Friday, February 26, 2016

The Narrow Way

Can one be saved without having faith in Jesus? The answer is "No," because we read in Acts 4:12, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." This sounds very narrow to the majority of earth inhabitants who do not believe that salvation is a possession of only those who believe in Jesus. However, Jesus said in John 8:24, "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."

Again, Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." This tells us just how narrow the way to heaven really is. It is confined to those who are in Jesus because they have obeyed the will of the Father.

Listen again to the words of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 7:13-14, "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." In verse 21, our Lord describes those who shall enter the kingdom of heaven, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven."

Jesus goes on to tell why He will refuse some who profess to be His disciples. He said in verse 23, "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" We don't have to hear those words of rejection. We simply need to learn of God's will through a diligent study of the Bible and practice all the things we learn from God's word.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Thankful for the New Testament

I'm so thankful for the New Testament! The New Testament is the most vital book in the world. It's matter, meaning, and message represent the highest of ideas. It is a book of unlimited power and potency. There is an inextinguishable divine fire flaming through it's pages, causing such a spiritual explosiveness that it makes new men while shaking whole nations.

There can be no denying that His transforming truth, God's Last Will and Testament, has indeed changed the whole world. It was intended to do just that. In the New Testament, the supreme subject is Jesus, the supreme object is human salvation, and the supreme project is a purpose for life and a hope after death. 

We must understand that the greatest need of our troubled 21st century is a return to the New Testament, for it goes right to the heart of the human problem. The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart! The New Testament makes new men. It did this in the first century and it can do it in the 21st century. 

Superficially, the 21st century is different from the first, but, fundamentally, it's very much the same. There's the same heart-need, the same heart-cry, and there's the same unchanging, all powerful, all sufficient answer given by the New Testament. That answer of course, is Jesus the Christ! Yes, the New Testament is about a man who is more than a man. It's message and meaning center around a carpenter from Nazareth, but He was much more than a carpenter! He was the Messiah, man's Savior, God with us, and the hope of the world! 

Listen to the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Jesus invites all men to come to Him today, as He and the apostles did back in the 1st century. Our homes and our nation will be strong if we sincerely and fully abide in the teaching of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the New Testament.

May we strive to be a shining light, a testament to our love and devotion to Christ, as we abide in His New Testament!  

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Take a Stand for Christ

The apostle Peter says that Christians are supposed to be separate from the world. “as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct  because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:14-16). The apostle Paul said, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people." Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you." "I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty" (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). God demands and expects His dear children to keep themselves unspotted from the world and to concentrate their efforts in living for Him (James 1:27). The way that we can accomplish this is to transform our mind from worldliness to godliness. Our transformation takes place when we read, study, and understand the word of God (2 Timothy 2:15). Instead of getting involved with things of this world we should be teaching the truth and exposing error (2 Timothy 4:2-4; Ephesians 5:11). If we ever feel that we are suffering some kind of persecution in our life because of our Christianity, then we are doing something right. Paul wrote, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). If we don’t stand for something, then we will fall for anything. Take a stand for Christ; don’t let His death be in vain. We must stay focused on reaching our eternal goal of heaven! 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Our Thrill-Seeking Culture

In the recent years we have developed a thrill-seeking culture - a culture moved more by emotional stimuli than careful thought - that affects many facets of our lives.  I have not been to a movie in years, but I have seen trailers on TV and digital video, and heard people talk about them.  I have noticed many come away more enamored with the thrilling "special effects" while having only a sketchy memory of the plot or story behind the effects. At musical concerts, for the most part, the primary attention is given to special effects to create an emotional atmosphere than to thoughtful lyrics that convey real messages.

I fear this culture is affecting public worship. People are "going to church" - not to be challenged to think on spiritual things - but to be thrilled by the "special effects" generated by preachers and "worship leaders." Rather than songs, clearly worded and sung to praise God and to teach each other - words primarily appealing to the head rather than to the arms and feet -  the order of the day is for "special effects" designed to give worshipers an emotional high. Sermons must be jazzed up with verbal and electronic special effects so that the audience can be thrilled rather than informed or convicted in their minds. I am not speaking of the use of visual aids, computer generated or otherwise. Visual aids are great tools when they truly "aid" the listener's understanding, but when used for emotional, thrill and awe value, they are questionable to say the least. I saw a video a while back of a congregation partaking of the Lord's Supper while an electronically produced large cross was "floating" around the auditorium. A little too much - me thinks.

As I read the New Testament I get the idea public worship is to be done from the heart in a solemn manner, glorifying God and seriously reflecting on the words uttered in the songs, prayers and discourses.

Written by: Edward O. Bragwell