Obedience Matters

November 1, 2017 at 3:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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If ye will fear the LORD, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the LORD your God:

I Samuel 12:14

God in His holy disposition was not disposed to give His people an earthly king. God was their true King, but they wanted a human king very badly, because the other nations had human kings. God allowed them to have their wish, although He knew that having a human king would cause many problems and much heartache and suffering, because a human king would be a sinful king.

He had his prophet Samuel appoint a man named Saul to be the first human king of Israel. I Samuel 12 is Samuel’s farewell address to the people, after he had anointed Saul as their king. What Samuel knew – and what you and I must know and believe ourselves – is that what really matters to God is not so much the strength of our earthly leaders, but our own obedience to God’s will as revealed in His Word.

Here are four brief thoughts on the matter of obedience, under the acrostic O.B.E.Y.

O.wnership

Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is great in might. Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.

Jeremiah 10:6-7

But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.

Jeremiah 10:10

We do not like to think of ourselves as property, and especially not someone else’s property. If, like me, you are an American, you probably believe that our leaders are supposed to serve us, not rule over us. We think we are free and independent. Our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution even say that we are. But we are not. We are the subjects of a sovereign and mighty King, Whose rule is everlasting. We belong to Him. He owns us, lock, stock, and barrel from the moment of our conception, and He will do with us as He pleases. And we have nothing about us that is threatening or mysterious to Him.

If we believe this – truly believe – then obedience is not an optional thing. It is a logical and rational and inescapable fact of life. To disobey our Owner and King is foolish treason without any hope of working out well for us, and it subjects us to His anger and wrath and punishment or chastisement. Only such attributes as His grace, mercy, and love make even the beginning of a way to exist in His universe, and to therein know any joy whatsoever.

O.bey
B.iblical revelation

God – our Owner and King – has not left it up to us to try to figure out on our own what we must do – or refrain from doing – in order to obey Him. He has revealed His will to us in a written Word.

But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:

Romans 16:26

It is our responsibility as God’s image-bearing creatures to know what He wants us to do – and HOW He wants us to do it. This knowledge does not come to us in dreams or visions, or by feelings or hunches. We do not get it by convening a council and reaching a consensus, or through trial-and-error experimentation. We get it by studying His holy Word – studying it to show ourselves approved – workers that won’t be ashamed when we stand before Him, saying, “But I didn’t know that was wrong,” or, “I didn’t know that’s what You wanted me to be doing with my life.” As my old Sunday School teacher used to say, “If you stand before God one day embarrassed by what you’ve done, then you will be standing there embarrassed on purpose,” because He has made it abundantly plain and clear in His book!

O.wnership
B.iblical revelation
E.arnestness

By earnestness I mean that our obedience to God must not be outward obedience only. It must come from the heart – from a true desire to please Him and an inward conviction that His commands and prohibitions for us are RIGHT.

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:22

In order to obey God truly from the heart, our hearts must be cleaned and renewed. They must be “sprinkled” (splashed with the blood of Christ) and washed with the water of the Word. This is work of the Holy Spirit. We can fake obedience to certain extent, and fool other people, but God Himself is never fooled. To obey is better than outward shows of sacrifice, meaning that the inward faith of a desire to truly please God is better than external rituals. Earnestness is not really something we can achieve on our own, but it is the natural product of a true love for Christ and what He has done for us. However, and this is of tremendous importance, such earnestness WILL manifest itself in outward and visible acts of obedience.

O.wnership
B.iblical revelation
E.arnestness
Y.ield

The Holy Spirit wants you to obey God. He wants you to understand and obey His Word. He wants you to learn it and to live it. The office of the Spirit is to glorify Christ. If we will yield to the Spirit, we will honor Christ by our obedience.

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:15

Obedience is not only the way to show our love for Jesus; it is the best evidence of our love for Jesus. It is not only the will of God that we obey; it is the way that we demonstrate that His will is perfect.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

“Present” yourself to God. Yield to Him and His Spirit. This is your reasonable “service:” the way you serve your King and Owner. This will “prove” or “demonstrate” that His will is perfect.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:2

At the very end of his farewell speech, Samuel said this:

Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.

