Daily Devotional for Thursday January 23, 2003
(Matthew 7:13,14, John 14:6)
Unity. A byproduct of the horrible events of September 11, 2001, has been a more unified country. People like never before have come together in a unified manner, ignoring the racial, ethnic, economic barriers that normally divide us. It is good to see our nation stand together as one. Jesus even said, a house divided can not stand. But I do want to share something I have seen since 9/11 that has disturbed me, and I want to deal with it today. While I believe in my heart that we as Christians should love and care for those of other faiths, while we should be kind to them, we must NEVER compromise the Christian faith just to be politically correct. The fact is, God's plan clearly says that there is only ONE road to salvation, there is only ONE road to Heaven, and that is through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY TO ETERNITY WITH GOD.
One of the byproducts of all of the inter-faith prayer and memorial services during 9/11 and the anniversary of that tragic day, was the appearance that anyone who "has faith" is "spiritual" will be in Heaven. MY FRIEND, THAT IS NOT TRUE!. God's Word clearly tells us that those who reject Christ as their personal savior in this life will be eternally separated from God their Creator. That means those who have CHOSEN to put their faith in the teachings of Islam, of Judaism, or Buddha, or anything other then the inspired, inerrant Word of God will be eternally separated from God when this life is over. As wonderful as other religions may be, they are just that, religions. Christianity is much more than a religion, it is a relationship. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Many can't quite grasp how a loving God, a God of grace and mercy, would let "good people" die and be eternally separated from Him. It is because of sin. You see my friend, sin is something we are all born with. It has been part of the human condition since man sinned in the Garden of Eden. There is only one answer to sin, and that is the answer God put forth. He sent His only Son Jesus, to this earth to die for the sins of all men.
It was God's plan that Jesus, who was born of a virgin, who lived a sinless life, would die on Calvary's cross and pay with his blood for the sin's of all mankind. THAT my friend, is why it is ONLY our faith in Jesus Christ that can wipe away our sins. It is ONLY faith in Christ that can allow sinful man to have his sins wiped clean so that upon death, he can spend eternity with a holy God. Those who never accept Christ, who reject Him, die in their sin and thus are not able to be reconciled back to God their creator. This was God's plan that He gave us because He loved us so much.
***THAT IS WHY ONLY FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST CAN SAVE YOU. NOT FAITH IN BUDDHA, OR FAITH IN MOHAMMAD, OR FAITH IN A COW, OR FAITH IN A TREE. ONLY JESUS DIED FOR YOUR SINS!!!
There is a unity however that we as Christians should be embracing and working towards. That is unity within the body of Christ. A prayer our Lord prayed just hours before going to the cross is still yet unanswered. In John 17:21, Christ prayed for the body of Christ to be one. One of the goals of my ministry when I started over 11 years ago, was to do what I could be bring unity to the body of Christ. In some of my post graduate theological studies, I did extensive research on over 150 mainline Christian denominations and what they believed, and what separated them. The fact is, they all hold the basic tenants of the Christian faith. It was usually on a wide array of theological issues that made no difference to the main body of our faith that there is disagreement and division.
I had the wonderful joy the first 3 years of my ministry to preach in over 500 churches of most every denomination and ethnic make-up. The fact is, the common bond amongst every church was people who were hurting, going through the trials and pains of life., and looking to God for help and answers. Now more than ever, this is a time for Christian churches to come together as one. Never forget, it is NOT your church that saves you, but a personal relationship with Christ. So whether you are Baptist, Catholic, United Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Assembly of God, Independent, or whatever denomination your church belongs to, the most important thing is not your church home, but your relationship with Christ.
I love you and care about you so much. Please don't misunderstand me. I have many dear friends who are Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and many other faiths. I care about them very much. I pray for them daily to allow God to open heir hearts to the truth of His Word. These are good people. They do many good works here on earth. But the Bible tells us in Ephesians 2:8,9 that it is NOT of works that we are saved, but through faith in Christ. Period. I have agreed over the years to appear in several inter-faith events. However, I used my time to not only pray for the concerns being addressed, but share how God so loved this world, that He gave his only Son, that whosoever believed in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life.
We must NEVER compromise the truth of God's Word just to make people feel better. Actually, it is better to offend someone than fail to share with them the keys to eternal life. The Bible says that the Gospel is offensive to those who don't believe. Our job is not to make people feel good, but to share with them the truth of His Word. What they choose to do with that information is between them and God. We have done what God expects us to do.
I pray today for those people of other faiths, that they will open their hearts to God's love, and come to know His Son by faith. I pray for Christians, both here in this country and worldwide. I pray that we will not only be bold in sharing our faith with those of other faiths, but that we will become one, just like Christ prayed in the Garden over 2000 years ago. Now more than ever, the body of Christ needs to stand together, in unity. No longer identified by the local church we attend, but by the faith in Christ we share. A faith that is the only hope for this world. A faith that is the only hope for each person. A faith that is the only road to everlasting life with God our Creator!
***If this moment, you are not 100% sure that if your heart stops beating you will immediately be forever with Jesus, then please take a moment, pray for God to open your heart, and read the words at this link... www.liveprayer.com/SPlan.html . It will be the most important decision that you will make in this life.
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller