Archive | January, 2017

Loving Like Jesus

24 Jan

love

In the first 3 verses of chapter 13, Paul said that love is more important than spiritual gifts, or knowledge, or faith, or generosity. For even if we had all that, but did not have love, they would be as empty & useless as beating a gong outside a pagan temple.

Going on to verse 4, Paul tells us that love is patient. In other words, love has a long fuse.Love is slow to boil. It counts down before it blasts off. Then he tells us that “love is kind.” And that is what I want us to consider this morning.

If you were describing our world, would you describe it as a kind world? As we look at the things going on in our world we would probably answer “No.”

I heard a story about a woman who was standing at a bus stop. She had just cashed her tax refund check, so she was carrying more money than usual and was a little bit nervous about that.

She glanced around and noticed a shabbily dressed man standing nearby. And as she watched, she saw a man walk up to him, hand him some money, and whisper something in his ear.

She was so touched by that act of kindness that she decided to do the same. In a burst of generosity, she reached into her purse, took out $10, handed it to the man, and whispered to him, “Never despair, never despair.”

The next day when she came to the bus stop, there he was again. But this time he walked up to her and handed her $110. Dumbfounded, she asked, “What’s this?” He said, “You won, lady. “Never Despair” paid 10 to 1.”

Now I can’t promise that every act of kindness will pay 10 to 1. At times kindness may even cost you something, and require sacrifices on your part.

So with that in mind, let’s look at a couple of the clearest examples of kindness in the Bible. They are found in Luke 8:40-56. In this passage we see Jesus showing kindness to two people who are entirely different.

One is a man and the other is a woman. One is an outcast, poor and unknown. The other is rich and influential and the ruler of a synagogue. And yet, Jesus treats both of them with great kindness.

By the time of this story, Jesus had gained a great deal of fame and was at the pinnacle of his popularity. People respected Him as a healer and a teacher, and crowds were swarming around Him wherever He went.

But despite the pressures of popularity, despite the crowds constantly pushing in around Him, despite all the demands on His time, Jesus, in His kindness, stopped everything He was doing to help them and to meet their needs.

Cal Thomas wrote, “Love talked about is easily ignored. But love demonstrated is irresistible.” Jesus not only talked about love and kindness, but He modeled it for us, too.

So let’s look and see the ways Jesus showed kindness to them, because I think those are the ways that we need to learn to show kindness today.

First of all, Jesus expressed kindness by listening to people, by paying attention to their needs.

Listen to Luke 8:40-42.

“Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed Him, for they were all expecting Him. Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came & fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with Him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about 12, was dying. As Jesus was on His way, the crowds almost crushed Him.”

Now we’re not told where Jesus was going. Probably He was on His way to some open place where He could teach and preach to the crowds surging around Him.

But as soon as Jairus came and told Him about his daughter, the very next words we read are

“As Jesus was on his way…”

Evidently, Jesus immediately changed directions and started following Jairus because this little girl’s situation was much more pressing than whatever else He had scheduled.

By the way, how well do you handle interruptions? Some people work best when they can concentrate on one thing and see it through to completion. They do not normally do two or three things well at the same time.

So if they are concentrating, and someone interrupts them, they consider that an intrusion. They do not normally handle interruptions well. Maybe you don’t either.

But as you get older you learn that sometimes interruptions are sent by God, opportunities to minister that you would miss if you ignored them.

If you just go on with your project and don’t allow yourself to be interrupted if you aren’t flexible enough to change directions and go in another way you will miss great opportunities that God may place before you.

Jesus paid attention to Jairus and changed His plans and direction. But Jairus was not the only interruption, and Jesus was flexible and kind enough to pause and meet another need as they were on their way to Jairus’ house.

Listen to verses 43-46,

“And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind Him and touched the edge of His cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

“‘Who touched me?’ Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.’ But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.'”

There were crowds of people surrounding them, and everyone was in a hurry. Yet Jesus was able to differentiate between the touch of the crowd and the personal touch of the woman who needed His help.

