Saturday, November 11, 2017

Bible Principles for Examining Moral Issues by snowbunny

New Morality, sexual liberation and free love justify premarital sex, extrmarital sex, divorce, homosexuality, and pornography. What about the Bible, family, and Christian morals?
How should we determine what conduct is moral or immoral? What principles show what is morally right or wrong? The Bible is God's absolute standard of authority to reveal His will, yet we must study to understand and apply it. What does God's word say about stewardship, influence, example, and temptation? What priorities should we follow? How should we use the life and character of Jesus as our example? Please consider these Bible guidelines for moral living and conduct.

Introduction
2 Timothy 3:16,17 -- The Scriptures instruct us in righteousness, providing us to every good work. Yet we must apply the word properly, study diligently, and pray for wisdom (2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:5-7). We must learn to discern good and evil (Hebrews 5:14).
As you consider whether a specific act is morally pure or impure, here are some Bible principles to help you reach a proper conclusion. As you read the article, please look up the passages in your Bible so you can answer and apply the questions that are asked.
A. Does the Bible Prohibit This Conduct Either in General or Specific Terms?
The Bible contains many lists of sins to be avoided -- Mark 7:20-23; Romans 1:26-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 4:17-5:21; Col. 3:5-11; 2 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 3:3; James 3:13-4:10; 1 Peter 4:1-4; Revelation 21:8; 22:15. In addition, other passages discuss individual sins. These prohibitions should be studied and obeyed.
Remember that the Bible teaches in both general and specific terms. Sometimes it describes in detail that a specific act is sinful. Other times it presents general principles which may include many specific sins. Study is required to determine whether a specific act fits the definition of something God has forbidden.
(Note: The following passages show examples in which people applied general principles to specific cases: Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 4:7,10; 21:13; James 2:8,9; note "suchlike" in Galatians 5:21.)
Surely we should avoid what God's word directly prohibits, but we must also apply general principles to determine right from wrong.
B. Will This Conduct Be Good Stewardship?
1 Peter 4:10,11 -- What is a steward? What has God given us that we should use and care for?
[Luke 12:42-46; 16:1,2,12; 2 Chron. 28:1; 1 Corinthians 4:1,2]
Matthew 25:14-30 -- What did the Lord give these men to use? What were the consequences of proper or improper use of them?
Consider some specific blessings we should use for God:
1. Ability and effort
This is part of our stewardship (1 Peter 4:10,11).
Titus 2:14 -- For what purpose did the Lord purify us?
Romans 12:11 -- How should we serve the Lord?
Think: For what purposes does God expect us to use our ability and strength?
[1 Corinthians 15:58; 12:12-27; 2 Corinthians 8:5; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Proverbs 6:9,10; Hebrews 6:12; 2 Peter 1:5-8]
2. Time and opportunities
Life is made of time. God gave you your life to serve Him. You must use it for what is most important.
Galatians 6:10 -- What opportunities must we be sure to use?
John 9:4 -- Explain Jesus' illustration about working.
Think: How is using our time similar to budgeting money?
[Ephesians 5:15,16; Matthew 25:14-30; Ecclesiastes 12:13; 1 Kings 20:40; 1 Peter 4:2,3; Romans 13:13,14]
3. Possessions
Psalm 24:1,2; 50:10-12 -- Who really owns all your possessions?
1 Timothy 6:9,10,17-19 -- What are the dangers of loving money? What should we do with our possessions?
[Haggai 2:8; 1 Chronicles 29:11-14; Matthew 6:19-34; Acts 4:32-35; 2 Cor. 8:1-5; 9:6-10; 1 John 2:15-17; Luke 12:13-21; Deut. 10:14]
4. Health
1 Corinthians 6:19,20; Romans 12:1,2 -- To whom do our bodies belong? What should they be used for? [3 John 2; Rom. 6:12ff]
Think: May we destroy or abuse God's gifts to please ourselves? Are we "pure" if we neglect God's work to please ourselves?
C. Will This Conduct Encourage Others to Serve God Better, or Will It Set a Bad Example?
1 Timothy 4:12; Matthew 5:13-16 -- What should we do for others? How should our lives affect others?
Matthew 18:6,7 -- What happens to us if we lead others to sin?
2 Corinthians 6:3 -- What should we seek to avoid? How might we be guilty of this?
Think: Should we do whatever we want as long it is not inherently sinful, or should we sacrifice our liberties to help others be saved (1 Corinthians 9:19-23; 10:24,31-33)?
Consider these questions about the influence of any act: If others see me do this, will they be helped or hindered in their service to God? What about children? Would I advise new converts to practice this? Will this conduct help or hinder efforts to save the lost?
[1 Corinthians 8; Romans 14; 1:32; Titus 2:7,8; 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; Ephesians 5:11; 1 Peter 2:11,12; 3:15,16; 1 Cor. 13:5,6; 2 John 9-11]
D. Will This Conduct Place Me in Circumstances that Help or that Hinder My Own Service to God?
Consider the influence an act may have on you yourself.
Matthew 6:13 -- What should we pray for? Should we knowingly enter tempting situations simply to indulge our own desires?
Proverbs 22:3 -- How does a prudent man differ from a fool?
Think: If you know a course of action is likely to lead to sin, does it make good sense to start down that path?
Matthew 26:41 -- What should we do to avoid temptation?
1 Corinthians 15:33; Proverbs 13:20 -- What danger should we watch for? How will wise men act to avoid the danger?
Ask yourself, "Will this act encourage or hinder my service to God? Will it strengthen or dull my interest in spiritual things?"
[Romans 13:14; Proverbs 4:23; 6:27; 24:1,2; 5:8; 1 Corinthians 10:12; 5:6,7; Matthew 18:6-9; James 4:4; Genesis 39:7-12; Hebrews 12:15; Galatians 5:7-9; Ephesians 4:27; 5:11; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18]
E. Will This Conduct Lead Me to Respect or to Disrespect Properly Ordained Authority?
God has ordained that certain people have authority over us on earth. To obey God, we must obey these authorities unless they command us to sin (Acts 5:29). For each passage below, tell whom we must submit to.
Romans 13:1-7 [1 Peter 2:13,14; Titus 3:1; Matt. 22:15-21] --
Ephesians 6:1 [Luke 2:51; Romans 1:30,32; Colossians 3:20] --
Ephesians 5:22-24,33 [Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1-6; Colossians 3:18; Genesis 3:16] --
Ephesians 6:5-8 [Colossians 3:22,23; Titus 2:9,10] --
1 Peter 5:1-5 [Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:17] --
Note: Several verses say to submit to these authorities as we would to the Lord. Consider what this means. Should we look for loopholes, or should we obey the intent of the rules? Should we do secretly what we would be ashamed for the authority to know about?
F. Is This Conduct Consistent with the Standards I Profess to Follow and Expect of Others?
All of us have standards we profess to follow or we apply to others, yet sometimes we justify ourselves in not following these standards. To encourage an honest evaluation, try imagining someone else in the situation, or think of what you profess in other situations.
Matthew 23:3,4 -- What did these people do wrong? Should we expect others to follow rules we do not follow? Should we follow a higher standard around some people than we do around others?
[Romans 2:1,21,22; Matthew 6:1; 7:1-5; Acts 10:34,35]
Think: Would you want your children to grow up participating in an act such as the one you are considering? Would you be ashamed if they knew you did it? Would you participate in this act around church members? Would you be ashamed to have them know?
Hebrews 6:12; 13:7 -- Whom should we imitate?
Think: If you would be disappointed to see elders or preachers participate in an act, then should you do it? [1 Peter 5:2,3; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 4:9]
Matthew 15:7,8 -- What error did these people commit?
Think: Would you feel right if you engaged in the activity in question immediately after singing songs and praying prayers of devotion to God? Would you feel pure before God if you stopped in the midst of the act and asked His blessings on it?
Romans 14:20-23 -- Should you participate in an act that violates your conscience? What should you do if you cannot conclusively prove that a certain act is sinful, yet you have doubts about it?
Think: Sometimes you face two courses, one of which is clearly acceptable but the other appears to be doubtful at best. What should you choose (at least for your own conduct)? Yet take care before you condemn others who practice it -- v1-12.
[See also 1 Corinthians 8:4-12; 10:23-33]
Is your life consistent with your own standards, your own conscience, and your expectations of others?
G. Will This Conduct Harmonize with Proper Priorities or Cause Me to Neglect Them?
Matthew 6:19-21,24,33 -- How many spiritual masters can we have? What should be our highest priority in life?
Romans 12:1,2; John 6:27,63 -- How should we act toward God? Toward the world? What should we emphasize in life?
Many acts are wrong because they emphasize physical things above spiritual things. Others may not be inherently sinful, but must not become so important to us that they hinder our service to God. Are you putting God first in your life?
[Matthew 16:24-27; 10:34-39; 1 Corinthians 6:19,20; 15:58; 2 Corinthians 8:5; 5:14,15; 4:16-18; Galatians 2:20; Romans 8:5-8; Luke 12:15-21; 14:25-33; Colossians 3:1,2; 1 Timothy 4:8; 6:6-19]
H. Will I Be Acting in Love for God and Man?
Matthew 22:37-40 -- What are the greatest two commands?
Matthew 7:12; Romans 13:8-10 -- How will I treat others if I love them?
1 John 3:16-18 -- How did Jesus demonstrate love? Explain how love relates to action.
If you did the act in question, would you be sincerely acting for the well-being of others, or would you be pursuing your own interests regardless of the will of God or the needs of others?
[1 John 5:3; John 14:15; Luke 6:27,28,31-33; 10:25-37; 1 Corinthians 13:1-8,13; Philippians 2:1-5]
I. Would I Want to Be Doing This When Jesus Returns? Would I Do It in His Presence?
We sometimes fool ourselves about the nature of an act, but questions like these should help us evaluate things honestly.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-5 -- When is Jesus coming? What lesson should we learn?
James 4:13,14 -- What else is uncertain?
2 Corinthians 5:10 -- How will our destinies be determined?
Think: Would you be ashamed for Jesus to see you doing this act if He came to visit you? Would you want to face Him in judgment knowing you had done it and not repented? [Romans 14:10-12; Revelation 20:12; Galatians 6:7-9]
J. Would Jesus Do This?
Matthew 10:24,25 -- Describe the goal of a disciple.
1 Peter 2:21,22 -- How should our lives compare to Jesus'?
Every act should be examined by asking, "What would Jesus do?" If He were here now, would He practice this activity, use this language, go to this place, wear these clothes, etc.?
[Matthew 16:24; 1 Cor. 11:1; Eph. 5:1,2; Phil. 2:5; Gal. 2:20]
“Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” Eccl 2:11 (ESV)

Morality requires some sense of distinction between right and wrong behavior. We all have a natural sense of right and wrong, but where do our standards for right and wrong come from? Evolution suggests morality is simply biological programming developed as a necessary function to propagate the human species. If morality is reduced to biology, standards are necessarily relative to the individual or the individual’s group. The bible indicates that there are absolute standards for moral behavior applicable universally. The creation account provides a very clear description of how we came into the original knowledge of good and evil. The rest of scripture describes the history of the relationship between a holy and righteous God and humanity made corrupt by its knowledge of good and evil.

From the Evolutionist’s perspective the terms right and wrong, with respect to morality, generally refer to correct or incorrect behavior for the individual in the context of the immediate situation. It is from this point of view that situational ethics are defended. The terms good and evil are strongly disliked by Evolutionists because those terms are understood to imply absolutes derived from something besides material reality. The bible lays out a clear foundation for universal justice with a distinct difference between good and evil. Good is that which conforms to the nature of God and includes behaviors consistent with God’s character. That would be love, forgiveness, mercy, grace, creativity, justice, and full truthful disclosure. Evil is that which rebels God’s nature and includes idolatry, accusation, destructiveness, deception, lying, sadism, and the opposites of all good character. Faith in Evolution requires faith that there is no God therefore it must deny objective truth and moral absolutes. Faith in the biblical Creation account necessarily includes faith in the existence of a Creator and with that comes belief in objective truth and absolute standards for and existence of good and evil.

The objective of the rest of this chapter is to describe the impact of belief in Evolution on society. Decide for yourself which is better: Evolution’s moral relativism or biblical objective morality.

Evolutionary morality is based on good or bad biology rather than good or bad behavior. Abortion and euthanasia become acceptable because weakness is viewed as evil. Those who cannot contribute or who are otherwise a burden have less value and are more easily discarded. Convenience of the fit and desirable trumps life for the weak or unwanted. The bible forbids discarding life casually and goes so far as to require us to do all we can to help those who cannot help themselves.

Evolution draws no moral distinction between human life and animal life. Relativism allows some to be cruel toward animals because life in general has no intrinsic value. The same relativism causes others to view animals as equivalent to humans. Both extremes are wrong when viewed from the Biblical perspective. God endowed both humans and animals with souls, but humans alone were created in God’s image. God made man distinct from animals and gave him the job of stewardship. Biblical dominion does not mean cruelty or neglect. Those who consider animals equal to man lobby for animal rights arguing moral and civil equivalence. Relativism results in two extremes who fight one another.

If evolution is true, then it is ongoing. If it is ongoing, then it stands to reasons some humans are more highly developed than others. In other words, some people are more human than others. This idea is central to racism. It was the context Hitler used to condemn Jews and other undesirables. A branch of science called eugenics deals directly with purposefully driving human evolution. Hitler was obsessed with the idea of a master race. This idea came directly from a fundamental belief in Evolution. Evolutionary belief has likewise fueled the fires of racism in the United States. In Australia, the native Aborigines were thought to be a subhuman missing evolutionary link. They were hunted down and murdered with state sanctioned support. In reality their physical differences are entirely superficial. Likewise, the Pygmies of central Africa are just as human as anyone else, but due to their social and genetic isolation their appearance and culture is recessive. Many supporters of Evolution promote racism because they have bought into the lie that they really are superior. Rather than Evolution making them superior, isolation has led to restricting the gene pool of small groups like the aborigines and pygmies until diversity is lost and they begin to take on certain superficial characteristic differences from “normal” society. No group evolved to become superior. Instead, isolated groups lost genetic diversity until they looked different.

Racism and bigotry are not identical. A bigot may dislike another because of skin color, but a racist believes he is superior because of his skin color. Certainly slavery, along with bigotry and racism, existed before Darwin ever set sail. That said, Evolution lent a degree of legitimacy to it. Evolutionary morality can rationalize putting inferior races to work to serve superior races. Although the bible does not forbid slavery, it makes no room for any such thing as racial superiority. It took the will of determined Christians to abolish slavery of black people in the Americas.

Sexual deviance covers a number of acts including homosexuality, pedophilia, incest, rape, bestiality, and adultery. When the barriers of moral absolutes are removed, whatever form of pleasure a person desires becomes permissible to indulge in. God established standards for sexual behavior. He commanded humanity to go forth and multiply. Most of the forms of deviancy mentioned here run counter to procreation and the rest are destructive to human relationships and personal health.

After the fall, one of the first things Adam and Eve realized was their nakedness. In their shame they sought to cover themselves. When moral relativism replaces right and wrong, the human conscience gets seared away. Shame ceases to hold us back. Today we have a thriving pornography industry, sex on TV, and bikinis serving hot wings at family restaurants. Evolution gives us an excuse to go naked and a reason to take advantage of it. The bible encourages modesty, chastity, and purity. When society gets naked there should be no wonder why so many children get pregnant in middle school and all other forms of sexual deviancy are so widely accepted.

Evolution quietly attracts people away from belief in God. It is a powerful propaganda weapon in the war against marriage. Marriage and traditional family are under attack precisely because they are established by God. God created the institution of marriage in order to construct the best possible environment to raise healthy children. The homosexual movement strives to convince the general population that their behavior is acceptable and they have a right to choose their sexual behavior. Once homosexual rights are established, the next step is to redefine marriage. By opening up marriage to relationships other than one man and one woman, marriage looses its value and ceases to have meaning. The only reason to redefine marriage is to destroy it. Men and women are created with unique and special roles. The confusion of these roles is only to be expected when all standards erode in the chaos of relativism. The collapse of family follows closely.

The bible teaches that God is love. To have God’s love is to seek the benefit others above self. When we eliminate God from our lives, we deny ourselves the joy and benefits of having and sharing God’s love. Godless Evolutionary morality excuses and even encourages selfishness. We prefer to indulge our own interests above those of other family members. Selfishness of a husband or wife replaces love for the spouse. Selfishness of parents replaces love of children. Sin steals parents from their children. When parents submit to no authority except themselves, it is only natural that the children mimic this behavior and rebel against authority. When children feel unloved by their parents it becomes much easier to justify ridding yourself of a child you do not want. Abortion is justified for the sake of personal convenience and we call it a woman’s right to choose.

