Category: salvation

Invitations – By Matt Miller

In Luke 14, we find Jesus eating on the Sabbath day in the house of a Pharisee. During this scene, Luke provides us with several points where it appears Jesus tested the Pharisees and taught them things which were transformative to their thinking, if they understood what He was telling them. In the context here, Jesus uses the teaching of the donkey or ox in the ditch to cause them to think harder about the legality of healing another on the Sabbath. He also instructs them to invite the poor to their feasts rather than those able to repay the invitation, along with other teachings. It is here that we find Jesus challenge the thought of his day, and sadly a thought that prevails yet today. Notice what one of them says to Him – [Luk 14:15 NKJV] 15 Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed [is] he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

This statement provides Jesus an opportunity to demonstrate that many of His day, as well as our day are neglecting the invitation of the Lord to be His guests eternally.

[Luk 14:16-24 NKJV] 16 Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, 17 “and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ 18 “But they all with one [accord] began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ 19 “And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ 20 “Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 “So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here [the] poor and [the] maimed and [the] lame and [the] blind.’ 22 “And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ 23 “Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel [them] to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 ‘For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’ ”

God had been preparing Israel since the Exodus (really even before this) to receive His invitation to be reconciled to God and have eternal life. Eternal life in His presence was always the goal of God’s plan. Now that Jesus was walking among them, the Jews of His day were rejecting Him and rejecting the invitation to be at the feast. They were the ones making excuses, saying all the while “I cannot come.”

We see in this a frustration of God in the case of the master’s frustration at his invited guests. So he invites others. All the others. Types of people which the natural friends might not expect at the feast. Notice too that the master tells the servant to “Compel them to come in…”

It is instructive to consider from this parable that Jesus was telling the Jews that He has invited them as the natural friends and they were rejecting Him and His invitation. Further the invitation was going to be extended as broadly and widely as all the earth. To every creature (Matt 28:18-20).

We need to be responsive to the spiritual invitation of the Lord. The guests of the feast in the parable were concerned with natural things of an earthly nature. All of these are things which we naturally would engage in here on this earth. The first has a new piece of property which they must go inspect. Do we put things we have acquired or are seeking to acquire before our spiritual responsibilities?

The Second put the testing of his new oxen before the feast. How many people spend their time and energy to buy new toys or gadgets to engage in all manner of hobbies and recreation? The weekend comes and we find a couple of days of leisure on our hands. It is ours to do with as we please, and sadly too often, people choose to put their hobbies, their passions, their pursuits before service to God. Now there is nothing inherently wrong with engaging in many of these things, but so many in this world put these pursuits before their service to God, and when the season of such pursuits comes in view, God is moved out of their view and gets neglected.

Still others will take that which God has ordained and made to be centrally important in our lives – our family and will use that as our excuse for why we cannot come to the Lord or continue with Him in obedience.

Family can be our biggest help and also our biggest hindrance in serving the Lord. Each one of us needs to examine how we are being influenced by our family. If they are influencing us for good and helping us to prioritize spiritual things, this is right and they and we are putting our familial relation ship in Christ at the front of our relationship. Sadly, many will be influenced by family and familial cares to put other things before God and our duties as Christians. We must take special care in these relationships not to let them dominate our life and overtake our spiritual walk.

Finally, we must be prepared to respond to the Lord’s invitation. It isn’t just a onetime response to the Gospel. This is a continual prioritization of those things of a spiritual nature. We must prioritize Him and His word in our lives so that we can be constantly growing in maturity. We must prioritize serving Him over pleasures and pursuits. We must also be the servants out in the highways and hedges inviting others to the Master’s feast, so that His house will be filled. I guarantee we will not invite more than the Master has room for.

Do we understand that we are all the poor and lame and maimed who the master sent out the invitation to (beyond the Jews)? Do we understand that the master will not be patient for long and we must not reject His invitation? Do we understand that we must put priority on attending this feast, because the alternative is eternal destruction?

