Tag Archives: Saved

“Do you believe that Jesus is worth abandoning everything for?”

What is Jesus Worth to You?

In his recently published book entitled: “Radical David Platt invites us to encounter what Jesus actually said about being his disciple, and then obey what we’ve heard. He challenges us to consider with an open heart how we have manipulated a God-centered gospel to fit our human-centered preferences. (ouch)

Platt calls into question a host of comfortable notions that are common among followers of Christ in modern culture, then he proposes a radical response, in that we live the gospel in ways that are true, filled with promise, and ultimately world changing.

I love the idea, but how achievable really is this? How many people do you know that are willing to Abandon Everything for Jesus?

What part of the Gospel is optional?

It’s easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said his followers would actually live, what their new lifestyle would actually look like. They would, he said, leave behind security, money, convenience, even family for him. They would abandon everything for the gospel. They would take up their crosses daily… But who do you know who lives like that? Do you?

Do you understand the scripture to suggest that we should be ready to give everything up?
Would You?

COLOR BLIND

As you know, we launched this particular Blog series several months ago, entitled: “HOT TOPIX!” as an opportunity to address issues that in many cases, have become very difficult for people to deal with and may even find embarrassing,

By the way: This information was compiled from the Pastor’s notes on the recently concluded Message Series entitled: “Hot Topics” as it was taught by Mid Lakes Christian Church Senior Pastor; Doug Dykstra. See what you have been missing? Let’s begin with HOT TOPIX #7,

“COLOR BLIND”

For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? (I Cor 14:8)
Armies in the ancient world were trained to respond to trumpeted signals, If the trumpeter blew one sound, they would charge – if he blew a different sound, they would retreat, but, if his tune was garbled, or if he didn’t pipe it clearly, then the army would be thrown into confusion

Today, the church is God’s trumpet.
We’re responsible to set the moral tone, but on the issue of Racism, the church has failed – miserably.
If the church had been playing God’s music to our society for the 230 years of our nation’s existence, all the confusion on all the subjects we have discussed could have been avoided, instead the Trumpet of God – the church – has wimped out and failed to take a stand on each of these issues. And if the church isn’t blowing a clear signal, what will come of our world?

UNFORTUNATELY, NON-BELIEVERS HAVE LED THE WAY IN OVERCOMING RACISM
Conservative, Bible-believing churches have largely stayed out of the whole issue of racism. Sadly, I’ve never to my recollection, heard a sermon on the subject, but in keeping our head low (so we can stay out of the fight) we have become silent co-conspirators in the ugly things that have happened in our nation’s history. Even worse, some churches have used tradition, or convenience, or even misused the scripture to justify racism, oppression, and prejudice. Take our worship services for example, many, are still the most segregated public place in our nation.
But here’s the most disgusting thing of it all: In the matter of racism, the church was more like a car’s taillight – merely trailing behind America’s Supreme Court and other secular agencies, when we should have been a headlight, leading the way.
~ It took the Supreme Court to handle a problem that the church should have
straightened out 230 years ago!

Tony Compolo is Italian descent, but he loves to preach in black churches because they are so expressive in their worship.
It’s true! I got the chance to preach to a black church once and it was a blast!
They never asked me back, though.
When whites go to church, they just sit there with their arms crossed and body language says: “Go ahead, say something interesting.”

Getting back to Tony’s story: When you preach, they amen you – like saying “sick‘em to a dog.” But one time, Tony wasn’t getting any affirmation from the crowd. He could tell that he was laying an egg that day. The crowd got quieter, and body language was telling him that he wasn’t ringing their bell. It got even quieter. Finally, there was a pause, and a brother from the back stood up and said: “Help him, Jesus! Help him, Jesus!”

RACISM
A. RACISM – is the attitude that says one human being is superior to another because
of the color of his skin – or his national origin.
Great comment written by a black man in Texas
When I was born – I was black
When I grew up – I was black
When I go in the sun – I am black
When I am cold – I am black
When I am bruised – I am black
When I am sick – I am black
When I die – I am black

Now, you white folks….
When you were born – you were pink
When you grew up – you were white
When you went in the sun – you got red
When you are cold – you’re blue
When you are bruised – you’re purple
When you are sick – you are green
When you die – you are gray
• So, who you calling “colored”?

