Friday, December 19, 2008

Just Jesus!

I bet you think this is going to be another pontification about Christmas being about Christ. Though it is, I have something else in mind; I read a news article today that showed America's apostasy. That is, when it comes to heaven, salvation, and those kinds of things, too many professing Christians have bought the tolerance lies that Satan has spewed out since the Garden of Eden. They believe that salvation is about your sincerity of belief. Okay, maybe they did not use those precise words. But they did affirm multiple ways to heaven.

A majority of professing Christians have moved from respecting one's right to choose their form of worship, to actually believing that there are multiple ways to heaven. In fact, that figure reaches to an alarming 65 percent. This includes all professing Christias. Fifty-one percent of evangelicals believe that there are multiple ways to heaven. That figure was higher six years ago, so someone woke up and smelled the burnt coffee. Thank the Lord for a little good news in the midst of the bad.

Still, too many people think that salvation can be about Buddha, or Allah, or some other person. It's not, folks. Salvation is through Jesus. Period. Not Jesus, plus your works. Just Jesus. Not Mohammed as God's prophet. Just Jesus. Not the Noble Path. Just Jesus.

The good news is that God provides a full pardon for our sins. He paid the debt himself by sending Jesus to die for you. God proved he was satisfied with Jesus' sin payment by raising Jesus from the dead. And God said, as it were, "You want salvation? You want eternity in paradise? It's paid for, but you have to accept my payment as good enough. And my payment was Jesus' death on the cross. And to prove I was satisfied, I raised him from the dead after 3 days."

The good news cannot be good without bad news alongside it. The bad news is that, no matter how sincere you may be, if you do not turn to Jesus and place your faith in him and him alone, there is no salvation. There is only that terrible place called hell. Not annihilation. Hell. Not purgatory. Hell. The bad news gets worse: "He that does not believe [in Jesus] is already condemned." Read about it in John chapter 3. So if you do not believe in my Jesus, dear friend, you have already been condemned and are only awaiting the execution of the death sentence. You are on death row. That is what makes the good news good. Someone else was executed in your place, if you are willing to accept his payment. If not, you stay on death row.

Don't place your hope in your ability to earn your way to heaven. Don't trust your religion. Just trust Jesus.

Pray for America. Perhaps God will spare America a few more years so that we can turn to him.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What Christmas Means to "Them"

Many in the western world are busying themselves with their Christmas preparations. Even in our city, one can drive around and find houses trimmed with lights and all kinds of joyful signs of this great celebration. We laughed as we made our way to the airport a few nights ago. There were all kinds of lighted snowmen, angels, bells, and other decorations lining the median in the avenue. We were amazed to see them, till we saw the locks holding them to the posts. But even at that, it is the first Christmas I remember seeing such decorations on open display in that part of town.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the world, things don't look quite the same. Christians in parts of India fear for their lives. You can read about it here. Not far away from there, many Chinese are suffering for the cause of Christ, as stated here. There is an agressive attempt to erradicate Christianity from China. Some people never learn; God opened the door and no man will shut it. Nigerian believers are suffering; the same goes in many other parts of the world.

And we westerners still express dismay and amazement over our nativity scenes, over our right to openly display the words "Merry Christmas." Do not misunderstand me; I have a great appreciation for the liberties we have historically enjoyed. I don't want to lose them anymore than the next guy. But when compare with the believers in Iran, or Iraq, or Bangladesh, such harrassment is so small and inconsequential.

Next week, when you stop to open that gift that your loved one bought or made for you, take time to remember your brothers and sisters around the world whose lives may be in danger in the very moment you are sharing your love with one another. "Merry Christmas" for them just may mean living through the night without fear of reprisal for living for Jesus.