Our world is becoming more and more impersonal, isn’t it? Go to a gasoline service station and you don’t even have to talk to anybody anymore. Just put your card in the slot, pump the gas, and you can drive away without ever looking at another human being. And its the same way at the bank, isn’t it?

How about the airlines? In any major city, call and you’ll hear a computerized voice,

“If you want information regarding departing flights, press 1. For arriving flights, press 2.” You press 1, & it says, “If you know your flight number, press 1.”

You press 1 again, and it says,

“Enter your flight number.”

You punch that in, and the computerized voice then tells you the correct gate number. You never have to talk to another living, breathing, human being. It’s become a very impersonal world.

Can you imagine what would happen if they did this to “911”? You dial 911 & hear,

“If your emergency is a murder, press 1. If it is a burglary, press 2. If the burglar is still in the house, press 3. If he has a gun, press 4 real quick.”

I don’t know what we are coming to, do you? It has become a very impersonal world. But Jesus took time to stop in the midst of a crowd to give a woman His personal attention as though she was the only one there.

Second, Jesus expressed kindness by being considerate of others.

Verses 47-48 tell us,

“Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at His feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched Him and how she had been instantly healed.

“Then He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.'”

We need to realize that because of her disease she was considered unclean and therefore was an outcast. They treated her like they treated someone with leprosy. So because of that, she had not been living with her family for 12 years.

Her self esteem must have been as low as it could possibly be. So Jesus surprises her, first of all, by stopping & listening to her story of woe. I think we have a very condensed version of the story that she told. I mean, this is probably the first time in a long time that she really had anyone’s attention.

So I imagine that she poured out her heart to Him… and  Jesus listened. And by listening, by looking at her, by paying attention to her,  he was displaying real kindness.

Are you a good listener? Most of us probably aren’t. We pass each other & say “How are you?” And we expect an automatic, “I’m fine.” But have you ever been caught off guard and someone really told you just how they felt?

A friend of mine recalls that he once said, “How are you?” to a lady, and she replied, “You don’t want to know.” He says, “She was right. I really didn’t have time to listen to her just then. I was hurrying on to do something else.”

I think it is true, most of us really don’t take the time to listen, do we?

Erma Bombeck told about a time when she was so tired of listening. She had listened to her son tell in minute detail about a movie he had just seen, punctuated by at least 1,000 “you knows” and “okays.”

Then she had received several telephone calls filled with what she felt was mindless chatter that never seemed to end. So it was with genuine relief that she was able to tell the last caller that she just had to rush off to the airport.

She got into a taxicab, and as the taxicab driver took her to the airport, he told her all about his son who had won a scholarship to college, and how he was making straight A’s. Erma had to sit there and listen to it all.

She said, “But once I got to the airport and realized that I was 30 minutes early, I breathed a sigh of relief and thought, ‘I have 30 whole minutes when I don’t have to listen to anybody. I can just sit here and read my book & not be bothered at all.”

“But no sooner had I opened my book, when an elderly female said to me, ‘I bet it’s cold in Chicago.’ ‘I suppose,’ I replied without looking up from her book.

“I haven’t been in Chicago for 3 years,” the woman said. “My son lives there.” ‘That’s nice’, I said . Then the woman continued on, ‘My husband’s body is on this plane. We were married for 53 years. I don’t drive, you see, & the funeral director was so nice. He drove me to the airport today.'”

Erma recalls, “Her voice droned on. Here was a woman who didn’t want money or advice or counsel. All she wanted was someone to listen. And in desperation she had turned to a total stranger with her story.”

Erma Bombeck said, “She continued to talk to me until they announced that we were boarding the plane. We walked onto the plane and I saw her sit down in another section. And as I hung up my coat I heard her say to the person next to her, ‘I bet it’s cold in Chicago.'”

There are so many of us who just need somebody, sometime, to listen, just to focus on us and listen to what we have to say. And Jesus did so that day!

