Saturday, April 25, 2009

# 276: Sharing Our Faith

There are several religious groups who are continually and actively sharing their faith with the world. The two that are best known are Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (better known as the Mormons), who had the gall to incorporate our Savior’s name into the name of their church. The difference between the two is that the Mormons are so far from the truth of the gospel message that they are considered a large, highly sophisticated, well-organized cult by many mainstream denominations, along with this author. Whereas the JWs are well-trained, pleasant people who can’t think for themselves, they are closer to the truth than the Mormons. There is only one problem: being close to the gospel truth is not sufficient for salvation.

Either way, they are both doing a disservice to those like me who also go door-to-door representing the truth as displayed in the New Testament (NT) and through this Biblical blog. The disservice arises when we go about door-to-door, and are categorized as also being pushy cults.

Even though many others and I disagree with the belief systems of the above-mentioned cults, we have to give them credit for at least sharing what they believe as the truth. That is more than we can say for those who go to a comfy-cozy church building on Sunday morning, and when church service is over, they share their beliefs with no one. There may be several reasons they don’t share what they believe: 1) they are not asked or required to do so by their church pastors, etc. ; 2) they may not have anything to share of real spiritual value, other than empty words; 3) they may not be aware that it is part of the Christian life to share the importance of Jesus Christ with as many as possible; 4) they may have better things to do on their rest day than knocking on doors, especially when the response is often rude. They would rather eat a big meal at a restaurant or go to see a make-believe/fake highly-rated movie, etc.

Many years ago, I was studying with both above-mentioned groups. I was just a young 30-some-year-old whippersnapper fresh out of Catholicism. After studying with them just about six months or so, even though I was only a novice regarding spiritual matters, I thank God He made me realize both their religions were not in accordance with the NT. Concerning Catholicism, that religion is and has always been a disgrace to the name of Jesus Christ, and I am not only talking about not sharing their faith.

If a genuine Christian had something of great value (the life and love God Almighty has for us, along with our wholehearted love for Him), he/she would be inwardly compelled by the Spirit of God to share it with the whole world. He or she couldn’t keep from sharing it even if he or she wanted to. How could anyone keep from sharing it when a mutual love with God is at work?

Arguably, many changes occur in our lives when we start to share our faith with the lost and the “religious”. We are becoming involved in the most important work in the whole world: seeking the lost to share in a LIFE that will never end. What is more important than that? If we don’t share it that could be evidence that we don’t have anything worth sharing.

But before we can do that all-important work, we must make that spiritual work the main priority in our lives. This is not an easy task since there are multitudes of worldly activities continually vying for our attention and time.

Always remember this: there are millions of people who are lost in the world, and it is every genuine Christian’s duty to contact as many as humanly possible with the truth of God’s holy message, along with sharing the after-effects of unbelief according to the NT.

Many people don’t believe there will be a hell for all who do not believe in Jesus Christ in an active way. The important word in that sentence is the word ACTIVE. If by some chance a person is allowed to enter heaven by the skin of his/her teeth--which I personally doubt--and is allowed to see all the people in hell whom they didn’t bother to tell the truth of the gospel message, how can they live in heaven with that type of burden on their hearts? As one can quickly tell, that statement is an oxymoron.

The point I am attempting to make is that if our connection to God through Jesus Christ is of any importance--even though it should be our MOST important--how can anyone neglect this grace of actively sharing his or her faith?

There are two commands that are the foundation for all else in the Bible: Luke 10:27-28: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself . . . Do this and you will live.” Those commands do not leave much room for any other types of love. Believe it or not, those two commands are the most important in the Bible and the most ignored. What does that tell us?

Are these commands important to the many bloggers who continually hit on this blog? Question: can God’s mercy, compassion, love and all else He freely gives us override disobedience to these commands? If He could, He would be making a fool of Himself. You see, the true Christian religion is not an easy thing to live by. As I said previously, our enemy the devil is continually bombarding us with fine-sounding lies.

