Know Your Bible

VOL. 9                           May 9, 2010                           NO. 19

 Fireplaces And Churches


            The weather is finally turning cooler and my thoughts turn to lighting up the gas burning logs in the fireplace. There is something about logs in a fireplace with the flames licking upward and sparkling embers drifting downward after a sharp crackle. The smell of wood burning is intoxicating. It evokes visions of snowy days, hot chocolate, popcorn, and warm, sleepy hours sitting beside the fire.


    When Nila and I went house shopping, the one thing we agreed upon was that we wanted a fireplace. We got what we wanted. Getting a fireplace is no problem. Our nostalgia for a fireplace made us forget something very important. It made us forget that to have a fire you must have wood. To have wood, you must cut it and stack it. To build a fire in a fireplace, you must bring the wood into the house. We had forgotten how labor intensive it is to enjoy a fireplace.


            However, there is a solution to this dilemma; it is called gas burning logs. You can find them in many models. They come sized to fit your particular fireplace. The artificial logs glow with heat. Flames leap up, over, and around them. There are tiny rocks you spread under the logs that look like ashes. In short, there is an illusion that you are experiencing real logs burning in your fireplace. You can even buy an aerosol can of scent that when sprayed gives the smell of logs burning. Now, we sit in front of our fireplace, logs burning (or so it appears), with that intoxicating smell of wood burning (spray a little more of that will ya honey?), and watch the glowing logs (minus the sparkling embers). We become so engrossed in the moment that we do not stop to think that what we are experiencing is nothing but a replica, a counterfeit of the real thing.


            It is my considered opinion that we have become much too comfortable with replicas and counterfeits in our lives. Nowhere is this more devastating than in religion. The true religion of Christ has a definitive flavor. There is nothing else like true Christianity. Nothing compares with its distinctive character. But alas, it has been copied and re-copied (each time leaving out what one does not like) until it no longer resembles its former self. The problem is that men have drunk from this artificial well so long, they no longer can identify the real thing. Men have eaten margarine until they have lost their taste for butter.


            The Devil is cunning. He knows just how to manipulate the artificial to deceive the masses. He makes the counterfeit to appear as much like the original as possible. We all know that the better the counterfeit the greater the value. False religion is the most deadly counterfeit of all. "And no wonder! For Satan transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works" (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). The religion that errs in one point, though it has the appearance and wears the name of Christ, is a false religion.


            Too often, men judge religions on their outward appearance. They see a religion that advocates neglecting of self and automatically assume it is of God. Paul warned against such religions when he wrote,Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,' which all concern things which perish with the using, according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Colossians 2:21-23). Piety does not prove that a religion is correct.


            Dedicating one's life to the service of others does not prove one's religion is true. While it is true that such dedication proves the proponents of the religion are zealously committed to what they believe, we know that zealous people can and do follow the wrong path.


            Jesus' prophesy of the destruction of Jerusalem contained several descriptive phrases about certain events. At one point, Jesus said that Satan would deceive the Elect if he could (Matthew 24:24). Satan's tools for this deception were to be false prophets declaring Christ's presence to be here or there and their working of signs and wonders. It is this kind of workings that can turn the Elect away from the Right Way.


            Paul also addressed this type of problem among Christians in Galatians 1:6-9. The Christians of Paul's day were being pulled away from the truth by Judaizing teachers. Paul affirms that there is but one gospel. It is the gospel that was preached by the apostles. It is not to be altered. The one who dares to do so is cursed by God. Man may have the best of intentions when he adds something to his religious belief. He may even think (as did the Judaizer) that since God required this at an earlier time, then it is required for all times. It is this kind of reasoning that gives rise to counterfeit churches.


            The appeal of counterfeit religion resides in the fact that it requires little work to maintain it. Contrariwise, it takes much work to practice true religion. The true religion of Christ is not passive. Paul instructs the Philippians to work out their salvation (Philippians 2:12). Jesus says we are to strive to enter through the narrow gate (Luke 13:24). To practice the real thing, one must "be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58).


            I must admit that I truly enjoy my gas burning logs. The atmosphere and mood is comforting. I appreciate the convenience afforded by their design. However, enjoying conveniences in material things must never bleed over into embracing the artificial in religion.


"But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him" (John 4:23).


                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ---Glen Young


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The Ark Was The Only Salvation


            “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them’” (Genesis 6:5-7). The early world did not fare well with man in charge. Following the expulsion from the garden the world exploded with humanity driven by the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16).


            Not all would be condemned in this destruction as Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Hebrews 11:7). Noah obeyed the instructions of the Lord (Genesis 6:13-7:24) and found salvation in the ark.


            As the rains poured upon the earth and the foundations of the great deep were broken up (Genesis 7:11-12) the earth was cleansed of all flesh and all in “whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died” (Genesis 7:21-22). Only eight people and an ark full of animals were all that survived from the earth. Noah would spend over a year inside the ark before removing the cover and walking out on dry land. When he brought his family out there were no other people in the world but his family of eight. The ark had saved them from destruction.


            There was no flotilla of arks that saved many, many people. There was only one ark and this was the only ark whereby man could be saved. It was an ark designed by God to serve the purpose of saving man. Noah had to build it exactly as the Lord prescribed in accordance with height, width, length and depth. It was to be constructed of gopher wood and no other. The ark only had one window. There would be three levels in the ark. “Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did” (Genesis 6:22).


            Man did not succeed in devising ways to stay alive outside the ark. He could have climbed the highest tree or the tallest mountain. It could have been possible to float on a log or build a boat seeking to survive but to no avail. Whatever man devised to try and save himself was of no use when the flood came. There was only one place to be saved from the wrath of God and it was in the ark.


            Noah was saved because he obeyed the pattern given to him by God. He did not change it, call it by another name or have more than one ark built. He built the one – true – ark! He was saved because he was in the ark by the grace and mercy of God. Without God’s grace salvation was not possible. Noah was saved because he rejected the ideas of men and walked by faith to the Lord’s command. He was not saved because he was a good man alone nor that he was religious (Matthew 7:21-23). Noah was saved because he obeyed the will of God.


            There is a spiritual ark today that saves men. There is only one. Jesus said, “I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18). On the day of Pentecost that is where you found the saved (Acts 2:47). Where are you – in the ark of safety or an ark built by man?                               

---Kent Heaton

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