THE GOOD NEWS MINISTRY AND MISSIONS OUTREACH PROCLAIMING THE GOOD NEWS OF THE SOON RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST!
Revealing The Religious But Lost!
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12).
"But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments [traditions] of men." (Matthew:15:9:)
1. RELIGION IS NOT SALVATION
The Bible is full of important questions. The first was asked by God Himself when He came down into the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve has sinned. "Adam," He called, "Where art thou?"(Gen. 3:9). God asks this question of you today.
Where do you stand with Him? Are you on God's side or the devil's side? Are you on the way to Heaven or on the way to Hell? Are you living for Christ or are you standing against Him?
Another Bible question is recorded in Genesis 4:9:"Where is Abel thy brother?" God asked this question of Cain. Now I ask you, Are you interested in your fellow man? Have you witnessed to him of Christ? Have you showed him how to be saved and sure of Heaven?
One of the important questions in the entire Bible is that which was asked of Paul and Silas by the Philippian jailer: "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30).
How would you have answered this distressed Philippian jailer? Most people would have told him that we are saved by a lifetime of good works. RELIGION teaches a lifetime of Rituals and our own good works, while TRUE SALVATION is made available to us on the basis of our faith and belief in the finished work of Christ on Calvary's Cross and to our obedience to His Holy Word.
The word "religion" is found five times in the Bible, and the word "religious" twice. In almost every case they are used in association with self works, religious ceremonies and repetitious rituals-not with faith or obedience to the Holy Word of God. The Greek word most often used means repeated ceremonial service caused by fear and trouble. This is religion according to the Bible. The only place in Scripture where religion is spoken of in a good way is in James 1:27. Here the apostle speaks of "pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father" and he associates it with the Spiritual works of a True Christian after salvation.
There are only two gospels being propagated in the world-the gospel of a lifetime of good works and the gospel of faith and obedience. God says salvation is the result of a work that has been DONE on our behalf by the Lord Jesus Christ. Satan teaches that salvation is BY DOING a lifetime of our own good works.
D. L. Moody, the great evangelist of 100 years ago, was travelling on day by train to Chicago. The engineer, who was a Mormon, heard that the famous preacher was aboard and invited him up to the cab for a talk. Their conversation centred around the matter of salvation. The question was, "How could a person be saved and made sure of Heaven?" They discussed this subject all the way into Chicago. When they arrived Moody and the Engineer climbed down from the cab. As they shook hands in farewell, Mr. Moody said to the Engineer, "You know, the real difference between your religion and mine is one of spelling. You spell your religion DO, I spell mine DONE."
All through the Bible we have examples of those who tried to be saved by a lifetime of good works and self effort. When Adam and Eve sinned we read in Genesis 3:7: "And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons."
Instead of turning to God for mercy and forgiveness, they ran from the presence of God and sought salvation by living a life of their own good works. Man today knows that he is naked before God and needs a covering for his sins. So what does he do? He turns to an ever repeating ritualistic religion and tries to provide a covering by his own efforts.
If people could get saved by a lifetime of their own good works they would boast all over Heaven about what they did to get there. One man would say, "I built a hospital." Another would say, "I ran a soup kitchen and helped the poor and homeless."Another would say, "I started an orphanage and worked with refugees" Another would say, "I established a college." Still another would say, "I preached for forty years." Others would boast, "I was a deacon and a tither." "I read my Bible and belonged to the church." "I was dedicated/christened as a baby and later confirmed and went faithfully to Mass." "I lived a good moral life." Another would say, "I ran or worked at Christian Radio/Telvision Station and was a presenter or DJ"
You see, the effort of Adam and Eve to provide a homemade covering for sin has been perpetuated in all their offspring. Basically, man is a religious creature and worldwide he worships some kind of a god. In this way he seeks to quiet his guilty conscience and make atonement for his sins. He sews his fig leaves together in one form or another. It may be the pagan mother who sacrifices her child to some god seeking forgiveness of sins. It may be the ancient heathen who threw his son into the open mouth of the fire god, Moloch. It may be the village tribesman who subjects himself to the horrors of the witchdoctor or a religious adherent that goes for ritualistic ceremonies, vision quests, verbal mutterings and chants, isolation and imposed self suffering.
But do not be deceived! A fig leaf apron covering is not confined to pagans in faraway lands. Many such coverings are being worn right here in our civilized country. Most people try to get to church at Christmas and Easter or to go confession or take communion but this ritualistic religious show is nothing but a fig-leaf covering. 95% of all people plan to have their soul saved by doing the best they can and by going through repetitious religious ceremonies.
