Archive for July, 2022

One Way: Jesus 10/25/98

John 14:6
Page 1578 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST left us a legacy of love and truth. In love He spoke truth. What He said is always best for us to know, but it isn’t always what we want to know.

Jesus Christ was God incarnate. That is, God in flesh and blood. He was the God man walking and talking. When He spoke it was the voice of God speaking. His words rang with the realism of eternity. Being love embodied His disclosure became love revealed.

On the eve of His crucifixion He had one last time to share insights. This was more than a mere pep talk. He is sharing how we can live in contact with Him and eventually share His dwelling place, Heaven. It is fitting that a persons few remaining words should be important ones. He wasted no time comforting His followers.

After hearing Christ speak of going away to His Father’s house of many mansions and assuring them they would soon join Him, Thomas asked a question: “Lord, we do not know where you are going, and how can we know the way?” (Vs. 5).

Christ did not defer from sharing one of the most important realities of all. It is a truth for which His followers are often criticized. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but by Me.”

“I” is emphatic meaning, “I and no other always am the only way.”

Our pluralistic society prefers to hear there are many different paths but all lead to the same destination. Confidently we are told we are working to go to the same place.

If what Jesus said is true, and it is, and you wanted to mislead people into not getting to the Father what lie would you perpetuate? The deceiver has created numerous counterfeits and in this way he leads many on dead end paths.

If we believe what Jesus said was true we cannot remain mute. If you had friends in a building on fire and you knew a way out and they didn’t what would be the most loving thing you could do?

Would it be to say there are many doors take your pick? Would it not be to say there is only one way out and I want you to follow me to safety? If you knew there to be only one way wouldn’t it be loving to tell your friends there is only one way?

We are told it is bigoted and narrow minded to insist Jesus is the only way to the Father. In many areas of life there are defined and limited exact standards.

There are 16 ounces and only 16 ounces, no more and no less, in a pound.

There are 12 inches and only 12 inches, no more and no less in a foot and precisely three feet in a yard.

There are exactly 440 vibrations per second in A above middle-C on the piano.

Water consists of only two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen —- no more and no less.

At sea level water boils at precisely 212 degrees.

Colleges and universities have entrance requirements that must be met. They are spelled out and adhered to. If you want to enter you must comply with their requirements.

Nations have standards for naturalization. If you want to be a citizen you must meet these demands.

We accept all of these standards and requirements and comply. Why then do some consider Christ to be narrow and bigoted when He tells us the truth regarding there being one way to heaven?

We should not marvel there is only one way. We should rejoice there is a way.

If we have a potentially fatal disease and a competent doctor says there is one and only medical treatment that will work and without it death is certain, we would rejoice that our doctor is so wise and hasten to submit to the treatment.

If we were faced with legal action that could be disastrous and our attorney were to say there is only one course of action, but it is safe and certain we would marvel at the insight of our advocate and submit to his counsel.

Suppose a student were to apply for admission to a great academic institution such as Georgia Tech declaring, “I want to study logarithms.” The counselor would say, “Great, but first you must take basic math.” The student might protest taking math and insisting on taking logarithms. The counselor would insist. The student might assert that is mean and unfair. It is a bigoted rule that says I can’t study logarithms until I take math. The counselor would insist, “There is no other way. It is impossible for you to come to an understanding of logarithms unless you take the only way people have come to understand logarithms —- namely, the way is math.” There is only one way, math. Not psychology, physical education, or philosophy. Math only. The same is true of Christ.

Why then when Christ says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me” do we suddenly become critical and resistant?

If you believe Christ, you believe that. We believe that it should alter our behavior and stimulate our loving desire to tell others. Many churches have been cowered into not offending some persons by insisting there is only one way. I would like to tell people what they would like to hear, but that is not my task. My calling is to tell people what they need to hear. If I believe it and don’t tell people I am more heartless than a so called friend who would not warn a friend of fire and show the way to the exit.

Jesus said, “The words I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me…” (John 14: 10, 11).

Jesus was not exhibiting a proud narrow arrogance, He was making the only statement possible in light of what He knew and Who He was. He was God in flesh and blood. Get your Christology right and everything else comes easy. Get your Christology wrong and nothing is right.

As His minister I cannot alter, amend, or expand those parameters. If I am to be true to Him I must advocate His position. I can do none else and be loyal to Him.

Jesus is the only authorized revelation of God to humanity as well as the only authorized representative of humanity to God.

To us that is startling but to the ancient Jew hearing it for the first time it was revolutionary. The statement contained three of the basic concepts of Judaism.

Isaiah warned of false “ways,” “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying ‘This is the way, walk in it’” (Isaiah 30: 21).

We need to pray with the Psalmist, “Teach me your way, O Lord” (Psalm 27: 11).

What does it mean Christ is the way?

