If you were to die today would go to heaven and be with the Lord forever? Do you know for certain, without a doubt? Jesus says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Our number one priority in this life must be to go to heaven. Nothing is as important as this. We simply cannot afford to miss Heaven.
The Lord tells us in Matthew 7:13-14 that only few people will go to Heaven, but the vast majority will be eternally lost in the burning fires of Hell. This is not a pleasant thought. But all of us will make the choice as to where we will spend eternity. The only way, to even grasp how long eternity will be, is to think that after we have been in Heaven or Hell a billion years, eternity will have just begun.
Our soul is the most precious thing we possess. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul” (Matthew 16:26). Our soul is worth more than the entire world put together. If we lose our soul in Hell, we lose it all.
Jesus wants us to pay attention to what He is trying to tell us. He says in Matthew 13:41-43, “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” Our Lord is trying to warn us if we will only listen. He has already paid the awful price for our salvation and He doesn’t want to see it wasted.
For a child of God, sin in our life will keep us out of Heaven. Because of unrepented sins, our name will be taken out of God’s Book of Life. Revelation 22:19 says, “and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.” Has your name been taken out of God’s Book of Life? If it has then this is a very serious matter. Revelation 20:15, “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” God wants to forgive us. As a Christian, how do we get our name put back into the Book of Life? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Jesus has promised “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
If you are not a Christian, how do you get your name into God’s Book of Life, so you can be saved and go to Heaven? Our Lord says in Luke 13:3, “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Jesus also says, “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32). Our Lord then tells us, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16). If a person misses Heaven, he will only have himself to blame.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
By Joe R. Price
A Massachusetts woman won $758.7 million Wednesday night in the Powerball lottery, “the largest grand prize won by a single lottery ticket in U.S. history” (abcnews.go.com). After taxes, that’s about $480.5 million.
Whenever these jackpots get to be enormous, like this one did, we hear of people rushing out to buy lottery tickets. We also hear the odds of winning are less than getting struck by lightning. (One source set the odds of winning this jackpot at 1 in 292 million – (abcnews.go.com).
Is gambling sinful only when one cannot afford to lose? (Oh yes, the lottery is a form of gambling.) That is not the Bible way of determining sin. But some say, “I can afford to lose what I spend on gambling. It’s just fun recreation.” (Notice, no Scripture is offered to support this defense.) Let’s try that logic on some other things. For instance, what if someone said, “I can afford fornicating when my spouse is away from home. No one will know, and no one is harmed. It’s just fun recreation.” Or maybe, “I can afford a bottle of vodka once a month. I can afford it, and nobody gets hurt. It’s just fun recreation.” Do you see how ridiculously absurd that sounds? (Sometimes we must “answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes,” Prov. 26:5).
Gambling is a sin for any number of Bible reasons. It will be put away by Christians who seek heavenly things (Col. 3:5-10). Gambling is energized by motives of greed, covetousness, and discontentment (1 Tim. 6:9-10; Lk. 12:15). The lure of getting rich quick can be very powerful, so, we must reassign our values (Col. 3:1-4). Then, there is the matter of poor stewardship, not to mention the premise of gambling is winning someone’s money – not at all a godly expression of loving your neighbor as yourself (1 Tim. 6:17-19; Matt. 22:39). Then, there is its addictive aspect, capturing people in a loop of compulsive conduct that destroys lives (2 Pet. 2:19).
These are some of the reasons why gambling, in all its forms, must be rejected by all who love God and not the world. “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26)
One of the major obstacles we have in our showing compassion to those in need, is making prejudgments about who we “think” is worthy of our compassion.
Jesus addressed the problem in a parable that’s been labeled, “The Good Samaritan,” to answer the following question that a lawyer posed: “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:25,29).
Jesus told of a man who traveled on the notoriously dangerous road from Jerusalem to Jericho. As he traveled, he fell among thieves, and subsequently was robbed, beaten, and left for dead (Luke 10:30).