B. RACISISM IS A PROBLEM ALL OVER THE WORLD
1. Neo-Nazi’s – Skinheads
2. Apartheid
3. Africa’s ethnic cleansing Hutus killing Tutsis, or is it the other way around?
4. Croats, Serbs
5. Japanese and Koreans
6. In Iraq, we seek the Shiites killing the Sunnis, and they both want to kill
the Kurds

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE UNDERLYING CAUSES OF RACISM?
I.e; Why does one person feel superior to another because of the color of his sin

A. PARENTAL INSTRUCTION
1. For many, our parents taught us to resent those who didn’t look just like us
Often prejudice is simply learned behavior.
a. Kids aren’t born prejudiced – They have to be taught to hate – very carefully taught
b. But, if you grew up with parents who had condescending attitudes toward blacks, or toward whites, or Orientals – whatever – then, you’ll probably carry those thoughts the rest of your life.
3. If you were carefully taught by statement or example to think that way, this is an area the Lord would have you reprogram your mind.

B. IGNORANCE
1. If we don’t know people from other races, we question their motives, or intelligence
We somehow diminish other races…find ways to think less of them as people
At a U.N. dinner, an Oriental fellow was seated next to a typical blowhard type. The blowhard, attempting to make conversation, leaned over and said: “You like soupee?”
The Oriental nodded
When the main course came, the guy said: “You like steakee?”
Oriental nodded
Then, they introduced the speaker for the evening, and it was the Oriental guy, who got up and gave an excellent speech, lasting 40 minutes — in perfect Oxford English.
When he came down and took his seat again, he looked at the blowhard and said: “You like speechee?”

C. FEAR
1. “They’re taking over. They’re taking our jobs.”
2. ‘They’re taking over our neighborhood – property values may suffer.”
3. “My daughter may marry one of them”
4. “There’s getting to be more of them than there is of us”
5. Cultural stereotyping. Prejudging = prejudice

D. OUR SINFUL NATURE
1. Because we have inherited the sinful nature, we have a desire to feel superior to other people. We want to exclude, demean, humiliate other people because it makes us feel better about ourselves.
2. We feel better about ourselves if we can look down on others
3. Racism is arrogance, and ignorance….but the bottom line: it is sinful

1My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show
favoritism. …..
8If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as
yourself, you are doing right. 9But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers (Jas 2:1, 8-9)

III. IS GOD A RACIST?
A. GOD TAUGHT MIRIAM A LESSON
1 Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite.
9 The anger of the LORD burned against them, and he left them.
10 When the cloud lifted from above the Tent, there stood Miriam—leprous, like snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had leprosy;
(Numbers 12:1, 9-10)
1. Moses’ wife was “Cushite” = Ethiopian
2. But, the interracial marriage was dividing the family, as they do to this very day
3. God’s response: The Lord’s anger…Miriam got leprous…Moses pleaded for her healing, which the Lord granted – after 7 days

B. GOD TAUGHT PETER A LESSON
1. Peter was the poster-boy for racism in the first century
2. But God sent visions to him about that – and insisted that he go to a Gentile’s
house, which he did – begrudgingly
3. Now, this former racist made a remarkable statement
Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. (Acts 10:34-35)

C. GOD TAUGHT THE DISCIPLES A LESSON
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:19-20)

D. GOD TEACHES THE CHURCH A LESSON
After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.” (Rev 7:9-10)
Shouldn’t the church on earth look the way it will look in heaven?

OUR RESPONSE TO RACISM MUST BE…..

#1 CONFESS OUR SIN
Tony Evans, a nationally known preacher says: “Racism is not a bad habit. It is not a mistake. It is sin. And therefore, the answer is not sociology – it is theology.”
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:8-9)

Most of us don’t think of ourselves as racist, but sadly, most of us are racist – at some level, just as we all have some measure of pride, greed, etc. We can’t get away with justifying ourselves by saying: “That’s how my parents taught me,” or…. “I had bad experiences with people from this or that race.”

I was so disturbed by the racist, anti-Semitic comments Mel Gibson made recently when he was arrested for drunk driving. The terrible thing about this is that so many Jews were against his movie, “The Passion of the Christ” because they said it was anti-Semitic. The continual response was that it wasn’t at all anti-Semitic. But when Gibson had that meltdown at his arrest, and spewed anti-Semitic comments, he undercut the value of a great film!
Likewise, we undercut everything our Savior stands for when we are racist! So, we need to ask God to:
#1 Reveal to us our racist tendencies
#2 Work with His Spirit within us to transform our heart and mind.
#3 BE COMMITTED TO RECONCILIATION

Reconciliation is God’s will for us.
Now he had to go through Samaria. (John 4:4) Jesus was traveling north, between Judea and Galilee. All Jews would take the long way around, crossing the Jordan River and then coming back across again, once they were above Samaria. But Jesus HAD to go through Samaria because the Samaritans mattered to God.
Jesus came not only to reconcile man to God – but People to one another

Paul writes to the Ephesians: But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility(Eph 2:13-14)

The Jews put up a 5’ high wall in the temple that Paul here calls the “dividing wall of hostility” On that very stone from that wall, found recently by archaeologists, it says that “no Gentile is to go beyond this point, for if he does, he will only have himself to blame for his death which will surely follow.”