Help For A Struggling World – By Matt Miller

So many today are struggling. As I make that statement, I perceive in the world and people around me, that there are a lot of people struggling their way through life. I see people who are worried about their daily provision and daily needs struggling from one meal to the next. On nearly any major corner near the Highways in the city, we will observe those who are homeless (some truthfully, others, portraying themselves as such to take advantage of others’ charity). On the nightly news broadcasts, it seems there is no shortage of troubled youth either hurting themselves or those around them. Wars rage, people struggle and scrape and fight. Why? Why do so many feel hopeless? Why are our youth hopeless?

Many point at these problems and blame. We blame others for their lack of empathy and compassion. We blame the government as though they can provide for the emotion and spiritual needs of a city, state, or nation. We look to science and academia for learning, comprehension, and therapies which will alleviate the problems of our day. When it is all over, what can any of these do for the troubled spirit and the vexations of the heart?

Men are inadequate to provide for physical needs (we would and could have nothing of physical sustainment were it not by God’s will). We lack the understanding to deal with many mental struggles
(what do we really understand about the human mind, consciousness, and conscience). Spiritually, so many are turned off or struggling to find fulfillment. I would submit to you though, that we need to point
more hearts to God in order to overcome all of these troubles.

God created the universe, the earth, and all that are within them. The mind and power which could speak such things into existence is certainly capable to make provision for our daily physical needs. He does so by providing what is needful for us. Our health, our strength, our abilities (all of these we use in gathering, hunting, or earning that which provides for our table and our hearth). Jesus taught this very concept among the topics highlighted in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 6:25-32) where He concludes: [Mat 6:33-34 NKJV] 33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day [is] its own trouble.

From physical worries to family strife, discontentment, and rage, emotionally the world is struggling. Science and medicine have proposed any number of drugs which treat the hormones and treat our minds, but so many of these are numbing agents. They treat the pain and mask the true cause. (I’m not proposing that you get off treatments prescribed by your doctors or telling you that such therapies have no place). What I would propose is that so many therapies and treatments for emotional distresses are necessary because we largely misplace our trust and are looking for answers in all the wrong places. People have elevated learning, science, government, self all to a position of gods.

God created us in His image, giving us authority over His creation (Gen 1:26). However, instead of serving God, we often serve ourselves, as seen in the ancient world by men building of the Tower of Babel and observed today through many modern projects. We need to ask ourselves what idols we have put in high places. Much of our emotional turmoil comes from serving the wrong things. As Christians, we should lead the world to the one solution for peace: Jesus. His love meets our emotional needs, and when we
prioritize God in our lives, it addresses our inadequacies.

Spiritually, we were made to worship, honor, and praise Him. Yet God did not desire to make robots which honor him. He gave us a free will and wants us to want to serve Him. He has given us a season of walking upon this earth and the choices that we make here will determine for us what our eternity will look like. This is the missing piece in our world today. Go examine Paul’s observation of man through the ages in Romans chapter 1. There you will find that men were allowed to be deceived, because that was what men wanted. Men didn’t want to retain God in their thoughts or in their memories, or in their service. Many think that they worship nothing. There is no god and they do not serve any master. All of that is a lie. They simply don’t perceive.

We were made to worship and created for serving God. When we choose to not do that for which we were made, we quickly get things off balance and out of whack. Men serve themselves. Men worship learning and thought. Men depend on government for their very existence. In all of this, men are placing above God those things and institutions which God created, and they serve without true understanding. It is a blind world, groping in the darkness of sin. That is why the Gospel and the message of Salvation in Jesus is so important.

Jesus is the manifestation of God’s love for his prized creation. Jesus came to save a world that is already dead. [Jhn 3:16-18 NKJV] 16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Jesus loved us and gave His own life for us. This should cause us to look to Him for everything, trust in Him because He is God and He has provided for us richly. [Jhn 15:10 NKJV] 10 “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” Our misplaced devotions and love have brought all manner of problems into this world. Let us restore God to the place He deserves and live not for ourselves and that which is created but live to serve God because He alone is God. Revive men’s hearts by pointing them to God and to His service.