Two so-called “religious” Jews (a priest and a Levite) passed him, but they walked by on the other side (Luke 10:31-32), possibly thinking that they would be religiously defiled if they stopped and rendered aid (see comparison in John 18:28).
Soon, a Samaritan came along the road and demonstrated unconditional compassion on the wounded stranger by providing for his needs (Luke 10:33-35).
The audience to whom Jesus was telling this story to, would have gasped when he said the word “Samaritan,” because Jews despised Samaritans (John 4:9; cf. Acts 10:28).
It’s interesting to note that the Samaritan could have limited or qualified his compassion, simply because the man was a Jew. But he did not limit his neighborly kindness to those he “thought” were worthy. Instead, he merely observed a human being in need and resolved to help him.
What is this awful “ism” called “Legalism”? Whatever it is, it must be pretty bad. The very use of the term automatically pictures one who has no love for the Lord, no understanding of His matchless grace, and no concern for a right relationship with God based on faith. This concept of “legalism” pictures one who claims salvation based on his own works by which he supposedly puts the Almighty in his debt. It cannot be denied that some religious individual may view things this way. But there is ample evidence that there is an equally dangerous misunderstanding of legalism on the opposite end.
In a series of articles on “The Gospel of Romans,” an installment entitled “Legalism” has the following:
“I have heard preachers admit that they were legalists but I’m sure they had no idea what constitutes legalism. These are those who will say that salvation is not based upon works, but turn right around and say that justification is based upon obedience to a set of commandments. They both say exactly the same thing. To say that salvation is ‘conditioned’ upon one’s obedience to the commandments, and then deny salvation by works is a contradiction. Whenever a reward is offered for meeting certain requirements, the reward is EARNED whenever the requirements are met! Reward is based on ‘doing.’ Justification is based upon faith and it is not a ‘reward’. It is a ‘state’ — a righteous relationship.” — Ensign, May 1991, page 82.
The presumption that obedience to commands of Christ in the gospel and salvation by works “say exactly the same thing” is incorrect. “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). The New International Version reads, “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” “What he does” in this passage is not “faith alone” but not devoid of faith. It is a simple formula. Belief is always alone when stripped of obedience to Christ. Faith is not alone when expressed in obedience.
The real question is whether salvation is conditional or unconditional. The drift of the above quote leaves one with the definite impression that salvation is conditioned upon nothing at all. The anti-legalist presumes salvation by works and salvation by conditions are equal. Since salvation cannot be by works (of any kind at all) it cannot be conditional. Therefore, salvation is the unconditional gift and responsibility of the Almighty God. One who is saved became the sole object of God’s intent to save someone. This is the end result of this misunderstanding of legalism.
That salvation is conditioned upon faith cannot be questioned. But faith cannot save one who will not obey Christ (Hebrews 5:8-9). To the contrary, faith will only save when it is expressed through obedience (Galatians 5:6).
Legalism may be bad — but salvation by faith that obeys the commands of Christ is good — it comes directly from the one source of all that is good. By the way — it is never very good to base a theory on a complete misunderstanding of something like “legalism.”
There’s a growing tendency among God’s people to “dress down” when coming to the assembly to worship God, rather than to “dress up.” It seems some give no regard to what their clothing says about their heart. When folks start “dressing down” — it has a direct influence on others, making it much easier to conform to what others are wearing than to resist.
Several years ago, I had a conversation with a brother who continually arrived for worship services in street clothes. I ask him why he didn’t wear his suit (I know from experience he possessed one). His response was quit revealing. He said, “God doesn’t care what I wear, He is interested in my heart.”
Brethren, we worship an awesome Creator and King (cf. Revelation 4:1-11; Revelation 5:1-14), and our dress certainly does say something about our attitude of heart toward our Creator — whether we are conscious of it or not.
In Proverbs 7:10, Solomon clearly ascribes a harlot with a certain kind of “attire” that identified her with the licentious intent and behavior of her heart. What garment she wore or exactly how she arranged herself with that attire is not known, but her outward appearance indicated what she was and what she obviously wanted.