To prove these statements as to what people believe concerning salvation, may I take you out on the streets of town some Tuesday night as we go witnessing for Christ? We ask dozens of people this question, "Are you a Christian?" In almost every case the answer is, "Oh, yes, I am a Christian." "Why do you say you are a Christian?" Here are some of the answers we receive: "I am a Christian because I have been baptized when I was a child." "I am a Christian because I have been confirmed and given church membership." "I was christened as a baby." "I belong to such-and-such a church." "I read my Bible, I went to sunday school and I pray." "I go to confession, pray to Mary and go to Mass and chant the rosary." "I was born into a Christian home.""I live in a Christian country"
Notice, there is one great omission in all of these answers. Not once is the name of the Lord Jesus Christ mentioned. How can a person be a True Christian without Christ? How can a person be saved apart from the blood-atoning work which He accomplished for us on Calvary's Cross? How can a person be a True Christian who does not receive Christ as his own personal Saviour?
God knew that those fig leaves did not cover the sin of Adam and Eve. While they ran away from the presence of God, He came forth to meet them and to reveal to them that the promised salvation can only be attained through the shedding of blood. Though they sinned against Him, He loved them still. Genesis 3:21: "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them." The coats of skins could only be attained by the shedding of blood which is a type picture of Calvary. 1 John 1:7:"The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin."
The Word of God teaches us first of all that salvation is of the Lord. It is the work of God, not of man. God provided the sacrifice to cover the sin of Adam and Eve. And God has provided the way of salvation for every sinner in the Person of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life"(John 3:16).
We are taught here also that salvation is provided by the death of an innocent substitute. 1 Peter 2:24, speaking of our Lord Jesus Christ, says: "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." Christ's death was a definite work of grace for the bearing away of our sins.
Sin carries with it a punishment. Romans 6:23 says: "For the wages of sin is death." This death (which is eternal separation from God and Punishment in Hell) due each one of us because of our sins, Christ took upon Himself. The cup we could not drink, He drank. The suffering we could not bear, He Bore in our stead. Not only did He bear the judgment and penalty of our sins, but He also took upon Himself our sins in His own body on the tree.
This is the basis of salvation. God took our sins and placed them upon His sinless Son. Christ is the last Adam, the representative man, and as such all the sins of the world were placed upon Him. As in the first Adam all of us were cursed by sin and death, so in the last Adam-the Lord from Heaven-all who believe and receive God's plan for salvation will be saved and made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:22: "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."
Now that the work of providing for our salvation has been completed by Christ, God offers it to us as a free gift. Now if salvation is a free gift, how can a lifetime of religious ritual and good works save? Why do the multitudes try to DO so much to have their sins cleansed and forgiven?
Salvation is made available on the basis of true, genuine faith. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast"(Eph. 2:8,9). Our Lord offers to you today salvation, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life. But you must personally receive Him into your heart. Trust and obey Him today as your Saviour.
2. SPIRITUAL ROBBERS
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, THE SAME IS A THIEF AND A ROBBER"(John 10:1).
Some years ago, Canada experienced its greatest robbery in history. Three men armed with revolvers, seized two Merrill Lynch couriers in the elevator of the company's downtown Montreal building at 9:30 in the morning. Over 68 million dollars were stolen of which $48.4 million were negotiable.
Larger robberies have taken place in Great Britain and other countries of the world. In 1983, three masked men stole 6800 ingots of gold at Britain's Heathrow airport.
None of these robberies, though of great magnitude, can be even slightly compared to the robberies being committed by the spiritual thieves of whom Jesus speaks in our text.
Notice now that this verse contains very clear teaching concerning the all-important matter of salvation. Jesus is saying here that anyone who tries to get into Heaven by any means other than the way provided for by Him in the shedding of His blood on Calvary's Cross, the same is a thief and a robber. He said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me"(John 14:6).
Jesus also said: "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shell go in and out, and find pasture"(John 10:9). There is only one door into Heaven and that door is Christ. Anyone who tries to enter the pearly-white city through any other entrance is a thief and a robber. The devil has built back doors, side doors, and all kinds of other trap doors, but they are doors which are used only by thieves and robbers. Oh, Satan's trap doorways may look inviting, but they all lead to Hell where you will indeed be trapped forever. The Lord Jesus Christ alone is the door-the means of entrance-into Heaven. There is no other way of access to God but by Him.
Religious thieves are robbers of the worst kind. They would rob God of the great salvation He has provided for sinners in the Person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. They would rob Jesus Christ of His redemptive work for the remission of our sins. Praise God, they cannot rob Him of His Son nor the Lord Jesus Christ of His redemptive work, but because they try to do these things they are thieves and robbers.
The Bible speaks of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ as precious: "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1: 18,19).
The blood of Christ is precious because it is royal blood. In some mystical sense it was the blood of God (Acts 20:28; John 1:1,14). It is the blood of the divine-human One (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 1 John 3:5).