I Samuel 12:24-25

There is no question that obedience is not only the right thing to do, but the objectively best thing for us. Much disobedience in this world escapes the notice and the justice of the earthly authorities, but none of it escapes God’s notice or His justice. His justice WILL be satisfied – either on you, or in Christ.

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Catechism Question 22

May 6, 2015 at 3:13 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism | 1 Comment
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Question 21: When did God forgive you for your sins and give you eternal life?
Answer: When I believed on Jesus and called on Him to save me.
Prove it.
Romans 10:13

Question 22: How will you live for Jesus?
Answer: By loving Him and doing what He says.
Prove it.

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:15

A person who has not trusted Christ unto salvation may perform acts of kindness, exercise some manner of admirable restraint, exhibit a life that speaks of comparative morality, and even accomplish what appear to be acts of self-sacrifice. However, underneath the visible exterior, no one is able to accomplish true righteousness in his or her own power, and, apart from the grace of God, every non-Christian’s deeds are tainted by self-interest and sullied by the fact that they are not done with a pure motivation of giving God glory.

One of the many varied blessings of receiving the salvation of the Lord in Christ is the creation of a new heart which is capable of responding to God’s love, and of being able to love Him back in true obedience. Our children, and we ourselves, must all remember that true conversion is not the permission to lapse into spiritual inactivity. Instead, it is the beginning of our call to serve our Master, King, Lord, Older Brother, and Best Friend, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Other verses to consider:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

He hath shewed thee, O man, what [is] good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Micah 6:8

Professing Atheists Are Blind to Their Own Lack of Objectivity

February 20, 2015 at 1:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Professing Atheist: It’s odd that you think quoting the Bible would sway unbelievers.

Christian: You may not like it, but it’s not “odd” at all. Christians believe the Bible is the Word of God (II Timothy 3:16), and we have seen many unbelievers swayed by its truth.

Professing Atheist: What “truth” are you referring to?

Christian: The Bible itself and Jesus Himself, Who is THE Truth (John 14:6). You’ve never met anyone who started out rejecting it, read it, and then changed his/her mind? Let me help you find a Christian church to visit.

Professing Atheist: No thanks. Been there, done that. It took me 40 years of belonging to a Charismatic church to realize it was nonsense.

Christian: You should try another church – a non-Charismatic evangelical church. If it was a typical Charismatic church, you may be like the unbelievers described in I Corinthians 14:23-25.

Professing Atheist: Those are Paul’s words, and they are not relative to me.

Christian: You mean “relevant,” but they are relevant to you, because they are not just Paul’s words, they are the Holy Spirit’s words, and the Holy Spirit is God, and God is your Creator and your Judge.

Professing Atheist: Most Christians are taught or told that the Bible is true before they ever read or have time to evaluate its claims.

Christian: That doesn’t make it odd for Christians to quote it to unbelievers. You are assuming that “most” haven’t evaluated it, but, even if that’s true, by your own admission, others have read it and have been convinced of its truth afterward.

Professing Atheist: Do you ever take into consideration that there are probably more that reject than believe?

Christian: Of course. The Bible says that many reject (Matthew 7:13-14). It doesn’t say that all reject.

Professing Atheist: The Bible is a book of claims. I reject its claims for lack of conclusive evidence.

Christian: There’s no conclusive evidence that you reject it for that reason. I reject your claim that you reject it for that reason.

Professing Atheist: You’re just playing semantic games. The fact that I said I reject it is evidence that I reject it. That’s my conclusive evidence.

Christian: That’s the point. It’s “your” evidence (Judges 17:6) so you’ve subjectively labeled it as “conclusive.” And your “evidence” is just a self-assertion. It shows that you have a double standard. You don’t reject the Bible as true. You just don’t like it (Romans 1:18).

Professing Atheist: Do you think cherry picking Bible verses will somehow convince me?

Christian: The Holy Spirit may or may not use them to convict you or convince you, but, if you think they are being used out of context, I honestly hope that you will look them up and read them in context.

Professing Atheist: I reject the Bible’s claims, but I do like reading its fictitious stories.

