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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

DAILY ENCOURAGEMENT WEDNESDAY – Jesus, The Way Out Of Religious Confusion. #1.

A university student was seen with a large "K" printed on his T- shirt. When someone asked him what the "K" stood for, he said, "Confused." "But," the questioner replied, "you don't spell "confused" with a "K." The student answered, "You don't know how confused I am." - Source Unknown.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6. TNIV

Many people who wish to follow Jesus are repelled by the multitude of denominations, conflicting doctrines, and bad practices taught by those professing to be Christians. Such distaste for denominational division is in keeping with the spirit of the New Testament...

Jesus prayed fervently for unity... that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. - John 17:21.

Paul condemned religious division... I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. - 1 Cor 1:10.

While some denominational leaders like to justify their existence, we know that religious confusion does not come from God! God is the author of peace, not confusion... For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord's people. - 1 Cor 14:33.

Religious strife is indicative of carnality, and a work of the flesh... You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere human beings? For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere human beings? - 1 Cor 3:3-4.

Even so, is it possible for people today to simply be Christians, and not a contributor to the denominational division of today? The answer is Yes! And Jesus will show us The Way Out Of Religious Confusion! Notice Jesus' own example in the religious climate of His day...

Note the religious climate of His day.When Jesus came to this earth, the Israelites were living under God's law given by Moses. In that law, God had not made any provision for the division of His people into religious sects or parties.

Yet, by the time of Jesus, the Jews had formed several distinct religious sects: Pharisees (somewhat conservative); Sadducees (very liberal, the “modernists” of their day); Essenes (radical isolationists); Herodians, Zealots (political religionists). It was assumed that all who were serious about religion would be associated with one of these groups.

To which of these groups did Jesus belong? He belonged to none of these groups! Instead, He maintained a “non-sectarian” relationship with God to the very end As an Israelite, living at a time when the Law of Moses was still in effect, He was simply an “Israelite.”

In addition, He encouraged all to live by the Law while it was still in effect…

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. Truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. - Matt 5:17-20. In other words, He encouraged all to simply be what the Law of Moses intended them to be i.e., “Israelites.”

Would He be AOG; or Baptist, or Catholic, or Presbyterian, or Methodist? If He was simply an Israelite then, would He not simply be a “Christian” today? That was certainly what His disciples eventually came to be called…

Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. - Acts 11:25-26.

The 19th-century Danish theologian Soren Kierkegaard identified two kinds of religion -- Religion A and Religion B. The first is "faith" in name only (2 Tim. 3:5). It's the practice of attending church without genuine faith in the living Lord.

Religion B, on the other hand, is a life-transforming, destiny-changing experience. It's a definite commitment to the crucified and risen Savior, which establishes an ongoing personal relationship between a forgiven sinner and a gracious God.

This difference explains why for many years British author C.S. Lewis had such great difficulty in becoming a Christian. Religion A had blinded him to Religion B. According to his brother Warren, his conversion was "no sudden plunge into a new life, but rather a slow, steady convalescence from a deep-seated spiritual illness - an illness that had its origins in our childhood, in the dry husks of religion offered by the semi-political churchgoing of Ulster, and the similar dull emptiness of compulsory church during our school days." - Our Daily Bread.

The example Jesus has set for us is clear; just be what God originally intended under the Law which is in effect. Since in the New Testament the Disciples of Christ were called “Christians,” so we should be! Not only should we be content with being called Christians, we should also be concerned with “just being Christians.” Nothing more, nothing less!

Loving Father, help me by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be a Christian, one who follows , and obeys the teachings of Jesus. That I may not be deceived, and fall into religious confusion. In the wonderful name of Jesus I pray! Amen!

Be Encouraged!

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