Doctrine will send you to hell


Considering how many religions are in the world you would think that most of the world would be going to heaven. But most of them are not depending upon Jesus for their salvation, even the ones which claim to be “Christian” in their message. Many churches and their preachers or bishops or elders are teaching about Jesus and His message but they are not teaching that each person in their church needs to KNOW Jesus to be saved!

You can know about Jesus and all of His miracles and His parables and that He walked on water and every part of His story even up to His burial and His resurrection…but if you don’t know Him in your heart as your personal Savior then you don’t have Him! No amount of doctrine or discipline or holding fast to the church or the belief which your Mom and Dad drilled into your brain will get you into heaven.

The only way to get into heaven is through belief in Jesus and accepting Him as your Savior, then working out your salvation by reading the Bible and living your life according to it. Striving to be more like Jesus through repenting of your sinful behavior and never going back to it. Even when you fail, and you will, ask forgiveness and read more of His Word with prayer and submission to His will and not your own. That is what is needed and necessary for Christians of any denomination or doctrine or discipline to be able to stand in front of God and show the righteousness of Jesus instead of our wretched and sinful souls.

God loves you and He will forgive you but going to church with an attitude of “my parents are pillars of this church, therefore I am too” or anything so prideful as that will send you straight to hell! No amount of money or time spent soaking in sermons or summer camps listening to teachers who don’t even practice what they are teaching will get you into heaven.

The only way to salvation is by realizing that you are a sinful creature and only by grace are you even alive at all! If you have ever felt the touch of the Holy Spirit in your life and your heart and you didn’t fall down and answer that call then I suggest you do so…NOW! Because when the trumpet sounds and you are left here with the option to starve or take the mark of the antichrist which will you choose? Will you be brave enough to truly give your heart to Jesus then and be executed by beheading? I suggest you do it now while the time is yet available but even now each of us only has the minute in which we are living.

Don’t wait until the real church is gone and the world is left reeling and wondering what happened. Make sure of your salvation while there is time to do so.

acts-4-12

 

 

What do you see?


If you go to church on a Sunday or maybe Wednesday night, what do you see and hear? Is the service done as a show or is it a teaching service from a chapter in one of the books from God’s Word? Do you feel welcomed into the fellowship of believers or are you just a guest who is visiting and a number to be counted?

GowheretheWordisPreachedDo you see Jesus and His teachings being lived out for all to see when they come to His church or is it just a building with people in it?

In some churches today, regardless of the denomination, you will find the love of Jesus Christ and you will feel it when you come into the building. The people will seem to radiate it to you in their attitude and their greetings and the message will follow that as well. In other churches, again regardless of denomination, you may not feel it or hear it at all. You may hear it from a few people individually or from the message but the “church” feels cold and almost lifeless. As if there are a few people who are radiating the love of Christ but not enough to fill the building.

This is a sad state of affairs for the church of Jesus Christ. Not only in America but in other places around the world. The message has been diluted and changed with the addition of “man-made laws and wisdom” in the messages and in the bylaws of the church itself. The believers who began the church at Pentecost after the ascension of Jesus would not recognize the message that is being taught today or the people claiming to be Christians!

Now don’t read this and think that I am pointing my finger at any particular church or denomination. The facts have been showing up for a few years now and they are becoming more common. Granted, the facts that I speak of are only in America but it is possible that the same condition is present in churches all over the world.

Sadly, this is the condition which the church finds itself in today. Not so much because of the doctrine being taught from the pulpit, if it is a Bible-teaching church, but because of a dearth of teaching from the Bible at home! The Bible has been kicked out of public areas and from public schools along with prayer too so there are fewer people who have grown up hearing prayer and learning from God’s Word. With that in mind, why would the past couple of generations want to attend church to learn about their Savior?

TenCommadmentsThey may not realize that they need a Savior in the first place! That is one of the main problems plaguing our world today. A moral compass is missing along with the laws which guide that compass. So, how are we to tell young people that they aren’t supposed to do this or that if they have never heard of a reason for it?

See the Ten Commandments: Exodus 20:3-17

3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.

7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.

12 Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

13 Thou shalt not kill.

14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

15 Thou shalt not steal.

16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.

If you check most of the laws in Western society you will find that they are in line with nearly all of these laws of God.

Which Jesus do you know?


There are many versions you know. Some of them are radical clerics who will tell you that Jesus wouldn’t vote for this candidate or that law or this proposition. Some will tell you that Jesus, or at least the One that they preach, wouldn’t condone the killing of babies in the womb, that one I do believe! Sometimes the Jesus which is preached in pulpits on Sunday or even on Saturday if that is your Sabbath day, sounds as if He would go along with almost anything that the right or the left or whichever direction your pastor is leaning which is being reported this week.