Since God places such value upon the precious blood, it is of vital importance to the True Christian life. Indeed, without it there can be no life. The one who rejects the blood rejects salvation.
Through the blood was have redemption. "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by the blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" (Rev. 5:9).
Through the blood of Christ we have propitiation: "And He is the propitiation for our sins:and not for our's only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2).
Through the blood of Christ we have forgiveness and loosing from sin: "In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Eph. 1:7).
Through the blood of Christ we have peace with God. "And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven" (Col. 1:20).
Through the blood of Christ we have nearness of God: "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ" (Eph. 2:13).
Through the blood of Christ we are sanctified: "Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate" (Heb. 13:12).
Through the blood of Christ we have cleansing from sin as we walk in the light. "But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanseth us from all sin"(1 John 1:7).
Those who reject the blood atoning work of our blessed Lord are thieves and robbers. Why? Because they preach and teach another way into Heaven.
Take the "SINCERE" robbers. We have them all over the land. Their doctrine is that it doesn't really matter what you believe so long as you are sincere. Oh, the multitudes that have been sincerely wrong! There is also the religious robber who says, "DO THE BEST YOU CAN." Recently, while conversing with a man concerning the salvation of his soul, he said: "Well, if I do the best I can, what more can God expect?" I replied, "Now tell me are you honestly doing the very best you can?" "No," he replied, "but I am doing my best to do the best I can." I said to him, "Then you will never reach Heaven, for in trying to do your best you are failing in the effort."
I praise God that it is not MY BEST that saves me but the best that Heaven could offer-the Son of God-who gave HIS BEST by shedding His precious blood for the remission of my sins. Salvation is not of our lifetime of good works nor by our continuous ritualistic doing. It is based on what Christ has already done.
Many spiritual robbers today trust ever repeating church rituals, Sacraments and ceremonies, membership and service, for salvation. The fact of the matter is, you can do any or all of these religious works and still die and go to Hell. If you believe that performing religious duties and ceremonies will take you to Heaven, you are adding your own lifetime of good works to God's salvation, and are taking away from the precious blood and ROBBING JESUS of all He has done for you on Calvary's Cross.
Another well-known robber is the thief called "TRADITION." Tradition never has and never will save one soul. Yet multitudes follow the ritualistic customs of their ancestors rather than the Word of God.
What does the Bible say about tradition? Let me read 1 Peter 1:18,19: "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, RECEIVED BY TRADITION FROM YOUR FATHERS, But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the TRADITIONS OF MEN, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." (Col:2:8)
May I ask you this question: "Are you really saved?" "Are you born again by the True Holy Spirit of God?" "When were you saved?" "What were the circumstances relating to your new birth?" Groups of robbers are also on the increase today. They work as a gang. They teach that there is no such place as Hell. "A God of love would never send anyone to Hell," they say.
The fact of the matter is, God did not prepare Hell for us. It was prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41). We are either a true child of God or a child of the devil. If we die as the devil's child, we must go to the devil's home which is Hell. If we die as a true child of God, then we go to the place prepared for us by our Lord which is Heaven.
Let me ask this further question: "When was the last time you heard your preacher preach on Hell? How many times the past month has the radio or TV preacher taught the reality of Hell for all who die unsaved?" This subject is being pushed into the background even by most evangelical and some fundamental preachers. But the Bible-God's Holy Word-tells us over 200 times in the New Testament alone of Judgment and Hell and the Lake of Fire.
"Hell! the prison house of despair, Here are some things that won't be there: No flowers will bloom on the banks of Hell, No beauties of nature we love so well; No comforts of home, music and song, No friendship of joy will be found in the throng; No children to brighten the long, weary night; No love nor peace nor one ray of light; No blood-washed soul with face beaming bright, No loving smile in the region of night, No mercy, no pity, pardon nor grace, No water, O God, what a terrible place! The pangs of the lost no human can tell, Not one moment's ease-there is no rest in Hell.
Hell, the prison house of despair, Here are some things that will be there: Fire and brimstone are there we know For God in His Word has told us so; Memory, remorse, suffering and pain, Weeping, and wailing, but all in vain; Blasphemers, swearers, haters of God, Christ-rejectors while here on earth trod; Murderers, gamblers, drunkards and liars; Will have their part in the lake of fire; The filthy, the vile, the cruel and the mean, What a horrible mob in Hell will be seen! Yes, more than humans on earth can tell, Are torments and woes of eternal Hell."
3. MAN'S WAY IS NOT SALVATION
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12).
We have already seen in our previous messages that every person is a sinner standing in need of salvation. Most people will admit that salvation is necessary in order to enter Heaven, but the vast majority are trusting in their own ritualistic endeavors or a lifetime of individualistic efforts.