We recall the story of Tamar, as she put off her garments of “widowhood” and deceived Judah by attiring herself as a harlot, covering her face (Genesis 38:12-26). He went to her thinking she was a harlot, because of the way she was dressed.
We also see a word picture of the harlot described in Revelation 17:4, as one who “was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication.”
Her dress was descriptive of the abominations of her heart. All such attire is totally opposite from the sober and modest dress of the godly woman (1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:1-4). Our dress does speak volumes regarding the inward man.
The Bible does not set a “dress code” per se. However, just as giving to God of our prosperity must come from our heart, and is an indication of our love for God and brethren (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8:8; 2 Corinthians 8:12; 2 Corinthians 8:24; 2 Corinthians 9:7), our outward attire should reflect a loving and respectful inward attitude of heart as we worship our Heavenly Father.
While our worship to God should not be stilted and ritualistic, neither should it be as casual as an outing at the park. When we assemble for worship, our attire should be more like that worn to a wedding (Matthew 22:11-13), rather than casual attire worn to a sports event. Our dress should reflect that of an individual visiting the President of the United States, rather than a trip to the shopping mall.
Brethren, our dress does reflect the inward attitude of our heart. Let’s dress appropriately as we come into the presence of our awesome Creator and Heavenly Father to worship Him! (1 Chronicles 16:29; Psalm 29:2; Psalm 96:9).
There is a sense in which the Lord’s church never divides. Expressions like, “the Lord’s church divided over…” are at best badly worded and at worst unscriptural. The body of Christ is the church of Jesus the Christ (Eph. 1:22-23) and there is only ONE (Eph. 4:4). The apostle Paul asked rhetorically, in 1 Cor. 1:13, “Is Christ divided?”. The answer was obvious; No!
Paul, on another occasion, indicated that he worshiped God according to the way his opponents called a “sect” (Acts 24:14); but they were unbelievers. I have occasionally been called “pastor” or “reverend” by an outsider, because I receive my living of the gospel, but I would not term myself such, for I know the difference. Just as I can understand outsiders misunderstanding the true meaning of pastor and reverend, so likewise the non-denominational nature of the church. But when it is insiders, my own brethren calling us a sect or denomination, saying we are one among many, something is not right!
If someone interjects that a dictionary simply defines denomination as a group of religious congregations, a sort of amalgamation of churches, then I still say that Christ’s church is non-denominational and undivided. The New Testament nowhere teaches a sisterhood of congregations; only a brotherhood of believers. Robert Turner wrote, “The universal body of Christ–the church which is his bride, and for which He died, is made up of all saints. It is a brother-hood, not a church-hood; i.e., the units or parts of this “one body” are individuals, not congregations. (1Cor. 12:12-f Jn. 15:1-6).” To this I only add, “Amen.”
When the public asks, “What faith are you?”, there choice of words shows their ignorance of there being only one faith (Eph. 4:5). What do you say, my dear brother in Christ? Do you believe what the Scripture says? One dictionary uses faith as a synonym of denomination. Man says there are many faiths or denominations, all acceptable to the Lord. The Bible says otherwise. By the way, the same text teaches one God, Lord, Spirit and hope. Now if there can be more than one faith, body (church) or baptism, why not more than one of these others?
The church belonging to Jesus Christ is comprised of all those who have believed the gospel, repented of their sins, confessed Christ as Lord, and been immersed into Christ’s body so that they might receive forgiveness of sins. This eliminates from the one true church, the vast majority of those in denominational circles, even before we begin discussing whether they are faithfully observing all that Jesus commanded (Matt. 28:19-20).
Finally, let me grant that congregations may divide. The Bible refers to such often, although usually in a condemnatory way. You might even see a sect (denomination) called the “Church of Christ” or “Church of God” result from a party – spirit mentality. Though the uninformed may call us a denomination, Christians should know better. The church of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is ONE and can never be divided into equal parts, each acceptable to God.