Have you ever really found out about the Son of God and Who He is? Does your pastor even know the real Jesus or His viewpoints on sin and salvation? In many churches it seems that there are many Christians, pastors, deacons and members alike, who really don’t know Who Jesus really is today! This is the very reason which, in my opinion, is causing the decline of so many churches in attendance and causing them to close their doors. Is it possible that we have created our own version of Jesus and placed Him at the head of the table, in front of the congregation and declared that this is your Savior?

When He walked through Palestine almost two thousand years ago, Jesus sought out those who were marginalized, those who were persecuted, those who weren’t allowed to climb the steps of the Temple let alone enter it to worship! He taught those people who we would consider outsiders and even vagabonds, the ones who were lame and addicted to substances even then. He went to the lepers who had to walk around yelling “Unclean!”, what an embarrassing way to have to walk through town.

The clothes which Jesus taught in werePsalm23 dirty from the dust and the water at the shores of Lake Galilee. He didn’t look like He just stepped out of a dry cleaners, with His clothes all white and glowing. In many of our churches today, Jesus would not be allowed in because of His dress and His hair and beard, because He would look like a homeless person. Even He said that “the Son of Man has not a place to lay His head“.

Would Jesus be seen as a radical cleric today? In many ways, yes He would. He would be in the shelters and in the parts of the city where “church people” are afraid to go. Why are we afraid to go to these places? Is it because of our dress? Is it because of our jewelry or our cars? Why can’t we enter into the places where those in need are? Is it because we don’t feel that we belong there or that we won’t fit in because of our race?

In today’s society and the culture which has developed in our country in the past few decades, it is true that we are divided by race or skin color and also by culture. We are not a society which has gotten past our collective wrongdoing in the past, simply because we have ignored it or brushed it behind the door or under a rug. We have done this with the pretense of being enlightened and better than our past, but we never really learned the lesson of our past.

When you choose to ignore a lesson in school or in life, you will repeat it. There is no possibility of not repeating it. Life and experience are hard teachers, just as Jesus was a taskmaster in the Temple when He ran the money changers from the court of the Gentiles! Except, He was doing this from His love of the people who were coming there to worship and not out of bitterness.

God loves us, regardless of our clothes or our car or our house. Stuff doesn’t matter to the Creator, it is your heart which makes the difference and where your heart is in serving Him. If you are in conflict between being popular and having money or serving God and His Kingdom, pick God’s Kingdom. Stuff like popularity and money are temporary and only work here in this life. Eternity is a very long, long time and if you aren’t prepared for it by trusting in Jesus and His atonement for you then you are wasting His time.

Apathy is catching


It seems that many church members and those who previously attended church are becoming apathetic about their faith and what they believe as well as whether they need to go to church or not. Is this happening elsewhere, all over the world or is it just here in the USA?

Specifically the area where I live, in central Mississippi, the apathy is catching on to the point of some churches serving food just to get people to come to church on a Sunday morning or night. This is happening in what is called the Bible Belt! Mississippi even has the distinction of being one of the most religious states in the America.

I painted a painting that I called “Creation” this past Sunday. I had told about this at least four or five days in advance of the sermon on Sunday morning. One family showed up to watch and listen besides my own wife and son. I know, I shouldn’t take it personally but painting is like a performance and the reception was far less than what I had hoped for.

creationpaintingHere is the painting which I did while I was preaching about Creation and the Fall of mankind:

The white at the top is not supposed to be clouds, it represents the Host of angels watching as Creation unfolds. I know that I am not a “performing artist”, I am just a pastor, but it seems that this could’ve been something to come see. The only audience I had were children who really didn’t believe that I was painting it to begin with.

The love of God is so pervasive in our world, yet people ignore it and don’t recognize it when it does show up, even in small doses. As Jesus stated, “a prophet is without honor in his own hometown“, and it is very true.

Many people know me in the area where I live. I went to school with many of them and I have lived here for about fifty years, so they have seen and heard many things about me whether they were all true or not! Even when they were true, that is not the man that I am now but it seems that I am still painted (no pun intended) by the reputation that I have had for years before I became a preacher.

I suppose that may be the problem, to some degree. But, I am not moving. I can’t afford to move away just to be a preacher. So, here are my words and my painting, like it or not, it does represent Creation and the Beginning of all things.

 

Image problem


The idea that we can be Christians, have Jesus in our life and yet not experience the REAL relationship that we desire is never taught in church. Is it possible that we can do all of the things, be a “pillar of the church” and not be fully and totally committed to our life in Christ? Actually, it is totally possible and many Christians are doing exactly that without even knowing it. There are many who “go through the motions” for years in their self-righteous delusion and they may never find Jesus in this life!