It is important to know exactly what salvation is and what it is not. A doctor's remedy can either make or break a man. I remember a time in college days when I suffered great pain. The college doctor treated me for lumbago, but my condition grew more serious. I went to another doctor who ordered x-rays and found I had physical need. Man's basic spiritual need is for something to meet the sin condition of his heart. Far too many are trying wrong treatments and taking wrong medicines that have no effect whatever upon their sinful state.
Now we are not doubting the sincerity of these people. A doctor may be sincere and still give the wrong medicine to a patient. A seaman, unable at night to see clearly the needle of the compass, may be sincere in thinking he is steering his ship towards the harbour, while actually it is going towards the rocks. Sincerity will not save the ship. He needs more light to see the compass. And natural man needs the light of God's Word if he is to know the proper way to be saved.
What It is That CAN NOT SAVE YOU!
Going to Church - Can not save you!
Being Christened - Can not save you!
Being Confirmed - Can not save You!
Being Baptized - Can not save you!
Church Membership and attendance- Can not save you!
Being born into a Christian Family - Can not save you!
Being a Monk, Nun or a member of a monastry or religious sect or retreat - Can Not Save You!
Worshiping or Praying to Weeping Statues of Mary or Christ - Can Not Save You!
Religious Superstitions - Can Not Save You!
Living in a Christian Country - Can not save you!
Listening to Christian Radio and TV - can not save you!
Priests, Pastors, Ministers, Clergy - Can not save you!
Wearing Religious Garments - Can not save you!
Lighting Candles, Burning incense or using Holy Water - Can not save you!
Prayers and Worship to The Virgin Mary, Dead Saints and Martyrs - Can not save you!
World Religions, can not save you!
Religious artifacts, relics, symbols, statues, crosses, rosaries, crucifixes, icons, idols, bumper stickers - Can not save you!
Church Catechisms, Rosary beads and chants - Can not save you!
Charitable Works, Good Works and Philanthropy - Can not save you!
Business and worldly ventures - Can not save you!
Taking Communion - Can not save you!
Church Traditions, Sacraments and Religious Ceremonies - Can not save you!
Living a Good and Moral life - Can not save you!
ONLY A DIRECT - ONE TO ONE - PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS CHRIST CAN SAVE YOU!
Are we advocating that some of the above mentioned items are not good and proper things for a Christian to do?? Absolutely not! But If you are relying on them for your Salvation then you are sadly mistaken!
The Majority of people today have a strong, intense relationship with the World and the things of the World, but have absolutely no relationship with Jesus Christ!
"Build your house upon The Rock [Christ] for all other ground is sinking sand" [Matt 7:21-27]
One of the Reasons that Jesus came to earth was to do away with Religion. For Religion is an unnecessary burden, a blockage, a FIREWALL that comes Between you and God!
Religion is a firewall invented by Satan - so he and his demons and all those people that they possess, could come between you and the One True God - diverting your attention to Satan Himself and away from the One True God! - For Satan proclaims the He alone is God and wants to be worshipped as God!
ONLY ONE MEDIATOR
Remember that there is only "one Mediator between God and man"; that there is but "one sacrifice for sins," offered "once" for all and "for ever." Through the "one Mediator," by the "one sacrifice," "draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you." You need no mediator between yourself and Christ. The priest, or religious clergy is a false intruder there. Jesus calls you to come to Himself. He is both human and divine. He is bone of your bone, and flesh of your flesh, yet without sin. God is in Him. He is one with us and one with God. Suffer nothing to come between your soul and Him. Suffer no saint, no angel, no virgin, no priest, to come between you and Jesus Christ. Go to Him for the pardon of all your sins.
Make to Him your confessions. Only He can absolve you, and will, yea, does, if you truly believe in Him. Priestly absolution is a lie. It is a blasphemous pretense. The sentence, "I absolve thee," whether from the mouth of Romish priest or Protestant minister, is profane. Be not deluded by it. Your fellow sinners cannot absolve you from the sins you have committed against God. Turn from these idols and vanities. Jesus is all you need. His blood is sufficient to atone, and cleanses those who simply trust in Him 'from all sin." "Search the Scriptures," they testify of Him. Come to Him that you may have life. His heart is touched with the feeling of our infirmities; none can sympathize as He can; none can help as He. To you, to each one, He says, "Him that cometh unto ME I will in no wise cast out." "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but MY WORDS shall not pass away." --Henry Grattan Guinness [Excerpted from Romanism and the Reformation]
There are many ways that seem right unto a man but the end thereof are the ways of death!