The bible says parents are to set proper boundaries, teach their children, encourage them, and lead by example. Children are to honor and obey parents. It is natural for teenagers and young adults to assert their independence. It is far more likely to turn into rebellion when the child is taught that objective moral absolutes do not exist. Children need boundaries for safety and security. Without any reason to recognize boundaries youth often become depressed and suicidal. Others become defiant and openly rebellious. Evolution destroys the foundation for the objective boundaries and sound reasoning needed by young minds.

There are consequences when you try to disregard the laws of physics. Likewise there are consequences when you ignore moral laws established by God. Belief in Evolution is deceptive because Evolution cannot be held directly responsible for any of the forms of lawlessness mentioned above. Yet, Evolution teaches atheism. When God becomes a fairytale, so do the standards that God established for our benefit. Refusal to accept God’s laws eliminates neither the law nor the consequences. It only eliminates our ability to see where we went wrong.

How involved should Christians be in issues that relate to civil government? Should they vote in elections, write government representatives, support candidates, and speak out about political issues relating to morality, family, and religious freedom? What about Separation of Church and state?
Surely local churches should not endorse candidates, nor sponsor or finance their campaigns. And individual Christians should not become so involved in politics that they neglect other God-given duties. But should Christians refuse all involvement in any issues that surround modern politics and elections?
Consider some of the practices that government officials currently debate, legalize, or even finance with our taxes: abortion, gambling, divorce, pornography, homosexuality, contraceptives for unmarried teens, and "education" that justifies some or all of these. Should Christians, gospel preachers, and even churches speak out about such issues, or should we remain silent? If we do not speak out, how do we fulfill our God-given duty to preach the truth and rebuke error? See Revelation 3:19; Galatians 6:1,2; James 5:19,20; I Thessalonians 5:14; Ephesians 5:11; 2 Timothy 4:2-4.
Does the Bible contain examples of faithful servants of God speaking out when government officials practiced or encouraged moral or religious evils? The following passages show that we may and should do so: Matthew 14:1-4; 2 Samuel 12:1-15; 1 Kings 13:1-9; Acts 24:25. In our society individual citizens have several ways to tell rulers we agree or disagree with their practices. One way we may speak out is by voting for or against the rulers in elections.
Many current government decisions will have major impact on our families. Men are responsible to provide for their families, including protecting them from harm (1 Timothy 5:8; Ephesians 5:28,29). Parents are responsible to provide a wholesome upbringing for our children (Ephesians 6:4; Proverbs 22:6). If my vote can help protect my family from evil government decisions and can help provide a more wholesome environment in which to raise my children, why should I refuse to vote?
Daniel 4:32 says the Most High rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomever He chooses. Some have concluded this means Christians should not attempt to influence who will or will not rule, since we do not know whom God would choose and we might be working against the choice God has made.
But note Esther 7:1-10 � A godly woman used her influence to bring down a wicked ruler. Was she wrong? Should she just have prayed and done nothing, leaving the matter entirely up to God? The main point of the book is that, instead of doing nothing, she had the courage and wisdom to act for the good of her people, even though she did not know what the outcome would be (4:6-17). [This is an Old Testament example, but so is Daniel 4:32.]
The apostle Paul often used his rights as a Roman citizen to work for his own protection from evil and to help further the gospel. See Acts 22:24-29; 23:12-33; 25:10-12; 16:35-40; Esth. 7:1-6. Our government gives citizens the right to voice their views about who should govern us. If Paul used his rights to protect himself and help further the gospel, why should we not use the right to vote given us by our government? Can we not thereby help protect ourselves and our families from harm, while also helping maintain our freedom to preach and practice the truth?
1 Timothy 2:1,2 shows that we should pray for rulers. Some say this means we should just pray and leave it up to God what to do about government issues. Yet God also tells us to pray for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11). Does this mean we should just sit back and let God do it all, or should we try to find a job and let God use us as the means to answer the prayer? Should we avoid looking for a job because we might take a job other than the one God in His providence wanted us to take?
3 John 2 shows that we should pray for good health. Some people mistakenly believe that going to a doctor shows a lack of faith in God's power to answer prayer. Yet Christians know that the doctor may be the very means God uses to answer the prayer! We all realize that there may be situations in which God does not will for us to get better, but that does not prevent us from going to the doctor. If God has not revealed His will in such specific cases, then we must do what we believe to be best, while yet being willing to submit to a different outcome if that is what results.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Paul prayed three times for God to remove his thorn in the flesh. Later he learned that God did not will to remove it, but did that mean Paul did wrong in praying the prayer? Would Paul have sinned if he had gone to the physician Luke to help remove the thorn before God revealed His will in the matter?
God does not impute sin to men when they act with good intention in matters regarding which God has not revealed His will (Rom. 4:15; 5:13). When God has not revealed His specific will regarding affairs on earth, we must pray to Him, but we should also do what we can to bring about the answer to our prayer. We should act according to what we believe is best, acting in harmony with the general principles God has revealed. If we do, God will not be displeased with us, even if He does choose some other outcome of events, because He did not reveal His will in these matters. Nevertheless, we should pray for His will to prevail, even if it turns out to differ from our own (Matthew 26:36-46). Consider Esther 4:13-16.
When Christians become active in speaking out against evil in government and voting accordingly, some people claim we should keep our religion out of politics. I deny the premise on which that view is based, but my main point here is that such a view is not a proper statement of the issue. Christians are not the ones who have left our sphere of interest. The problem is that politicians have made a full-scale invasion into the realm of religion and morals! In that realm Christians are not only permitted but obligated to act. I believe this includes the right to vote. But whether or not an individual Christian chooses to vote, we must all find some means to speak out for decency and Divine truth.
And regardless of how the government responds to our efforts, we must continue to live faithfully before God, even if we must suffer at the hands of government officials.