When something is put to the vote; be it business or among friends, it is usually the majority vote that wins. Even in politics the majority vote is victorious. But should it be that way in the world of religion? Should God’s people strive for the majority instead of a unanimous vote? Send thou men…every one a ruler…
I think back to the book of Numbers when God told Moses to send men into Canaan to spy out the land (Numbers 13: 1-3). Moses chose the heads of each of the 12 tribes of Israel to see if the land was worthwhile and what kind of people dwelled there (Vs. 4-20).
Being heads of each tribe, and members of God’s people, you would think that once they spied out the land that they would be able to possess with little resistance. After all, they’d seen the power of God displayed by the ten plagues while in Egypt (Exodus 7-13).
However, these people were expert complainers! After leaving Egypt (Ex. 14: 10-12), when they came to Marah (Ex. 15: 23-24), when they entered the wilderness of Sin (Ex. 16: 1-3), and others. They had relied so much on the Egyptians to feed and care for them that they didn’t know what it was like to rely upon themselves. It didn’t matter to them that they were used as slave labor; they had food, water, and shelter they could depend upon. But the big disappointment about the Israelites was that they were being cared for by God and they couldn’t see it.
40 Days later…
After the 12 men spied out the land, they returned 40 days later; bringing with them the fruit (Num. 13: 24) of the land. They approached Moses, Aaron, and the whole congregation to give their report (vs 26-29). At first, the report seemed positive as they stated that the land flowed with milk and honey (figure of speech). Then in verse 28 it begins with ‘Nevertheless’ (KJV) which is a fancy way of saying, ‘but’. Then the negative side of the report took up the rest of the time as they described the inhabitants as being the Children of Anak (also referred to as the ‘Nephilim’) and walled cities.
But Caleb, one of the 12 said, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” (vs. 30). He was silenced by the others as a negative report was given to the people (vs. 31-33). Caleb could see things differently as he knew they had God on their side. Unfortunately that wasn’t enough because the people listened to the majority instead. They held Moses and Aaron responsible and decided to choose a new captain and return to Egypt (Num. 14: 1-4). Joshua and Caleb pleaded further saying if it was God’s Will, they would be able to inhabit the land (Vs. 6-9). And God stepped in and said in verse 11, “…How long will this people despise me? and how long will they not believe in me, for all the signs which I have wrought among them?” (ASV)
The Price of listening to the majority
In the end, God spared the people who murmured against Him but charged them to wander the wilderness for the next forty years until those who were against him died off. Leaving only Joshua, Caleb, and the offspring to enter into the promise land (Vs. 28-38).
Listening to the majority is not always the right thing to do. In the religious world today, the majority is almost always followed. For example: The Sinner’s Prayer is enough for Salvation, The Pope is the ultimate authority of the church on Earth, believing the bible is God’s sole source of authority is optional, and others.
God should be our sole authority (Matt. 28: 18) and it can be found in the bible (2 Tim. 3: 16-17). We can learn from the two spies who gave a good report because they supported what God wanted in the first place. Conclusion
If someone is in the minority of the group in regards to how things should be done, instead of simply saying, “Sorry, majority rules,” ask them why they stand against the group and find a way to convince them to change their mind or allow yourselves to change to the ones who stood alone. The decisions should be made according to what God needs not what Man wants.
Some teach the all men will be saved by God, regardless of rebellion or righteousness. It seems they believe God is so loving He simply will not punish anyone.
When considering the scriptures, we find many places which indicate this is not true. One such place is Genesis 7:17-24, where the writer says, “Then the flood came upon the earth for forty days, and the water increased and lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth. 18 The water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 The water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered. 20 The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered. 21 All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; 22 of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. 23 Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark. 24 The water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days” (NAS95).