1. There is the way of MORALITY.
Praise God that many men and women have a high standard of moral living. It is good to see this in a day when there is so much immorality; but many are moral who have never been born again. They live 'good' lives, look after their families, pay their bills, and are honest in their dealing with others; but if they are basing their salvation on moral living, they are in for a big disappointment. God's Word says that while this may seem right, "the end thereof are the ways of death."
2. There is the way of RELIGION.
Man has been called a religious animal. The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics lists hundreds of ways in which men have tried to satisfy their religious longings and feelings. They have worshipped the sun, moon and stars; earth, wind, fire and water, idols of wood, stone and metal; fish, birds and animals. They have worshipped countless gods and spirits which have been the products of their own perverted imagination or of Satan and his Demons. Others have attempted to worship God through a vast variety of sacrifices, ceremonies, sacraments and services. But 'religion', however sincere, can never solve man's sin problem, for at least three reasons.
*Religion can never satisfy God. Religion is man's attempt to make himself right with God, but any such attempt is futile because even man's best efforts are flawed and so are unacceptable to God. The Bible could not be clearer: "all our righteous acts are like filthy rags." God demands perfection; religion fails to meet the demand.
*Religion can never remove sin. Your virtues can never cancel out your vices. Good deeds can never remove bad ones, If a person gets right with God: "it is not by works, so that no one can boast." No religious efforts or emotional experiences - christening/child baptism, confirmation, confession, holy communion, churchgoing, prayers, gifts, sacrifices of time and effort, Bible reading or anything else - can cancel out a single sin.
*Religion can never change man's sinful nature. A person's behavior is not the problem, only the symptom. The heart of man's problem is the problem of man's heart, and by nature man's heart is corrupt and depraved. Going to church and taking part in religious ceremonies may make you feel good but they cannot make you good. "Who can bring what is pure from the impure? No one!"
Some of the religious activities mentioned above are obviously 'good' in themselves. For example, it is right to go to church, to read the Bible and to pray, because God tells us to do these things. But you dare not rely on them for salvation or to make you right with God, Not only are they powerless to do so; trusting in them actually adds to your sin and to your condemnation.
This group of people believe in the church and attend it quite regularly. They have either been Sacramentally christened as a baby, baptized as a child or confirmed. They have joined the church in membership and support it with their gifts. Some are sunday school teachers, church officers or sing in the choir. They say. "Surely God can't expect any more from me than this." To them, their way "seems right" but they leave the Lord Jesus Christ out of the picture. They have never truly received Him as their Saviour. God's Word says: "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (1 John 5:12).
3. There is the way of the LODGE.
I have had loved ones tell me that if they live up to the lodge or service club pledge and motto nothing more will be required of them for salvation. But this, too, is a false way that leads to eternal death and separation for God.
4. There is the way of DOING.
Many say, "I do the best I can and believe my efforts please God." May I point out that no one has really done their best, therefore by their own standard they fail. God's Word says, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us"(Titus 3:5).
5. There is the way of LIVING UP TO OUR CONVICTIONS.
The philosophy here is, "It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you are sincere." Take a look at the many different cults today. Each one proclaims their own special way of salvation. And people say, "It does not matter. We are all heading in the same direction, all roads leads to heaven. Stick by your convictions. "This is Satan's lie and it leads to death.
Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me" (John 14:6). The only standard to go by in this all-important matter of the salvation of your soul is God's inspired Word. When we take medicine, we follow the doctor's instructions. When we go on a journey, we follow the road map. When the lawyer pleads our case before the judge, he follows the basic written principles of law. When we are seeking salvation, we must follow the written Word of God. Doctor's prescriptions may be wrong, road maps may be altered, written laws may be revised, but God's Word is eternal and unchanging. Jesus said: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Matt. 24:35).
6. There is the way of SOCIAL SERVICE AND POLITICS
A business man once said to me, "I belong to the Rotary Club. Our main purpose is to help others. If we do that faithfully God will accept our efforts as being sufficient." Now this way may "seem right" but again it ends in death. While we thank God for the social work of the various service clubs, there is no salvation in them. Those that enter into public life and politics, believe that their good works of committed public service and political accomplishments will save them. No matter how moral, upright and filled with public servitude they are, their Salvation and Remission of sins can only be obtained through faith in the blood of Jesus shed for sinners on Calvary's Cross. In Hebrews 9:22 we read: "Without shedding of blood is no remission."
7. There is the way of BUSINESS AND COMMERCE
What Jesus said should be echoed by every True Believer; " I must be about My Father's business" (Luke 2:49). Yet how many who claim to be God's children by faith in Christ are by obedience, actively engaged in the service and business of God their father?