We tend to trust God because the preacher said that we should and because it is in the Bible. But, is that enough? We also create God in our image and place our personality traits in the relationship and look at Him as if He is a reflection of us rather than the other way around!

We are supposed to be reflecting Him and His Son’s image to those who see us, not making God into an image of us. Then when something doesn’t go exactly according to the plan that we have in mind for our life, we blame Him when it is actually our “version” of Him that is the culprit and the REAL problem.

We actually have a problem with our image, not that the image of God isn’t perfect because the real image of God is actually us. The problem is that we, each one of us, tries to make God conform to our image of Him. We try to make Him look like and act like us.

God doesn’t work that way, but He will allow us to make a mess of things while we do this so that He can come in and show us exactly what He can do for us. The image that we have created of Him cannot heal us or bring us to a point of surrender with Him because our image of God is NOT God!

Can this “image” thing be fixed? Yes, but it usually gets fixed when we finally come to a point where we acknowledge that we can’t do it ourselves and things begin to fall apart around us. Then we get angry at the “god” who allowed this and hopefully we will come to the point that we see that we were the cause of our problem and also the cause of the answers not being delivered to us by God like we thought they should be. Why did all of our prayers and tithes and all of the service which we performed in His service not count for what we thought it should?

Because, we were doing all of those things for OUR version…OUR image of God, not the real God but a fake copy of Him which closely resembles us! Our idol, our image, our reflection of us into and onto God. We were trying to do pottery in reverse, and it doesn’t work that way!

Consider that we are like Adam was before God gave him the breath of Life. To a perfectly holy God and our Creator, we are like a clay man or woman. Dirty and not useful for much more than planting things in, but if we realize that God is nothing like us because He is our Creator then we can come into a real relationship with Him. We should get to know Him as a friend and our Teacher, because it is necessary that we learn from Him the way to truly live in Him and allow Him to live in us and through us every day.

Our image is nothing compared to His and we shouldn’t try to imagine Him in our image because we are bringing Him down to our level at that point, in truth we should be striving to be more like Him!

Dull and lifeless


I have often wondered if that is how much of the world sees people in the church or even the church itself? We as Christians claim that we have something that others may want, the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. The problem arises when those who are outside the church look at our lives or even the church itself and see a very dull and lifeless (read boring) experience!

Why would they want that? Even though it is true that most people, when they come to a place in life that they can’t handle themselves, seek out a Higher Power. Sometimes this brings them to God and sometimes they will encounter Satan or one of his followers who are disguising themselves as angels. At this point in their life many just latch onto whichever one will help them at the time and right now! Which causes many to go down a road or path, which is takes them in the wrong direction. They may not find out about this until it is too late to turn back and therein lies the problem.

In many ways, people are fooled not because Satan is such a good liar but because the church and its representation of God and salvation doesn’t look much different or appealing. This is something which must change! Because we are supposed to be taking God’s message of salvation to the WHOLE world! If our message and the gospel of Jesus doesn’t seem to be appealing to others, we should seek out the answer to this question: “Why do people seem to be put off or turned away from the church and God?

It is not an easy answer to find actually. Yet, according to the Bible which is the inspired Word of God, evil is vanquished in the end. Death, sin, evil, lawlessness and all of the negative emotions and behaviors in this world will all go away, in God’s time and at the end of this world. The problem today is this: Most or at least many people don’t believe it. The Bible is just an old book with no bearing on life today. It is out-dated and old, quaint would be a good term for it, but it has no meaning for us in the 21st century.

I have a different opinion about that. The differences between all people in this world stem from just a few things which get completely blown out of proportion. First is our notion of “race”, we are all part of the human race! The only differences are our skin tone and our cultures, whether in a city environment or taken as a nationwide culture, these are really the most troublesome parts of being human. Second is our choice of religion and that gets pretty weird when you look at all of the different religions in the world, even though there are three main religions, there are thousands of creeds, beliefs, doctrines etc.

These two differences along with the other smaller or larger (depending upon your viewpoint) pieces and parts which are scattered all over the world, are the very reasons for all of the wars and riots and shootings that occur on a regular basis, day in and day out. The only unifying force will be the coming of Jesus to set up His Kingdom on Earth and there will be many more deaths around the world before that day gets here.