The Bible is the complete and absolute standard of right and wrong. However, it does not directly describe every act we should avoid. It also teaches principles we must apply. The principles we have studied here should be applied carefully when determining whether an act is moral or immoral according to God's word.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

1 TIMOTHY 2:7 – THE CHRISTIAN CONSUMER

Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. (2 Timothy 2:7 ESV)
Our lives today are pretty easy.
We don’t know what it means to wait for something anymore. If you want food, simply go to a fast food joint. If you want a new record, click a link on your computer instead of waiting in line at a record store. If you want to know what a friend is doing, text them instead of calling or check out their Facebook or Twitter page. We have became a people who consume food, entertainment, news, and so on.
Unfortunately we have brought this into the church as well. We go to church because we know we can consume a great worship experience. We don’t have to do anything on our part because the lights are set low, the music is excellently performed, and we don’t have to think about the Bible because we are told precisely what to believe. This can foster a consumerist mentality in the body of Christ.
The consumerist mentality not only deals with our experience at church, but our personal experience as we read the Bible individually. We have a study Bible which gives us the answer right away, or we are one click away from a Bible site to explain to us the meaning of a given text. Or even the daily devotion in the email every morning (yes we know). These are not bad resources, but can cause us to be dependent on them instead of God.
Paul is giving instructions to Timothy. Some of these instructions were hard to understand and Paul didn’t want Timothy to just depend on him. Instead, he knew Timothy should depend on God and the Holy Spirit that was dwelling in Him. We must be careful that we don’t become a simple consumer, but learn to think over what we have read and ask God to give us understanding. There tends to be much greater joy in God’s word when we think and pray over it than just read what others have said of it.
Do you put forth effort in the hard work of study and praise, or do you rely solely on others?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

JOHN 7:18 – FREE FROM FALSEHOOD

Daily Devotional Bible Verse
The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. (John 7:18 ESV)
Every day we hear and we speak many words. We hear words from our families, our coworkers, television, movies and the radio. And as Proverbs rightly explains, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking” (Proverbs 10:19). So our day, while full of words, is more than likely also full of transgression! We are no strangers to lies and it would seem “falsehood” is as inevitable as the sunrise.
As Christians we should learn from Jesus’ words, realizing that we can avoid falsehood by seeking the Father’s glory rather than our own.When we seek our own glory, we succumb to the trap of lying to cover our wrong deeds or mistakes to save ourselves from humiliation and shame. But when we seek his glory it doesn’t matter what people think of us, only what people know of him.
Just like the one who composes the message is worthy of greater praise than the messenger, so is our God infinitely more worthy of praise than we. If we are abiding in Jesus then, we ought to walk as he walked (1 John 2:5-6). If we are indeed of the truth we are to seek the Father’s glory by always honoring him by walking in truth rather than falsehood.
Walk in truth with your words instead of falsehood by seeking the glory of the Father instead of your own glory.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

What Is Truth?

What Is Truth? by Romans 

Over the course of the past two weeks, I have asked, and I hope to your satisfaction, I have answered the question, “Is Christ Divided?” There are some 500 different Christian Denominations. In spite of the fact that there is nearly unanimous agreement on the Essentials, there is much disagreement and contention, and in too many cases disowning by some Congregations of all other Congregations who do not agree on non-essentials. For those who may be confused regarding the Essential / non-essentials I refer to, let me be clear. The Essentials include the facts that:

1.) We are all sinners (Romans 3:23)
2.) The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)
3.) We are in need of a Savior
4.) God sent Jesus to be that Savior
5.) Jesus was God in the flesh
6.) We trust that the Sacrificial Death of Jesus Christ, applied to our accounts, grants us forgiveness, Salvation and Eternal Life. 
7.) The above Essentials of Salvation are summarized in the statement, “Faith alone in Christ alone.”

The non-essentials that Congregations have divided over are those teachings and beliefs that do not impact our Salvation. Read Romans 14 to clearly see that Scripture does not require us to all agree on the non-essentials. There should be no division and/or condemnation among us based on variant non-essentials because God accepts us, and accepts our worship, and calls us His children even though there are cultural variations, worship variations, individual levels Spiritual maturity, and individual preferences in regard to, the use or non-use of musical instruments during worship services, and even the day of the week on which we worship. Without naming them, some of the individual Congregations that I am aware of have elevated their own pet non-essentials to the level of "inspired Truth” (with a capital”T”) that must be universally believed, and accepted and practiced. They teach that any and all who dare to disagree with them are not true Christians, have no Salvation, and are bound for Hell. 

Tonight, I plan to fine-tune the question of the past two weeks, “Is Christ Divided” and ask, “What Is Truth?”

Let me introduce tonight's Discussion with this: There are two particular, inter-related questions that are asked in Scripture that are of monumental importance. One is in the Old Testament and the other is in the New Testament. Tonight, I am going to ask the first, and answer it very briefly, and put it on hold. Then I am going to ask the second question and focus on its answer for the rest of the Discussion. In both cases, and in response to both questions, the answers I will provide this evening are exclusively out of the Word of God.

The first question appears in the Book of Genesis. Let's begin in Genesis 22:2: “And he (God) said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning... and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off... And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 

That is the first of the two monumental questions I am asking, tonight: "Where is the lamb?"

One commentator noted that the entirety of the Old Testament echoes Isaac's question: "Where is the lamb... ?”