To be a success in the business of the world, seems to be the driving passion of many people. They approved in practice the philosophy of inventor and automobile tycoon Henry Ford: " I do not believe a man can ever leave his business. "He ought to religiously think of it day by day and dream of it by night. . . . Thinking men know that business and work is the salvation of the race morally, physically, socially. Work does more than give us a living; it gives us life."
Men and women of the business world believe they can obtain Salvation through their own works of buying, selling and the trading of goods and services or constructing and building along with their personal accumulation of wealth (wealth building) and property. By engaging in all forms of business and commerce and then with their own generous works of Charity and Philanthropy, they believe in their own way of salvation. God's Word says that "Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
Men and women who live by that philosophy need to consider the inspired words of Matthew: "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." (Mt:6:24)
"Jesus said ... If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. (Mt:19:21)
"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Mt:19:23-24)
Also Consider Paul's inspired message to Timothy.
"But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." (I Timothy 6: 9-11)
8. There is the way of EDUCATION and PHILOSOPHY.
Many tell us today that knowledge is the highest aim of life. While education can be a wonderful help in our complex society, it does not bring salvation.
As a matter of fact, modern education is atheistic and evolutionary, it ignores God. The Word of God is left out of the curriculum. Education exalts the pride of man and draws our young people farther and farther away from God. We need to give this some serious thought. What is modern education doing for the morals of our generation? Are we advancing in head knowledge at the expense of purity of heart? Modern education is getting nowhere fast. God's Word also says:"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom"(Psalm 111:10).
The pressures and problems of modern living are driving many people to a restless philosophical search for meaning and purpose in life. Modern philosophy has been compared to a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn't there. Philosophers explore thousands of ways in their attempts to find truth, the right way and the meaning of life. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (Jn:14:6) A careful study of the Bible shows that the way of man which "seems right", is not acceptable with God.
9. There is The Way of PSYCHOLOGY and THE NEW AGE.
Psychologists believe that through the manipulation of the mind and through mind control, instead of being born again through the True Holy Spirit, that one can solve all of lifes problems. Change the mind, your thoughts and through your own mental strength you can achieve a human derived salvation. God said: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD." (Isa:55:8)
".......Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (Jn:3:3)
New Age Gurus teach that man can achieve salvation through "Altered States of Consciousness" and "Mystical Experiences". By practicing yoga or taking drugs and other mind bending substances and following various occult or New Age practices, one can achieve a state of "Nirvana" of being your own god and achieving god like qualities and a spiritual oneness with the universe. Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me" (John 14:6).
Once again "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12).
In Luke 18:9-14 Jesus told a parable for the primary purpose of showing those who "trust in themselves" that their own self efforts have no merit with God.
"And He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
Here was a wonderfully religious church-going man. He prayed, lived a good moral life, fasted twice every week, and tithed all his possessions. Yet, because he braggingly trusted in his religiosity and in his own lifetime of good works for salvation, he was rejected by God. But the publican, a poor outright sinner, genuinely repented and humbly called upon God for mercy and "went down to his house justified."
Many other passages of Scripture also emphasize the truth that man's way of salvation leads to death. Romans 3:20: "Therefore by the deeds of the law (alone) there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin."
Luke 16:15: "And He (Jesus) said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." Men's way of salvation may "seem right" but in ends in death.
4. THE HOW OF SALVATION
Many year ago on a beautiful Sunday morning a man walked into a barber shop to get shaved. Just as the barber started his work, the church bells began to ring calling the people to worship the Lord. The man leaped wildly from the chair and rushing out the door, cried, "Stop those bells! Stop those bells!" A policeman caught him and asked what was the matter. The man broke down and said, "Sir, twenty years ago in old Vermont, I killed my father. We quarrelled on a Saturday night. On Sunday morning as he started out for the church belfry, I followed him. When he started to ring the church bells, I stabbed him to death. Every Sunday morning for twenty years the church bells have accused me. I can stand it no longer."
I bring this message today to you who are unsaved. I believe the True Holy Spirit is speaking to your heart concerning this matter of salvation. Your conscience has been troubling you for sometime because of past sins. O', do not put off for another moment the wooing of the True Holy Spirit. As God speaks to your heart again today through the preaching of His Holy Word, make your decision for Christ. He will forgive yours sins and give you peace and joy in your soul
If you have been drawn to God by His True Holy Spirit and want to become a True Christian, what should you do? The inspired answer was given by the Apostle Peter on the first New Testament day of Pentecost. After coming to realize the enormity of their sins, the repentant assembly asked Peter and the rest of the Apostles: "Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said to them, REPENT and let every one of you be BAPTIZED in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you SHALL receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call"(Acts 2:3739).
The Salvation Process is so simple that anyone with childlike faith can understand and believe. In fact, Jesus said: "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven"(Matt. 18:3). God wants us to be childlike in believing, obeying Him and in trusting Him to do what He has promised.
