Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Did The Lord Accept You?

The principle of reciprocity is involved when one accepts another, if there is to be mutual benefit.  Many religious people take great delight in accounting the time when they “accepted the Lord as their personal savior.”  First, “accepting the Lord as one’s personal savior” is not the language of the New Testament.  Second, some questions are in order.  What assurance does one have that he has been “accepted” i.e., forgiven, saved, added to the church, by the Lord?  Good feelings and an emotional rise will not suffice!  Then, what is meant by “accepting the Lord as one’s personal savior?  Did Jesus authorize His apostles to preach the gospel with assurance that those who “accept the Lord as their personal savior” would be saved, or did He state the conditions of salvation in more precise language?  The New Testament teaches, one “believes and is baptized” in order to be saved (Mark 16:15-16), and that one must “repent and be baptized for the remission of sins” according to the authority of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38).  Finally, is it possible that one may mistakenly rejoice in the fact that he accepted the Lord as his personal savior, but has no Biblical assurance of salvation, only his feelings?  One may feel that he has accepted the Lord Jesus, but has the Lord Jesus Christ accepted him?  More precisely, has the Lord accepted you?
Consider some historical examples, Cain accepted God as the object of his offering.  “But unto Cain and to his offering he (God) has not respect” (Gen. 4:5).  Cain may have reasoned that since he was a “tiller of the ground” (v. 2) that God would accept the “fruit of the ground.”  It was not so!  Cain accepted God as the object of his worship, but God did not approve of Cain nor his worship.
Another example of God’s rejection is that of two priests.  “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord which the Lord commanded them not and there when tout fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord” (Lev. 10:1-2).  Observe that the priests made their offering before the Lord.  They were not idolatrous.  They simply offered what God had not commanded.  Both priests and the offering were rejected.
Remember:  Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).  Those who have submitted to the Lord by His conditions have been saved from sin and must continue to “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7) in order to remain “accepted” by the Lord.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Show Mercy, Like A Good Neighbor

Several years ago, there was an ad campaign for the insurance company, State Farm, which stated: “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.”  If you remember the commercials, you’re likely singing the song in your mind.  It was a catchy tune that sticks with you.  But, even more than a catchy slogan and song, the thought of being a good neighbor is a Biblical principle that should never be forgotten. 

We likely all grew up hearing the Bible lesson of “The Good Samaritan,” which is more appropriately termed “The Good Neighbor” (Luke 10:30-37).  The Biblical principle brought forth in this great lesson from our Lord Jesus Christ is one that has been handed down and has taught many through this world that we should truly be merciful to those around us.

After the seeing “the victim,” three passersby made their choice “to help” or “not to help.”  The first two pass by “on the other side” (Luke 10:31, 32).  Much has been said and written about “why” they did not help this man who had fallen victim to the thieves, but the truth is that we do not know why they chose not to help him.  One thing we know for sure from the lesson is that if they would have seen him as “a neighbor,” they would have gone out of their way “show mercy on him” (Luke 10:37).

While the Samaritan did everything for this stranger that he possibly could, used every means available to him to take care of his needs, and while obviously a busy man still even provided for future needs that could arise, ultimately, “he saw him” and “he had compassion on him” (Luke 10:33).  While the other two wasted much effort to not even look at this man who had fallen victim, the neighbor immediately saw a need and responded to him. 

Also, whether we would get involved or not, this will show others whom we represent.  Ask yourself, “What would I do for myself that this neighbor didn’t do for this stranger?”  It is clear that our response to our neighbor gives opportunity for others to “glorify our Father who is in Heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

This parable was taught in response to a tempting question to Jesus about what it truly means to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).  Attempting to justify himself, the lawyer asked, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). 

May we consider the spiritual needs of others, also, and not just the physical needs that must be met by those who might be seen as “neighbors.”  The world’s hospitals have been built upon the very principle of the Good Samaritan, and if we will build upon this principle, we can help remove racial prejudices, national hatred, etc. and truly be able to evangelize “all the world.”  There’s no doubt that the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20) is directly connected to the Great Compassion as seen by the Samaritan.  We will truly be blessed in the work of God, if we will exhibit this type of mercy shown to our neighbors in both their physical needs and especially their spiritual needs. 
~Wayne Rodgers