Finally, Jesus expressed kindness through an understanding spirit. Notice what it says in verses 49-56.

“While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. ‘Your daughter is dead,’ he said. ‘Don’t bother the teacher any more.’

“Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.’ When he arrived at the house of Jairus, He did not let anyone go in with Him except Peter, John & James, and the child’s father & mother.

“Meanwhile, all the people were wailing & mourning for her. ‘Stop wailing,’ Jesus said. ‘She is not dead but asleep.’ They laughed at Him, knowing that she was dead.

“But He took her by the hand and said, ‘My child, get up!’ Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astonished, but He ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.”

Now let’s concentrate on those last few verses. The miracle is exceptional, & we praise God for it. But notice what Jesus told them after the miracle was over. He said to them, “Don’t tell anyone what has happened.”

You know, some of the most disturbing words in the English language are 4 words that we like to speak, but hate to hear. They are the words, “I told you so.” It’s fun to speak them, and we relish it when we’re the ones saying, “I told you so!” But it’s very difficult to listen to them, isn’t it?

Now remember, those people outside the house had mocked Jesus. They had laughed at Him before He went in to raise the girl back to life again.

If I were Jesus, I know what I would have done. I would have raised the girl back to life, and then I would have taken her by the hand and we would have walked up and down in front of all those mockers. And I would have said, “I told you so, I told you so.” That would have been a lot of fun.

But Jesus didn’t do that. He was concerned about how they felt, too. He didn’t try to get even with them. He didn’t try to get back at them. He didn’t try to glorify Himself.

Instead, in kindness, He tells the parents, “Don’t tell anyone what has happened here.” Sometimes it is not so much what you say as how you say it.

One preacher said, “I have never had to apologize for my position, but I have oftentimes had to apologize for my disposition.” Have you ever had to apologize for your disposition?

I love the story about the 6’10” cowboy who walked up to the counter at McDonalds, slammed down his big fist, & said to the girl behind the counter, “I want half a Big Mac.” She said, “What?” He said, “I want half a Big Mac and I want it now.”

Not being sure what to do, she said, “Excuse me for a minute.” And she headed over to her manager without realizing that the man was following her.

She got to the manager and said, “There’s a big klutz over there who is dumber than lead & he has ordered half a Big Mac.”

And just about that moment she realized that he was standing right behind her. Quickly she added, “And this gentleman wants the other half.”

Sometimes you may be put on a spot, and what you say is important. But how you say it can be even more important.

The fact that Jesus didn’t want to embarrass those who had been mocking Him, or get even with them speaks volumes, and teaches us how we are to respond to each other, too.

Some construction workers were building a high rise across the street from a hospital. As they were working on the 3rd floor they noticed a little girl standing in the 3rd floor window of the hospital watching them work.

One day they looked across & saw the little girl hold up a poster that said, “My name is Lisa. What are your names?”

So the next day the construction workers came back with some poster board & magic markers, & they all wrote down their names. “My name is Bob. My name is Bill. My name is Harry. How old are you?”

The next day the little girl held up a sign that said, “I am 7 years old. How old are you?” Well, this went on for several days.

But one day they noticed that Lisa wasn’t at her usual place in the window. So at break time one of the workers called the hospital & asked for a third floor nurse. He asked if she could tell him anything at all about Lisa.

The nurse said that Lisa had taken a turn for the worse and was now in Intensive Care. So the workers pooled their money and bought some flowers & a card and wrote a note on it, and sent it to Lisa in Intensive Care.

Several days passed, and then another sign appeared at the window, “Lisa passed away. Thank you for caring!”

Love is kind. We need to learn to be kind to one another even as God has been kind through Jesus Christ, and offered Him as a sacrifice for all our sins.

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Watch Out For Wolves!

17 Jan

false

Matthew 7:15-25..

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits.

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.

I have shared it before that probably the biggest crisis facing the church today is biblical ignorance.  I can’t count how many times that I have heard someone plunge into a lifestyle or how many times I’ve heard a preacher say something that was clearly out of sync with the Word of God and people buy into it.  I have even heard old adages quoted as though they were scripture.