Obviously, God intended the church to be a place of reconciliation.

Martin Luther King’s famous speech, “I Have a Dream” on the Steps of the Lincoln Memorial, said:
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

Well, I have a dream of our church being a model of reconciliation to everyone we can touch. Here, people of every tribe, and language, and nation are unified under the banner of Jesus’ cross.
Our church is not a yuppie church, a baby boomer church, a DINKs (double income-no kids) church, a generation X church, a retirees church, a black church, a white church – – – Our church is all of these things! We are a Christian church, where Black/White, Asian/Hispanics rich/poor, young/old experience welcome hearts, where they feel wanted, needed, and appreciated.

The world isn’t much impressed with beautiful church buildings – but what captures their eye is a group of people who treat each other with respect and grace – across the board …. Where genuine love flows like a river. Where they see people living in peace and acceptance where elsewhere, there is hostility.
– – – That’s where Jesus is praised!

#2 BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH PEOPLE OF OTHER RACES
Jesus didn’t just say “Hi” to the Samaritan woman – he deliberately struck up a conversation with her. She was so impressed she went to her village and brought out the whole town (also Samaritans) to meet him. He stayed there for two days, teaching them
The first thing that we can do to someone who has sucked up all the courage they can find and come to our church is to look them in the eye and warmly greet them.

#3 FORGIVE PAST OFFENSES
Don’t get caught up in bitterness, holding grudges is like mixing poison for someone else and then drinking it yourself.
Everyone is bitter! Whites are bitter about affirmative action and reverse discrimination, Blacks are bitter when slighted by whites, or treated unfairly, etc. But we are supposed to respond differently than the world! Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Eph 4:31-32)

Keith Richburg is a Washington Post reporter who spent three and a half years in Africa as a reporter. After this, he wrote a book “Out of America,” in which he talks about the negative view of Africa that he developed in his time spent there; “I am not a hyphenated American. Though slavery was a terrible sin, I’m thankful to be living in America and not Africa today. Is there anything left of Africa in those slaves who made that torturous journey across the Atlantic. Is there anything left of Europe in the white Americans who sailed that same ocean – English Americans, or Dutch Americans?
I see the flaws in America, I curse the intolerance, but even with all that, I recognize that it is the only place I truly belong. It is home. And, I feel for Africa’s suffering and empathize with its pain, but most of all I thank God my ancestors got out. I thank God I’m an American.”

Reminds me of Joseph, in the O.T., sold as a slave into Egypt. When he had the chance to return vengeance on his brothers, he refused, saying he’s not bitter. “You meant it for evil, but God has used it for good.”

So, none of us should play the race card – we must play the grace card because the Bible says: “Love keeps no record of wrongs.”

CONCLUSION: THE STORY OF JOHNNY LEE CLARY
Johnny Lee Clary was raised by a racist father who taught him to stick his head out the car window and shout racial slurs as they passed by blacks. Dad would pat him on the back and say: “That’s my boy!”
His mother was an alcoholic, who didn’t pay him any attention. His grandmother was a Christian who took him to Sunday School every week until one time he came home singing:
“Jesus loves the little children – All the children of the world.
Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
From that day on he wasn’t allowed to go to church.

When he was 11, he was in the room when his father put a gun to his head, and pulled the trigger. His mother couldn’t take care of him, so he was sent to California to live with his older sister and her ex-con boyfriend, whose only interest in him was the government check she got each month.

One day while watching TV, he saw a guy talk about the Ku Klux Klan, and found out how to join. In essence, they adopted him and he counted the KKK as his only family. He rose rapidly through the ranks and ultimately became the Imperial Wizard of the KKK, then, one day, Johnny got the chance to do a radio debate with a state leader of the NAACP – a preacher named Wade Watts.