The Bible tells us: "Salvation is of the Lord"(Jonah 2:9). The One who is able to save to the uttermost is the Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God. He was with God from all eternity. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). This same Jesus came from heaven to this earth in order to bear in His own body our sins upon the Cross.
Isaiah 53:5,6: "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all."
1 Peter 1:18,19: "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."
Christ made full provision for the penalty of our sins when He died on Calvary's Cross. The cross-work of Christ Opened the door to Heaven, allowing for our Salvation. Without Christ's sacrifice, no one would ever be able to enter.
The question, "Have you made your peace with God?" has often been asked by those ministering to others. The fact is, we do not have to make peace with God. Christ made peace on our behalf, our part is to receive Him as our own personal Saviour because of what He has done. Jesus "made peace through the blood of His cross" (Col. 1:20).
God's allowance for our Salvation is based on what Christ has done for us on Calvary's Cross, on our genuine Belief and Faith, on our Sincere Repentance, on our willingness to obey the command to be Biblicaly Baptized and not upon what we have done in the past or are doing of and for ourselves in the future. So many people want to talk about their own lifetime of good works. They love to discuss the church, or the lodge, their favorite charity or talk business, sports and politics, but salvation is a matter of dealing personally with Jesus Christ. Believers in the early church pointed men and women to Christ.
In Romans 10:13 we read: "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Peter, preaching before the Sanhedrin, said: "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
Mark adds that Jesus said: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:16)
When Philip preached to the Ethiopian eunuch, he preached unto him Jesus. (Acts 8:35). He was BAPTIZED and saved by receiving the gift of The True Holy Spirit and accepting Jesus Christ as his own personal Saviour.
Paul and Silas met "...a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was BAPTIZED, and all her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. .." (Act 16-14-15)
When Paul and Silas preached to the Philippian jailer, he asked "...Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was BAPTIZED, he and all his, straightway.and he would be saved." (Acts 16:31-33).
If you are to be saved, you must see Jesus. You must get your eyes off the things of the world and what you are doing, and turn them upon the Saviour. When explaining the new birth to Nicodemus, Christ said: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:14,15).
This serpent was a type of the Lord Jesus Christ dying for our transgressions. The children of Israel, because of their sins, had been bitten by fiery serpents and faced death. Moses pleaded for their salvation from this awful fate. God told him to put a serpent of brass upon a pole in the midst of the camp, and promised that all who looked by faith upon it, would live. The people looked, and they lived. In the same way, the moment any sinner will look by faith to the Cross-work of our Lord Jesus Christ, he will be saved.
Let us take a journey today back to Calvary. It is early morning. Barabbas, a man who was a robber and a murderer, is in an old Roman prison awaiting the day of his death. As he sits in his little cell, he becomes aware of the approaching steps of a prison guard. "The hour of my death has come," he says to himself.
The guard slowly walks down the long corridor and stops at Barabbas' cell. He turns the key and almost shouts with excitement, "Barabbas, you're free."
Barabbas cannot understand. He reproves the guard, saying, "This is no time for joking. It is the hour of my execution."
No, Barabbas, you're a free man. Come quickly with me." The guard increases his pace as they walk along the corridor and up the stairs that lead to the open air. "Barabbas, you don't have to die. Someone else has died for you." "Someone died for me? Who? I don't understand."
"Let us hurry, Barabbas, and you will see for yourself." The two men ran quickly until they were outside the prison walls. Barabbas followed the guard until they came within sight of Calvary. There on the hill he saw three men crucified on three crosses.
"Barabbas, do you see that man on the centre cross? He is the one who is taking your place. He died for you."
"He died for me," thought Barabbas. "Today was my day to die. But He took my place. He died that I might live."
This is truly a picture of the salvation that God has provided for every sinner. The Lord Jesus Christ died for you and me. "Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:25).
In John 3:16 we read: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
This familiar verse tells us exactly how to be saved: "For God so loved world..." Here is a fact that we can easily believe and accept as true.
"That He gave His only begotten Son..." Christ is God's love-gift to you and me. He came into the world to save sinners.
"That whosoever..." This means you and it means me. Salvation must become a personal matter.
"Believeth in Him..." This means to believe by faith. A head knowledge of Christ is not sufficient. Believing faith means to be obedient, to commit your life to Him. It is the heart's response to His love.
"Should not perish, but have everlasting life." If we will do what God asks of us, He will do what He has promised.
My Dear Friend, You must remember this: that the broad and well travelled highways that lead to Hell, are all paved with the good intentions of man - the "way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death", but the narrow way that leads to eternal life and heaven, can only be found by following God's plan of Salvation, provided for you through His Son Jesus Christ.