“Like the Bible says, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.

But probably one of the greatest dangers is the false teaching that goes on..  I saw a guy on late night television the other night promoting “miracle spring water”. In the commercial, people were talking about having taken this water and being healed of physical ailments and even receiving huge checks in the mail.

What is even more tragic is when I read of people who died because a false preacher had convinced them to stop taking medication or refuse treatment and just wait on God to heal them. The problem is this: God also equips doctors.  And moves through them.

Years ago, there was a con artist preacher named Hobart Freeman. His church had established a beautiful auditorium inside a refurbished barn. It was packed – even on Sunday nights – as people left their communities and traveled 30 to 100 miles to attend and hear this dynamic speaker preach his version of  the Bible.

Jack and Mary regularly attended the Barn on Sunday Nights.
In time, the “Glory Barn” and it’s “Faith Assemblies” began to infer, if not outright teach, that if you had enough faith, you wouldn’t need to go to a Doctor to be healed (in fact if you went, it was a sign you didn’t have enough faith). Jack, who was diabetic, believed Freeman and his teachings and, after several incidents where he blacked out because he hadn’t taken his medicine, died of a lack of insulin.

Jesus said “Watch out for false prophets, for they come to you in Sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”

People die physically and spiritually at the hands of false prophets because wolves devour their prey.

What are these wolves hungry for?
Not your food or you money. These wolves are hungry for you. Paul warned in Acts 20:
“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to DRAW AWAY DISCIPLES AFTER THEM” (Acts 20:28-31).
Wolves desire YOU… because you are their power base. You give them importance. You become their flock.

Jude condemns these wolves in very direct terms: “For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord…. these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals— these are the very things that destroy them. Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.
These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm— shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted— twice dead.” (Jude 4, 10 , 12-13)

The way Jude describes them, you’d think these teachers were some kind of 3 headed monsters that could be easily seen and identified. But, they’re not. Satan, we’re told, appears like an angel of light. Satan and his followers don’t hand out calling cards saying: “I’m an enemy of God.” They disguise themselves to gain your confidence. Because it’s easier to deceive you if they look like you.

At one time, the cover on the Jehovah Witness Bible was green. But lately, it’s been changed it to black. Why? Jehovah Witnesses want to look like you. When they come to your door, they’ll quote from Scrpture. Why? Because they want to sound like you.

Some of these false religions spend millions each year on magazine, radio and TV ads to convince you they are just like you. In fact they grow offended to be accused of NOT being Christians.

If they tend to disguise themselves, how are we supposed to recognize these evil people?
Jesus tells us, we can recognize them “by their fruits.”

DO THEY TEACH ANOTHER GOD?
In the Old Testament, God’s people were told in Deuteronomy 13:1-4
If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.
It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.

In others words, even a person who can tell the future and do miraculous things is a liar if they try to get you to follow a different god.

DO THEY TEACH ANOTHER JESUS?
In I John 2:22-23, the apostle wrote: “I do no write to you because you do not write to you because you don’t know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is an antichrist – he denies the Father and the Son. No on who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”

DO THEY TEACH ANOTHER GOSPEL
Galatians 1:8 says: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!”

One of the biggest falsehoods out there today is the health and wealth or “prosperity” Gospel.  They will sound good. They will quote the same scriptures you hear me quote. But then they’ll throw in the tiniest of allusions that success and physical health is an absolute sign of a right walk with Jesus. They never preach on Job or talk about Paul being stoned or imprisoned just for preaching the Gospel.

They’re playing you folks. And you get mad at those of us who are sounding the alarm against them. I am simply pleading. Be wary.

DO THEY TEACH ANOTHER BOOK
Proverbs 30:5-6 says: “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.”

Anytime you see a “supplement” to scripture or some preacher has received a “new word” that contradicts Scripture, run fast and run far.

