Thursday, 23 January 2014

The Way

It was another one of those times when the disciples thought everything was going smooth. They were in Jerusalem celebrating Passover with Jesus. They were chatting and enjoying the Feast. Jesus had just done something very unusual - He had washed their feet. This wasn't something a teacher would do, but Jesus never did what was expected by men. What the disciples didn't know was that Jesus was giving them a lesson in the way they should behave. Soon Jesus would be arrested and crucified. He knew the time was short and wanted His followers to understand some important things. He was going away, but by going He would open the way for all who accept Him to follow. The disciples needed to understand this.  "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know." John 14:3-4. This time it is Thomas, not Peter, who jumps in and asks what Jesus meant. "Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?" John 14:5. They didn't understand that He would be crucified and go to be with the Father. He didn't say that every way would lead to Heaven, but He had had spent three years with these men showing them the only way.He was specific in His answer. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6. That makes it very clear that all roads don't lead to salvation. Only through Jesus can we find eternal life.
Today born again believers in Christ know exactly what Jesus meant. His example is what we must follow. Jesus showed humility by washing the disciple's feet, and so Christians must be humble. Jesus never was politically correct by kowtowing to those Pharisees who had twisted God's truth, and so we must never compromise God's truth.Jesus never condemned individuals but forgave sin and encouraged them to move away from their sin, and so we must love the individual but take a stand against sin. The road, or way, that leads to destruction is broad and wide and filled with worldly ideas. That is not the road a Christian should travel. "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it," Matthew 7:13-14. The Greek word "hodos" means a travelled way or a road. Metaphorically it means a course of conduct or a manner of thinking, feeling, and deciding. Jesus' example should be our guide in the way we think, feel, and make decisions. It should be our way of life. As we read these two verses we realize He's making a comparison between two different ways of thinking and acting. Those who are perishing choose the broad and wide road, but those who follow Jesus choose the strait and narrow way. We must all ask ourselves which road we are travelling. The one which Jesus showed us that leads to eternal life, or the broad one of the world that leads to eternal destruction?
In the very early days, Christianity was referred to as "the way". Apparently the way the early Christians lived was based upon what they were taught about Jesus by Peter and the other Apostles. At one time Paul violently persecuted "the way". "And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women." Acts 22:4. Why did he want to destroy Christians? Paul was a Pharisee and the first Christians were Jewish converts. Christians had a way of thinking and acting that was different from other people, specifically the Jews. The belief they held about Jesus and His teachings was blasphemy to the Jewish way of thinking. Christians know that Jesus was God in the flesh; He was the Messiah that the Jews are still looking for today. After an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul came to know the truth and dedicated his life to serving "The Way".
Everyone has a choice of which road to travel in this life. We may feel as though it is easier to travel the broad road that leads to destruction, like animals being herded to the slaughter. The problem with traveling that broad road is it doesn't include Jesus. It's a destructive road in which God's plan of salvation is totally rejected. Those who suffer this destruction - who choose poorly and reject Jesus - are those who will go down to the fiery pit of Hell when they die. There will be no possibility for a reprieve and no second chance. There is no payment that can be made by anyone here on earth that will get you out of that horrible place. You must make plans to stay out of Hell while you're still alive and kicking. Remember what Jesus told Thomas? "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:5-6. If you are not following Jesus you are going the wrong way.
Following the strait road that leads to salvation may not look rewarding in the eyes of those who are partying on the broad road. Once we're born again, staying on the strait and narrow road will be difficult at times; it will take determination on our part to stay on the strait road. Those on the broad road will dangle temptations in front of us. We will need to make hard decisions that might be unpopular with our family and friends. We shouldn't be yoked with people in the world because it is easy to give in to temptation and stumble on our narrow path. Our fellowship should always be with God and our fellow Christians. "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" 2 Corinthians 6:14. Is that narrow minded? Yes it is. That's following the strait and narrow way that Jesus talked about. If you're on the way Jesus taught you will be led by the Holy Spirit Himself. Jesus is always with us; therefore we won't travel the "strait and narrow" alone.