Many centuries later, a Prophet gave us a brief prophetic glimpse of where we could find the lamb: We read in Isaiah 53:7: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”

In the New Testament, John the Baptist looks up from the banks of the Jordan River, and sees Jesus coming to him. He declares in John 1:29: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

The second monumental question was asked by Pilate when Jesus was on trial before him. We read in John 18:37: "Pilate therefore said unto him, 'Art thou a king then?' Jesus answered, 'Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.'” Pilate asks in Verse 38: “What is truth?”

This is the monumental question that I want to focus on for the remainder of the Discussion: What is Truth? 

Or, more specifically, Can we know it?

Jesus, and His disciples and Apostles after Him warn us repeatedly not to be deceived. When there is more than one understanding regarding the meaning of a Verse, what it is to be a Christian, what is acceptable to God, and which commands are binding, how can we know the Truth? As I said earlier, there are some 500 Denominations with a wide variety of understandings, practices, lists of prohibitions and commands which they tell us we must accept and obey in order to be saved. This can be disconcerting, especially to the new believer in Christ. There is little to no agreement on these "necessary" beliefs, yet our Salvation "hangs in the balance," or so we are told, if we do not conform to them. 

Can we know the Truth? Well... I am here to tell you that we can! And, tonight, I am going to present that Truth to you, not as any man, or commentary or denomination that I am aware of has ever presented it. I fully acknowledge 2 Peter 1:20 which says that, 
"... no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation," and I ask you to consider that: 1.) I am not prophesying about anything. 2.) As you will see before this is over, I am not claiming any private interpretation, here. What I will do, instead, and from a perspective I have never heard or read before, is allow the Word of God to answer the question: Can we know the Truth? Here me out. And then, if you still think that what I am saying is without Scriptural merit or support, then, by all means, please reply to this Post, and tell me. All I ask is that you hear me out first

The whole notion of there being variant understandings of what God meant to say, or what He requires in His Word is certainly not new. Even before Jesus walked the earth, there were divisions among the Jews as to how to best understand and/or worship God. There were the familiar divisions of the Pharisees and the Sadducees mentioned in the pages of the New Testament. 

Then there was the Jewish Sect of the Essenes. From the website http://www.centuryone.com, we get the following information about them: “The Dead Sea Scrolls were most likely written by the Essenes during the period from about 200 B.C. to 68 C.E./A.D. The Essenes are mentioned by Josephus and in a few other sources, but not in the New testament. The Essenes were a strict Torah observant, Messianic, apocalyptic, baptist, wilderness, new covenant Jewish sect. They were led by a priest they called the "Teacher of Righteousness," who was opposed and possibly killed by the establishment priesthood in Jerusalem.” 

Then there were the Zealots. According to http://www.answers.com, “The Zealots were the Jewish revolutionaries of Jesus day, now they would be considered urban guerilla fighters, paramilitary religious fanatics and fierce nationalists... engaging in sporadic guerrilla warfare... in the Galilean Hills.” One of Jesus' disciples was a former member of this group. He is referred to in the Gospels when naming the disciples in Luke 6:15: “... Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes.” Fromhttp://www.truthbook.com we read of him, “Simon Zelotes, the eleventh apostle, was chosen by Simon Peter. He was an able man of good ancestry and lived with his family at Capernaum, He was twenty-eight years old when he became attached to the apostles. He was a fiery agitator and was also a man who spoke much without thinking. He had been a merchant in Capernaum before he turned his entire attention to the patriotic organization of the Zealots.”

The last variant group we will discuss is the Samaritans. According to http://wiki.answers.com, they “were residents of Samaria and may have been descended partly from the remnant Israelites allowed by the Assyrians to remain in Samaria and partly from the various peoples who were brought in to replace the Israelites taken into exile. They became implacable enemies of the Jews since the Jews overran Samaria during the second century BCE. Samaritans had become monotheistic, worshipping one God but with many differences compared to the religion of their southern Jewish neighbours.” John 4 highlights some of their specific agreements and variations from the Jews. Notice verse 20: “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye {Jews} say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” And also this startling statement in verse 25: “The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.” The Samaritans were also waiting for the coming of the Messiah, but in spite of that common Messianic expectation, there was no harmony between them and the Jews, or acceptance of the Samaritans by the Jews.

After the Resurrection, and after the Day of Pentecost when the Church was born, how long did it takes before there were contentions and doctrinal dividing lines set up among the members of the Christian Church? I don't know how many months or years it took for these divisions to arise. But we know that it happened within the lifetimes of the New Testament Apostles and writers. The sectarian fine-tunings of interpretations of Scripture and preferences of one teacher over another were addressed in various epistles. Paul addressed this situation in his Epistle to the Corinthians. Notice, right out of the gate, Paul says, beginning in 1 Corinthians 1:10: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?”

Let me repeat and answer Paul's question from the last two weeks: Is Christ divided? The answer is a resounding, "No!" Yet there were and continue to be divisions to this very day... hundreds of denominations, making literally thousands of variant claims, all pontificating that we must all believe and practice their definition of Christianity. After all, their definition, or so they assure us, is the only one that is "based on the authority of the inspired Word of God." 

Can we possibly hope to know the Truth under these circumstances? I repeat that I have good news for you: we can!

Let's go back to Paul's day, once again, to more fully examine Romans 14. There were springing up in the Church at Rome, the kinds of divisions and preferences we see all around us, today. Paul addressed this problem, with an inspired, inspiring and a definitive response. Let me recap for you what was happening: Some members of the Church at Rome were eating meat sacrificed to idols, which other members considered to be sin. There were also divisions and separations regarding which day or days were “better” on which to worship God. In the 14th Chapter of the Book of Romans, Paul dives head first into both debates, and, unlike some of the sectarian and divisive choosing of sides that we so often see today, which only reinforces and solidifies the division, Paul issued the following judgment beginning in verse 1 of Romans 14: I am going to read from the English Standard Version for clarity's sake: “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, 'As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.' So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.”

