The All Important Heart

The heart which pumps the blood through our bodies is a vital organ. The wise man will take care not to damage his heart. The Bible uses the term “heart” to refer to another part of man, that is, the thinking, feeling part. This heart is also vital. The wise man will take care not to damage it. Solomon wrote, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

The thoughts of the heart determine the words and deeds of men. Again quoting from Solomon, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7) Jesus makes it clear that the evil deeds of men originate in the heart. He said, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornication, murder, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy , pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (Mark 7:21-23) On the other hand if a man thinks right he will do right. Therefore, Paul wrote, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. “ (Philippians 4:8)

One of the best ways to keep the thoughts of our heart right is through the study of the Bible. The Bible challenges us to think proper thoughts. Another way to guard the heart is by worshipping regularly. In the public worship our hearts are encouraged to think upon that which is good. We need to grasp every opportunity to keep our hearts from the corrupting influences of the false philosophies and evil of the world. Brethren, lets guard our hearts.

 Claude

Your Grace Is Too Small

In recent years we have been hearing a lot about the grace of God. It would almost seem as though those who speak so much of grace somehow think that they are the first to discover it. It is a good thing that men are speaking and writing about the grace of God, except for one thing – the grace they write of is often too small. It is as if they see in the grace of God nothing more than the forgiving of our sins. We hear such statements as this: we do the best we can and God’s grace takes care of the rest. It is certainly true that we need God’s grace to cover our sins but this is a very inadequate, limited view of grace.

One of scripture’s greatest statements on the grace of God is in the second chapter of Ephesians (Ephesians 2:1-10). In this passage Paul says, “By grace ye are saved;” then again, “By grace ye are saved through faith.” (Ephesians 2:5, 8) Does that mean merely that all our sins are forgiven? Certainly not! For while our sins are forgiven, there is much more. A dramatic change occurs in us – a change so radical that it is described as going from being dead in sin to being made alive. The apostle further states that we are God’s “workmanship” so that not only is forgiveness a gift of God’s grace but so also are all our good works as we live our lives under the law of Christ. (1 Corinthians 9:21)   So that all our Christian human effort (and much is required) is undergirded by the grace of God – “It is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8) Furthermore, this is all accomplished through the gospel – “the power of God unto salvation.” (Romans 1:16)

God’s grace can and will rework our lives if we let Him. But if we refuse to let Him mold and make us but rather continue to yield ourselves as servants of sin, do not expect God’s gift of eternal life but rather the wages of sin which is death. (For a complete statement of this point read Romans 6:1-23)

 Claude

Pseudo-Faith

From Our Bulletin – August 14, 2011

It is ironic that those who talk the most about faith and salvation by faith oftentimes reject what the Bible actually says about faith. The faith only about which they speak might appropriately be called a pseudo-faith. It certainly is not the full faith in Christ described in God’s word.

The faith of which Paul writes in the Book of Romans and by which he says we are justified is not faith alone but rather an obedient faith. He both opens and closes that book speaking of the “obedience of faith.” (Romans 1:5; Romans 16:26) In the heart of the book he makes it clear that we are made free from sin and become the servants of righteousness when we obey from the heart that form of doctrine. (Romans 6:17-18)

In the Book of Galatians Paul writes, “Ye are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26) But this is not faith without baptism as the next verse clearly shows. “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:27) Does anyone really believe that a person can be a child of God without being in Christ? But it is through baptism that we come into Christ. Later in this same book we learn that the faith which avails in Christ is not faith alone but rather “faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6)

There is one book in the Bible that discusses “faith only” – the Book of James. And it makes it clear that man’s justification is “not by faith only.” (James 2:24) Earlier in the same chapter the question is raised: “What doeth it profit, my brethren, though a man says he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? ” (James 2:14) Then the rest of the chapter is spent saying that he cannot be saved by faith alone. Three times he says: “Faith without works is dead.” (See James 2:17, 20, 26)

 Claude

Jesus & Pluralism

Religious pluralism can have more than one meaning. Sometimes it means nothing more than the religious freedom which is so much a part of our American heritage. But in recent years it has come to mean much more than anything envisioned by our forefathers. I once received a letter from a man objecting to my stance on a particular issue. His concern was not as to whether I was right or wrong but rather as he put it, “We live in a pluralistic society.” By this he did not simply mean that we have freedom of religion in our country but rather that we should not suggest another person’s belief may actually be wrong.

Today, religious pluralism has come to mean that all beliefs are equally valid, that is, what one man believes is right for him and if another man believes the very opposite, it too is right. One religious belief is just as true as another. In the broadest sense of post-modernism, religious pluralism rejects the idea that one religion is true and all others false but rather holds that all the world religions are to be accepted as equally true. In a more limited sense within the confines of Christendom, religious pluralism means that all the denominations with their different beliefs and practices are acceptable. Thus we hear such statements as: “There are many different roads that lead to heaven;” or “Attend the church of your choice.”

But what is Jesus’ stance on religious pluralism? Hear what he has to say: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) And again Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” (John 14:6).

 Claude