Beware Of The Cut-Rate

We have all seen the commercials advertising the cut-rate car insurance. So-and-so company can save you hundreds of dollars a year if you will switch to them but will it cover allthe “mayhem” that is out there in the world? There is always a reason why something is so-o-o-much cheaper than the rest. You always get what you pay for. 

In the same way, most of the religious world has invented its own form of cut-rate salvation. They have cheapened the price of discipleship by saying, “God doesn’t care about what we do; He only cares about who we are.” Or many will say, “The wonderful grace of God will overlook every sin I commit as long as I’m in a relationship with Jesus Christ.” They will even go as far as trying to justify this kind of thinking with passages like, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7).  

However, this passage is not speaking of Jesus as an umbrella that hovers over our heads and automatically sheds the sin offus. Christians are responsible for the lives that they live. Walking in the light means continually abiding in the commandments of the Lord. The apostle John wrote, “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 9). 

Jesus is our master, our king of kings, the divine ruler over this kingdom that He has established. He is Lord. Many people have no problem calling Jesus their Savior but are having great difficulty respecting Him as Lord! I am in no way trying to downplay the fact that God has extended to us His wonderful grace by providing us a Savior, but we cannot ignore the fact that He is our Lord and He demands that we obey Him (Matt.7:21-23). Speaking of Jesus, the Hebrew writer penned, “And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,” (Heb. 5:9). 

The cost of discipleship is high (Luke 14: 26-27). Jesus tells us we must be willing to give up family and friends, wants and pleasures of this life, and yes, even be willing to die to self! I can remember my grandmother saying, “Nothing worth having ever comes easy.” Such is also true in the realm of religion when speaking of salvation. Jesus said, “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.” (Matt. 7:13-14). 

Remember my friends, we always get what we pay for. It’s awful to find out after you’ve had an accident that your cut-rate car insurance wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. But even worse is the thought of standing before Christ in judgment and learning that what you thought was acceptable to Him was a lie (2 Thess. 2:11-12). When judgment day comes, don’t let it be that you have invested in cut-rate salvation. Search the Scriptures carefully and rightly divide the word of truth while you can, for Jesus said, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” (John 12:48). 

Cheapening God’s grace will not get you to heaven, but faithful obedience to His word will. The Lord Himself said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matt.4:4). Though the cost may be high, the reward is great! Never settle for cut-rate salvation. 

— Jason Shackleford 

Rejoice In The Lord Alway, Again I Will Say Rejoice!

This is a popular verse in Philippians. When this passage is studied, someone usually says, “Paul commands Christians to rejoice always and he means it so much, he says it twice.” That is a good point, but it is missing one of, if not the most important part of the verse: “In the Lord.” Our continuous rejoicing is not in our career, property, hobby, or even our family. It is in the Lord. He is the only Being that can empower us into a state of constant rejoicing. 

Continue reading “Rejoice In The Lord Alway, Again I Will Say Rejoice!”

Encompassing Belief, Part 2

Last month we looked at the way Luke uses the word believe in the book of Acts. Passages like Acts 2:44-47 and Acts 16:31-34 use the word believe to describe conversion. The context of the passage defines what the word means. This month, let us look at how James uses the word believe in a different context, with a different meaning. James does not use the word believe as conversion but as a fruitless belief in God’s existence. 

James explains to his audience that faith without good works is dead. Faith has no meaning if the person of faith is not willing to act on it. He gives the example of someone seeing his brother or sister without daily food, and he says, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled.” What good did that do? Unless he acted on faith and gave food to his brother or sister, his command profited nothing. That person might claim to have faith, but his actions say otherwise. James then says that person’s belief in God is not all that special. 

“You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?”  (James 2:19-20) 

Is James using the word believe the same way Luke does in Acts 2:44-47? Is James saying that the demons have an encompassing belief in God that produces repentance, baptism, and the free gift of salvation? Are the demons converted to God? No. James says that his audience, like the demons, believes that God is a real person with real power, but refuse to be moved to action. This is not an encompassing belief; this is a belief that is only a thought. This is a belief that resides in the mind but never moves to the heart or the hands. This is not an encompassing belief.It  is a fruitless belief. 

John 12 gives another example of fruitless belief. Jesus performs many signs and wonders and some of the rulers of synagogue believed in Him. However, notice their reaction. 

“Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (John 12:42-43) 

These rulers believed in Jesus, but due to their fear of the Pharisees kicking them out of the synagogue, they did not confess Him. Their belief was only a thought. 