Christian: Try to be consistent. You were pretending earlier that you were persuaded by “conclusive” evidence. There’s no conclusive evidence that the stories in the Bible are fictitious. In fact, the definition of “fiction” is a work where the author does not claim
its truthfulness. The Bible definitely asserts its own truthfulness. And you know deep down that what it says matters.

Professing Atheist: I know it matters? Nice assumption.

Christian: That’s why you’re driven to discuss it. The fact of this conversation proves that you know it matters.

The Provision of Peace

December 3, 2014 at 1:36 pm | Posted in Do You Know the Way? | 2 Comments
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Do You Know the Way? (John 14)

I. The Prepared Place (John 14:1-3)
II. The Particular Path (John 14:4-11)
III. The Power of Prayer (John 14:12-14)
IV. The Promise of the Paraclete (John 14:15-26)
V. The Provision of Peace (John 14:27-31)

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

John 14:27-31

Remember how John Chapter 14 started off: “Let not your heart be troubled…” Jesus told His disciples this because their hearts were troubled – very troubled. So, in His discourse He gave them words of encouragement about: a prepared place (Heaven); a particular path (Himself); the power of prayer (in His name); and the promise of the Paraclete (the Holy Spirit). He now restates the reason that He has been telling them these things:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

John 14:27

“Peace” is a popular idea these days. It has been a common theme in pop culture for years. When you see a hippie holding up two fingers, he is saying, “Peace, man.” Have you seen the bumper sticker that says, “Know Jesus, Know Peace / No Jesus, No Peace?” I saw one the other day that said, “Visualize World Peace.” We tend to like the idea of peace, but Jesus told His Disciples that “world peace” is way overrated.

The peace that Jesus gives is “not as the world giveth” – which is a good thing because worldly peace is a counterfeit peace. It is a peace that is entirely dependent on circumstances. It is at best a temporary, illusory peace. Jesus gives us a peace that is greater. He had already told the Disciples that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Now, in a sense, He is also telling them that, not only does He give them peace, but He Himself also is their peace.

But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Ephesians 2:13

This applies to the barrier between Jewish believers and gentile believers, but also to the barrier between holy God and sinful man.

For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

Ephesians 2:14

Jesus gives us peace by giving us Himself. He is our peace.

Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

Ephesians 2:15

The Bible is not speaking here about emotional, psychological peace. It is speaking about the peace that ends a war. Enmity is hatred with a cause. When it came to the enmity between God and man, Jesus abolished it. He ended it – not just by making a truce or a cease-fire – but by reconciling two otherwise irreconcilable enemies. He did not bring God and man into mere tolerance of each other. He brought them into loving fellowship and everlasting familial bonds.

And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

Ephesians 2:16

Jesus killed the enmity between God and man for all those whom He saves. This is real peace, not the counterfeit peace which this “world’s system” advertises when it talks about “peace of mind.” It is no surprise that this world’s version of peace is a counterfeit peace, because it is controlled by the great counterfeiter, Satan.

Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.

John 14:30

This world system is opposed to Christ largely because it is controlled by Satan, “the prince of the world,” (but not the Lord of all the Earth). Satan is a temporary usurper who has been granted a limited ability to exercise authority in order to maximize God’s glory. Jesus says that this temporary usurper “has nothing in Me,” meaning that Satan could never get a foothold in Jesus’s earthly life. Not one single solitary victory could Satan accomplish in the life of Christ. Jesus says to us that He is the provision of our peace, and Satan and this world will not rob us of the peace which He has won for us with God the Father.

But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

John 14:31

If you love the Father, your love for Him exists because Jesus has given it to you. Now, as the Father commanded Jesus to go, He commands us also to “arise” – to go. Worldly peace holds the false promise of the end of activity. “You are at peace, so you can rest. One day soon,” it says, “you can retire. You can move to the country, where you won’t have any pesky neighbors to bother you. You’ll have money to live on so you won’t have to go to work with a bunch of sinners. You can even order your groceries on the internet so you won’t have to go to the market and hear a bunch of cussing, and people blaspheming God’s name. You can just cultivate a small circle of Christian friends. You can come to church, but without getting too involved. You won’t have to get your hands dirty anymore, trying to minister to a bunch of filthy sinners. You will be able to putter around in your yard or in your workshop, and fish and hunt, or crochet and bake your way into the presence of King Jesus.” But Jesus says no! He says arise! It means get up and get moving! This peace is not physical rest. It’s spiritual rest. It’s the assurance that you are right with God and that Jesus is with you, not so you can escape from the world, but so you can overcome the world in Him!