Preacher Watts completely shook up Johnny Clary. Instead of coming in with an angry spirit, preacher met him in the hallway, and put out his hand and said: “Hello there, Mr. Clary. I’m Wade Watts. I just want to tell you I love you and Jesus loves you.” Clary was so stunned he shook Wade Watts’ hand. Suddenly he realized he broke a major KKK rule, and Watts saw him looking at his hand with a stunned expression on his face. Watts laughed and said: “Don’t worry, Johnny. It don’t come off.”

Johnny started calling him names, and Preacher said: “God bless you, Johnny. You can’t do enough to me to make me hate you. I’m gonna love you and I’m gonna pray for you, whether you like it or not.” Clary says he didn’t know how to deal with that. He had never had that happen to me before.

After the radio debate, Wade Watts came running up to Clary, holding his baby. “Mr. Clary, this is my daughter Tia.” He held her out with her shining dark eyes looking straight at Clary and he said: “You say you hate all black people, Mr. Clary. Just tell me – how can you hate this child?”

As a result of this, the KKK set fire to Watts’ church, drove by his house calling him names, threw trash all over his lawn. Then they showed up wearing their sheets and hoods, and called out to him: “Get on out here, boy, we got something for you.” And he comes outside and he says, “Boys, Halloween’s four more months away. I got no trick or treat in here for you. Come back in October.” And he went back in the house.

They were running out of ideas, but one day they burned a cross across the street from his house. He came outside and asked us if they needed hotdogs or marshmallows for their barbeque. One day Clary called him up and disguised his voice and said, “Hey, boy, you’d better be afraid. We’re coming to get you, boy. You don’t know who we are but we know who you are.” Watts: “Hello, Johnny. Let me do something for you, and he began to pray: ‘Dear Lord, please forgive Johnny for being so stupid. He doesn’t mean to be so ornery, he has a good boy trying to get out somewhere in there.’”

One day they were watching Preacher Watts, when he went into a restaurant, so they gathered about 30 KKK member’s, went into the restaurant, surrounded his table and Clary said: “I’m gonna make you a promise,,, I promise we’re gonna do the same thing to you that you do to that chicken. So you think real hard before you touch that chicken.” So he looked at me and looked at the Klan, then he picked up the chicken and he kissed it. And when he kissed the chicken, the whole restaurant exploded in laughter. Even Johnny’s KKK buddies started laughing, so he got mad at them and told them they couldn’t wear their hood and sheets for 2 weeks.

Johnny Clary concludes this story by saying: “And that’s how one old black man defeated the entire Ku Klux Klan.”

Eventually Johnny left the KKK, drank himself half to death, put a gun to his head and said: “Well daddy, I’m following in your footsteps….”
Strangely though, the light coming through the grimy window of his apartment fell on an old Bible, gathering dust in the corner. Hoping for another way, he put down the gun, picked up the Bible and it fell open to Luke 15, the Prodigal Son. And that night another prodigal decided to come home

Johnny joined a multi-racial church, studied, and grew in his relationship with Christ. 2 years later, he picked up the phone and called Mr. Watts. When he came to the phone, Watts said: “Is this that Ku Klux Klansman? Hello, Johnny Lee.”

Johnny told of his conversion, and the interracial church he’s attending. Watts could hardly contain himself and insisted he come and preach at his pulpit, which he gladly did.

Now, Clary finds himself preaching to a mostly black church, where he tells his story. He told them that racism is a learned characteristic – but that love can be learned as well. When he was finished, a teenage girl got to her feet and ran down the aisle, threw her arms around him and hugged him. A weeping Preacher Watts leaned over and told Johnny: “That’s Tia, my baby.”

THE GROUND IS TRULY LEVEL AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS

The Perils of Pluralistic Platitudes

PEOPLE CAN BE SO CLEVER

In 1908,  “Pop” Warner took his football team (Carlisle Institute) to play at Syracuse where he used a pretty clever trick to defeat Syracuse.  “He had patches of material sewn on his players’ jerseys that were the same color, size, and shape as a football. So, when his boys handed off the ball, nobody could tell who really had the ball, and who was running a fake pattern.

They won that game.

“Pop’s” next game was a week later at Harvard. But when Harvard’s coach (Percy Haughton) found out about patches – he complained to Pop and Pop’s response was: “It’s not against the rules. I can put anything I like on my players’ jerseys.”

The next day was the game and at game time, just before the kickoff, Coach Haughton met on the field with Coach “Pop” Warner and when coach Haughton dropped the game ball out of a bag onto the grass, it was painted brilliant red, (the exact color of Harvard’s jerseys.)