Who Can Make It To Heaven? – By Matthew Miller

I had the opportunity to discuss this question with someone this week whom I had just met. During our conversation the challenge was made that “you believe that you are the only ones going to heaven.” Many who are members of the Lord’s church might have this concept in their minds, and certainly many who we discuss the Bible with can easily walk away from the conversation under this impression. We would do well to be clear on this matter, for the sake of our soul, as well as those who we might visit with.

Attending a church of Christ does not make one automatically marked for Heaven when this life is over. Being a member of a local church of Christ does not mark one automatically for an eternal abode in Heaven. In fact, Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount to, [Mat 7:13-14 NKJV] 13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide [is] the gate and broad [is] the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 “Because narrow [is] the gate and difficult [is] the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Salvation which leads to eternal life and an eternal abode in Heaven, while simple, requires whole-hearted commitment on our part. We must obey the simple message of the Gospel – concerning Jesus, [Act 4: 11-12 NKJV] 11 “This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

This begins by hearing the message of the Gospel (Rom 10:17, Jhn 8:32) We must come to Christ and accept the salvation which God has graciously offered to us by faith that He is the Savior, the Son of God, and that He lives and reigns today. This is our moment of Belief (Heb 11:6; Mk 16:16; Acts 8:37). We must repent of our sins (Lk 13:3,5; Acts 2:38; Acts 17:30-31; 2 Pete 3:9), confess Him before men (Mat 10:32-33; Rom 10:9-10; Acts 8:37), and be buried into baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 1 Pete 3:21; Acts 22:16; Mk 16:16; Gal 3:27) entering into the likeness of His death, burial, and resurrection that we might become a new creature (Rom 6:3-5; 2 Cor 5:17). Then, we must also live faithfully before Him until death (Rev 2:10).

What we have just outlined above is the plan of salvation as it is presented by God in His Word. What we do believe is that every person individually is going to be held accountable by God for how we have lived in this life (Rom 14:10-12; 2 Cor 5:10; 1 Pete 1:17-19; Rev 20:12), and whether or not we have come in obedience to the Gospel call.

We seek to simply be Christians. The kind that are described in the New Testament of our Bibles. We believe that the Bible alone is inspired by God and has been both revealed and preserved for us by the Holy Spirit. It is complete and all sufficient for our spiritual needs (2 Tim 3:16-17).

What we must do to inherit eternal life then is to obey His word and submit to His will.

Because of these truths, we must be constantly examining ourselves (individually) to see if we are adhering to what the Bible has described. We must also seek to join ourselves to a local body of like-minded Christians who will help us to stay on that narrow path that Jesus described in Mat 7:14. That is what the local church is here for; a community of Christians who we can be a part of which is of one accord and seeking Heaven for ourselves and as many as we might have opportunity to influence.

The other part of the conversation which I had with this stranger is this: It is never too late in life to obey the Lord. The alien sinner who has never obeyed, may enter that covenant relationship with Christ and be washed and made free of guilt that very moment. Likewise, the child of God who has drawn themselves away from Him may come home whenever they are ready. The Lord is such a benevolent Father and has provided us refuge and return. It requires our repentance; our confession of sin, and a willingness to restore our lives to serving Him and His righteousness. We may never be so wayward that the door is eternally closed unless we allow that state to remain as we go down to our graves. Consider for the sake of this part of our discussion Acts 8 and the conversion and sin of Simon the Sorcerer. Peter told Simon what to do to make his sin right. [Act 8:22-24 NKJV] 22 “Repent therefore of this your wickedness and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 “For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” 24 Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.” Jesus described the rejoicing which occurs at such times as he spoke by way of 3 different parables illustrating what is lost and then found in Luke 15.

Finally, we may become right with God while we draw breath on this earth. [2Pe 3:9 NKJV] 9 The Lord is not slack concerning [His] promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” What are you waiting for?