If you were to ask directions to a difficult destination a person might go to great length giving directions only to confuse you. If the person offered to walk with you and guide you there the person would then become the way. Then the person becomes the way.

Jesus said, “I am the truth.” Jesus has not just told us the truth He embodies it. The character of the person who teaches Latin, astrophysics, or zoology does not affect the subject. The character of the person who teaches character is important. The person who declares what He espouses is the truth needs to embody the truth.

“I am the life,” was Christ’s third claim. What every person is truly seeking for is life with meaning. Jesus makes life worth living because He is the Life.

Proud parents named their newborn son Adoniram Judson. This brilliant child at age 12 was teaching the adult men’s Sunday School class the book of the Revelation from the Greek text. His genius was obvious.

As he grew his faith began to waver through reading the wrong books. He became such a persuasive advocate of atheism that not even his father tried to share with him.

He went to Brown University in Providence, R.I. There he roomed with another brilliant young man named Jeremy Ames. Soon he had converted Jeremy to atheism. Ames became a vocal advocate of atheism and gave Judson credit for helping him develop his arguments against the Christian faith.

Years lapsed and Judson, an aspiring actor, went to New York to fulfill his dreams. Enjoying success he returned to Boston for a visit. On his way the weather turned bad and he sought shelter for the night. The inn keeper told him he didn’t have a room available. Judson pleaded to be allowed to sleep in the parlor offering to pay full room cost.

The inn keeper relinquished and conceded there was a vacant room but it was next to a very sick man who had high fever and created a lot of noise swearing and screaming. The room was offered with an understanding of the conditions. During the early part of the night the man raved and shouted profanities. A few hours after midnight he got quiet and Judson slept.

The next morning Judson asked if the quiet meant the man was better. The inn keeper told him the man had died. Judson asked how he could deal with having a man die in his inn.

The inn keeper replied it was such a pity for the young man was a brilliant graduate of Brown University named Jeremy Ames.

The shock was so great for Judson that he said all the way back to Boston two words kept ringing in his mind: “death and hell.” Over and over he heard them.

Soon thereafter Judson committed his life to Christ and set sail for India to spread the good news. After a short time in India he went to Burma. Soon thereafter his wife and children died. He remarried and his second wife died also. For seven years he labored in Burma before he had his first convert. Soon thereafter many others came to know Christ.

Unknown to Judson there existed in Burmese folklore a tale that someday a man would come with a book containing the truth. The Burmese people believed Judson to be that man, the Bible to be that book, and the truth contained therein spread rapidly.

Are you misleading or failing to lead someone to the truth? May those words “death and hell” awaken us as they did Judson.

One of my favorite courses in college was entomology, the study of insects. Of the large assortment collected and classified there was one found to be most intriguing, the Procession Caterpillar. Their name comes from their habits. If one gets in line behind another it will stay and follow. If another joins them a procession is begun.

An experiment was conducted involving them using a large flower pot. One was set in motion crawling around the perimeter of the pot. In rapid succession others were put in the procession until the rim formed a ring all following in procession behind the one in front.

Fresh pine needles are a favorite food of the little creatures. A supply was put in the middle of the pot but no one left the ring to eat. They continued to go around and around in procession until they all starved to death.

We are such followers that we tend to follow the procession of beliefs of those like us. Many are spiritually going around-and-around in procession unwilling to break with the mass and live spiritually.

A list of the religions of the world will include Christianity. In reality Christianity isn’t a religion it is a relationship.

Every religion is based on a system of works whereby a person seeks to earn, merit, or deserve the favor of God. Christianity acknowledges there is no way to do so. Instead God offers us His favor and forgiveness based on THE work of Jesus Christ.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

One enters into a relationship with Jesus Christ by faith.

Jesus Christ said: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21).

A Guidebook for Better Living – Part Two

Hebrews 1: 1 – 3

With today’s bad news, there is a source of good news. That is what the Bible offers. A time alone with the Lord in His book can be a time of renewing, mentally refueling. 

The Bible effervesces with exuberance. It exudes exuberance.  It overflows with the superabundant advantages of doing things God’s way.  It speaks of the good things God wants to lavish on you.

To have a treasure and not know it is little better than not having it. Having a Bible in your house and not read is little better than not having one. Do you?

Several key words reveal what energizing provisions are found in the Bible. They are:

One is the word summarized as “better.” This word is used 13 times in the book to show how much better life is in Christ.  It indicates how much better He is than any other pseudo-god.  He offers you “a better hope.” (1:4)

Another word is “perfect.” This word is used 14 times for emphasis.  He can do for us what no human effort or system could do.  No sacrifice, or legal system, can make you worthy to stand before God.  In Christ He perfects you and you can spiritually stand before God as a new creature in Christ.