Of course, Pop Warner was angry, but Haughton said: “Hey, it’s not against the rules,,, where does it say a football has to be brown?”

“Pop’s” team lost 17-0.

MANKIND MAY BE CLEVER, BUT WE’RE NOTHING COMPARED TO SATAN’S DECEPTIONS

1.            He has covered the world with his lies  —  very successfully

a.      If you were born in the Middle-East, there is a strong possibility that you would be a practicing                  Muslim, Tibetan, Buddhist, or Hindi, and you may even be practicing some form of Voodoo

b.      But, we were born here…and we’re so blessed, but in America, we did not have to go looking for                  Christianity – It was all around us

c.      The down-side of all this is that we’ve probably never really thought out the reasons for being a                  Christian

SO, HERE’S SATAN’S 21st CENTURY PLOY–

“ONE RELIGION IS JUST AS GOOD AS ANOTHER”

Satan says there’s nothing special about Christianity and here is where a discussion on SPIRITUAL PLURALISM comes into focus

A.     DEFINITION OF PLURALISM: ANY ROAD WILL GET YOU TO GOD

Sadly, “Pluralism” says that there is not just one way, but many ways to God, but beyond that, it means that every religion is true – none is better than another. Through Pluralism, No one has the right to say that his way is better, or truer than any other. Ie.  To say Christianity is superior would be politically incorrect. Saying something like that is considered rude and unacceptable behavior, but if we say everything is true….or if we say that even contradictory things are true at the same time….That’s fine these days!!!

Pluralism isn’t totally new….

B. ANCIENT PLURALISM

1.      The apostle Paul came from a monotheistic background (Judaism).   So, when he went to Athens, he saw that there were images to many, many gods.

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.   17So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.   18A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him.   Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.   (Acts 17:16-18)

2.      Isn’t it interesting that everywhere Paul looked he saw that they were very tolerant of a wide variety of Gods – but they were very intolerant when he spoke about the one true God, who was the source of absolute truth.   They were the first “pluralists” – so they began to argue with him

3.      Two Reasons for this attitude of intolerance towards Christianity, even today:

a.      Because Satan has darkened the heart of man toward God. “Any god but the true God” could be Satan’s motto.

b.      Because Paul was proclaiming exclusivity.

1.      Paul’s God wasn’t “a god” –  He was “the God”

2.      Pluralist’s do not like the restrictions of just one God.  They want many gods

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens!   I see that in every way you are very religious.   23For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.   Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.      (Acts 17:22-23)

4.      Everywhere Paul looked, there was an idol to another god – including one to the unknown god – just in case they had missed one.

 

This is an altar, found in Rome. It was carved around 100 B.C. It’s inscription reads: “To the Unknown God.” Just like the altars at Athens

 

The Bible says that the people of Athens very philosophical,

and loved to discuss new ideas.   They were very religious,

but were totally ignorant about God.

MODERN PLURALISM

1.      Those philosophers at Athens were no different than the

Multiculturalists – or – Pluralists of America, today

2.      They believed that all gods are equally valid – that the

various lifestyles and beliefs all have worth

3.      The result of this philosophy is that there is no absolute

truth.   No absolute right or wrong

4.      The only real sin for them is criticizing someone else’s views, or choices they make

5.      So, we’re expected to agree with a wide variety of gods and religious philosophies

An English poet named Steve Turner wrote a multiculturalists’ creed: He says that multiculturalists believe that all religions are basically the same.   All religions believe in love and goodness. They only differ on matters of creation, sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.        (So, what’s left?)

He said:  “We believe that each man must find the truth that is right for him.   We believe there is no absolute truth, except the truth that there is no absolute truth.”

At about the same speed…..