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

Say no to world peace! Arise with the peace of God, and go make sure that this world either surrenders to Jesus or fights against Him, but never forgets that He is its rightful Lord.

The Promise of the Paraclete

November 17, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Do You Know the Way? | 4 Comments
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Do You Know the Way? (John 14)

I. The Prepared Place (John 14:1-3)
II. The Particular Path (John 14:4-11)
III. The Power of Prayer (John 14:12-14)
IV. The Promise of the Paraclete (John 14:15-26)

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

John 14:16

“Comforter” is translated from the Greek word Parakletos or “Paraclete,” meaning one who comes alongside to pick you up when you are hurt or weary, and to encourage you as he goes with you.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 14:26

The promise of the Paraclete was a mysterious promise. In the Old Testament He was known, but He seemed to be poured out upon only select anointed individuals, and only for temporary time periods. Jesus promised that He would abide with believers forever, and the Holy Spirit is not second fiddle, so to speak, to Jesus. In fact, He reinforces and perfectly identifies with the ministry of Jesus.

He was there at the incarnation of Jesus in His conception.

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

Matthew 1:20

He was there at Jesus’s baptism to empower His earthly ministry.

And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

Luke 3:22

He was there as Jesus battled Satan and was tempted.

And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,

Luke 4:1

He was there at Jesus’s Ascension to take His place.

Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:

Acts 1:2

He is here today, and if you will yield to Him you will experience the fulfillment of the promise of the Paraclete in your life.

Next time, we will see the provision of peace.

Teaching / Temptation

October 15, 2014 at 10:06 am | Posted in Biblical Teaching, Two Sides to Every Comfort | 3 Comments
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Teaching

In the first lesson in this series I explained the original meaning of the word comfort: “with strength.” Strength is imparted to us by God, but it pleases Him to use circumstances to do it. He has given us His Holy Spirit to guide us and to teach us through these circumstances.

But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 14:26 (emphasis added)

The Greek word translated as Comforter is parakletos, and it means someone who comes alongside (para) and helps (kletos). One way to describe it is that a parakletos is like a soldier who helps his wounded comrade in battle – except instead of carrying him back to camp, he strengthens him to keep going forward – and he teaches him as he strengthens. The Holy Spirit teaches us the right way to think about our circumstances and the right things to say about our circumstances.

What a comforting thought to know that God has not left us alone to navigate our own sanctification! We could never do it on our own. But remember the comfort that comes from knowing that we have God’s Own Spirit as our teacher has a flip side. The other side of teaching is:

Temptation

God does not teach the way we teach.

Take heed, regard not iniquity: for this hast thou chosen rather than affliction.

Job 36:21

Job was told to be on the lookout for the temptation of iniquity. The “quick-fix” lie of Satan is that we can escape affliction by sinning.

Behold, God exalteth by his power: who teacheth like him?

Job 36:22

God has a very hands-on, trial-by-fire teaching method.

Who hath enjoined him his way? or who can say, Thou hast wrought iniquity?

God is never the author of sin.

Remember that thou magnify his work, which men behold. Every man may see it; man may behold [it] afar off.

Job 36:24-25

God allows temptation, but He also makes the way to escape, and when we emerge victorious over temptation, God gets the glory – and we learn a lesson.

Do you see the connection? We will be tempted, but we will not face it alone, and we will not be left without a comforter. When we fall, He will come along and help us up, and teach us – and we will get comfort.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

John 14:27

The peace that Christ gives is not like the counterfeit peace that the world offers, but it is true peace. It is the blessing and comfort of learning and knowing that God is orchestrating our lives.

