Church

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Recently I was looking for a church to attend in my community. At that time, a new friend who had recently moved to the area was also seeking a church to attend.

A conversation with my friend led to a discussion about what each of us were looking for in a church.

While I didn’t know my friend’s definition of a church, my definition of a church did not refer to a specific denomination or building. Rather, I agreed with Paul’s definition of the church as stated in his letter to the Ephesians where he describes the church as being the body of Christ, of which he (Jesus) is the head.

Ephesians 1:22: God placed all things under his (Jesus) feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

As we talked, my friend told me that she was not looking for what she calls “a fundamentalist church” primarily because she does not believe that salvation comes through Jesus alone or that He is the only way to God. She said that she preferred a church that is tolerant of all religions because she believes that all religions have merit.

When my friend told me that she believes all religions have merit, she didn’t tell me how much she actually knows about other religions or how she determines merit. However, my friend is a kind and caring person and I’m guessing that what she meant was that she believes all people have merit and that it is important to respect their beliefs in kind and loving ways. With that, I do not disagree!

However, merit and salvation are two different things.

Biblical salvation is not based on merit or human endeavor—it is a God-given gift that cannot be earned or purchased.

The gift of salvation is based upon God’s acceptance of the work Jesus accomplished on behalf of you and me when he offered himself as a living sacrifice on the cross to make atonement for sin. We can never earn that gift of salvation on the basis of religious beliefs, self-righteousness or merit. Rather, that gift is freely given to those who come to God through the righteousness of Jesus.

Jesus, who was himself, sinless, died for sinners. If I have never sinned, then I have no need of Jesus. If I say that I am not a sinner, obviously I don’t concur with the Biblical statement: all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

By his death on the cross, Jesus paid the penalty on our behalf for every man, woman and child that has ever been born. He ransomed us from the captivity of sin and redeemed us from the penalty of death we deserve. The dictionary defines ‘ransom’ as “a consideration paid or demanded for the release of someone or something from captivity.” Redeem is defined as “to gain or regain possession in exchange for payment.”

By his death on the cross, Jesus ransomed us from the bondage of sin and redeemed us from the wages of sin—that being death.

When someone believes and receives Jesus’ offer of redemption they are saved from the wages of sin, and become part of his body, the church, for all eternity.

What amazing and outrageous claims!

Believing Jesus’ claims do not make them true, just as not believing them does not make them false. Truth does not depend on our beliefs. Truth stands on it’s own regardless of whether we believe it or not.

If Jesus’ claims are true, then what is at stake is our eternal destiny. If they are false, why give them a second thought?

Many people who claim to be tolerant believe that all religions have some truth and that no religion can claim exclusive rights to being THE truth.

Alas, biblical Christianity does not offer them that option. Jesus made no bones about there being any other way to God except through himself.

Jesus specifically and in no uncertain terms stated that He is “the Way, the Truth and the Life, and that no man comes to the Father but by Him.” (John 14:6) Which of course, means that Jesus is intolerant of religions that teach that man can come to God on any other terms.

But Jesus’ intolerance is not based on unkindness or narrow-mindedness. It is based on love and truth.

Jesus loved us enough to die for us while we were yet sinners. He took the wrath of God against mankind’s sin upon himself so that we might be spared.

If you truly believe that the above statement is false, or that it doesn’t matter what you believe or which religion you follow as long as you tolerate everyone’s beliefs and are sincere in your own; if you think that God will accept you on the basis of your good works; if who Jesus claims to be and what he claims to have done are false, then any religion or church or denomination will do. Or even no religion or church, for that matter.

Oh, but you say: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher; I simply don’t accept his claim to be God.

As C.S. Lewis points out:

“That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic, on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg, or else he would be the Devil of Hell.

You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.

You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

If Jesus is not who he says he is, and did not do what he said he did, then he is a liar and a lunatic, and quite frankly, we would be daft to so much as give him or ‘this church business’ a second thought.

If we take Jesus out of the church, then why go to church at all? Wouldn’t we be better to simply join another religion or a social club of like-minded individuals?

Because going to a church does not make us a Christian anymore than going to a garage makes us a car. Many people go to church, but that does not mean that they are Christians. Genuine Christians are born-again believers. They are “born of the spirit” because they have opened their hearts and believed and received Jesus’ offer of salvation.

Despite the wide variety of beliefs that fall under the general “Christian” label today, the Bible defines a true Christian as one who has personally received Jesus Christ as Saviour, who trusts in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness of sins, who has the Holy Spirit residing within, and whose life evinces change consistent with faith in Jesus. Read More…

Jesus’ offer of salvation is a standing invitation to all mankind. (2 Peter 3:9)

But it is an offer that must be accepted or rejected.

My friend’s decision to decline Jesus’ offer of salvation because she believes that the Bible is not the ‘only truth out there’ or that perhaps it might have mistakes, (which is another topic in itself) or because she doesn’t want to offend anyone else’s beliefs leaves me with a burden of grief in my heart beyond anything words could ever express.

That is not because I believe that my beliefs are true and hers, false.

It is because if the message of the Bible is true, and if Jesus was who He said He was and did what He said He did, then the consequences of accepting or not accepting Jesus’ offer of salvation are staggering—but in very different and eternally significant ways.

A church is not a building or a denomination. It is Jesus’ body, made up of believers gathered together in HIS name.

Paul, in his second letter to Timothy states: “I know Whom I have believed.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

That WHOM is what sets Christianity apart from every other religion in the world!

That “Whom” is Jesus!

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Jesus is the Only Way to God – True or False?

By Lee Strobel

Jesus often surprised people with teachings that cut across the grain of human nature. Lose your life to save it. The first will be last. The meek will inherit the earth. Rejoice in persecution. Pray for your enemies. It’s better to give than receive. Turn the other cheek.

But, by far, the most outrageous assertion Jesus ever made — His most politically incorrect claim of all — was when He declared in JOHN 14:6:

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me.”

This claim rankles people like no other. It has been called arrogant and narrow-minded and bigoted and snobbish. Some of you are seekers, and something inside of you chafes at this claim. For you, it may be a stumbling block to faith.

But I believe that Jesus was telling the truth when He said it. And I believe He said it out of great compassion, not arrogance. And I believe that when we look closer at it, this statement makes ultimate sense. In fact, I believe this single sentence is one of the most critically important bits of information on the planet—and to you personally.

So why is this claim so controversial?

One reason is that it strikes at the core of three great myths about religion. And so in examining this statement by Jesus, I thought it would be a good idea to address these three common misconceptions. Maybe these are myths you’ve heard—or maybe they’re myths you believe right now.

So let’s deal with the first myth, which is this: continue reading…

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