In the Peanuts Cartoon Strip,  Linus was defending his faith in the “Great Pumpkin” by saying:    “It doesn’t matter what you believe so long as  you are sincere.”

~~~ Turner doesn’t have anything over Linus!

6.      The modern pluralist’s view is that the only absolute truth is that there is no absolute truth – –

– – – And, the corollary to that is that:  Only bigots believe in absolute truth

7.      It is so vital that we are able to recognize this philosophy when it comes at us in the media, in education, in entertainment, and even in some of the churches out there.

THE DANGERS OF PLURALISM

ON THE SURFACE, IT DOESN’T SOUND LIKE A BAD IDEA

1.      We certainly don’t want to mock the cultures of other people throughout the world

2.      There are definitely good things in other cultures

Two brothers had a bungee-jumping business in California.   They were doing alright, but there were some competitors coming into their area, so they figured they would go south of the border into Mexico.   There weren’t any bungee-jumping businesses out there.   So they took their high crane and set it up for jumpers to jump off of…but the problem was that they couldn’t speak the language

So, they just figured they would show the Mexicans what they were offering.

One of the brothers, Steve, got up on top of that thing and jumped off, but when the cord pulled him up again, the other brother, Peter, noticed Steve had a bloody nose.   He dropped down again, and this time Steve’s forehead was bloody, too.   One more time, and he looked even worse; his chin was bleeding.

Finally Peter said:   “Steve, was the cord too long?”

Steve, still dangling from the cord:   “No, the cord is fine.   But, what in the world is a piñata?”

a.            Certainly, it pays to know the culture of other people.

b.            Christians who want to bring the Gospel to other nations are wise to become fully versed in their language, customs, culture, etc.

c.            In fact Americans can learn many things from other cultures, and that’s fine ….But none of this is religious pluralism.…

RELIGIOUS PLURALISM GENERATES TWO HAZARDS FOR TODAY’S CHRISTIAN

(Spiritual pluralism is accepting all religions as equally valid)

HAZARD #1: PLURALISM REJECTS THE FUNDAMENTALS OF THE CHRISTIAN

FAITH

a.      It is a fundamental Christian doctrine that there is only one God and only one way to get to know Him.

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,  (I Tim 2:5)

b.  Someone wrote to Dear Abby that they were frustrated that they couldn’t help

some family members who were part of a religious cult to see the errors in

their teaching.

Abby’s reply:    “In my view, the height of arrogance is to attempt to show others the errors of the religion of their choice.”

c.      Abby is simply reflecting the attitude of our culture today.

1.    That is, that it is wrong – rude – even bigoted to hold one religion above another

2.    After all, all religions are good – none is better than the other.

3.    The only real sin is trying to say one religion is better than another.

d.      This is how Satan enforces pluralism today:

1.    In our society, we are expected to be politically correct.

2.    If I claim to know the truth, I become rude, bigoted, narrow-minded, and exclusive because I’m saying you don’t know the truth….

3.    The only sin they know of is:    “The sin of religious certainty”

4.    The world considers the claims of Christ, and therefore the claims of His church to be                                            rude, because they claim to be the only God

a.   They’ve already decided:   all religious beliefs are equally valid, and fundamentally the                                            same

b.    One speaker was talking in a secular setting, but she was a believer and took an                                                       opportunity to mention her faith.    When she sat down, she said that the emcee got                                                 up, looked at her like she was a naughty kindergartner, and said:   “What our speaker was trying to say was that there are many wonderful spiritual paths, and all should be honored in the spirit of multiculturalism.”

– – – She thought to herself:  “Wow, I had no idea that was what I was trying to say!”

HAZARD #2:   RELIGIOUS PLURALISM UNDERMINES EVANGELISM

If pluralism is true – so is universal salvation, then, we should call back all the missionaries because everyone, even if they don’t know Christ, is saved! Right?

But the Bible says: Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”   (Acts 4:12) This does come as a shock to many.

One of SATAN’S BIG LIES: CHRISTLESS SALVATION

– – – Satan has convinced us that we can be saved because we’re nice guys

– – – Convinced us that we can do it entirely without Jesus

Ask yourself:   “Am I a pluralist?”   Here are 3 symptoms of a pluralist:

#1 LOVABLE’ISM   Do you believe that someone’s glowing personality will save him?

a.  A friend of Jackie Gleason spoke up at Jackie’s funeral: “I believe that Jackie is in heaven because God has a sense of humor.   I’ll bet that Jackie is seated right next to God so he can put a smile on God’s face.” Now, that is just sentimental garbage…. I don’t know if Jackie Gleason was a Christian or not, but I can assure you that he won’t be in heaven if his only qualification is a great sense of humor.

This mentality of: “somebody loved him so he is saved” is seen in abundance at nearly every funeral.   Whether the deceased knew Christ or not, he’s always preached into heaven because the family loved him so.

