Monday, October 24, 2011

Misconceptions, Part 2 of 2

The church only holds what its Lord has passed on to us in terms of truth regarding the person and work of Jesus Christ. He claimed that He alone, being Lord of Heaven, was capable of bringing sinful men and women to His Father. He alone knew the way because He alone is the way, John 14:6.

It was Jesus who began teaching that if you do not have the Son of God-if you do not know Him intimately through saving faith in Him-then you do not have life and will not enter Heaven. Believe what you will in regards to Christian teachings, but this is the word our Lord passed down to us. We should go forth not boasting but pleading with the lost to know Christ in the way we do. One needn’t enter the church to come to Christ. In fact it is only by being born again through personal faith in the Savior that one becomes a part of the church and a child of God, Acts 2:47; Galatians 3:26. The Christian outlook should be more along the lines of “we want you in, too!”

We do indeed zealously and dogmatically defend “Christ alone” for salvation. Our Lord championed it; the Bible is rife with this teaching; it only makes sense that Heaven’s Creator is the only one suited for explaining how one reaches this coveted destination. It is not arrogance, pride, vanity or naiveté that compels a Christian to make this stand. When one finds the truth about a matter should we be ashamed to proclaim it? If Christianity can be debunked and disproven then the hope of the church is lost. If Christ never rose then our faith is futile, 1st Corinthians 15:17.

However, if Christianity is true then it will not and cannot suffer rivals. Rival suitors for one’s soul are automatically found to be false and deceptive. How many truths does one need about eternity? Who would you feel more secure about getting directions from: spiritual and religious leaders who have all died, or the Son of God who conquered death; who came from Heaven for that very purpose?

Denominations hold no special privileges over anyone. Many times the added baggage is harmful; in some cases (as with Roman Catholicism) it can be spiritually fatal. When a denomination makes exclusive claims it is a clear sign—not that they have the truth, but that they have gone away from the truth. One needs Christ to be saved. We need Jesus and His atoning work; we need the Holy Spirit to seal us and lead us; we do not need a church organization to substitute a personal relationship with the Lord for sacraments, liturgy, good works and vain, repetitious prayers, Matthew 6:7-8.

It was Christ our Lord who established the need to evangelize the lost and proclaim the gospel to the entire world, Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost, Luke 19:10. He still does by the agency of the Holy Spirit whom He sent to those who obey Him, John 7:37-39; Acts 5:32. This is the purpose of the individual Christian and the corporate church: to be lights in this dark world as Christ was a light. Alone He accomplished much, but He promised that when He went to the Father the church would accomplish greater things still, because the Holy Spirit would be with every one born again through faith in Him, John 14:12-14.

It is not dogma to champion this vital and unique truth. Either Jesus was telling the truth and this is something we cannot afford to neglect lest we desire eternity in miserable separation from the God of the universe; or Jesus was wrong, being either a liar or deceived. Yet His demeanor, wisdom and compassion belie these options. The New Testament is the trustworthy record of Jesus of Nazareth, founder of Christianity and Lord of the church universal. His words have withstood the test of time and changed the world as we know it. This is what one would expect from God, as He indeed claimed to be, John 8:58; 20:28-29.

In the marketplace of the world’s religions Jesus sits apart. He doesn’t offer works, church enrollment or esoteric knowledge. He demands faith in His ability to do what humanity cannot: provide salvation. Two thousand years ago He entered this world filled with human religions seeking some way to storm Heaven by force. His words invoked love or hate in the hearers then; Jesus went around stirring up trouble! He had things to say that He knew humanity did not wish to hear; and thank God that He went ahead and said them anyhow, despite the fact that we killed Him for it.

When we were rebellious and hateful toward the message of the gospel Christ died for us. Surely this selfless and loving act should garner our Lord a moment of our attention to give serious consideration to what He has to say to each and every one of us. It is ultimately a matter of “who you know” that will bear you through Heaven’s gates. Christ’s work was satisfactory for the Father. In the beloved apostle John’s words, “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life,” 1st John 5:12. Many decisions in this life are very important, but there is one that dwarfs them all. The decision you make about what you think concerning Jesus Christ will affect not only this life, but your eternal state. It is the question Jesus constantly posed to His listeners: “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” Matthew 16:13. I leave you with His very personal question that each one of us must in due time answer. “Who do you say that I (Jesus) am?” Matthew 16:15. God bless.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks, Ian, for this beautifully written and truth-filled post. If Christ did not rise from the dead, than we Christians should be the most miserable of all. But Praise God that He did, and that there is nothing we should boast about except for His resurrection! He is a loving but a jealous God, which makes sense because He is the only Way, and there is no other Name by which men can be saved. Jesus is the Son of God and God Himself, our Messiah, Redeemer, Foundation and Friend who sticks closer than a brother.
    Blessings to you,
    Laurie

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post, Ian.

    As you so eloquently state, salvation is only through Christ, not through the church or some action of man.

    ReplyDelete

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