The Power of Prayer

October 8, 2014 at 10:40 am | Posted in Do You Know the Way? | 4 Comments
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Do You Know the Way? (John 14)

I. The Prepared Place (John 14:1-3)
II. The Particular Path (John 14:4-11)
III. The Power of Prayer (John 14:12-14)

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

John 14:12-14 (emphasis added)

The power to do the “greater works” which Jesus promised was conditional. There was a reason for it. “Because I go to My Father.” The power to do the works that Jesus did can – and must – be accessed by prayer. This great truth is conditioned on praying in His name. This means praying according to the authority of His will.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 10:13

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Matthew 6:9

The name of the Lord is more than just an identifier; it is the expression of Who He is and what He has commanded. “In Jesus’s name” must be more than the tag-line or the closing salutation on our prayers. It is a way of asking Jesus to intercede for us before the throne of God, of conforming our will to God’s will. The false belief that we can coerce the Lord into doing our will should not be comforting at all. Such a thought should be horrifying. However, trusting the Lord with my heartfelt desires is extremely reassuring.

I don’t want to make it seem like I’m campaigning against the literal meaning of the text in John 14:14. Jesus is not limited in power, and we certainly can ask Him for anything that would not violate Scripture, and even have faith that it will come to pass. What I’m trying to do is guard against what is called “prosperity theology” or sometimes the “prosperity gospel.” According to this false doctrine, God must give us what we want if we name the name of Jesus in our prayers.

Why would preachers teach such a thing when it makes it seem like every cancer ward, orphanage, broken marriage, and even cemetery plot is a monument to unanswered prayer? The answer is that, it is because people don’t spend money without a guarantee. Prosperity preachers are promising material blessings in exchange for money. It’s sort of a baptized Ponzi scheme. And this is their “out” when they can’t produce the results: “You didn’t have enough faith.” So when you give Benny Hinn $1000 and your back is still killing you, it’s not his fault (and it’s obviously not God’s fault). It’s just that you didn’t “mean it” enough when you asked in Jesus’s name. You need to show you “mean it” more by giving another $1000 – or better yet $5000.

I don’t want to be standing near the proponents of this false Gospel at the Great White Throne judgment, because Jesus takes His name very seriously. The power of prayer is attached to Jesus’s name, and Jesus’s name is never disconnected from His will. He is your LORD, not your genie. That’s why John 14:16 seems so out of place if you don’t understand this context.

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:16

Next time, we will see how John 14:16 leads us into the next subject: the promise of the Paraclete.

The Particular Path

September 15, 2014 at 2:54 pm | Posted in Do You Know the Way? | 12 Comments
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Do You Know the Way? (John 14)

I. The Prepared Place (John 14:1-3)
II. The Particular Path (John 14:4-11)

Previously, I argued that there are not degrees of exclusivity in Heaven. However, it is important to know that Heaven itself is an extremely exclusive place. By this I mean that there is only one particular path that leads all the way into it. Jesus is the only “Door” – the only entryway – by which to get into Heaven.

And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.

John 14:4-11

In our modern Western society there are very few things that are truly offensive any more. Flagrant, egregious sin used to be criminalized. Eventually, it came to be frowned upon, although no longer aggressively attacked. Later, it starting actually becoming accepted. To say that it is tolerated now is a vast understatement. All manner of wickedness and perversion is no longer just tolerated. It is celebrated and praised and glorified. The day is coming soon when it will be mandatory. The only thing that a wicked society truly condemns is “intolerance,” but “tolerance” has taken on a very specialized meaning. It now means openly affirming and accepting everything except that Jesus is God and that what He said is true.

The Bible pronounces a curse of “woe” to those who call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20), and that prophetic day of woe is upon us. If you put on a silver suit and black Nikes and drink the poisoned kool-aid while you wait for the comet to take you away, we can’t say that’s “crazy” because such a comment would be insensitive and offensive, and we must tolerate your beliefs. If you want to murder an innocent baby in the mother’s womb, I might be able to meekly mumble that such a thing would not be my personal preference, but I need to tolerate and support and celebrate your right to do so. If you are a man burning with lust for another man, I might feel disgusted on the inside, but I need to be understanding about the parade we’re going to have to honor you for doing it. The highest ranking officials in our nation don’t have time to speak out on behalf of American citizens (who also happen to be Christian pastors) illegally locked up abroad, or about Muslims torturing women in the Middle East, because they’re too busy celebrating professional athletes and calling them “heroes” because these athletes have decided that they want everyone to know that they like to fornicate with others of their own gender.