Differences should be celebrated in our world, not part of the problem. Your skin may be more brown than mine and I embrace that because God made you different in that way. Your culture or rather, the ways that you learned from your parents and grandparents, while growing up are different, I accept that as well. It is not something which should be looked down on, nor is it something to place on a pedestal and tell others that yours is best! We are all human, regardless of skin color or our cultural beliefs in God or some other deity. These differences should be embraced in a collective way, not a national or cultural way.

God created us all to be different because we can have a different place and a different part in His Kingdom. You can accomplish things which I cannot and I may be able to do some things which you cannot. It is the same with each of our bodies, the kidneys work to cleanse the blood of sugar and salts, to make this simple. Your liver cleanses the blood of other impurities, but a body which has neither of these organs cannot survive. God is our Creator and must be worshiped as such. He is also our Redeemer, if we will accept Him into that role in our lives. All of the other “gods” or non-religions have no real power and cannot grant you one day or the hair on your head. Seek out God in His Word and you will find that He is all that is really necessary for your life.

Doctrine, differences, or ?


We are inundated with differing beliefs and factions in the Church. They are called “denominations” and the list is like this, there are 217 denominations listed in the 2006 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. In actual truth, those are broken up into over 30,000 all over the world and those are just the Christian religions, that is not counting all of the religions. Why are Christians so fractured and broken? Because we are human, that’s why.

We can’t agree on how to pray or what to wear or whether we should have communion every week or every month or just a couple of times each year. Our humanity has leaked into the gospel that we teach and preach to those who come to hear the Word of God until much of our sermons are our words, our interpretations of God’s Word and not His Word. There have been so many saints of God that have gone before us until, those of us that are left feel empty at times. Why? Because we are not sure of our own salvation, our own position in Christ, our place in His Kingdom, even though we believe we are His…there is still a smidgen of doubt. Likely put there by Satan, but it is still there.

It is like trying to be in a room that you don’t want any light from outside to be in during the summer, and unless you happen to live in a bomb shelter made of concrete and all of the cracks between the door and the structure are sealed, it is nearly impossible to be in total darkness! Light will find a way in. That is the way that we should preach and teach people about Jesus. No matter what they try to put up around themselves to keep your sermon from making a point or a dent in their life and their heart, at least one word or one phrase should prick them to their core. So that the Spirit can get in and convict them of their need for God.

We have allowed, over the centuries, our thinking processes to change some of the meaning of the Word. Oh, it is very subtle, a small nuance here and there, nothing very big so it won’t be noticed. But, the meaning and the effect of God’s Word is dusted with our wisdom and our thinking. That is not the way that the Church which started on the day of Pentecost is supposed to be, even after two thousand years, it still should be the Word and Wisdom of God, not man! That is why I cherish the copy of the Complete Jewish Bible that I have. They have been the keepers of God’s Word for more than four thousand years and they will NOT allow a jot nor a tittle to be out-of-place when it is being copied or translated.

There are a few words in Hebrew which don’t translate well and those you have to look up to make sure of the meaning, but they are few compared to the whole of the text. The point of this is this: if we were so particular about our Scriptures then why can’t we consult with God about the divisions in the Body of Christ so that there won’t be so many? The answer to that is just one word referring to someone who has been at this since the beginning: Satan. He and his cohorts whisper into the ears and minds of “Christians”, who have been in the church since they were wearing diapers, and they in their turn will say something to others in the church and before you know it there is an argument and a split forms and another church denomination is born.

My reason for the quotation marks around Christians in the previous writing is because they are those who have gone through all of the motions of being a Christian. They have done everything right in their eyes, but they have neglected to truly wash themselves in God’s Word. They bring a Bible to church that you could kill a mule with, but most of its pages have dust from 1995 still clinging to its pages.

 

There needs to be a true revival in the Church, the Body of Christ and I mean one that goes down to the bone! Not one that is a stirring of the waters on the surface, or everyone doing the “happy dance” and shouting “Praise God!” Those are nice, but the change needs to be and go further than that! The change should go all the way to your soul!!

How do we do it? I don’t know. We can’t do it on our own, but God can. Our pitiful revivals are mostly on the surface, like stirring the water in the pool of baptism with your hand. It lasts for a few seconds, maybe for a week, but it’s gone soon after. Nothing really changed, nothing happened down at the heart and soul of the church, the body of believers. Everyone, from the pastor on down to those who haven’t accepted Jesus yet, needs to give their life to Jesus or at least re-dedicate their life to Him. Not just saying the words or going through the motions, but really asking Jesus to cleanse your heart and your life!

Then, take your faith in Him with you from that building, to where you work, to the restaurants that you go to, anytime that you meet someone, one of your first questions should be, “Do you know Jesus as your Savior?” Yes, this is being radical as a Christian, but if we don’t you can be sure that those who do not believe in Christ will be!