Question: Who or What is Right?

Introduction:   

     Through the years those of us in the church of Christ have been accused of being self-righteous.  We have been accused of thinking that we are the only ones right.  These two concepts will now be addressed.  And in doing so, let us reason from the scripture – God’s inspired Word.  After all, the Apostle Peter charged:  “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts:  and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:  Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation [manner of life] in Christ” (1 Pet. 3:15-16).   In that same epistle he emphasized the right source to obtain our answer.  He declared:  “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God;…” (1 Pet. 4:11).   

     Let me further make it clear that we are not accusing people of other religious faiths as being dishonest or insincere.   I have friends and relatives who are not in the church of Christ.  This does not keep me from loving them or treasuring our relationship.   

     Nor do we, as a people or as individuals, claim to be perfect.  Neither do we profess to have all of the answers.  In the New Testament there were both individual Christians and congregations reprimanded.  Their short comings were either because of immorality or teaching and practicing false doctrine.  Sadly, these same problems are in the church of Christ today.   

     Thus, we do not claim to be perfect or have all of the answers in religious matters.  But we do know where the answers can be found.  The Bible, itself, is the one and only source.  The Apostle Paul stated:  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  Not only is that so, but Jesus Christ declared:  “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:9). 

     Let us now discuss as to:  Who or what is right in religious matters. 

Discussion

I.                   DO WE BELIEVE THAT WE ARE RIGHT ON SUCH MATTERS PERTAINING TO SALVATION, THE CHURCH, AND WORSHIP?

A.     Evidently, all religious people believe that they are right.

1.      Otherwise they would be hypocrites!

2.      Even Saul of Tarsus, who later became the Apostle Paul, believed that he was right in persecuting Christians.  Of course, he learned different when the Son of God appeared unto him. 

Acts 9:1-6, “And Saul, yet breathing out threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.  And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus:  and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:  And he fell on the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?  And he said, Who art thou, Lord?  And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest:  it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.  And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?  And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” 

3.      Later the Apostle Paul revealed what the gospel preacher Ananias said unto him.  Ananias said: “And now why tarriest thou?  Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). 

B.     Opposing views are held by different churches on such things as salvation, the church, and worship.  Can these contradictory views both be right?

1.      There are millions of zealous and devoted people who submit unto the Roman Catholic Pope as being the Vicar of Christ and head of the church here upon earth.  While there are millions of other sincere folks who do not accept the Pope as the Vicar of Christ and head of the church.  Can both be right?

2.      Many religious people administer sprinkling or pouring; while others insist on immersion as baptism.  Can both be right?

3.      Several religious groups claim that a person is saved the moment that he accepts Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.  While others insist that a penitent believer must obey the gospel of Christ.  Can both be right?

4.      Some religious groups claim that a child of God cannot fall from grace; while others insist that he can fall from grace.  Can both be right?

5.      There are those who insist on using mechanical instruments of music in worship.  Others who believe that only singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are authorized in the new covenant.  Can both be right? 

C.     Most will readily admit that two opposing religious views cannot both be right.

1.      After all, we are to prove all things. 

1 Thess. 5:21, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” 

2.      We are not to think of men above the inspired written Word of God. 

1 Cor. 4:6, “And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.” 

D.    Then how can many contend that one religion is just as good as another?  They do so even believing that their conviction on a particular religious matter is right and others who hold a contrasting view are wrong.  They believe that being sincere and morally upstanding will assure one’s eternal salvation.

1.      Yet, Jesus insisted that we must do the Will of the Heavenly Father to be saved. 

Matt. 7:21-23, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?  And in thy name have cast out devils?  And in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you:  depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” 

2.      Solomon pointed out that we would be foolish to trust in our own heart. 

Proverb 28:26, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool:  but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.” 

3.      Even though Cornelius was a good moral religious man, he still needed to hear and obey words to be saved. 

Acts 10:1-2, “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.” 

Acts 11:13-14, “And he showed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter, Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.” 

Acts 10:48, “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” 

II.                IT IS MORE A QUESTION OF WHAT IS RIGHT!

A.     God’s inspired Word is the only standard in religious matters. 

John 17:17, “Sanctify them through thy truth:  thy word is truth.” 

John 12:48, “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 in the last day.” 

B.     What must all of us do to be saved from our alien sins?

1.      As obedient believers, we must obey the gospel of Christ. 

Rom. 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:  for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” 

1 Cor. 15:1-4, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” 

Rom. 6:3-4, 17-18, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death:  that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 

But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.  Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” 

2 Thess. 1:7-9, “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven 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 from the glory of his power;” 

Mark 16:15-16, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” 

2.      As to regards to the church we must abide by the Lord’s pattern for it in the New Testament. 

Luke 8:11, “ 

3.      Acceptable worship must be in spirit and in truth (singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; prayer, the teaching and preaching of the inspired Word, partaking of the Lord’s Supper upon the first day of the week; and giving of our means upon the first day of the week.) 

John 4:24, “God is a Spirit:  and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” 

C.     WE MUST REMAIN FAITHFUL AFTER BEING SAVED FROM OUR PAST SINS.

1.      A new born babe in Christ must grow in grace and knowledge of God’s inspired Word. 

2 Pet. 3:18, “ 

1 Pet. 2:2, “ 

III.             WE HAVE SPIRITUAL FELLOWSHIP ONLY WITH THOSE WHO HAVE OBEYED THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST.

A.     All obedient believers are added by the Lord to His church. 

Acts 2:37-41, 47, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?  Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.  And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.  Then they that gladly received his word were baptized:  and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

 

Praising God, and having favor with all the people.  And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” 

1 John 1:6-7, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:  But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” 

Closing

     The church of Christ is not the origin of spiritual truth.  Our Lord, Himself, is that source.  He has charged His church to uphold His inspired Word.  It is in that sense that the church of Christ is:  “…the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1 Tim. 3:15).  In fact, it was and is God’s eternal purpose that His church make known His manifold wisdom (Eph. 3:10-11). 

--Dub Mowery

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