PHARISAICAL.’ If you’re not following the commands of Christ, YOU ARE THE PHARISEE! It is NOT PHARISAICAL to want to keep the commands of God. [Col 3:17]

Rather than call each other names, let’s try this:

  • Let’s Keep the commands of Jesus – John 14:15
  • Let’s Do what Jesus says – Luke 6:46; Mat 7:21-29
  • Let’s Love God with our whole heart – Mat 22:37
  • Let’s Obey the Gospel – 2Thess 1:8; Mark 16:16

God wants us to be saved and to go to heaven. Let’s do that.

Give THANKS for He is GOOD

This week our nation pauses to give thanks. I’m unsure as to who the Atheist, Agnostic, Arrogant or the Absent minded shall thank, but the Christian has an ALMIGHTY GOD to whom we can give thanks. Rather than more words from me, let’s go to the Psalms of Thanksgiving. [Note: The Hebrew word for ‘THANKS’ <yadah> is also translated as ‘praise’ This bulletin only contains the verses translated as ‘THANKS’]

Psa 6:5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee THANKS?

Psa 18:49 Therefore will I give THANKS unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.

 

That I may publish with the voice of THANKSgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works. Psa 26:7

 

Psa 30:4 Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give THANKS at the remembrance of his holiness.

Psa 30:12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give THANKS unto thee for ever.

 

I will give thee THANKS in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people. Psa 35:18

 

Psa 50:14 Offer unto God THANKSgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:

Psa 69:30 I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with THANKSgiving.

Psa 75:1 <<To the chief Musician, Altaschith, A Psalm or Song of Asaph.>> Unto thee, O God, do we give THANKS, unto thee do we give THANKS: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare.

Psa 79:13 So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee THANKS for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations.

Psa 92:1 <<A Psalm or Song for the sabbath day.>> It is a good thing to give THANKS unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:

Psa 95:2 Let us come before his presence with THANKSgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with Psalms.

 

Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give THANKS at the remembrance of his holiness. Psa 97:12

 

Psa 100:4 Enter into his gates with THANKSgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

Psa 105:1 O give THANKS unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.

Psa 106:1 Praise ye the LORD. O give THANKS unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Psa 106:47 Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give THANKS unto thy holy name, and to triumph in thy praise.

 

O give THANKS unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Psa 107:1

 

Psa 107:8 Oh, that men would give THANKS to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!

Psa 107:15 Oh, that men would give THANKS to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!

 

Oh, that men would give THANKS to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! Psa 107:21

 

Psa 107:22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of THANKSgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.

Psa 116:17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of THANKSgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.

Psa 118:1 O give THANKS unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.

Psa 118:29 O give THANKS unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Psa 119:62 At midnight I will rise to give THANKS unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.

Psa 122:4 Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, unto the testimony of Israel, to give THANKS unto the name of the LORD.

Psa 136:1 O give THANKS unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Psa 136:2 O give THANKS unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Psa 136:3 O give THANKS to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Psa 136:26 O give THANKS unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Psa 140:13 Surely the righteous shall give THANKS unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence.

Psa 147:7 Sing unto the LORD with THANKSgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God:

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17

“You guys think you’re the only ones going to heaven.”

Has anyone ever challenged you with this statement after telling them to which church you belong? Did you know what to say?

Before we offer an answer to this accusation, we need to identify it for what it is; it’s an intellectually dishonest accusation based upon an unstudied position. It’s emotionally charged based on another similar question; “will God actually send good people to hell?”

Here’s another way of stating these charges; “do you mean to tell me that God is going to send people to hell who disregard His authority and choose not to follow the whole counsel of God?”

When stated this way, you can begin to see the answer to their claims.

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. [Acts 20:27]

Most, if not all, attacks come from a position of partial understanding of God’s word. The real answer to most attacks should be “who has all authority, and how do we know what it is?” when faced with an emotionally charged criticism, I ask this question; “What does the bible say?

Jesus has “all authority” [Mat 28:18], and He alone has the right to determine under what conditions salvation is determined. He said that judgment will be based upon the standard of God’s word [John 12:48] and if this is true, are we to teach it accurately? Do any of us have the right to teach less or to add more to His word? Certainly not!

If the bible teaches that only those who have been added to the Lord’s church are saved [Acts 2:47], then to teach otherwise is to be a false teacher. To belong to a church not mentioned in the Bible is to disregard God’s word, the word upon which the determination of saved or lost is made.