The third word is “eternal.”  Christ is shown to be the “author of eternal salvation.”  (5:9) In Him “We have strong encouragement in Jesus Christ.” (6:18) Therefore we should “encourage one another daily.” (3:13) Because He has guaranteed us “the promise of eternal inheritance.” (9:15) You can rely on Him because He is, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (13:8)

Fourth is the word “encouragement.” 

Life is filled with challenges but we are promised an “eternal inheritance.” (9:15) with Christ who is “heir to all things.” (1:2)

The physician, William Osler, one of the founders of Johns Hopkins University was struggling as a young student.  He lacked confidence in his upcoming exams and his future was uncertain.  He picked up a book authored by philosopher Thomas Carlyle and read: “Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.”  What is the decision clearly at hand for you? Feed your mind on the Word of God that you may have His guidance in finding and doing His will.

Jim Elliot, who gave his life trying to reach a primitive tribe deep in the Brazilian Amazon forest, put life in perspective by saying: “He is no fool, to give what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”

A Guidebook for Better Living – Part One

Hebrews 1: 1 – 3

Jesus has a message for you.  It is a message of encouragement, explanation, exhilaration and expectation. He wants to communicate to us more than we want Him to. Communication involves sending and receiving a message.

Lilly Tomlin, in her role of a telephone operator, often uses a statement which illustrates this: “Have I reached the person to whom I am speaking?”

The people who initially received this letter needed its message as much as we.  For we, like they, are going through difficult times.  The old world order with which they were comfortable was being destroyed.  A new code of public ethics was emerging which was not God’s will.  They were being pulled into it and being persecuted by their former friends for following Christ.  False teachings abounded, and they were in danger of being deceived.  Forgetfulness was causing them not to remember some foundational truths that would have stabilized them.  They were at a spiritual standstill, making no progress and in danger of sliding back into their old lifestyle.  Many had forsaken worship.  They needed an exuberant word from God. So do we . . . and we have it. It is God’s written Word. It is the Bible. Part of it is the Book of Hebrews. 

Our society needs a word of encouragement.  We look at externals and think all things are well.  In reality we are often looking at a shell that is empty.  A word has been coined to describe a segment of our affluent upward mobile society called “yuppies.”  Even they who drive Porshces and drink Perrier are not finding fulfillment in things.  Many studies are showing a number of these are now suffering from guilt and are even embarrassed to be associated with people like themselves.  They are in need of a word of encouragement.  Many of these have stopped reaching upward and have started looking upward to Christ for a word of encouragement.

He alone gives hope.  Hope is more than an emotion.  It is a way of looking at life and an understanding of the things that happen to us.  The Word of God does this and inspires hope.

If you were assured that you could go to a given spot and actually hear the literal voice of God speaking right from heaven, would you do it?  Well, we can’t, but there is a place where you can go and see the actual words communicated to us by God through holy men in a written form. That is what the Bible is. 

Designate a time and place to which you will go each day to get a written message from God. While there, He would like to hear from you. Make time to pray also. Perhaps you think you don’t have time. Make it by doing something simple like setting your alarm clock a bit earlier.

Begin today. 

Judas (Not Iscariot), Labbaeus (Matthew), Thaddeus (Mark), Judas, Son of James (Luke)

“Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, ‘Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?'” (John 14:22).

This follower of Christ was called TRINOMINUS, by Jerome, one of the early church fathers. The word means “the man with three names.”

The name Judas is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Judah. Jude is the Latin form of the name Judah.

Judas was an honorable name that went back to the founder of the tribe of Judah.

About 164 BC when Israel was occupied and the great tyranny that was manifest in that country was persecuting the people severely, the dominant ruler that possessed the land was named by himself Antichus Epiphanes which means the “great and mighty God.” He rededicated the house of God to the goddess Olympus Zeus. He profaned the house in so many ways and one way in which he did was he brought pigs into the house of God and had them sacrificed on the altar. To the Jewish people that was the most blasphemous degrading thing that could happen.

He then sent his soldiers out into the countryside to have the same thing done in the various villages. They went to one village just a short distance from Jerusalem in which there was an old retired priest of the temple living there. The soldier in charge of the battery of individuals assigned to enforce the law called this old priest out of the ranks and said you are to be the first to sacrifice the pig here in your village then you will be first to eat of its flesh. The old man stood there stony faced in defiance. Finally someone from the crowd stepped out knowing the age of the old retired priest and said, I will take his place. The old retired priest first attacked him then attacked the soldiers and his four sons got involved in the battle. One of those four sons was named Judas. They called him Judas Macabee which meant Judas the hammer. They were few in number with no reserves and no military strength and training. But in the weeks and months that followed their insurrection delivered the people from the bondage imposed upon them.

Unfortunately this admirable name was defamed by Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus. Therefore, when this Judas is mentioned the gospel writer hastens to add, “Not Iscariot.”

To distinguish him from Judas Iscariot let’s refer to him as Jude.

