As is always the case several weeks have passed since I set my hand to writing these lines and your reading them. However, the things described herein you will be able to readily call to mind unless you live in a box. It was proclaimed to the world that a man who had changed his name given at birth (Cassius Clay), to a name that reflected his conversion to the Moslem Religion. From that point he wished to be known as Mohammed Ali. He was more than once the heavy weight-boxing champion of the world. Whether it is right to engage in this sport where one man tries to beat the head of another man in is not presently the issue. Mr. Ali was proclaimed by himself and some others to be the greatest boxer that ever lived. Others say he was the greatest athlete the world has known. It is not my purpose to argue either or even to express an opinion. The world was also reminded of the humanitarian things he had done by making personal appearances and donating money to and for various causes. In the latter years of his life he suffered from the devastating, dehabilitating and grievous Parkinson’s disease, which pulled at the heart-strings of most everyone, as most people have a close friend or relative that has or does suffer from it. When the funeral coach carrying his body was escorted through Louisville, Kentucky thousands lined the streets in his honor. Hundreds later gathered in a memorial service where his virtues were extolled. Men came out of the woodwork to praise him, which is fine. Among those who had things to say about his virtues was a Jewish Rabbi and men who claim to follow Jesus Christ like the self appointed REVEREND Jesse Jackson. Then appeared a chorus of people who sang the hymn written by John Newton:
Amazing grace how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
Here is something that Christians must take issue with. This song many of us have sung extolling the work of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and now these people have sung it to express the salvation of a man who turned his back on Christianity for the Moslem Religion. And as mentioned men that profess to honor Christ and the Gospel that bears His name and influence join in attributing salvation (by the grace of God), to a man that spent his life denying Jesus while praising the god of Mohammed. God’s grace is amazing but it is not that amazing.
HYPROCRISY IN A NUT-SHELL
Usually when we think and speak of hypocrisy we have reference to one who tries to make an appearance of one thing while in reality he is another. However, that definition is not to the whole truth and is not broad enough. Jesus said of some, “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” (Mt. 15:14). These ”blind leaders” and the “blind followers were not insincere. If they were insincere they would not have been blind. Yet the “ditch” did not go away for them nor could they escape it merely because they were blind. Jesus had earlier referred to them as “hypocrites” (Vs. 7), even though they were blind, that is, they did not know they were wrong. If they had known they were wrong they would not have been blind, as their eyes would have been opened. So, hypocrisy does not always mean insincerity. The basic meaning of hypocrisy is concealment, something hidden, something that is not revealed or known to one’s perception or apprehension. It describes one who is deceived regarding his own spiritual or moral status—one who thinks he is right when in fact he is wrong is in a state of hypocrisy. No one is saying that these religious leaders and spiritual guru’s were insincere in their declarations, but as those described by Jesus “they are blind.” The Lord admonishes us to “let them alone” which is to say that we are to expect the very thing that we have seen with our eyes and heard with our ears. Those seeking prestige, fame, worldly praise will not forsake these to embrace the simple truth presented by Christ.
THOU SHALL NOT JUDGE
We often hear it said “thou shall not judge” even by Christian people, in fact, it is uttered so often and with such solemnity that one would think it is found on nearly every page of scripture. That is not the case. The Lord we all know judged the people of His time while walking upon the earth, the Apostles who took His word to the Four Corners of the earth also continually rendered judgement. In addition we are counseled “judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” (Jn. 7:24). I can only suppose that the idea of failing to judge comes from the Lord’s declaration “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Mt. 7:1). The statement however, is not against judging; rather it is an exhortation for us to exercise care in making judgments because we shall be judged by the standard we set, therefore we are not to make hypocritical judgment. The idea of failing to judge is of the Devil and is a tool he uses to allow evil and sin to run amuck convincing us to accept everyone regardless of the doctrine they advocate or the manner of life they live or the deeds engaged in. Caution is exercised in this matter by stepping aside and letting the word of inspiration do the judging. We will hear from the Lord and the Apostles as they judge in these matters.
THERE IS NO SALVATION TO THOSE WHO REJECT CHRIST
Jesus is clear in his judgment of those who will not receive Him. “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him I the last day.” (Jn. 12:48). God’s amazing grace is presented through Christ and to reject the Lord is to bring condemnation to one’s own soul.