The Lord’s church.
  • Jesus said; “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” [Mat 16:18] He could have built 1,000 churchES, but He only promised to build ONE.
  • Jesus purchased ONE church; “… the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” [Acts 20:28]
  • Jesus is the head of His church; “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body,” [Eph 1:22-23]
  • Jesus will save His body; “…Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.” [Eph 5:23b]

How many bodies (churches) did He build, purchase, is the head of and is the savior of? We read about followers of Christ assembling in local congregations called ‘churches of Christ.’ [Rom 16:16] These are not different denominations teaching different doctrines. These are adherents to God’s word assembling as commanded in their home towns.

Some argue that there are many members of that one body in all the denominations. Can that even make sense? Don’t forget about the word that judges us in the last day. Denominations teach different things about salvation, sin, worship, faith, apostacy etc. Some teach & bind MORE than what the bible teaches on these subjects. Can we be a part of a denomination that adds to or takes away from God’s word and say you’re following the whole counsel of God? When we examine the scriptures, we find the expectation that the same thing be taught to every person. [1Cor 1:10-14]

For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.” [1Cor 4:17]

A word of caution; not every person who attends a “church of Christ” belongs to Him. There are some who are in unrepented sin or practicing error. Revelation 2 & 3 also teaches that entire congregations have left their first love, hold the doctrine of Balaam, allow false teachers in, are spiritually dead, and are lukewarm. Jesus said to one congregation, “for I have not found thy works perfect before God.” [Rev 3:2]. They were not completely following God’s word!

If those who are in the Lord’s church are in jeopardy for not following His will, what makes you think He’s going to overlook denominational error?!

TAKE A PICTURE

The Reverend Jefferson Davis Tant, duly ordained in the Methodist ministry, became a circuit-rider in North Texas in the year 1880. His work as a Methodist minister was destined to be a short one. In 1881, he moved to Buda, Texas, where in August of that year, he heard W. H. D. Carrington, a minister of the Church of Christ, preach the gospel. He liked what he learned. In those days, the church was often referred to as “Campbellites.” The meeting ran from two weeks to a month. Tant decided to go back and hear what the “Campbellite” preacher had to say further. Carrington took the Bible, read the passages and explained them clearly, especially the verses that told what one must do to be a Christian or to be saved.

On August 14, 1881, Tant came forward in Carrington’s meeting and gave the preacher his hand. He was openly weeping as he did so, weeping from fear and from gratitude.

J.D. Tant preached all over the nation [abandoning the term reverend]. Gospel preachers were few and far between. He was in great demand, ordinarily receiving more than 200 invitations per year for gospel meetings and debates. His record was 269 invitations in a single year. Obviously, he could not hold more than 20 or 25 of these, since most of them were of two weeks’ duration.

The following account is from the book about his life; “TEXAS PREACHER.”

J.D. Tant’s last debate with Ben M. Bogard (his eighth) was in the Lone Star community about eight miles east of Greenwood, Arkansas, in the fall of 1937.

The proposition being discussed was that baptism of a penitent believer is (or in order to) the remission of past sins. In one of Bogard’s speeches of denial he took up his entire thirty minutes trying to prove that there are two figures (pictures) contemplated in 1Peter 3:21. Insisting that Noah and his family were saved by faith, and then pictured their salvation in the water of the flood, he declared that we are first saved by faith, and then picture that salvation by baptism. He dwelt at length on the fact that one could not have a picture of a thing or a person without first having the substance of the thing or person. He told of having a picture of his mother, and how highly he prized the picture; but he could not have had the picture unless he had first had the mother! His Baptist brethren seemed elated with this argument and felt that it was unanswerable.

Tant got to his feet and replied, “My good friends, remember that baptism is just a ‘picture’. Ben Bogard says it is, and since Ben seems to be the big ‘It’ among Baptists, that makes it so. Now, Ben, says baptism is a ‘picture’. That does not help Baptist doctrine at all; for it was Jesus Christ himself who said in Mark 16:16, ‘He that believeth and gets his picture taken shall be saved’.

And when those wicked people on Pentecost asked Peter and the rest of the apostles what they had to do, Peter replied, ‘Repent ye, and get your picture taken, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.’

And when Ananias came to Saul of Tarsus there in Damascus, he said unto him as recorded in Acts 22:16, ‘And now why tarriest thou? Arise and get your picture taken, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord’.

So, you can see, Ben, you, too, will have to get your picture taken or you can never be saved!”

There was a roar of laughter from the audience, and Bogard was obviously discomfited as his bit of sophistry was thus handed back to him.

Confessing Jesus

Cherry picking is the act of pointing at individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position. The practice of cherry-picking overlooks or even suppresses evidence that would lead to a different conclusion.

The term comes from the process of harvesting fruit. A picker (such as for cherries) would select only the best-looking fruit while overlooking or wrongly concluding that the remaining fruit is not yet ripe or of a poor quality.