#2 MORALISM   Our own goodness will save us

A lot of people expect to get into Glory because they are moral people. Of course I would not think of trying to demean their lives  …  They usually are good people, but if they aren’t Christians – they’re not saved.

Augustine called them Virtuous Pagans!

This is Satan’s myth.   Satan says that if you’re a nice guy – a good husband and father – you did your best –

then…you have nothing to worry about. This IS A LIE!

#3 POPULISM     We may not be great, but we’re no worse than anybody else

This is the theory that, everybody is doing pretty much the same things we’re doing, so,,, Certainly God’s not angry with the whole world… I think we’re pretty safe. But sometimes, when you’re in the majority,   all it means is that there are a whole lot of fools in one place! Think About It!

We need to stop this wishful thinking!

TWO HUGE 21ST CENTURY FABLES

A.            THERE ARE MANY GODS

1.             OUR CULTURE HAS RADICALLY CHANGED IN THE PAST DECADE

a.  Not long ago, the church was confronted by the ATHIEST, THE ATHIEST USED                                                      TO TEACH:  ALL RELIGIONS ARE FALSE – – – But, we don’t hear so much about                                                    atheists any more, do we?

b.  Today, the church is facing just the opposite,  the PLURALIST TODAY, THE                                                              PLURALIST TEACHES: “ALL RELIGIONS ARE TRUE ! ” I’m getting whiplash

2.             NOW, THESE PEOPLE BELIEVE THEMSELVES OPEN-MINDED, TOLERANT,                                                    PLURALISTIC…..BUT….

a.  They are seeking God on only their terms

b.  They have placed themselves in control, and pick whatever strikes their fancy God’s                                                thoughts on the subject are irrelevant, because they have already decided that this is                                                ok!

3.            BUT, GOD CLAIMS EXCLUSIVITY

So, what does God think?

We’ll start with the first of the 10 commandmentsExodus 20:3  “You shall have no other gods before me. He placed this at the front of the 10 commandments because it is the foundation of the other 9.

Now, the 10 commandments are the “ABC’s” of biblical understanding, we learn them in biblical kindergarten, yet, there are those who truly think of themselves as Christians who state with all confidence that all religions are the same, and they’ll all get you there.

I can Just hear God:  “excuse me….excuse me.   I said:  “You shall have no other gods before me”

Isa 44:6-8  “This is what the LORD says– Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. 7Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come– yes, let him foretell what will come.  8Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”

Clearly God wants out of this “one god is as good as another” philosophy and he is not the least bit confused or undecided on this subject. God expects His people to acknowledge that He alone is the Lord, and there are no other gods, He told Israel to clean out the promised land because the people there worshipped strange gods….because of their religion.

Not only is He the only God, we must acknowledge that He alone is God

Throughout the O.T. and N.T., both the Father and the Son continually make claims of exclusivity

B. THE SECOND 21ST CENTURY FABLE: “MANY ROADS” THE MYTH THAT THERE ARE MANY ROADS, ALL GOING TO THE SAME PLACE

~ ~ Many people… even Many Christians…firmly believe that Christianity is just one of many religions that will ultimately lead us to eternal life

They say it like this: “ALL RELIGIONS ARE LIKE SPOKES ON A BICYCLE WHEEL, Jesus,  and Mohammed,  and Buddha  —  Each of them are spiritual leaders, who like the spokes on a bicycle wheel, all lead inevitably to the hub, which is god. Jesus is just one possible spoke….but you can get there just as well by any of the other religions of the world.

What’s interesting is that if that “Spokes of the wheel” thing is true, then, Christianity is the only religion that cannot be true because our God claims that HE ALONE is God! That then means that God is bigoted, and narrow-minded on the subject!

But, if “they” tell me that all roads lead ultimately to heaven, then it is just as likely that all roads lead nowhere.   For all I can tell, maybe no roads lead to heaven, and all roads lead straight to hell.

Who are these people who speak with such assurance….and by what authority do they speak? Especially since Jesus didn’t say anything like that!

The God of the Bible, Jehovah, YHWH, “I AM THAT I AM”  didn’t say anything like that, so who are these people who are so self-assured???

“TRUTH” IN THE 21ST CENTURY

From what I’ve said, you may be realizing that there is a whole new concept of truth out there these days, Today, there are many people who just, don’t believe in absolute truth any more, they believe in many truths, which may be true at the same time and may be conflicting at the same time…

In fact, their view is that the only absolute truth is that there is no absolute truth.

– – – The corollary to that is that: Only bigots believe in absolute truth

Here’s how it works:

a.            Everybody is the expert on his or her own life

b.            Therefore, the truth for them may be different than the truth for you

c.            My truth is what meets my needs, and you can’t stand in judgment on that even if my truth seems false to you