In Ephesians chapter one at verse three the Apostle Paul introduces Jesus Christ as the one through whom God blesses men with all spiritual blessings, then adds at verse seven, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace.” God’s grace is amazing to those in Christ, but to those rejecting Jesus as Savior grace is not extended to grant redemption and forgiveness of sins.
The Apostle Peter wrote, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, received from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (I Pet. 1:18-19). This establishes the fact that Jesus suffered as a pure and spotless lamb (the Lamb of God Jn. 1:29), in our behalf to purchase our redemption resulting in being delivered from sin. All the things that men count precious—silver, gold, traditions avail nothing and are nothing compared to the precious blood of Christ. When Christ is rejected, so is the atoning blood leaving man in sin and condemnation.
Finally on this point, Peter addressed the people respecting the rejection of Christ then declared, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for these is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). It does not matter what name a person may choose to glorify God and seek salvation, that name is useless unless it is the name Jesus Christ.
JESUS CHRIST SHALL BE THE FINAL JUDGE OF ALL MANKIND
In the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew Jesus present the great judgment scene when all nations shall be gathered before Him and judged according to the works they have done in this life. Those who kept His sayings were rewarded while those who rejected Him where cast into torment for day and night everlastingly. We have the privilege as free moral agents to judge whether Jesus is the Son of God. We may accept or reject Him, but in the last day it will be Jesus who will judge us and determine our fate.
When that great sermon was preached in Athens by Paul, he called his hearers attention to the altar that he had passed by which was erected to THE UNKNOWN GOD which he preceded to declare unto them. Drawing his sermon to a close he told them the need to amend their lives because God shall “judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31). He wrote to the Romans “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my Gospel” (Rom. 2:16). He reminded the Corinthians that there is coming a day of accountability for them and all mankind. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ: that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or evil.” (II Cor. 5:10). He was careful to exhort the Thessalonians the same, “the Lord Jesus shall be revealed with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his power.” (II Thes. 1:7-9). There are some clear facts presented in these scripture:
- God is going to bring about a judgment of all men.
- That Judgment is going to be by Jesus Christ.
- The standard of judgment will be the gospel of Christ.
- Every deed done by men will be remembered.
- Those found true to the gospel will be rewarded
- Those rejecting the gospel and found in disobedience will be punished,
It should behoove all of us to bring our lives in accord with the gospel of Christ. When time is no more it will be too late to seize control of our eternal destiny. It will not matter whether our fellow men praise us and extol what they think are the virtues of life. What will matter is what we have done for God by the authority of Jesus Christ. Only in this way can we enjoy the Amazing Grace of God.
TO REJECT CHRIST IS TO REJECT THE GOD AS THE FATHER
“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house neither bid him God’s speed: For he that biddeth him God’s speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” (II Jn. 7-11). One reading these words might well think he is reading a morning newspaper in light of these recent happenings. The Jews and the Moslems alike reject Jesus Christ yet claim they have a relationship with and receive the blessings of God. To reject Jesus Christ is also to reject God. It is impossible to have God while failing to acknowledge and worship Him through His Son Jesus Christ. Likewise, numbers of people that acknowledge Jesus to be the extension of the Heavenly Father to humanity receive these deceivers and bid “God’s speed” to these who have turned their back on the only Savior of mankind. Amazing grace can be sung until the throat becomes raw and the fact is not changed—to reject Jesus Christ and/or His teaching leaves one without communion with God.
CURRENT EVENTS ARE OFTEN EYE-OPENING
As our Lord taught we are not of the world, but we do live in it. Often the events that take place about us awake us to the truth of God’s word and present a need for vigilance. That is the purpose of this article. May we think seriously about our own destiny and that of those we love?
Barney Owens 1607
Stories have greatly affected my life. Stories from my father, from the pulpit, from various brethren I have met across the country. In mind’s eye often I recount these and the look on the person’s face as they told stories to me. I am so glad to have heard from storytellers. I wonder if my life would have been as much affected if I had heard them from a computer? I think it a shame today’s children miss so much because there are few human storytellers.