It is one of many logical fallacies. When people cite anecdotal evidence, they tend to overlook large amounts of additional data. Selective gathering of evidence to support a personal opinion is misleading and incredibly damaging.

We all know that religious orders cherry-pick the scriptures to prove faith only.

One such example is…

“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.” [Mat 10:32]

Before we go on, you need to know that this article is not going to undo this passage. I hope you believe it and obey it. What we will do is ask the question, is this all that is said about confessing Jesus?

Another thing, those who cite this passage don’t actually define it biblically. They use it in a faith only sort of way. Note that the passage said, “before men.” Confessing Jesus is not a private affair, no sir, it’s a very public and ongoing activity. The implication is this, if you stop confessing Jesus before men, your eternal destiny is in jeopardy. Notice what was said about certain believers in Jesus…

“Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:” [John 12:42]

Another passage cited by believers only folks is Romans 10:9; “because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved:” This proof text is then driven home with verse 13: “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” They may even include Acts 2:21 which says the same thing.

That’s where they stop. They’ll go on to make some grand point about Christs love (He does love you) and how salvation happens at your Lazboy when you begin believing.

This is cherry-picking, for they willfully or ignorantly overlook passages that changes the picture completely. You see, the audience of Acts 2 went on to ask, “what must we do?” They were told, “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins.” [2:38]

Saul of Tarsus, when He believed in a risen Jesus, was told what he must do. Ananias came to him and said…“And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name.” [Acts 22:16].

Did you see what happened? When we gathered more information (picked all the fruit) we find out when calling on His name occurs. When we are baptized (buried in water) we are calling on the name of the Lord.

Some would argue, “if someone accepts Christ as their Savior but dies before the baptistry they are saved.” No. Look again at the evidence. No one has accepted Christ as their Savior until they have obeyed His gospel which includes baptism into Christ for the remission of sins. [Gal 3:27; Rom 6:1-4; 1Peter 3:21]

Hear, Believe, Repent, Confess, Be Baptized and continue to live a life of continual confession of Christ with godly behavior. [Acts 2:42; Rev 3:10]

The Tears of Jesus

It matters naught where one lives, in what culture or what era, tears and laughter are a universal language of the world.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ shed tears for the very same reasons as we. The THREE accounts of our Lord’s weeping are representative of life.

HE WEPT FOR THE SORROW OF OTHERS…

The first account is found as Jesus approached the tomb of Lazarus and found his family weeping.

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping who came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him? They say unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept.” [John 11:33-35]

Jesus’ weeping was much more than sympathy, He had empathy for their loss, He felt as we feel. [Heb 4:15]

HE WEPT OVER JERUSALEM AND THEIR MISSED OPPORTUNITY…

The next scene occurs as Jesus approaches Jerusalem the week of His crucifixion.

And when he drew nigh, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the things which belong unto peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, when thine enemies shall cast up a bank about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,  and shall dash thee to the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” [Luke 19:41-44]

It’s from this scene that we notice His sorrow for those who have wasted the most important opportunity of their lives, believing and obeying God’s sacrifice for our sins [John 1:29].

IN THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE…

The final scene is on the night of His betrayal that would result in His unjust conviction, scourging and crucifixion on a cruel cross.

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling down upon the ground” [Lu 22:44; cr. Heb 5:7].

The context of His tears is for the battle He was about to face as He shed His own blood for our sins. It’s hard to imagine what He endured, for He was keenly aware of things before they happened. We face battles as they come, and only know the difficulties after the fact.

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM HIS TEARS?

The scenes of His tears can teach us about CONCERN. How concerned are we for the THREE biggest tragedies in a person’s life?

  • The sorrow of a deceased family member (for those not in Christ cr. 1Thess 4:18)? The reality that many a loved one has died outside of Christ compels me all the more.
  • The sorrow for those who have spurned the Gospel, or for our wasted opportunities to preach Christ? If you believe the first pain, this second one hurts nearly just as much. May someone’s rejection never be because of my failures.
  • The deep concern in prayer each night knowing that we MUST fight the Good fight of faith but realizing that the message will be rejected by most and we’ll be persecuted by many. Never allow the possibility of persecution prevent the preaching of Christ.

In the scene at Lazarus’ tomb, the witnesses said, “Behold how he loved him!” They saw how much our Lord loved him, and we know that He loves us. [cr. Jno. 3:16; Rom 5:8; 1Jno. 4:9]

You see, the weeping of Jesus demonstrates to us His concern for our soul, and if we’re to be like Him, we should be just as concerned for the souls of others.

This concern, our tears, will be seen by those we’re trying to reach. Perhaps a few more tears shed will win a few more to Christ.

