Friday, October 28, 2016

The Truth Shall Make You Free

Freedom is a most precious possession. Every creature desires and enjoys its freedom. Place an insect in a jar and it will work to get free. Put a dog on a leash and restrain him in one place and he will howl and bark to be set free. We humans are no different. We do not want our liberties tampered with – we want freedom.

On one occasion, Jesus said to the Jews who believed in Him, "If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" John 8:31-32. The key to genuine freedom is found in the phrase; "continue in my word". Jesus says we come to know the truth by continuing in His teachings, and truth is that which will liberate us or make us free. When we live by the principles of truth we are not bound by Satan. The application of truth will eliminate social as well as moral evils. Sin is what leads to drunkenness, fornication, adultery, idolatry, homosexuality, lasciviousness, and all other forms of immorality.

Truth will lead men and women, boys and girls to love one another. To the extent that we love one another, we shall also respect each other's rights and privileges. Jesus said when asked about the first commandment, "The first of all the commandments is: 'hear, o Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' this is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself.' there is no other commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:29-31).

When we have love for God and our neighbor, it will necessitate living by the principle found in the Golden Rule, "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). Or as we have coined the thought: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Such behavior will contribute to peaceful relationships. It will also demand honest dealings. The Bible says, "Provide things honest in the sight of all men" (Romans 12:17). The application of the Golden Rule will cause us to have respect for law and order. This style and quality of living will always lead to the blessings of the Lord. We must understand that freedom is not something that can be legislated. It cannot be guaranteed by maintaining large armies or police forces. It comes when men and women submit to the will of the Lord.

We are reminded of the words of Paul, when he asked, "If God be  for us, who can be against us" (Romans 8:31)? If we walk in truth and worship in truth, we have nothing to fear. We shall be free people in the Lord.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Bible Based Religion

Often times, professional people are asked to recommend someone for a job or certain position. David wrote: “Come and hear, all you who fear God, And I will declare what He has done for my soul” (Psalm 66:16). This is a way of saying: “I can recommend my religion to the whole world.” We show each day by our speech and our actions the kind of recommendation we place on our religion.

The question is, can you recommend your religion in light of Biblical teaching, by the way you live, by the way you support it, and by the way it works for you? Let’s consider these points to make sure that our religion is a Bible based religion.

The Standard of the Word of God
In light of the scriptures: would we be willing to compare our religion to the standard of the Word of God? Are we sure God would approve of it? The Bible says: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Or: “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Paul told Timothy: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Some individuals say: “I don’t see any difference that it makes as long as someone is sincere.” Jesus said: “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). That is equivalent to saying one must be both sincere and right. 

The Way We Live
Can we recommend our religion by the way we live? This is a rather personal question, but it is also an appropriate question. Does our life and our religion compliment each other? Can people see Christ in us?  Christianity changes people. If our religion hasn’t brought about a genuine change in our life and behavior, perhaps we should consider changing our religion.

The religion of Christ makes one a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). In Romans 12:2, it states: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” The word transform means to convert or change. A change must take place in the life of a Christian.

Our lives need to “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things” (Titus 2:10). Of course, that means we are consistent in our teaching and our practice. Our use of anything is the finest recommendation we can give it. Some people are heard to say: “Oh, I curse a little”, or “I smoke a little”, or “I drink a little”, “but I wouldn’t recommend that you do it”. Jesus said: “You will know them by their fruits....” (Matthew 7:16). The  apostle wrote: “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ....” (Philippians 1:27). People are sometimes heard to say: “Religion and business just won't mix.” The apostle Paul said: “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9).

The Way We Support It
Can we recommend our religion by the way we support it? When we discover something new that is really good, we are anxious to tell our friends about it. Paul said to the Corinthians: “I believed and therefore I spoke....” (2 Corinthians 4:13). How much time and effort do we devote to our religion? Christianity doesn't come in capsule form to be taken seasonal or every Sunday. We are to be “rich in good works” (1 Timothy 6:18). We have been “....created in Christ Jesus for good works...” (Ephesians 2:10). We are to be “zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). The good Samaritan recommended his religion by the way he made it work for himself and others. Read Luke 10:25-37.

The Way It Works For Us
Finally, can we recommend our religion by the way it works for us? In the time of a crisis, does our religion provide an anchor for us? What if we were to lose our job or our money? What about when death reaches in to steal a loved one from us? We should know that the religion of Christ will anchor us during any crisis or catastrophe. Paul said: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Now thinking back over what has been written, consider this question for ourselves: “Can we really recommend our religion to others?” Is our religion truly a Bible based religion?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Why Be Baptized?

There are two main points of view about why a person should be baptized. One view holds that baptism is a purely symbolic act which should be done in order to show that we have recently been saved.

The other view says that, while baptism is symbolic of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, that it is more than just a symbol. This view holds that baptism is a direct and vital command of the Lord which must be obeyed in order to receive salvation.

If you have been baptized, think back for a moment about why you were you baptized. Was it because you felt that you had recently been saved, or were you baptized in order to be saved? And now with this question in mind, let’s turn to the Bible to see what God really says about why a person should be baptized. In Acts Chapter 2, verse 38, the Apostle Peter in his great sermon on the day of Pentecost said, “Repent and  be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”. The Bible says in this passage that both repentance and baptism are equally necessary for the remission of sins. When we remember that Peter was speaking by the inspiration of God, this verse should forever settle this question in our own minds. Baptism, according to the Bible, is not  because we have already been saved, but in order to save us by washing away our sins. Does baptism really wash away sins? Some say no. The Bible says yes!

In other related scriptures we read that “Baptism doth also now save us” (1 Peter 3: 21). The Apostle Paul adds that we are not even in Christ until we have been scripturally baptized. We read this in Galatians 3:27, and in Romans 6:3-4.

If you have never obeyed the Lord by being baptized for the remission of sins as the Bible requires, I encourage you to do so today before it is everlastingly too late.