Let Us Examine The Facts of Religion - How Jesus Viewed Religion
"Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean." Matthew23:25
It is possible to be sincere, yet to have totally lost the plot, the purpose, and the experience of what the gospel is about. Throughout history, from Jesus' day to present day, Religious legalism is again and again one of the great barriers to the Christian life. Here we explain three issues concerning religiosity that Jesus warned about, which ultimately takes away from the simplicity and freedom we are meant to have in Christ.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian who was put to death in 1945 for his role in the resistance against Adolf Hitler. He left behind many of his writings and books and had asked the renowned question, "What might Christianity look like without the trappings of religion?" He spoke of the need for a radical revision of Christianity in a secular age where it has for too long been bound by religious rules and regulations of men and not by the presence and activity of God.
The first issue Jesus identifies with the Pharisees and teachers of the law had to do with rules and regulations, which had replaced relationship. When God gave the law to Moses on Mount Sinai, it was in a context of a deep relationship and intimacy. But over time, the content of the law replaced the context in which it was given. Jesus said of the Pharisees and teachers of the law, "They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them." Matthew 23:4.
The heavy loads were the commandments, which Jewish leaders had expanded to 613 laws, layer upon layer, of new rules to qualify the Ten Commandments. For example, the fourth commandment says that for six days shall you labour and on the seventh day, do no work. What is meant by work? They came up with 39 definitions, one of which was carrying a burden. So what constitutes a burden, and they decided carrying anything heavier than two dried figs was a burden. All these laws may have been conceived by people who sincerely believed that in keeping them, they were pleasing God, but instead, they were restrictive, oppressive, heavy and above all, controlling.
Any form of understanding that the Christian gospel imposes a heavy burden is actually the opposite of what Jesus came to do. In Matthew 11:28, He said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." If we're not enjoying a personal relationship with God where we talk to Him, hear His voice and enjoy His presence, we will substitute the context of the law for the content, and end up measuring ourselves and others by how well we keep the rules. With the indwelling Spirit of Christ, the context of the law is what enables us to keep the content, because it is Jesus in us who is the source and empowering for that. Without Him, all we have left is a shell of the commandments on tablets of stone that become a burden. Ezekiel 36:37 says, "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people." It's all about relationship, and the Pharisees could not control Jesus or the relationship He had with His Father.
Secondly, Jesus warned about the religious externals replacing the relational internals. In Matthew 23:5-7, He said of the Pharisees and teachers of the law, "Everything they do is done for men to see." In verses 6 & 7, He said they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues. They love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi'. A mark of religiosity is that you are always looking over your shoulder to be seen by others. God doesn't enter into it at all, and Jesus says, "They have their reward in full", which is simply the recognition of other people's religiosity. It's symptomatic of a Godless faith, and if you don't have God, all you have is an audience.
The third issue Jesus warns about is position replacing principle. The Pharisees loved to be called rabbi, teacher, father, but the position they enjoyed replaced the principle. That is, God Himself, and Christ, alone, is our Master and our Father in the sense that He is the One who imparts new life. No priest, pastor, evangelist or preacher can impart life, so in this regard, Jesus says do not call anyone Father, Rabbi or Teacher.
God is real and the fact that He is doing something needs to characterize our lives. We love Him and we know He loves us. His laws, written on our hearts, means that we live our lives to reflect His character, not because it's a burden, but because it has become the natural expression of our relationship with Him. What Jesus thought of religion is the very thing that crucified Him. It wasn't the murderers, thieves, tax collectors, prostitutes, but the religious hierarchy of His day who had the religious externals, but not the relational internals, who had the content, but not the context, and held the positions, but not with God. So when Jesus came on the scene and said that it was all about God, about life and relationship, liberty and joy, they crucified Him. But God raised Him from the dead in order that His resurrected life may be imparted to us by His indwelling Spirit so that we may enjoy a meaningful, intimate relationship with Him, free of the condemning and burdening restraints of religiosity, the unremitting antagonist of the gospel.
Once again If you have been drawn to God by His True Spirit and want to become a True Christian, what should you do? The inspired answer was given by the Apostle Peter on the first New Testament day of Pentecost. After coming to realize the enormity of their sins, the repentant assembly asked Peter and the rest of the Apostles: "Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said to them, REPENT and let every one of you be BAPTIZED in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you SHALL receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call"(Acts 2:3739).
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Let Us Pray Together--
PRAY: "God be merciful to me a sinner. Receive me now for Christ's sake. Cleanse me from my sin by your precious blood, shed on the cross for me; lead me to be Baptized and fill me with your Holy Spirit. Teach me to pray each day; to read Your will for my life from your word, the Bible; and help me to worship and serve You in the fellowship of your church. I thank you Lord Jesus Christ. AMEN!