What Jesus said in John 14:6 does not, under these false premises, seem very tolerant, but it is nevertheless true. Jesus is the exclusive way to Heaven. The exclusivity of Jesus, is, in fact, one of the key elements of the Gospel (Acts 4:12; I Timothy 2:5). So, when we announce this soul-saving fact, we are going to hear objections:

I’m tolerant and you’re intolerant.
I’m progressive and open-minded, and you are a narrow-minded bigot.
You think your way – only Jesus – is the only right way, but I think there are many different ways for all the diverse people that I celebrate.
You think only one road leads to God, but I think all roads lead to God. (Actually, there is some truth to this statement. All roads do lead to God – in the sense of going to see God one day – but all roads except for Jesus are going to require a U-turn when you get there.)

Regardless of the objections, Jesus is the one and only particular path that leads to acceptance with God.

Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.

John 13:33-36

After Jesus had attempted to soothe the hearts of the Disciples by giving them His Word about Heaven, the prepared place, Thomas still had questions.

And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 14:4-6

Thomas was concerned about logistics. He wanted a map or at least directions, but Jesus had a bigger concept of “The Way.” We use the word “way” to refer to a path, but we also use it to refer to a manner of conduct.

“What is the way to your house?”
“Turn right at the oak tree, go half a mile and look for the three legged dog.”

“Why do you guys say ‘y’all’ and eat crawfish and carry shotguns in the back windshield of your pickup trucks?”
“That’s just the way it is in Louisiana. That’s just the way we are.”

Now, Jesus had an amazing way of communicating a vast amount of truth in a few simple words. He was the greatest teacher of all time, so all His statements are worthy of being studied, examined, looked at from all possible angles, explored for all eternity.

John 14:6 is an excellent example. It starts off with the statement “I am,” which in itself is a claim to deity. When Jesus said “I am,” He was claiming to be God. “I AM” is the Old Testament name for Yahweh – Jehovah – I AM THAT I AM. It was the name by which God set Himself apart from all the false gods. It is the name which says, “I AM the eternal, self-existent, immutable, all-powerful, exclusively true God.” Any respectably religious person Jesus encountered would have gasped to hear Him say it in Aramaic or Greek – Ego Eimi – because it was an unmistakable claim to be God.

Do not be deceived. Jesus wasn’t killed because He threatened the Roman tax system. He was arrested and crucified because He said I AM God – and He was telling the truth!

He said I AM “the.” “The” in John 14:6 is what we call the “definite article.” It is an important word. For example, I wouldn’t say, “My wife is A girl for me,” because that would imply she could be one of many. Instead, I say, “My wife THE girl for me,” because we have an exclusive relationship. I don’t say that, “Open Door Baptist Church is A church I belong to.” I say, “It is THE church I belong to,” because it’s the only local church fellowship of which I’m an official member. It is a claim of exclusivity.

In John 14:6 Jesus was saying that He is something truly unique. He is the only real way, the only right way, the only possible way to be accepted with God. Let’s say you read that and you think, “How intolerant, how bigoted, how arrogant!” My response is, “So what?” Let’s assume for moment you’re right – that Jesus doesn’t meet your definition of open-mindedness and tolerance. Still, the fact remains, if it’s true, it’s true. I don’t necessarily like being called narrow-minded, but I have no choice if I am a Christian. I must be exactly as narrow-minded as Jesus when it comes to the truth claims of Christianity.

Now, let’s consider an even deeper element of Jesus’s statement. He is THE Way, but, that means, logically, He must also be A way. So, Jesus is eloquently expressing two great truths in four short words: “I am the Way.” The first one we’ve already discussed. Exclusively He is the ONLY way to acceptance with God. “No man cometh to the Father but by me.” No one will be acceptable to God apart from Jesus. No one could be forgiven, adopted by, justified by, allowed in the presence of, or even allowed to live before God – except for those who come to Him “in” Christ Jesus alone. There are – in this sense – no other ways, no shortcuts, no backdoors, no other sincere forms of faith that “just haven’t heard He’s called Jesus,” no alternative means to escape God’s wrath, nor to be accepted as His child. That is a great truth, and that is the truth that every lost person in this world needs to hear and believe.

