GIVE ME A BARGAIN
Just about every person I know loves to find a bargain. When you find something that your friend paid 100 dollars for and you find it for 65, it makes you ecstatic and sometimes we like telling our friend how we got the same product for less. Some people make bargain hunting a serious business and they are determined to find the best bargain on everything they get.
This is why some become faithful garage sale shoppers. Every day there is a garage sale, they will get up extra early to make sure they are some of the first people there, so they can get best stuff at the cheapest price. I knew one guy that so obsessed with getting the cheapest gas price, that he would drive several miles just so he could save a penny or two a gallon. It didnít seem to register with him that he was wasting more money in driving that far than he was saving.
Personally, I donít worry so much about the small things, but if I am going to make a big purchase I get on the internet and search for the lowest price for that item. Most of the time I can find the same product I can get locally for a lot less online.
I am sure that all of us have had times where we thought we were getting a great bargain, but just few days later we find out that our bargain wasnít the great at all. I am also sure that there have been times when we bought a cheaper version of something that boasted to be just as good as the name brand, but low and behold it wasnít and it didnít take long until that piece of junk fell apart or didnít live up to its name. Many times cheap substitutes donít turn out to bargains after all.
While I think itís great for us to search out and take advantage of bargains for material things, we should never look for bargains when it comes to spiritual matters. Unfortunately, there are many today who are looking for great bargains when it comes to finding the right church and serving God.† Notice what Peter says about this,
2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.† 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.† 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.
Even in the first century, it didnít take long for false teachers to start trying to offer a different truth. They even went as far as to deny Christ. They reason they wanted to do this was because of their greed for money and power. Verse 3 said that these false teachers will exploit you. The word exploit is business term used for trading, and one of its meanings is to use a person or a thing for gain. Notice, they would accomplish this by using deceptive words. They were going to sell them a bargain that was just a cheap version of the truth.
This is where denominations came from. Some man or woman decided that they wanted a certain truth taught based on their opinions and so with deceptive words they would create a following and make their own belief system and become a denomination.
When this originally began to happen, these denominations kept themselves separate from other denominations and they would teach that their way of doing things was the best way, but today the mentality of denominations have changed because many of them believe that one denomination is a good as another and that it doesnít matter where you go. You can see this mentality in many of the articles that are written by denominational preachers because they will add the phrase, ďJoin a church of your choiceĒ or ďworship at a church of your choice.Ē In other words, any church will work.
Some denominations are encouraging people to join their church and to give of their money each week, but they will tell them that they donít have to attend. You see they just want them to mail in their check each week because thatís all they want. Some denominations have even set themselves up so that you can give your contributions online so you donít have to set foot into the worship assembly. Some are even accepting credit cards. I realize some people are responsible with their credit cards, but many are not. To take credit card payments as a offering will encourage people to give money to that church that doesnít really belong to them and at the same time cause people to get further in debt. So, much for being good stewards of our money.
Now you would think that people would not want to have anything to do with a racquet like this, but many do because they like to have a religion of convenience. This method of being a ďChristiansĒ appeals to them because it seems like a bargain. After all, they can do everything they want do without worshipping God and still have a clear conscience because they feel like they are covered since they are giving their money.
Many have the mentality that there are many roads that lead to heaven and this is why people are willing to attend the church of their choice. Yet, the Bible doesnít teach this concept. First of Jesus said,
Matthew 7:13 " 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.††
Notice there is only one road that leads to heaven through a narrow gate and its not an easy path to travel, but we must strive to stay on that one road if we hope to make it to heaven and we canít do that if we accept the bargains that denominations are offering.
Not only is their only one road, the word of God makes it clear that there is only one church. Paul told the Ephesians,
Ephesians 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;† 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism;† 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. †
All these singular ones are things that save you. Just as there is only one Father and one Faith there is only one body, which is the church. After Peter said that Jesus was the Christ, Jesus said,
Matthew 16:18 "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
Jesus said He would build My church. Again, this is singular because there is only one church and Jesus is the head of that church.
Colossians 1:18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
Jesus purchased this one church with His blood Acts 20:28 and it is the one church that He will save.
Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.
The only way that you and I can enter into that one church that belongs to Christ is by obeying the will of the Father and by being baptized into it.
1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body -- whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free -- and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
When we obey Godís will and are baptized, it is God not man that adds to His church.
Acts 2:47 Ö And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.†
There is no doubt that the Bible teaches that there is only one church and one road to heaven and this is original truth, but many are willing to accept something other than the original. No matter how close it many resemble the original, it is not better nor it will save you and when it comes to judgment day, there are going to be many that realize that they had a piece of junk.
Notice what Paul says about denominations,
1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.† 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you.† 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ."† 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
Paul is condemning denominations in this text and is pleading that Christians will be unified because when people call themselves after other menís names or after some action like baptism or repentance, they are given that man or action the glory. Paul makes it clear that Jesus was the one that crucified for us and since His blood purchased that one church we need to be unified and call ourselves Christians and not Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans or some other denominational name.
When assign a name to our
church, it should be one that brings glory and honor to its owner, which is
Jesus. For instance the
Romans 16:16 Ö the churches of Christ greet you.
So donít settle for some discounted bargain name that gives glory to a man.
Another bargain the that denominations offer today is that we should all be unified and hold hands across the religious lines as long as we believe in God. Again, this goes with the concept that we looked at earlier that every church is going to get you to heaven. Of course their definition of unity is not really unity. They just want all the different groups to share resources, work together and to just overlook and respect their difference.
To them it doesnít matter if your denomination thinks its ok that people live in adultery or even if you donít believe in the virgin birth of Jesus or you have doubts about the miracles of Jesus or His resurrection, they are going to work with you and have full fellowship simply because you believe in God.