How can you protect yourselves against such wolves?
Know your Bible. Ephesians 4:11-16 tells us that we need to listen to our Preachers, teachers, and so on. We need to be so deeply ingrained in the fellowship and teachings of Scripture in our church, that we grow up strong and vigilant against such evil.

In ancient China, gem merchants often took on apprentices to study the craft of selecting, cutting and selling rare stones. One young man came to a master craftsman requesting to become an apprentice. The craftsman agreed and asked him to come back the next day. The following day, the apprentice arrived and was given a ruby and told to sit in the corner and hold it. Throughout the day that was all he did. He did the same thing the next day.. and the next… and the next. After a couple of weeks, the apprentice complained and asked why he was being treated this way. The craftsman wordlessly placed a stone in the young man’s hand at which the apprentice said “That’s not a ruby.” He had learned to know the authentic from the fake by constant exposure to the real thing.

I can’t say it enough and I won’t quit saying it. You cannot grow in Christ without a regular time in the Word. You need to be learning Scripture. There are those out there trying to steal your soul.. at the very least, mislead you to keep from sharing Him with others.  Plug in!  Not for the sake of a church but for the sake of Christianity in America today.

 

WHICH ROAD ARE YOU ON?

5 Jan

road

 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 (Matthew 7.13-14).

According to a recent survey, 70% of adult American Christians believe there are no moral or ethical absolutes that apply to everyone. In other words most Christian adults have been poisoned by the drug of moral relativism. Most Christians have joined the non-Christian culture and believe we set our own standards. In essence this survey reveals that 70% of Adult American Christians have decided that God is not capable or worthy of establishing guidelines for living.

In a similar survey only 20 % of Adult American Christians said that living a life according to God’s will is the single most important thing in their lives. So, the flip side is that 80% of Adult American Christians are telling God to take a number. I’m not really surprised by these facts. These facts are lived out before our eyes everyday. As a matter of fact they are more than likely lived out to some degree by the man or woman we see in the mirror every morning.

The people of what scripture first referred to as “the Way” have strayed off course. The people of the Book have relegated it to a spot on the coffee table or mantle and it is rarely opened. Those who call themselves Christians no longer seem to understand the nature of the call. We have lost sight of the fact that it a narrow path we are supposed to be travelling. We are quickly becoming that which we despise most in the New Testament World – Pharisees. We are becoming the blind leaders of the blind.

It is high time that we return to the nature of the Narrow Way. It is high time we learn again the cost of Christianity. Let us look at the principles of the Narrow Way.

First, it is a narrow way.

We are quickly becoming a society of acceptance. We have accepted the old adage that “all roads lead to Rome”. Yet, we have transformed it to read, “all roads lead to Heaven.” No longer is it acceptable to suggest that there is only one truth, especially if that truth comes from the Bible. However, if we call ourselves Christians then we are suggesting that we espouse the beliefs of Jesus Christ, and if we espouse the beliefs of Jesus then we must accept the truth of God’s Word. It is a sad day when those who claim to be followers of “The Way” run contrary to that “Way”. Close minded though it may be, the Bible is the final authority for life and faith. Taking the chance of being criticized by the masses, I must inform you today that there are many paths in this world, but only one “way” leads to God and eternal life.

The Bible says, “Enter in at the straight gate … Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life (Matthew 7.13-14)”. The way to Christ and eternal life is a narrow one. Jesus said, “I am the door of the sheep (John 10.7).” Suggesting that if one wants to enter into the fold of Christianity one must come through the door way of Jesus Christ. This fact becomes clear when He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me (John 14.6 ).” In other words, all roads do not lead to the Kingdom of God, rather only one road leads to God and that is the road that passes through the person of Jesus Christ.

If you want to be a Christian you must come through Jesus Christ. If you want to have an eternal home in heaven you must come through Jesus Christ. He is the “way”. The “way” is straight and narrow. So, enter in at the straight gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in: Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few there be that find it,

Today you have been shown the “way”. Will you take it?  But be aware.