That may be the reason Scripture teaches in Matthew 22:14: “For many are invited but few are chosen.” Are you and I chosen ones? We must be truthful to ourselves; a lie could be our death sentence. If our lives need change, it will take a wholehearted effort. Contrary to present-day teachings, there is no place for mediocrity in the Christian life. Revelation 3:16: “So because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

In Philemon verse 6, the apostle Paul encourages us all to be active in sharing our faith: “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”

Colossians 1:10: “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might . . .”

Christianity is a life of continual growth in knowledge and love so that we will know and fully understand all that is required of us. No growth means either dormancy for a short while or death. Let us all make sure that we are not standing idle but continuing in our Christian work of sharing not only our faith but also our lives.

If, by some chance, some of you reading this post believe that it is not necessary to be active in Christian works after accepting Christ as your Savior (other than going to a church building once a week), the NT guarantees you are on the fast track to a place you don’t intend to go. Sharing one’s faith is an essential safeguard; it displays that you are eager to have everyone you meet be with you in heaven. Those who are not concerned with the eternal destiny of others indicate that they may not possess what they believe they possess.

2nd Peter 2:17-18: “. . . be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” There can be no growth without being active in Christian activities.

In conclusion, living the Christian life is by all means the most important work in the whole world, not only for our Salvation, but also for the Salvation of others. Please, take this message to heart because we are dealing with life-and-death matters. The problem in the world is that many have made little of the Christian religion. Don’t let this happen to you. God will greatly bless all who continue to share their faith, in more ways than we can imagine.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

# 275: Job Description

There are thousands of different types of jobs in America and the world. Every job has a description of what must be done to fulfill the owner’s/boss’s requirements. This principle is older than the hills.

When workers take jobs and then don’t adhere to what is expected of them, they may get a warning or two and then if they still don’t perform as to what is expected, they may have to be dismissed. There is nothing new, strange or unfair about that practice. It is just common sense.

Let us rightfully apply that principle to the Christian life. When we decide to become Christians through faith in Jesus Christ, there is an instruction book to describe what is expected of us as we continue to fulfill our jobs/positions as workers for the Kingdom of God.

The name of that detailed instruction book is called the New Testament (NT) of the Christian Bible. I ask this question: what percentage of people who claim to be Christians know what the job description is in that book? Answer: it is anyone’s guess, even though I believe it is not very many. Remember this: it gives us all the instructions of how we must live in order to preserve our positions as children of God.

I ask this question: why are many Christians ignorant of what is inside that book? I would guess because they don’t believe it is necessary. And then, those who do occasionally read God’s instruction book come across commands or teachings that seem too difficult or absurd (unreasonable) to obey; therefore, they most often are ignored.

God has many enemies who are always trying to trip us up in our devotion to Jesus Christ; one of the subtlest and most persistent is known as ignorance. I mean ignorance of what is commanded in the NT. Chances are that without knowing what it teaches, most will not be living in conformity with our job description.

Perfection must be every genuine Christian’s holy grail (an ultimate, but elusive goal, pursued as a quest). 2nd Corinthians 13:9: “. . . and our prayer is for your perfection.” 2nd Corinthians 13:11: “Aim for perfection.” Matthew 5:48: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Should we take that command for perfection lightly and just pretend that it doesn’t apply to all Christians? How many Christian bloggers reading this post know about the commands that teach that we all must be aiming for perfection by the way we live and believe? There are dozens of such verses. Do you know what they are? I will repeat myself: if anyone does not know what teachings are in the NT, they have one foot on a banana peel and the other on the borders of hell. It is that important to read or listen on CDs and study the NT every day until we intimately know what our Holy Book of job descriptions commands, so that we will not be ignorant any longer. Once we have read the complete NT, it would be a good habit to set aside a certain time every day to continue studying the NT, to make up for what we may have not fully understood or forgotten, since it has many complex principles. Another idea is to highlight all the verses that seem ridiculous to obey, according to the standards in America.