Paul makes a judgment in the next verse, that we rarely (if ever!) see today in regard to the voluminous variant interpretations of what God commands or accepts as worship: He says in Verse 21: “ It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.

We all have our individual understanding, leanings, and preferences established by our own separate denominations, cultures, families, societies and even in our own private and individual worship of God. And Paul next addresses what we each do: In Verse 22, he makes a startling proclamation. A proclamation that flies in the face of those who would carve in stone an exclusive and specific list of "approved do's and don'ts" regarding the worship of God. Paul concludes the matter with the words: “The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God.” 

Wow! Keep your faith between yourself and God. What is he saying? Don't share your faith? No. Then exactly what? Don't try to impose your conscience on your brother or sister, to worship God in a manner that satisfies you, but may violate their conscience. You have done them no good. The end of Romans 14 reads as follows: “Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin."

Am I saying there is never anything that we should bring to the attention of a fellow believer? No... In fact we are commanded in Galatians 6:1: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Along with the Essentials as I listed them, there are also Biblical and Christian absolutes. A man or woman who professes to be a Christian, is commanded to not commit fornication or adultery or lust after anyone in their hearts, we are commanded to not seek revenge against real or imagined wrongs, we are commanded to not steal or defraud anyone, we are commanded to not kill or hate a brother, we are commanded to not withhold forgiveness, we are commanded to love our enemies and to do good to those who despitefully use and persecute us, we are commanded to turn the other cheek in the face of opposition, we are to commanded love God with all our heart and mind and soul and might, and to love our neighbor as ourselves, we are commanded to not profane the Name of God, and we are commanded to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. This is not a complete or comprehensive list, but I know of no denominations that vary on the understanding or agreement with these commands. But we live according to these commands not to obtain Salvation or Grace, but in but in response to, in recognition of, and out of respect for the love and mercy and forgiveness that God has poured out on us. And the commands and practices that we are to observe and live, that are endorsed by Scripture, lead us into a life that bears fruit which glorifies God. They guide us into a moral life. They are not the ritualistic inconsequential and non-essential points that congregations divide over. These controversies are the breeding ground for discord and sectarianism ignoring the principle that God accepts variations in worship, when the worshiper does so according to what their conscience allows them to do. 

We continue to be confronted with new splinter groups rising up all the time with a "new and improved" and “Divinely-inspired” worship system that they claim "must be fully accepted and strictly followed." But I need to be as clear as I can be, here. I am not saying that every last Church or Fellowship or Congregation is accepted by God, or is automatically part of the Body of Christ because they claim to have His Name in their title, or claim to follow Him. There are false prophets, false apostles, and wolves in sheep's clothing that we have to be aware of as well as wary of. As we read in 1 John 4:1: "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." But we can only test them and identify their genuineness (or lack thereof) by becoming familiar enough with the Word of God, as I have urged in the Discussions for years, so that their tactics, claims, heresy and double-talk is immediately evident. Departing from heretical leadershipis a very different situation than when one Congregation becomes two, based on non-essential worship preferences. As I have shown you, Paul did not endorse or take sides where such worship preferences were concerned. We are commanded, however, as individual Christians to withdraw from leaders who become self-appointed wedges who divide a Congregation with blatant disregard to the harmony God wants us to enjoy. Notice this Command in Romans 16:17-18: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. (18)  For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”  

But where non-essentials are concerned, Jesus, as Paul did, also refused to take sides when He spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. The Samaritans claimed that a certain mountain was the "correct" place to worship God. We read her words in John 4:20 "Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father... But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." 

Did you get that? 

"True worshipers" do not stress over or succumb to the "this way / that way / this place / that place" boxes into which some try to place and limit God. No... Jesus said, "... they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth," which can take place anytime, anywhere and everywhere.

Jesus had something to say about another problem: the adding of rituals to Christian living and worship in order to be accepted. Notice Mark 7:6 “Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, 'This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.' Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do..." Focusing on and dividing over such trivial yokes of bondage do not honor or bring glory to God. They have no place in the life of a New Covenant Christian. Remember: Jesus said that "... they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." The divisive and mandatory yokes of bondage that false prophets try to ram down our throats are neither spirit nor truth!

I told you in the introduction, that, in spite of all of our differences and squabbles and opposing claims and divisions, that we can know the Truth, and that I was going to present it to you. 

And I will do just that!

Jesus made several statements about the Truth. In just one Verse alone, He said in John 8:32: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Keep that in mind as we review His first public sermon, spoken in the Synagogue in Nazareth. Jesus read from a scroll that prophesied of His Ministry: We read in Luke 4:18: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

I would like to focus on four of the things He said His Ministry would accomplish: preaching the Gospel to the poor, healing the brokenhearted, preaching deliverance to the captives and setting at liberty them that are bruised. Now let's go back and review what He said about the Truth: “the Truth shall make you free...” Is that not deliverance to a captive? Is that not a setting liberty to them that are bruised?

But what have we been delivered to, and a set at liberty to do? 

Let's see: Paul also addressed the same issue with meat sacrificed to idols in Corinth: We read in 1 Corinthians 8:9: “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”

Here, more than keeping your faith to yourself, Paul is saying that the imposition of your preference or comfort level of worship on your brother “wounds their weak conscience, and sins against Christ.” This is something that needs to be seriously considered before we act along these lines.