So, in today’s society, it is politically correct for me to say that “Jesus is the savior of me.” They don’t have any problem with that. In fact, they’re happy for you… But again, it is bigoted to say that Jesus is the only Savior for the entire world – Because:    that would impose your truth on them!

All of this goes directly against the teachings of Christ who said: “John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.   No one comes to the Father except through me.”

“The Way?”

Notice He doesn’t say He’s   “a way”    or   “one of many ways,” Instead, He clearly states that He is “THE way” –  – and he stands like a great mountain against the storm 21st century myth, which claims that there are many paths to God. That’s not “P.C.”  for our society….but that’s who He claims to be and, for that reason….Christianity’s claims of exclusivity….the church will be unacceptable to many, many people in the coming generations.

“THE truth?”

Jesus isn’t “A” truth… like one of the many “truths” that vie for man’s attention, He is ALL TRUTH, wrapped up into ONE!

“THE life”

Ie.  There is no life outside Christ.

CONCLUSION

Imagine you are on a ship that’s sinking rapidly – only minutes left and no lifeboats are coming along.   The freezing water will kill in minutes.

As on the Titanic, they try to patch the holes, but it’s fruitless.   As on the Titanic, the guy who designed the ship has inspected the holes and says the water will continue to come in and will sink the ship in a short time – there is no hope,

But, let’s imagine – in those last desperate moments, unlike the Titanic, a ship comes out of nowhere and throws a plank across to serve as a bridge between the boats.   The Captain of this timely ship invites you on board.

What would you say? Would you say:  “No thanks, I don’t like your boat.   I’m going to wait for another ship”?

The captain:   “No more ships are anywhere near here  —  Mine is your only hope.”

Would you then say: “How arrogant of you to say you’re the only one. I’m not going on your ship. I’m going to wait for another to come.”?

Wouldn’t you be a fool to reject this offer of salvation?

Wouldn’t you gratefully accept his offer of salvation and not resist for a moment of time

WE’RE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT – AND NO ONE CAN FIX THE LEAK.  CAPTAIN JESUS IS OUR ONLY HOPE.

A Behind the Scenes Look at Scripture

As a student of scripture, I am constantly wondering what was going on, behind the lens that scripture is told from. For example: I can easily imagine having been on the boat with Peter and the rest of the Disciples in Mat. 14:22-33 when Peter and the other Disciples were told by Jesus to get into their boat and go to the other side of the Sea.

So,,, they did just that, but somewhere between 1:00 and 4:00 a.m., while the sea worked up a frenzy and tossed them around in their boat, they saw what appeared to be a ghost walking by on the water and they were totally freaked out until Jesus (knowing of their fear) yelled out and identified himself.

Bam! Just like that, Peter pop’s the question and suggests that Jesus ask Peter to come out to him. Now, with a show of hands,,, who would have been the person to do what Peter did? Seriously? Odds are, less than 1 in 1,000 have the type of personality that is so daring!

Keep in mind though, according to research, even those people would need some kind of confidence in the waters ability to support them, before they extended the dare.

Now imagine you are in the boat and you are taking this whole thing in, when suddenly, you see Peter throwing his leg over the side like he has something to stand on! But you know that it is dark! It’s deep! It’s tempestuous and it’s totally CRAZY! But your friend Pete is stepping out into what is almost certainly going to end completely wrong!

What are you saying to him at this point? Are you yelling? Are you raising your voice very calmly? Are you reaching out to grab his arm and hold him back? Are you suggesting he has gone INSANE? I can imagine you are not expecting him to stand up as though the water is supporting him once he has pushed himself off of the side of the boat! And you are most certainly not expecting him to walk on the water once he does… Right? Here’s how the story goes:

MATTHEW 14: 22-33

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat was already a considerable distance[a] from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Scripture does not tell us what is going on behind the scenes and I enjoy being able to imagine what his friends were thinking as Peter stepped out… What would you do? By what we see in scripture, Peter was not looking for a dare,,, he was not out to prove anything to his friends, he just wanted to be close to and doing the same things as Jesus!

Do we know anybody that has the same degree of passion about being close to, or like Jesus? Here’s a defining question, do we know anyone who has the kind of faith that is willing to step completely out of the logical place to be?

Think about it; The boat was intentionally designed to get them across the water, but what Peter was doing was by all accounts, illogical and just plain idiotic!

No wonder Jesus loved Pete’s attitude enough to build the entire New Testament Church off of his passion.

I want to find that place,,, do you? I want to know that level of pleasure in the eyes of God… How about you?

Unforgiving and tumultuous, deep dark seas

Would you have stepped out!