It is also a confined way.

Do not be confused by the term “confined”. I do not mean that the way of Christ is confined in a legalistic sense. I believe very much that we have freedom in the person of Jesus Christ. In fact we are freed from the Law. We are not free in the sense that we are free to live contrary to the principles of the Law, because Jesus said that He did not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill the Law. In fact, God said, “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts (Hebrews 8.10).” No, we are not free from the practice of the principles of God’s Law, but in Christ Jesus we are free from the legal condemnation of the Law as it relates to our sin. Thank God that “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Romans 8.1 ).” “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us (Galatians 3.10 ).” Therefore, as Christians we are free from the curse of the Law.

Not only are we free from the curse of the Law, but we are also free from the bondage of sin. In order to understand our freedom we must first understand our bondage. Each of us apart from Christ is in the same situation, for “the scripture has concluded all are under sin (Galatians 3.22).” We are all lost in our sin and under the bondage of sin. God’s Word makes this very clear through the writings of the Apostle Paul who says, “we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understands, there is none that seek after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; … For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3.9-12; 23).” Clearly all of humanity apart from the saving grace of God is lost in and under the weighty bondage of sin. The one who sins is “the servant of sin (John 8.34 ).”Yet, there is hope for the one who would come to Jesus Christ for salvation.

Just as through Adam we have all inherited the nature of, come under the bondage of, and are in danger of the judgment of sin, through Jesus we can find freedom from that same nature, bondage, and judgment. As we have learned Jesus says that He is “the way, the truth, and the life” This is important because for those who find the truth a wonderful transformation takes place both internally and eternally. When you find the truth the “truth will make you free (John 8.32).” The question is what does He set your free from. He sets us free from sin. How? He sets us free through our salvation experience. Those who have accepted Christ as savior have identified themselves with Christ through the ordinance of baptism.

All who “were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death (Romans 6.3).” When we observe the ordinance of baptism “we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Romans 6.4).” Baptism is the picture of the wonderful transformation to freedom that takes place in the Christian’s life. When we accept Christ as Savior and Lord we are “born again (John 3.3).” To be born again is to be recreated from the inside out. This new creation is expressed through ordinance of baptism which is a symbolic expression of our joining ourselves with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. It is through the experience of salvation that the power of sin over us is broken, because “our old man is crucified with him [that is Jesus], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin (Romans 6.6-7).” This marvelous transformation takes place because God the Father “made him [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5.21).” This sinless, perfect, Son of God became every evil, disgusting, and vile thing that we have ever or will ever do and in exchange He offers to us the opportunity to become His righteousness. What a wonderful exchange for us. You are free if you are in Christ, because when the Son sets you free you are free indeed (John 8.36). However, always remember “when you were the servants of sin, you were free from righteousness. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life (Romans 6.20 & 22 ).”

When we enter into the narrow way we are free from sin and free to live and move with in the boundary of moral law.

Paul expresses this concept well in his letter to the Romans: “Being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as you have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when you were the servants of sin, you were free from righteousness. What fruit had you then in those things whereof you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6.18-23).” Let those who call themselves people of the way live like people of the way. Let us put off worldliness and flesh out righteousness. Let us live according to the calling to which we have been called by God. May we truly be those who reflect the light of Christ in this world of darkness.

It is a Careful Way

By careful I mean planned out or thought out. In other words God’s plan of redemption was not a reaction to the fall of man. God was not caught off guard when Adam sinned. In fact God knew Adam was going to sin and created him anyway in spite of his sin. There was no crisis meeting of the Godhead after the fall to determine what must be done to rectify the situation. God before the world began had carefully planned the redemption of man before He ever spoke the world in to existence.
To understand this concept we must understand that our salvation has nothing to do with us and everything to do with God. I understand that we must “choose … whom [we] will serve (Joshua 21.15 KJV),” however, our choosing and our responsibility as it relates to salvation is limited to our accepting or rejecting the finished work of God. It is “by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2.8-9).” That gift is the gift of His Son. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish should have everlasting life (John 3.16 ).” This gift was “given us in Christ Jesus before the world began (2 Timothy 1.9 ).” God’s gift of redemption was more than a plan it was a promise. It was and is a promise that God “promised before the world began (Titus 1.2 ).” In fact this plan was more than a promise it was an eternal fact in the mind of God. In the mind of God “the Lamb [was] slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13.8 ).” The Godhead had carefully planned out the plan of redemption before the foundation of the world was laid.

Not only did God lay out the plan of salvation in eternity past, He also accomplished it here on earth. God planned every aspect of the life of Jesus in heaven and on earth.God the Father made straight the way for the Son to accomplish the will of God on earth as it was already accomplished in heaven and the Son was faithful to follow that path to the cross. God’s plan of redemption was not plan “B”. The sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sin has always been God’s plan “A”. God’s plan of salvation has been carefully laid out from the foundation of the world and He has made that plan available to anyone who will confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in their heart that God has raised Him from the dead (Romans 10.9).

It is a Committed Way

This “way” is a committed way. This is not a short term contract. This is not a loose agreement. This commitment requires you to give to the Lord 100% of who you are. Let us hear from the Lord Himself as He addresses this issue: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple (Luke 14.26-27).”

There are two lessons to learn from this passage. First, we must understand that Jesus is not advocating that we literally hate anyone. To do that would go against the very character and commandment of God, because “God is love (1 John 4.8 )” and He has commanded us to “love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22.40 ).” So, what is God trying to teach us from this passage? He is trying to help us understand that if we come to Christ He must be first place in our life. That is He must come before every other relationship we have in this world. That’s what it means to commit your life to Christ. The problem with Christianity today is that we have too many “confessors” but not enough committers.

Secondly, we must understand that a commitment to Christ comes with a cross. Just as Christ was called to sacrifice for the church we are called to sacrifice for Christ. Christians, like Christ, have a mission. Our mission is to “make disciples” of all nations. Christianity in not fire insurance it is faith in motion. If we are going to call ourselves Christians we must flesh out our Christianity by being completely committed to Christ. You can only be completely committed to Christ if you will 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 (Romans 12.2 ).”

It is a costly Way

Christianity is not only a committed way it is also a costly way. Commitment is costly. It cost Christ His life and it demands ours. Jesus said to His disciples, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Matthew 16.24 ).” Taking up the cross of commitment to Christ will be costly because it will run contrary to the world system. Jesus said, “And you shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endures to the end shall be saved (Matthew 10.22).”

Our commitment to Christ may cost us in this world, but Jesus said, “Blessed are you, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake (Luke 6.22 ).” Contrary to the popular “name it and claim it” or “Health and Wealth” messages of today sometimes our commitment to Christ may cost us worldly comforts and companionship. Just look at Job. However, no matter what it may cost in this world the cost can not compare to the eternal reward awaiting those who walk faithfully with their Lord.

It is an Uncompromising Way

God has called us to stand firm in our faith. In fact compromise makes God sick. As the country song goes, “we must stand for something or we will fall for anything.” There is no room for lukewarm Christianity.

It is a Christ Centered Way

Jesus said in John 14.6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life no one comes to the Father, but by me” Therefore, if we want to get to God we must go through Jesus the Son. If we want to be all that God intends for us to be we must, “determined not to know any thing … save Jesus Christ, and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2.2).”

It’s gut check time. Are you claiming to be on the narrow way and find yourself on the broad way? Are you trying to serve two masters? You can not be in love with God and the World. You must choose today whom you will serve. Are you going to be for Him or against Him? Are you one of the 70% of American Adult Christians who have denied the authority of God and His Word by denying His standard of moral ethics? Are you among the 80% of Adult Christians in America who tell God you’ll get to Him when you can? If you fit in to either of those categories you need to examine yourself to be sure you are a Christian. Do you walk the Narrow Road?