Another of his names, Labbaeus, in Arabic means courageous, brave, or hearty. Thaddeus in Arabic means lively, vivacious. Names in the Biblical era were intended to reveal something of the personality or character of an individual. If so this Judas was a dynamic individual.

After having followed Christ as an apostle for three years, Jude, along with the other eleven, met with Christ for the last time in the upper room. The event is called the “Last Supper.” In reality it is the lasting supper.

There Jesus said to His beloved followers, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14: 1 – 3).

Then Jesus said, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18).

There must have been comfort in the words that followed: “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19).

Then came this intriguing question: “Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, ‘Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?'” (John 14:22).

Jesus response forms a stable platform for life: “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him'” (John 14:23).

Jesus did not deal directly with the “how.” Some things are too complex to have a simple answer. How does a computer chip work? There is no simple answer. I saw a cartoon of a child going through a grocery check-out line with his mother. There are chess sets on the counter as a special item for the day. As they are checking out the child asks, “How do you play that game?” There is no simple answer. Neither was there a simple answer to Jude’s question. There was however a wise response. Distilled, it is: Because you love Me, you will keep my word. Because you keep My word, I will reveal Myself to you.

This is an appeal to be steadfast. “Stead” means a place or position. A homestead is a home place. “Fast” means to be fixed unmovably in a place.

In a time of military conflict soldiers from North Carolina were called “Tar heels.” It was said they were so steadfast that it was as though they had tar on their heels and could not be moved. Jesus response to Thaddaeus’ question is an appeal to steadfastness.

There are three conditions for Christ fulfilling His promise in John 14: 21, “I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

1) We must have His “commandments” (Vs. 21a). By God’s grace Christ’s commandments are preserved in his Word.

2) We are to “keep them.” Obedience is the issue.

3) We are to love Him. Only when we love Him do we desire to know His commandments enough to search them out. Only when we love Him will we do what we know He has commanded us.

Commandants such as: a] love your enemies, b] love one another, c] be His witnesses unto the end of the earth.

There is a song with these words: “To know, know, know Him is to love, love, love Him.”

There is a book in our New Testament that bears his name, “Jude.” He may or may not have been the Jude who penned the book, but it speaks of steadfastness such as that for which an appeal is here made. In it he repetitiously appeals for steadfastness. He pleads:

Do not drift away from the truth as a result of personal indifference.

Do not be deceived into following false teachers. There are two types of false teachers:
1) Those who teach false doctrine.

2) Those who teach enough sound doctrine to maintain a good front, but who are themselves false. That is, hypocrites.

Do not be misdirected away from the basic gospel.

Do maintain the faith, “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 3, 17, 20, 21).

One way to maintain the faith is to keep “praying in the Holy Spirit.”

After the appeal for us to “keep yourselves in the love of God,” Jude focuses on the resource for doing so: “Now to Him that is able to keep you from falling … the only wise God …” (Jude 24, 25).

Judas, not Iscariot, remained faithful. Legend says he later ministered in Armenia and Persia where he was martyred. He was faithful unto death.

Why Did God Create Human Beings?

The fact that God created is foundational to Christianity because if His creation is capricious, unstable, and disorderly, so He might be also. This erodes the Bible view of a loving God who has a wonderful plan for your life just as He has of His total creation.

Alan H. Guth, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in 1980 first postulated this “inflationary universe theory.” He concluded the universe began with the creation of space-time out of nothing. Mathematical calculations indicate that space began expanding in time, out of nothing, at an enormous rate. Paul J. Steinhardt wrote in “Scientific American”: “In the course of this stupendous growth spurt, all the matter and energy in the universe could have been created from nothing…” In that creation God created human beings, why?

“For who hath known the mind of the Lord?” (Romans 11:34)

“Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why have you made me like this?” (Romans 9:20) Inquiring minds want to know.

“The Lord has made all things for himself…” (Proverbs 16:4)

“For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited…” (Isaiah 45:18).

The psalmist in part explains why He created man in His image: “You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands, You have put all things under his feet….” (Psalms 8:6)

“You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For you created all things, And by your will they exist and were created.” (Revelations 4:11)  One of our purposes is to praise and glorify God.  He created us to be objects of His love and blessings so that we might find fulfillment in praising and honoring Him.

The evolutionary low view of human kind has so devalued human life as to create an environment in which man’s inhumanity to man is tolerable.

God had a purpose in creating you.  Out of love He created humanity for fellowship, as an object to which He might express His love.  If your life is aimless and purposeless, it is because you have failed to realize His great love for you and how His plan for you is best for you.  His plan is for you to have fellowship with Him in time and for eternity.  If you cut yourself off from that plan, life loses much of its meaning.

Sin has broken this fellowship between God and His creation. Therefore, God has followed His miracle of creation with an even greater miracle.  It is the miracle of recreation called new birth through faith in Jesus Christ.