We just got finished reading what Paul said to the Corinthians. Remember he wanted them to be united. But, in what way? Was Paul teaching that should overlook our different beliefs and join hands with all those around us as long as the believe in God? Absolutely not! He is talking about being unified in accordance with the Word of God. That is the only way that we can be spiritually united. Paul told the Ephesians,
Ephesians 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,† 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,† 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;† 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,† 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head -- Christ Ė
When Paul was writing to the Ephesians, the Word of God had not yet been fully revealed because the apostles and others did not receive the whole council of God at once it came in parts. But Paul is saying that once the Word of God was fully revealed, which you and I have in our Bibles, then the Christians would be able have the unity of the faith and have the knowledge they needed to withstand false doctrines.
So, when you I and go to Godís Word and study it, we have the knowledge that we need to be unified in one faith, but we must be wise enough to reject any manmade doctrines and man-made churches. So, yes we need to unified, but the unity must be in accordance with Godís will. While it easier to ignore the truth and join hands with all who simply believe in God, its not Godís way and we should never accept a bargain like this because it is a rip-off.
Another bargain or deal that people love is when a product claims to do something great with very little effort on your part. Many of us get suckered into gimmicks especially when it comes to weight loss or improving your muscle tone. The commercial will claim that all you have to do is take a pill that will eat away at your fat while you sleep, no exercise needed. Or if itís a product that supposed to give you washboard stomach, they claim that all you have do is to use their product 3 times a week for 15 min each time. They always have some model or weight lifter who most likely works out 3 to 4 hrs a day and they make it out like he or she got their muscles from that device.
When it comes to losing weight or building your muscle tone it takes work and these products, while they may help some, they are not going to make look like that model. But, we are always looking for the shortcut, that will keep us from having to do much work.
Well, in a spiritual sense many denominations are offering shortcuts to salvation. They taken what the Bible says about salvation and striped down. They will teach that all a person has to do is to believe on Jesus and they will be saved. They say nothing about repentance, confessing Jesus as Christ or baptism. They have made salvation more convenient. You can be sitting at your couch at home and hear them teach this faith only view on the TV, and based on their discount plan, you can be saved right then and there without even leaving your couch.
While believing in Jesus is important and must be done to have salvation it is only the beginning of what it takes to be saved and there is not one verse that can be found that says that faith alone saves you. Instead, Jesus said,
Matthew 7:21 Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.† 22 "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'† 23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'† †
Here Jesus tells us that there will be people that believe in Him and even do works in His name, but they will not make it to heaven because they did not obey the Fathers will. This clearly teaches that we must have more than faith alone, we must have an obedient faith. We learn in James 2 that even the demons believed in Jesus, but they certainly were not saved and in that same chapter we find the only instance of where faith only is mentioned, but notice what it says,
James 2:24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
James makes it clear that justification or we could say salvation does not come by faith alone. Notice what Paul said,
Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Is this contradiction? Those who teach the faith only view will go to a passage like this and say see we are justified by faith. First of all, this is not a contradiction. Our text did not say that we have been justified by faith alone, it simply says that we have justified by faith and this is not talking about mere belief. It talking about everything this involved in being justified, which is an obedient faith. In the next Chapter Paul adds this,
Romans 6:17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.† 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
Notice, they were slaves of sin until they obeyed the form of doctrine that was given to them, which talking about whole council of God. So their justification or salvation didnít come until the obeyed they word of God, which takes more than just believing. Now if you look at the context in Romans 6, you will discover that baptism is essential part of our salvation because it is the only way that we can get into Christ.
Romans 6:3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?† 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.† 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,† 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.† 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.
Paul is telling us that baptism is the point that a personís sins are removed and they are put into Christ. But, the majority of the denominations will tell that baptism is not necessary for salvation. They donít want you to have to get wet, so they give you the bargain of belief only. From my understanding many of the denominations understood that baptism was essential for salvation in the past, but as they began to go out into the mission field, they would have hundreds of people who wanted to become Christians and this became hard to locate water and to baptize this amount of people. To make things easier and less time consuming they started leaving baptism out and started preaching just believe and others substituted baptism with the manmade sinners prayer.
Again, Godsí plan of salvation has been altered for the sake of convenience and many souls have remained lost because they never fully obeyed the Gospel. There is no excuse for people today not to understand the simple truth that baptism is essential for a persons salvation.
Mark 16:16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.†
On the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 at the birth of the church 3000 believed and were baptized. They didnít have any trouble with sticking with Godís plan of salvation and baptizing 3000 people that day and we should never try to cut corners on God plan and just tell people to believe.
All throughout the book of Acts you read where the people were taught the Word of God the believed, repented confessed Jesus as their Lord and they were baptized. Now it does say everything that these people did in every conversion, but two things are always emphasized and that is their belief and their baptism.
So, if you here the morning and you been sold a discounted version of salvation by a manmade denomination, I urge you to throw that in the trash and make the commitment to embrace the original plan of salvation found in Godís Word. There are no substitutes that are going to get you to heaven. You have to be willing put in the time and effort to obey Godís plan of salvation and then continue to live faithful to Lord for the rest of your life.
I hope this lesson has taught you that there are no bargains or substitutes that allow you to go to heaven. You cannot cut corners because you have to have an obedient faith to be pleasing to God. There is only one church that Jesus purchased with His own blood and His church must be regulated according to the Scriptures. This means that every man-made denomination is not His church and He will only save those in His church. Now some people donít like it when you say that, but that is what the Bible says, not me. So, my hope and desire is that we will always strive to be unified by Godís Word and that we will never accept cheap imitations when it comes to the Lordís church. I want to close this lesson with the words of Paul to the Galatians who had started looking for a bargain in religion.
Galatians 1:6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,† 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.† 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.† 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.