But there is another great truth that Christians need to hear and understand, and that is that Jesus is also A way. He is the only Way to God, but He calls himself a “way” because He cares about our conduct. Because He won our freedom, and because our freedom is to be used to serve Him. If I claim that I am in the Way, but I am living nothing like the Way Himself, we must question whether I am really in the Way. Those who confess Jesus as the Way are supposed to be passionately interested in His “ways” – How He lived, How He led, and how He loved. And we are supposed to be emulating His ways.

The way of Jesus is honesty and purity and holiness and temperance and kindness and graciousness and forgiveness – and love. If I know the way, it means I need to go the way. Jesus is a Person. When He said follow ME He was not just espousing an an ideal or a concept. He was also advocating a path: FOLLOW Me. Jesus is the Way, but He is also a way. He is both a Person and a Path. He wants us to walk how He walked – to observe His ways and learn of Him. He is a Particular Path, and His path is likewise particular.

Next time, we will learn about the power of prayer (John 14:12-14).

The Prepared Place

September 9, 2014 at 1:06 pm | Posted in Do You Know the Way? | 8 Comments
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At the end of John Chapter 13 three very disturbing things have happened. One, Jesus told His Disciples that one of them would betray Him. Two, He told them that He would be leaving them to go to a place where they could not go. Three, He said that even Peter would deny Him.

This was upsetting, to say the least, and it was the backdrop against which He told them what we see in Chapter 14:

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

John 14:1-3

Jesus let them know that He knew their hearts were troubled, but He gave them the assurance that He gives all throughout the Book of John. “If you believe in God (and I know you do), then it is safe to believe in Me, too, for I and the Father are one: I am God.”

Then He told them something about Heaven: Heaven is a real place. We know this is true because Jesus spoke of it as a real place. It is not a state of mind. It is not the accomplishment of inner peace. It is not a psychological bromide for those who can’t face the reality of death or the loss of their loved ones. It is “the Father’s house,” meaning it is the eternal home of Jesus, and it is Jesus – not streets of gold or the absence of pain and sickness or the reunion of loved ones or even mansions of glory – Who is its main attraction. That’s right, Heaven’s main attraction will be Jesus. If you do not love Jesus, you would not love Heaven.

Jesus spoke solemnly and reassuringly (“if it were not so, I would have told you”) when He told the Disciples that He was going there to prepare a place, and that they would eventually – not immediately – be brought there by Him (“I will come again to receive You unto Myself”) – to be with Him (“that where I am there you may be also”).

The word translated “mansions” has more of a connotation of permanence than opulence. It is from the Greek word mone: an abode, a permanent dwelling place, not a temporary stopover. Again, Heaven is the place where true Christians will be with Jesus, not a place where “lesser” saints will envy “great” saints who have better “stuff” than us. In other words, there will be no “exclusive” communities in Heaven. However, because it is a place that Jesus is “preparing” (and has been for over 2000 years), it will surely be far more magnificent than what we can imagine. The God Who spoke the unfathomable universe into existence in six short days has been preparing our eternal home for 2000 years! I don’t know if you’re ready “to go,” but surely we are all excited about seeing it

This was Jesus’s first assurance to soothe the troubled hearts of His Disciples. We don’t know everything (or even very much) about Heaven, but we do know “the Way.” Jesus Christ is the only Way to Heaven.

Next time, we will see that the way to the prepared place is the particular path.

Charles L. Quarles Pleads that We S.W.I.M. with Urgency

August 27, 2014 at 12:55 pm | Posted in Quotes | Leave a comment
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The gospel of Jesus Christ is the one and only way of salvation. There is no hope for redemption apart from it. That conviction should drive us across the street, across the nation, and across the ocean, whether we run or swim or walk or crawl on bleeding hands and knees to deliver our message.

Charles L. Quarles

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 14:6

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

I Timothy 2:5

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Acts 1:8

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