Paul also speaks of the liberty Christ provided us, in the Book of Galatians. We read in Galatians 5:1: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” What bondage were they free from, and what yoke was entangling the Galatians? Church members were being told by Jewish envoys from Jerusalem, that they had to keep Old Covenant laws and perform certain specific tasks in order to be saved: namely, circumcision, and observing particular days and seasons. He wrote them about this Galatians 5:12: “I would they were even cut off which trouble you. For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty, only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

There it is again: Liberty. The Freedom from salvation check-lists that Christ had made possible. Freedom from the added requirements that they were being told they had to follow. But there were and are are no added requirements that the Apostles or the New Testament endorses, and no obligatory ritual-based Old Covenant laws they had to obey, Paul continues, “... For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.” 

The preferences, doctrinal revisions and salvation checklists that have divided us all into so many denominations has resulted in the very biting and devouring that Paul warned us about. And how are believers consumed? By those religious groups that claim an exclusive relationship with God. They believe and teach that God only approves of their understanding of His Word, and accepts worship only as they offer it. Everyone else is damned. Period.

Let's get back to my claim that we can know the Truth.

After telling His hearers that the Truth would make them free, four verses later, Jesus then added in 
John 8:36: “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

And He said in John 6:37: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

So Jesus said that if we see the Son, and believe on Him we would have everlasting life. On the Day of Pentecost, after the Resurrection, the Church was born. Peter delivered his first sermon. We read, beginning in Acts 2:36: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Did you notice what was not included in Peter's response? The list. You know, the salvation checklist of all the specific denominational attributes that distinguish and separate them, the privileged practices and exclusive commands that have been added down through the centuries, and which has divided and subdivided and sub-subdivided us into hundreds of denominations? 

Our members: worship on this day, no, on that day, pronounce God's Name like this,pronounce God's Name like that, they do dance, they don'tdance, they do drink wine, they don't drink wine, they do wear makeup, they don't wear makeup, they speak in tongues, they don't speak in tongues, they do see Doctors, they don't see Doctors, they do take medicine, they don't take medicine, they believe in soul sleep, they don't believe in soul sleep, they do wash feet, they don't wash feet... the list goes on and on and on.

But Peter has no knowledge of it! He does not mention even the remotest hint of it that his hearers had to also perform in order to be saved...

Well, some might say, "Maybe it was just too early in Church history, and the list wasn't developed yet." Let's see... Let's fast forward twenty years and see how Paul answered essentially that same question. Let me set the scene: Paul and Silas were in prison. An earthquake interrupts their singing praises to God, and their jailor "sprang in" and asked them about salvation. “Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, 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” (Acts 16:29-31). Twenty years after Peter's sermon, Paul and Silas were still not aware of any list of added requirements that the jailor had to perform in order to be saved, any more than Peter required of those who asked him about being saved.

Some may ask, "Was this how Paul always preached?" Notice his words to the Church at Corinth reminding them of what he preached to them in regard to their Salvation. 1 Corinthians 2:2, Paul wrote, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

No Salvation checklist??? No!

No dubious, inconsequential and non-essential preferences??? No!! 

No exclusive, divisive and contradictory requirements? No!!

Rather, he said, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” in perfect and complete harmony with Jesus' statement: “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

But now we have to sort through all the added requirements to perform, hurdles to clear, and hoops to jump through that go way beyond the simple declarations that Jesus and Peter and Paul made to their hearers. With all of the disagreement and discord that surrounds us regarding the Truth, can we know the Truth? Is it possible to know the way to Salvation, and how to receive the Gift of Eternal Life? I tell you that absolutely can know We can know the Way to Salvation, the Truth about acceptable worship, and how we can live forever. 

And I offer it to you in a single amazing Verse. 

We read in John 14:6: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Jesus is all that all of these incompatible denominations have in common. And, in the final analysis, Jesus is all they have ever needed to look to in order to obtain the very forgiveness, Grace, path to the Father and Eternal Life that they so feverishly try to obtain through all of their added requirements, supplemental commands, exclusive understandings, spiritual hoops and, in a word, works. But we are not saved by works... we are saved by Grace, which is free!

Romans 11:6: “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”

Grace, forgiveness and Eternal Life are free Gifts made available by the Father through His Son. Again, in Jesus own words, “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40.)

Can we know the Way to the Father? Yes, because the Way is not any specific denominational path, or series of spiritual hurdles to be cleared. The Way is a Person, and His Name is Jesus.

Can we know the Truth? Yes, because the Truth is not a list of doctrines or beliefs or commands or creeds... The Truth is a Person, and His Name is Jesus.

And, the Life is not something we attain by performing anyone's set of requirements. The Life is a Person, and His Name is Jesus.

In this one Verse, He makes a claim about Himself, that no other sane and honest human being could ever hope to make of himself. Jesus said, “ I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me.”

We can know the Truth that Leads to Salvation because we can know Jesus.

He told us He came to set at liberty the captives (Luke 4:18).

He told us “the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

Then He said “I am the Truth” (John 14:6).

Conclusion: “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” ( John 8:36).

We are free because we can know the Truth in the Person of Jesus.

We all believe that God sent His Son to this earth to die on a cross for us. We do not need to fabricate checkpoints, and checklists and hurdles and hoops in order to earn or prove our Salvation, and we should not use them in order to identify, separate, judge and reject fellow believers and fellow servants. 

The disciples came to Jesus one day and said in Mark 9:38: “... Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part.” 

Do we know and embrace and obey that Truth, today?

Is Christ divided? No.

Is the Truth divided? No. 

In closing, allow me to quote the Apostle Peter, in a wider excerpt of a verse I already quoted. 
From 1 Peter 2:1-5: “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”

Where is the Lamb? Jesus is the Lamb.

What is truth? Jesus is the Truth, and the Way and the Life.

This concludes our Discussion this Evening, “What Is Truth?”