The Strange Church

There’s a bittersweet scene in Ezra chapter 3 during the time when the exiles, returning from 70 years of captivity, were rebuilding the temple that had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.

As they laid the foundation, all the younger folks, “…praised the Lord, because the foundation was laid.” But the older ones, the ones who had seen the first temple built by Solomon, “wept with a loud voice.” [Ezra 3:12; cf. Haggai 2:3]

Why such a disparity in the reaction between the two groups? It is the answer to this question about which I want to speak.

The reason for the weeping was that the older one’s could still remember how beautiful the first temple had been. They could remember the gold plating, the cedar paneling, the incredible beauty. The younger ones had no point of reference, therefore they rejoiced while the others wept.

POINT OF REFERENCE

The religious world is suffering from this same thing today. Many religious, churchgoing folks are looking for a church based upon their social programs, entertainment and food options. Why? It would be easy to just say that their stomachs have become their gods.

“Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” [Philippians 3:19]

You would be mostly right. But let me suggest that another part of the reason this is so is since people have been separated from the truth about a sound church for so long they don’t even recognize one when they see it. There are some who have never even heard the truth on certain matters. They’ve never seen a sound church.

You may think I’m referring to denominationalism, but no sir. I’m speaking about the Lord’s church. The Lord’s body is suffering from this failure in having a sound POINT OF REFERENCE.

It is certainly true that denominations have ruined the truth about worship and the work of the church, Paul called it a perversion, and therefore many people of the world only think of the church as a benevolence or social welfare institution. They don’t even consider the church as a teaching organization.

The Strange Church

There was a time when Christians were thought of as strange. Peter said, “Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you” [1Peter 4:4]. He also said that members of the Lord’s body were, “a peculiar people” [1Peter 2:9].

Many of our ‘denominational’ minded brethren have never heard the truth on subjects like, institutionalism or the errors of the social gospel. Instead they’re rejoicing that they have ‘youth pastors’ & ‘children’s church’ and many other such perversions of the Gospel.

I know this to be true because I’ve asked of their members, “Do you know why we’re separate from you?” To a person they say no! One person was super excited to tell me the news that they found a ‘youth minister.’ I asked, “what is that, aren’t the biblical youth ministers the older people of the congregation?” [Titus 2:4] Yes, they think it strange.

Think about this; it was the strangeness of Christ that drew people to Him and His church. Strange in that He taught the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. [John 17:17]

He didn’t give His life on a cross to bring about an earthly kingdom and earthly bliss [Mat 10:34]. No Sir! He died to bring reconciliation between mankind and God. [1John 2:2]. This is not to say that joy cannot be found, it’s just not the work (responsibility) of the Lord’s church. Peace & Joy are blessings for people who, having put on Christ in baptism, are in Christ [Ephesians 1:3].

The Lord’s church is a teaching organization [1Timothy 3:15]. We are to reach out to the spiritually lost of this world with the Gospel message and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then we are to teach these Christians “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” [Matthew 28:18-20]

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” [Romans 14:17]

Religious Counterfeits

Paul, in his letter to the Galatians was taken aback that the Christians had turned away from the AUTHENTIC Gospel.

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” [Gal 1:6-7]

We’re still being surprised by this reality, that folks are turning away from Christ, to another gospel message, which is NOT a gospel that can save.

It is no surprise to the regular readers of this paper to learn that God has warned us to beware of RELIGIOUS COUNTERFEITS.

Who are RELIGIOUS COUNTERFEITS?

Paul wrote to warn Timothy about those, “Having a form of godliness,” who would be…

“…lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;” [1Tim 3:1-5]

He warned that they would creep in and lead away unsuspecting people. They would be constantly learning but never comprehending the truth. It reminds me of folks who regularly read the Bible but fail to see the basic truths about salvation.

A RELIGIOUS COUNTERFEIT comes in many forms. They would be wolves in sheep’s clothing. This means that they will appear as nice folks. This should also be of no surprise for we know, “For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” [2Cor 11:14]

Our Lord also warned: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” [Mat 7:15]

But He gave us hope in that we could know who they are. We can know them by their fruit. But we aren’t to stop there, for they will be doing many seemingly good things. Jesus said He would not accept those who haven’t obeyed Him…

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” [Mat 7:22]

It’s not enough to observe their fruit, we must also observe their teaching and compare it to the written word of God. This was our Lord’s point, and later it was Paul’s point to the Galatians.

“If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” [Gal 1:9]

For us to be able to discover and to ward off the RELIGIOUS COUNTERFEITS, we must be skilled in God’s word. This will require us to be regular students of the Bible. God’s word is our only defense from the attacks of the RELIGIOUS COUNTERFEITS.