Is our belief in Jesus an encompassing belief or a fruitless belief? Is it a belief that leads to repentance, baptism, and salvation? Is it a belief that is no more than a thought that God is real, like the demon’s belief? 

Why do we not believe like we should? Like the rulers of the synagogue, it might have a lot to do with fear. John says, “They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” They became afraid that if they pursued Jesus they would be rejected by men. Christians that act on their belief today are treated cruelly. In the South, perhaps, not many will ridicule a Christian for believing in God. But when that Christian tries to act on hisbelief, some might ridicule trying to justify his own non-action. Just like those in James 2 that deceived themselves by saying that a belief without action was enough to please God. 

— Andrew Smith 

Does Jesus Know You?

Have you ever had someone ask, “Do you know Jesus?” Consider a more important question:  Does Jesus know you? 

The Bible tells us: “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19). While many people may mistakenly think they know Jesus, Jesus is never mistaken about knowing His own people.  

Continue reading “Does Jesus Know You?”

Encompassing Belief, Part 1

What does the word believe mean? Well, it all depends on the context. Throughout the book of Acts, believe is an encompassing term that describes converts to Christ. However, James will use the word believe to mean a fruitless understanding that God is real, or God is all powerful. In this article we will cover two passages in which Luke uses the word to describe the action of being converted.

In Acts 2, Peter delivers a sermon on Pentecost proving that Jesus is the Lord and Christ, the Messiah. The people are cut to the heart. They asked Peter what they should do with their guilt. Peter responds: “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” (v,38). Luke then says that many of the people obeyed: “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (v.41). Luke goes on to describe these people as “all who believed.”

Continue reading “Encompassing Belief, Part 1”

Relationships

I don’t know if you do this too or if it’s just me, but when I hear the word relationship, my mind turns to affairs of the heart. Who is romantically involved with whom? Who is he or she dating? How is that couple doing? Are they still getting along? Even on social media, when we look at the “Family and Relationships” section, most people write about their marriage partners or the person they are dating.

While who we may be romantically involved with is most certainly a relationship, it is definitely not the only one we have. Simply put, a relationship is the way in which two or more people or things are connected, behave, and deal with each other. If we think about our everyday lives and routines, we are surrounded by relationships. We have a relationships with our family, of course, but we also have relationships with friends, co-workers, people with whom we do business and countless others.

Continue reading “Relationships”

The God Of All Comfort

We have and will suffer on this earth. God has never promised us anything different than that fact. From Elijah to Jeremiah, from Stephen to Paul, all of God’s people have suffered. Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the state of his suffering. Something was happening to him in Asia. Paul said, “we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves” (2nd Cor. 1:9). Have you ever felt that you were burdened beyond measure? Have you felt like the world has sentenced you to death? You probably have.

Thankfully, Paul shares his outlook on his suffering. Paul says that he might be sentenced to death, but he has put his trust “in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us” (2 Cor. 1:9-10). God has the power to raise the dead. Even if our suffering leads to death, who better to put our trust in than He who has conquered death?

Continue reading “The God Of All Comfort”

The Force Of The Apostle’s Teaching

The words that Jesus spoke in person are precious. Everyone who respects the Bible values the sayings of Jesus. However, there are those who value the words of Jesus, yet devalue the words of His apostles. The “red letters” in your Bible were put there by man; God did not make the print red. In fact, a careful examination of the Gospels will reveal that Jesus Himself taught that the words of the apostles would be a continuation of His own teachings. The words of the apostles do carry much weight.

Continue reading “The Force Of The Apostle’s Teaching”

The Power Of God

The Lord did many incredible things in the Bible. He caused the Red Sea to part for the Israelites, sets large hailstones from heaven on those that tried to harm His people, and He even stopped the sun’s movement from horizon to horizon. The Lord did big powerful things, like raising Jesus from the dead, to smaller things like causing an ax head to float on the water.

These miraculous powers were always used by God to endorse the prophets. By giving them miraculous power, God was endorsing their message. It was a clear and easy way for God’s people to know that these prophets were telling the truth.

Continue reading “The Power Of God”

A Lesson From Snow

On January 28th, 2014, central Alabama was taken by a surprise snow that stranded hundreds of drivers and shutdown highways. Many people were forced to abandon their cars, while others had to sleep over at their workplaces and even at their schools. The surprise of the matter is that none of the weather forecasters reported the possibility of more than a few snow flurries, or at the most, a very light dusting of snow. So business went on as usual until about 30 minutes after the snow started falling and falling and falling….

Continue reading “A Lesson From Snow”