Straight Ahead

highway-tagged

Whoever had the idea of painting stripes down the middle and along the sides of the road did a tremendous service to travelers! The stripes help us avoid veering left into oncoming traffic or drifting to the right and going off the road.

If we see the value of definite boundaries on the road, and if football cannot be played without specific sidelines and yardlines, are there established boundaries for life?

Guidelines for Israel

As Joshua faced the weighty task of leading Israel after the death of Moses, God told him, “. . . be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7).

Years later as Joshua was facing the end of his life he urged his people, “Be very firm, then, to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left . . .” (Joshua 23:6).

Centuries later it was said of King Josiah, “He did right in the sight of the LORD and walked in all the way of his father David, nor did he turn aside to the right or to the left” (2 Kings 22:2; see also Deuteronomy 5:32; 17:20; 28:14; Proverbs 4:27).

Guidelines for us

Israel had the Law of Moses to keep them on the path. We have the example of Jesus and His teachings in the New Testament. As long as we keep focused on Christ and His word we will move forward.

Just as highway stripes cannot protect a distracted driver, so God’s word keeps us on course only if we use it as directed..

Sad to say, many Christians today are not holding the course. They have veered off into immorality or indifference or false doctrine or other pitfalls along the way.

In driving, a moment’s inattention can be fatal. So also with our traveling the road to life.

“For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it . . . . how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:1, 3).

Drift. Neglect. Totally avoidable–if we pay attention.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Check It Out!

Time and again the spell-check on my computer has alerted me to a misspelled word.

Imagine, though, a computer for religious writers and for preachers preparing their sermons, equipped with a doctrine-check and a heresy-detector. If the writer commits a theological error, the computer beeps a warning.

Sounds unbelievable? You’re right. There’s no such thing—as far as I know.

But what if there were? Can you imagine trying to program a doctrine-check applicable to everyone? Would there have to be a different program for each denomination? And since many churches have liberal and conservative factions, would there have to be a doctrine-check designed for each?

Is there a standard?

Who has the authority to say what is true doctrinally and what is false? Is there a right and wrong? Or is it all relative? Does each of us have the freedom to decide what to believe? Is there no standard?

Paul writes, “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13).

Also Paul warns, “. . . there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:7-8).

If there is no doctrinal standard, then what Paul says here makes absolutely no sense.

How do we determine the truth?

Even Paul was subject to a doctrine-check. When he preached at the Berean synagogue, the Jews there “were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

Note the measuring stick the Bereans used to determine if what Paul taught was the truth.

Whenever we hear sermons from the pulpit or on TV or radio, and whenever we read articles such as this one, let’s do a doctrine-check, as the Bereans did: “to see whether these things were so.”

If what is taught matches up with God’s word, let’s believe it.

But if it doesn’t . . . .

check and X-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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“What is Truth?”

How we view truth

One of the characteristics of our culture is the belief that truth is relative—what’s true for you may not be true for me. If that’s the case, then neither you nor I have the right to say what anyone else should believe or do.

Certainly there are some areas of life which are subjective. For example, two people eat the very same food. One thinks it tastes great, while the other can’t stand it. So who’s right? Isn’t this simply a matter of personal preference? There is no objective standard in such cases.

How we view morality

But does it work the same way in morality? Does each of us determine what’s right or wrong, as we see it? Or is there a universal moral standard?

For instance, is it wrong to have sexual relations outside of marriage? Many today do not think so, while others do. So which is right? Who decides?

Even if we do not accept the Bible as God’s inspired truth applicable to all people in every era, we are still forced to conclude that the Bible limits sex relations to the marital union of a man and a woman. “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4; see Genesis 1:27; 2:18-24).

How we view the Bible

Either the Bible is God’s word or it isn’t. If it isn’t, then it’s merely a human document we can do with as we wish. But if it is God’s word, are we wise to disregard it?

Paul wrote, “. . . we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

How we view Jesus

Likewise with Christ. Either He is who He claimed to be, the Son of God, or He isn’t. He can’t be both.

If He isn’t, then we don’t need to follow Him. If He is, then how can we ignore Him?

One of Jesus’ claims is this: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6).

What a bold statement! Now either it’s the truth or it’s a lie. Which? If true, then how can we consider all world religions as alternate paths to God?

One doesn’t have to be a narrow-minded bigot to affirm that the Bible claims there is only one way to God, and that way is through Jesus.

If that’s the truth, then who has the right to say otherwise?

truth-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Restoration: The Glory and the Challenge

antique auto-tagged

Getting back to the original

Restoring old paintings, automobiles, or houses is a labor of love.

In restoration there has to be a standard to give direction to the project. The standard is, of course, the original condition. Often it takes considerable research to determine what the original condition was.

A biblical example

Restoration is also a vital biblical principle. The Old Testament gives accounts of several restorations—especially in the days of Hezekiah and Josiah, kings of Judah (2 Chronicles 29-30, 34-35).

In both cases God’s people had drifted far from the original plan revealed by God to Moses centuries before.

A most unusual thing happened during Josiah’s reign. As the temple was undergoing restoration, Hilkiah the priest found the book of the Law. Judging from Josiah’s reaction when it was read, we could conclude that he had never heard it before.

“Then the king . . . made a covenant before the LORD . . . to perform the words of the covenant written in this book . . . . Throughout his lifetime they did not turn from following the LORD God of their fathers” (2 Chronicles 34:31, 33).

Josiah has left a noble example for us today. Restoration requires diligent study followed by application of what one learns. In the process those who dedicate themselves to do only what the New Testament teaches may make some remarkable discoveries.

Whether it is how we worship, how the church is organized, or what is taught—all of this must bear the scrutiny of examination. Truth-seekers may find that certain venerated practices they have taken for granted are in fact of human rather than divine origin.

Satan has influenced the introduction of many additions to the original plan Christ gave for His church. The best way to counter Satan’s efforts is to go back to the Bible!

Bible on desk-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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