While I realize that the death and destruction portrayed here are physical, this section of scripture continues God’s teaching regarding the consequences of disobedience. This is a shadow of judgment to come (implied by Peter in 1 Pet. 3:20-21). Moses shows the children of Israel that when God says he’ll punish, that that punishment is sure. 2 Thess. 1:7-9 gives a promise of future destruction and vengeance on the disobedient. Matthew 25:46 warns that this punishment is eternal.
When looking at what God can do, we should stand in awe of the absolute power of the Almighty in this passage. His destructive power is matched only by His creative power. His will is indomitable. Yet man chooses to challenge His law. As the rebellious are crushed in the depths of the water in our passage so the rebellious of all time will be cast in to a vast lake of fire, a flood of God’s wrath (Rev. 20:15).
As Noah and his family did, and were safe from harm because of obedience, I urge the reader to accept God’s terms. Peter uses Noah as an illustration showing us how baptism is the that which now saves us (1 Pet. 3:21).
“The skull of an infant ape buried by a volcano 13 million years ago has preserved intriguing clues about the ancestor humans shared with apes — including a likely African origin, scientists say.
A previously unknown creature that shared an extended family with the human forefather, had a flat face like that of our far-flung cousin the gibbon, but did not move like one, its discoverers wrote in the journal Nature.”
It is interesting to read the various articles and theories that archaeologist and other scientist come up with to prove man came from some ape-like creature. So far, they have not been able to prove that theory. Each time a skull or skeleton has been touted as a “missing link,” it has been proven to be a hoax. If they would simply look at the Bible, they would learn the truth (John 17:17).
In Genesis 1, we are told God created the heavens and the earth. We are also told God created every creature on the earth, including man (Genesis 1:26-28). It does not tell us God made something like an ape and called it man. Man was created by God full-grown in the form that he now possesses (standing upright on two feet). To look for a “missing link” is to look for something that has never existed.
In addition, Genesis 1 tells us God created the earth and all that is in it in six days. Scientists have used flawed technology to date the earth for many years. They start with a supposition (the six days represent several million years), then try to make creation fit their ideas. The apostle Paul wrote, “Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:20-21 NAS95). He also says, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Corinthians 2:14 NAS95).
I urge all to examine the evidence, as it is plain to anyone who has an open mind the earth is not 13+ million (or billion) years old , nor is man related to the apes (Romans 1:18-23).
The Bible speaks of only one church. Jesus said, “Upon this rock, I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). That church established the first congregation in Jerusalem in 30 A.D. But it was not long before persecution came upon that congregation “and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria” (Acts 8:1). As they left Jerusalem, they started establishing congregations everywhere they went. After the gospel was given to the Gentiles (Acts 10), congregations started appearing in cities all over the world including Ephesus, Philippi, Rome, Corinth, and Athens to name a few. There were many local congregations, yet there was still one body, one church (Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4). How could this be? We read the secret in Acts 2:42, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship.”
Today there are MANY “churches.” Can all be the ONE church of the Bible? Of course not; if all the churches that exist today were the ONE church of the Bible, then God would be the author of confusion, which He is not (1 Corinthians 14:33). So how can a person KNOW the ONE church of the Bible? The answer is simple; compare that “church” to the apostles’ teaching, which is found only in the Bible.
Perhaps an example is in order. You will never find a church in the Bible with an organization reporting to an earthly head. If you see a church today with local churches reporting to a regional headquarters; and regional headquarters reporting to a national headquarters; and a national headquarters reporting to world headquarters with an earthly head; that is NOT the church of the Bible. You will never find such an organization in the Bible. Each local congregation in the New Testament was self-governed (they reported to no higher earthly organization); all of them together had one and only one SPIRITUAL head–Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:23).
Why would a church do something different from what is in the Bible? Simply put, THAT church wants to continue in MAN’S teachings and NOT God’s teachings. Those “churches” might as well put a sign in front of their buildings that says, “The Church of Man.” The sign in front of our building says, “The Church of Christ” (Romans 16:16). We want to belong to Christ. We want to continue in the apostles’ teaching–the Bible teaching. What church do you want to belong to, God’s or man’s?