How do we avoid getting detoured from following Jesus along that strait and narrow way? "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves," Matthew 7:15. A false prophet is one who utters falsehoods under the name of divine prophecies. They spout lies, but make them sound profound and true. There are many false prophets in the world today and they follow Satan to lead the masses astray. We need to study God's word so that when confronted by false teaching we will not be confused and turn from the truth. "All roads lead to Heaven" is a very popular lie spoken by the false prophets of today. No, you cannot follow the lies of Joseph Smith, Mohammed, New Age, Darwin, or any other false teacher and expect to be on that strait and narrow path. You cannot shun Jesus and expect to spend eternity with Him. The disciples should have known the way to the Father because they knew Jesus.
False prophets, false doctrines, and false religions are all leading people by their noses along that broad road and right through the wide gate that leads to Hell. Think of all those individuals who've died before us. The ones who chose to follow the broad road are in Hell right now awaiting judgment at the white throne judgment seat of God. There He will judge all those who have rejected Christ's sacrifice which was made for them. They will then be sent to the lake of fire to remain for eternity. "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." Revelation 20:15. They now know they chose the wrong road. If they could, they would warn everyone who is currently traveling that broad road about the danger ahead.
Jesus told of a rich man who had everything and of Lazarus who had nothing and begged for the crumbs from the rich man's table but was turned away. Upon death Lazarus went into Abraham's bosom, but the rich man went to Hell (Hades). The rich man wanted mercy and asked that Father Abraham send Lazarus to dip his finger in water and put it on his tongue so he could feel some relief, but is told that is impossible. Then he tells Father Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brethren so they would have a chance to repent and not join him in torments when they died. "Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead," Luke 16:29-31.Those who are waiting the judgment of God would do anything to send a warning to all those who are still alive and remain in rebellion to God. The dead cannot come and warn the living but we have Christ's example. Yes, He died on the cross, but He conquered death and lives. By accepting His death, burial, and resurrection we, too, can have eternal life. By choosing to follow Jesus you will not end up like the rich man who followed the broad road to destruction. Many Christians struggle with one sin or another and question if they are saved. That sin which brings only temporary pleasure is in fact a cause of misery.
Being a Christian does not mean we follow a set of rules and regulations. There isn't a list of "do this and don't do that". Once a person has accepted Christ as their personal Saviour, the most important journey in life has begun. When Thomas said that they didn't know the way Jesus was going, Jesus reminded him that they did know the way. These men had followed Jesus and observed His way of life for a long time. Since Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life; they needed to follow His example and so do we. We know His way by studying His life. Study the Bible and apply it to every situation in life. When we sin we need to go directly to Jesus and ask forgiveness. Knowing Jesus' ways will help us to follow Him on the strait and narrow road.
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,"  2 Peter 3:9. It's not God's will that those who are traveling that broad road should continue in their rebellion, but that they would hear the Gospel and believe.Christians need to share the truth with all who will listen so they will have the opportunity to leave that broad road. Before we became Christians we were also walking along that broad road ready to step through the wide gate. Someone cared enough about you to share the Gospel...they told you of God's saving grace through Jesus Christ our Lord. Do you know someone who you need to share the Gospel with before it is too late?
Everyone makes bad decisions now and again and will continue to do so throughout this earthly life. There is only one bad decision that will eternally damn the soul, and that is the decision to reject the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Those who've made a decision for Christ will spend eternity with Him. On the other hand, according to Jesus' own words, many will remain on the wide destructive road that leads to Hell, no matter what we tell them. Nevertheless, the truth must be presented to everyone. Nobody will spend eternity in the lake of fire because they sin. It is the choice of rejecting Christ's finished work on the cross that condemns a person. 
The Way. You can choose the way that leads to destruction, or you can choose to follow Christ. Jesus' words shine through brilliantly "...I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6. In the big picture, this time we spend on Earth is very short. Choosing to follow Christ - the way, the truth, and the life - will lead you to an eternity of peace and love. Remember that if you choose to follow the broad road that leads to destruction, eternity is a long time to kick yourself for making the wrong choice.
God bless you all,
Ron Graham

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