No One, Not One, None

Daily Post:  None

none

Everyone is welcome in our home.  We make no judgments on who they are, or where they’ve been, or what they’ve done.  Someone comes to the door, knocks and has the time, we invite them in.  It’s Texas hospitality, it’s the way I was raised.  Perhaps there is a PollyAnna naivety to allow someone entrance to my home without knowing them very well.  But there you go, you can’t take that West Texas cordiality out of the boy, no matter how hard this ole world tries.

I’ve knocked on a few doors in my life, where I discovered I was not welcome.  When cable television first came to Amarillo, Texas, I was a college student and worked part time going door-to-door attempting to convince people how good it would be for them.  It was an interesting, and at the same time very depressing, lesson on how some people treat people they don’t know at the doorway of their home.  I was cussed, shouted at, and told to leave or they would call the cops.  I also made some sales to folks who took pity on a college student just trying to pay for school.  Others were genuinely pleased that I had come by, because they were looking forward to cable TV.  Sometimes I felt like an alien on the planet.  Other times I was grateful for the hospitality shown to me.

God taught the ancient Hebrew people a lesson about how to treat strangers in Leviticus 19:33-34:

When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.  The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.

This seems pretty straightforward  in both meaning and intention.  It’s about remembering that they were aliens and strangers in the land of Egypt, and it wasn’t pretty how they were treated there.

In a very real sense, Israel never learned this lesson.  In the first century, when someone who seemed strange to them arrived on the scene, they treated Him with disdain.  As He began to teach and preach the Kingdom of God, they bowed their backs instead of bowing their hearts before Him.  When the right time came, they determined He was a blasphemer, and deserved nothing but death.  Regardless of which side of the debate they came down on, none of them understood what was really happening, or the role they were playing, in completing the will of God on earth.

At one time Jesus told His closest followers, “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9)  How can someone be a passageway?  How could Jesus be a door?  The Aramaic Bible in Plain English translates this same verse this way:  “I AM THE LIVING GOD, The Gate; if anyone will enter by me, he shall live and shall go in and out and shall find pasture.”  I love it when we find ways to discover what the original languages actually say and mean.

This verse helps us understand a simple truth about “NONE.”

On the night of his arrest, earlier while sitting around the table at Passover, Jesus was explaining events about to occur in the very near future.  He was leaving them.  He was going to die.  He would send them a Comforter.  His Spirit would lead them from then on.  He was going away to prepare places for all of them to come join Him in residence.  They understood none of it.  Then He said:

John 14:6
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

People have trouble with the dogma of this statement.  Around the world, ecumenical leaders cry out, railing against the exclusivity of this statement.  “Surely there are more ways to God than just through this ego-maniac Jesus,” they say.  And that’s the crux of the matter right?  Each individual human has to determine for themselves regarding the words Jesus spoke of Himself.  It sounds audacious.  It sounds like the ravings of a lunatic.  It sounds like self-aggrandizing nonsense.  But is it true?  What if it’s true?  Then what?

If it’s true, then two words become critical to our understanding.  “No ONE” is all-inclusive regarding humanity.  Every single person must determine on their own to believe in “the way, the truth, and the life” of Jesus.  Otherwise, they are excluded from the Father’s grace.  The antonym for none is “all.”  The ecumenical movement wants us to believe that “all” will be saved ultimately, that it doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you believe something.  But this is not the teaching of the Bible.  No one, not one, none, will come to the Father, but through Jesus, the Gate, the Door of salvation.

None.

 

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C, C, & A

via Acceptance

members-only

C, C, & A …  churches, country clubs, and acceptance.  Acceptance is important to almost all of us.  We all want to be included.  We all gain a great deal of our self esteem or self-perception from those who accept us.   Or, we take a huge hit personally when we are rejected.  It doesn’t matter whether it is churches, country clubs, a sports team, a club, a university, fraternity, sorority, or picking teams for Red Rover, we all seek acceptance.   Every game, team, or group has their own dogma, ideology, doctrine, code or creed to which we must adhere in order to be accepted.  We must accept and incorporate these beliefs into our fiber of life, or we are deemed unacceptable.  The paradox of acceptance, is the challenge to accept in order to be accepted.

One would think that joining a country club would be pretty simple.  Pay the initiation fee, commit to pay the monthly dues, and adhere to the club’s rules and you’re in.  However, while this may be true in some smaller clubs, the reality is that there is a selection committee who deems which of all the applicants are worthy of club membership.  These folks determine if the applicant is acceptable or not.

One would think that joining a church would be pretty simple.  While some churches make it extremely easy, others are virtually impossible to join even when compared to country clubs.  In this case most churches don’t require an up front initiation fee, but expect and often demand a financial commitment to support the church.  Indoctrination to the church’s beliefs is standard in many churches large or small today, known as “new member orientation.”  Often before a person can have a place of leadership in the church they must attend the classes and pass inspection so to speak.  I get it.  The church wants to make sure all their leadership is on the same page doctrinally, so they don’t confuse the churches message to guests or other members.

I guess my question is:  Is this how God designed it?  Is this how it was supposed to be?  Was there supposed to be some kind of acceptance process to be included as part of the church?  You only have to go to the book of Acts in the Bible to know the answer.

In Acts 15:1-35 the Council at Jerusalem were to answer a very basic question:  “What must a person do to be saved.”  Or put another way, “Who receives acceptance into the Faith?”  The question was raised because there were those not Jewish coming to accept Christ as Lord by the thousands as Paul and Barnabas went bout preaching the gospel.  So there was dissent in the ranks of the early church about who was acceptable.  The Jewish leaders wanted to impose “circumcision” on the Gentile men coming to faith, as a condition of acceptance.  In the end, the Council determined acceptance would be based on: abstaining from food sacrificed to idols, abstaining from sexual immorality, abstain from eating anything that was strangled, abstain from blood. [See Acts 15:19-21]  This was the first acceptance criteria for outsiders (Gentiles) to be included in the largely Jewish entity known as the Church.  For my more detailed bible study on this passage click: The Council at Jerusalem Acts 15_1-35.

Acceptance in the long run is not determined by the church.  Acceptance is determined by God the Father.  His terms for acceptance of any individual into His family (what we euphemistically call The Church), is more than clear in His Word.  Here are the terms of inclusion:

John 14:6
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Romans 3:23
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:8
God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!

Romans 10:9-10
If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.

These passages are the entrance exam to be included into God’s family.  All who accept these conditions, commit to them, believe them dogmatically, and yield their life to these truths… receives acceptance from God.

No other earthly entity can add to these or take away from these and still be called a church.  If they do… they are a country club, social club, fraternity, sorority, or some such other thing… but not a church.  Is that harsh?  Maybe so.  But God will be straightening this out someday for everyone.  I hope it is pretty soon.