Feelings verses facts

Let me begin by explaining why I’m so sensitive about this. I went to Brigham Young University (BYU) on a full scholarship for football in the early 70s. I went there as a Christian. Not knowing a lot about Mormonism, and willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, I dove into their teachings. At first it seemed like it might be just another Christian denomination. After all, they believed and studied the Bible just like I did. But I soon realized that they interpretation of the Bible was very different than mine.

That set me on an interesting journey for the truth. Whose interpretation is correct? We can’t both be right. And, besides, this is serious stuff! We’re not talking about global warming here, we’re talking about eternity. When it comes to saving my soul, I don’t want to be close to getting it right, I want to absolutely get it right.

During the in depth study that ensued, I discovered that my interpretation of God’s Word was in fact correct. Their unique interpretation of the Bible was the result of their need to make it fit, or agree with, some of their heretical beliefs. If those beliefs were concerning minor issues like sprinkling or dunking with baptism it would be one thing. No, their differences had to do with the big stuff, like salvation.

Now it was serious. Now, in reality, it was Satanic. Why do I say that? Because, Satan is the master counterfeiter. He knows that effective deception depends on getting it as close to the original as possible, but in the end, the transaction fails.

My experience with Mormonism forever changed how seriously I handle the truth of God’s Word. Trust me, the Bible is not something to be toyed with. But toyed with it is in the book, and now the movie “The Shack”. When you blatantly redefine the Trinity and salvation you’re playing with fire. And, yes, I mean the fires of hell. Ironically, those two are the exact doctrines that Joseph Smith Jr. redefined with Mormonism, and millions are paying the price for it.

Even more concerning is the number of Bible believing Christians that don’t seem to have a problem with The Shack’s message. They get so caught up in the emotional heart tugging story of forgiveness that they’re willing to ignore the heretical depiction of the Trinity and the implied message of universalism; the belief that no one will be sent to hell.

The tragedy, as Al Mohler puts it, is that Christians have lost the art of biblical discernment, which must be traced to a disastrous loss of biblical knowledge. Discernment cannot survive without doctrine.

Clearly, Satan’s most effective tactic to deceive Christians, is to tug on their heart strings. Lead with feelings, and the facts will be overlooked.

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all.” Galatians 1:6

Saved but who knows it

Saved but who knows it

“If You’re Happy and You Know It” is a popular repetitive children’s song, credited to Dr. Alfred Smith in the mid-1900s. It was a song that I grew up singing in Sunday School. The church version added a verse that said “If you’re saved and you know it”. Each statement was followed by shouting, clapping hands, and stomping feet.

As I got older I remember thinking, is it possible to be saved and not know it? The song indicates that possibility. But based on how the Bible defines salvation the answer to that question would be no. It’s impossible to be saved by God’s grace, and filled with His Spirit, and not know it. It’s too powerful.

There’s another question that’s a bit trickier to answer, and it is this; is it possible to be saved, and no one else knows it? For the last several decades, the evangelical church has had to deal with that question. If the answer is yes, it seriously downplays the Lordship of Christ with respect to our obedience to God through salvation.

I’m sure you’ve heard someone say something similar to this; “I received Jesus as my Savior when I was twelve, but I didn’t really make Him my Lord until I was thirty-five. Or, someone believes that they are going to heaven because they prayed the “sinner’s prayer” at a youth camp years ago, but their present life doesn’t show any evidence of a desire to serve and obey God.

The truth of the matter is that good works do not save anyone. However, a truly changed life is proof that God performed a miracle through His powerful love and grace. If something really happened, there will be fruit, period.

The third verse of the church version of that catchy little song got it right. “If you’re saved and you know it, your life will surely show it.” Meaning if it’s real, everyone will be clapping.

“If you love me, keep my commands.” John 14:15

Only One Name

Only one name

Over the weekend – relating to the pope’s visit to America and the nonstop coverage of everything he did, including every speech he gave – I posted the following on Facebook; I honestly don’t care that America is welcoming the pope, let me know when they welcome Jesus.

A bit sarcastic? Yes. However, it was prompted by something that I took notice of in his address to the joint session of the United States Congress. If I was betting an over/under on the pope saying the name of Jesus at some time during his speech, and the betting number was one, I would have definitely taken the over. But I would have lost. Not once, during his forty five minute address, did the pope mention the name of Jesus. WOW!

How could that be? And, with that said, it begs the question, “What on earth did he talk about?” Well, everything but Jesus. He talked about social issues, income redistribution, global warming, protecting the environment, and uneven wealth distribution. Thomas Merton, a communist mystic who converted to Zen Buddhism actually got five mentions.

Catholics claim their pope is the successor to the Apostle Peter. Can you imagine the Apostle Peter giving a speech before Congress and never mentioning Jesus Christ one single time? Peter spoke to a large crowd in Jerusalem and talked about nothing but Jesus! And the result? 3000 people accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior that very day.

Unfortunately, the tendency for denominations, churches, and even individual Christians, when talking about their faith, to talk about everything but Jesus, is becoming all too common today. In fact, Jesuslessness (I know, it’s a word I just made up), is what differentiates real Christianity from religion.

Religion is man reaching up to heaven, trying to do good works to get to heaven. Christianity is God reaching down to man, through His Son Jesus Christ, as the only way to heaven. Religion void of Jesus becomes man centered. That reality is what caused Richard Burton to once say, “The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself.”

Paul put it best when he said, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12