Once we are doing that, then comes the difficult part of incorporating those instructions into our lives. The only reason that teaching is in there is so that we will know and obey exactly what our job description teaches. Never forget this: God’s real enemy is NT ignorance on the part of many who claim Christianity as their religion. That ignorance is inspired by the evil ones who continually and softly whisper, “Fear not; all is well; you are in good hands.” As you probably know, Satan gets his way by using fine-sounding deceptions. Don’t be tricked. Don’t avoid making the NT your pathway to the new life.

I guarantee you will never hear these aforementioned words from any pulpit or from most, if not all, other sources of Christian teachings. To combat that silent denial of mainstream Christianity, it is our place to fulfill our duty as disciples of Christ. That means we must, I say must, desire to be the very best Christians possible. Remember, Jesus Christ is our role model, and He was and still is a perfect man. What we are talking about is a form of Christianity that has no invisible holes in it. That is genuine Christianity. How many of us actively have Him as our only role model?

This paragraph is worthy of repeating: now let’s get back to secular work. When starting on the job and a certain type of work is very hard to perform, many times a worker ignores it. When that happens, what will the outcome be to his/her job? Most likely he/she will be fired. It is not much different in the spiritual world.

You see, because of our faith, we were chosen for eternal life, and then as evidence of our faith, we must go to work to continue to further what Jesus Christ started. Our work will not be easy, because most of it will be contrary to our sinful human nature--doing what comes naturally. If the evidence of our faith is not there, our faith in our Savior will be in question.

This Biblical blog has openly and purposely displayed the majority of the essential, hard-edged verses throughout the 274 posts thus far published, which are hardly ever--more like never--mentioned by the clergy or even the laity. Many of these verses do not command trivial matters, but all-important principles; when left out, the remainder of the NT teaching and our faith will be on shaky ground.

Let me give just a few verses only as a preview of what the NT contains. These verses are not the type that will make us giggle with joy, but will let us know that we have a destination that will be determined by how we live, which is either eternal and blissful life or the damnation of everlasting and painful death. Obedience to these verses will make the difference.

Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do.”

Acts 20:35: “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

1st Corinthians 16:10: “. . . for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am.”

Actually, there are several dozen verses telling us that we must continue to do the work of the Lord. If anyone wants a list, please contact me.

Hebrews 5:14: “He [Jesus Christ] became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

Matthew 19:23: ". . . I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven."

1 Corinthians: 15:58: ". . . Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord . . . ."

Luke 16:15: "What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight."

Luke 6:35: “But love your enemies, do good to them . . ."

Luke 12:33: "Sell your possessions and give to the poor."

Galatians 5:14: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Ephesians 5:1: "Be imitators of God . . ."

Luke 6:24: "But woe to you who are rich."

Philippians 2:3: ". . . but in humility consider others better than yourselves."

Philippians 2:5: "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus . . ."

Luke 14:26: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple."

James 4:4: ". . . Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God."

1 Peter 1:14: "Be holy, because I am holy."

1 Peter 2:21: ". . . Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps."

1 John 3:9: "No one who is born of God will continue to sin . . ."

Ephesians 5:1: "Be imitators of God . . ."

Philippians 2:3: ". . . consider others better than yourselves."

Matthew 10:36: "A man's enemies will be the members of his own household."

Luke 12:19-20: "And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you . . ."

Luke 18:18: "A certain ruler asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Answer: Luke 18:22: "Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’" As one can plainly see, there are prerequisites to eternal life, but only to confirm faith.

In conclusion: please, do not think that I am implying with the above-mentioned verses that newcomers and slackers must know what is expected of them and be able to transform their lives overnight. That would be almost impossible. What the NT is saying, and I agree, is to continue to grow in the knowledge, love, goodness and works of how we must live to conform to NT teachings. That is the work of people who claim Christianity as their religion. More than that, if it were possible, is not necessary.

If some disagree with the aforementioned expectation for Christians, tell everyone what should replace it.