“All Things (NOT) Being Equal”

“It’s all the same in the end… Just be a good person, help others, and we’ll all have one big party when we get to heaven. I mean, do you really believe in a god that would send people to hell for believing in a wrong religion?” Ever hear this type of sentiment? Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself. In fact, even I used to think this at one point in my life. However, upon closer examination does this logic hold up? Can we say all belief systems are created equal and lead to truth?

Perhaps a historical anecdote will help. George Washington was a brave, strong man. It seemed nothing could kill him. As a boy, fighting small pox and later as a soldier, Washington always seemed to come out unscathed. That is, until he met his deadliest foe… his doctors. On December 13th 1799 Washington woke up with a severe sore throat that became increasingly worse throughout the day. When he began having trouble breathing and speaking the doctors were called. They agreed the best treatment would be bloodletting, a common practice of the time involving bleeding a patient of “diseased” blood so that the body would produce fresh blood. Blood was drained from Washington pint after pint. When this didn’t seem to work, the doctors gave him laxatives to drain his bowels and vomit-inducing drugs to drain his stomach. At the same time the doctors were draining the life out of Washington. On the morning of December 14th, George Washington breathed his last.

What happened? Washington was surrounded by 3 doctors! The problem was that the medical procedure they used was not based on fact. The very procedure used to save his life was actually what ended it. Do all medical practices lead to health? No!

In the same way, it is a lie to say that all religious systems or spiritual ideas lead to God. The popular culture espouses such thinking in order to be kind, loving, and “tolerant” to all people. I understand the desire to be kind, but is encouraging belief in a false god really loving? If someone stepped on a rusty nail while believing that a lucky rabbit’s foot would keep them from getting tetanus would you encourage them to keep believing in that rabbit’s foot? Would that be a loving thing to do? No, it would be foolish, especially since we have reliable treatments for tetanus. The loving thing to do would be to tell the person the truth; no matter how sincere their belief in the rabbit’s foot is, they are wrong and should go to the hospital for a tetanus shot.

Similarly, it is not loving to encourage false beliefs about God. As followers of Jesus Christ we must be bold at pointing out error and pointing to truth as it has been revealed by God. Many people believe things with great zeal and sincerity. However, this alone does not make it true. The doctors who attended to President Washington were sincere in their care for him. In sharing truth and correcting error, it is not the goal of the Christian to win the argument or make the other person look stupid, the goal is that people would come to the knowledge of God and be saved. That is why we are called to “speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15) The acquiring of truth is a means to knowing God. (John 17:3)

Are you ready and willing to accept bloodletting as a legitimate medical practice today? I don’t think so. So why should you be willing to accept any old idea about the truth of God? Not all religions are created equal and many may claim to be the way to eternal life but in the end, lead to eternal death. In reality the only way is through Jesus Christ. (John 14:6) Is that a statement from a mean and arrogant person, or words of love and concern? You tell me.

By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ
facebook.com/MBCGlobe

The Faith of Demons

It has been a little over a year since my family and I moved to Globe so that I could follow God’s calling to be the pastor of Maranatha Baptist Church. Since then, one of the great privileges for me has been to write for the local paper. As I sit down every week to write, I always take a moment to consider who my audience may be. Perhaps those who take time to read these brief articles are fellow believers of Christ who attend other Bible-believing churches. Some may be non-believers who merely stumble upon the articles and give them a once-over out of curiosity. However, I have a feeling that some readers may be people who have the faith of demons.

Now, I could keep it short and end the article here with many people wondering what exactly I mean by “the faith of demons.” (I won’t do that to you today.) So what do I mean? The answer can be found in James 2:19, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!”

If you were to take some time, walk around town, and ask passers-by if they believe in God what do you think the majority of the responses would be? “Yes, I believe in God.” This can be substantiated by numerous polls that have been taken over the years. In fact, according to a 2015 Gallop Poll, 75% of Americans identify as Christian. However, another poll from the Hartford Institute of Religious Research states that only about 20% actually attend church regularly. That’s nearly 200 million people who claim to believe in God, even claim to be Christians, and yet never step foot in a church building. Am I missing something here?

If someone were to claim to be a big football fan but you could see no proof what would you assume? “Yeah, I’m a really big football fan! -No, I don’t have a favorite team. No, I don’t watch any of the games. I honestly can’t even say I know all the rules of the game…” Hmm… Doesn’t sound much like a real football lover, does it? And you wouldn’t believe this person even if they stated that they were a fan. So why then do we accept any persons fickle confession of Christian faith when they have nothing to support their words?

You see, it’s one thing to believe in God, to believe that He is the Creator and giver of life. In fact, the Bible says that it is utter foolishness to not believe that. Still, the Bible makes it clear that even demons recognize the existence of God. However, if this even needs to be said, demons are not going to heaven. The faith that demons have in God doesn’t save them it causes them to shudder because they know that their end is near. They know that they shall spend eternity in the “lake of fire and sulfur.” (Revelation 20:10) So why would we assume a different outcome for someone who has the same faith of demons?

My point is not to be cruel or anything of the like, my point is to help us see things clearly. There is a big difference between saving faith and the faith of demons. Which do you possess? Do you have faith in God? Does that faith cause you to shudder at your sin and to turn to Christ for forgiveness? Or does that faith simply have you check off the “Christian” box on the hospital form. Does your faith in God give you a deep desire to be with other believes in worship on a weekly basis (Hebrews 10:25), or simply to show up on Christmas Eve and Easter?

Do you see what I’m getting at? I can’t judge your heart, only you and God can. But at the same time, I would implore to do just that. Test yourself, try to take a look at your life and your actions. Do they reflect the life and actions of one who has surrendered body and soul to Jesus? Or does your life reflect one whose faith is like that of demons?

By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ
facebook.com/MBCGlobe

My Worth Comes From…?

Before you finish reading this article, someone will have ended their own life by suicide. The World Health Organization estimates that a whopping 800,000 people take their own lives each year. That’s over 2,000 people a day. Hopelessness, despair, and depression have become an epidemic in our modern culture and it must be addressed.

The question is, “How should we address suicide?” I think the first thing we must do is recognize the short-comings of the answers that are so prevalent in the secular culture. Don’t get me wrong; many people can be and have been helped by secular counselors. However, the Bible teaches that true, life-long change only comes from God. When an individual recognizes that his worth and value doesn’t come from what the world says, but from the God who created him, only then will one find hope.

Popular culture tells someone struggling with depression and despair to focus on the inside and learn to love oneself. The problem is, when one truthfully looks inward we don’t see that which is lovable; we see brokenness, selfishness, hate, and lust – we see sin. Rather, we need to look to Christ. He is the One who is holy and righteous and good; He is the One who takes broken people and gives them hope. Focusing solely on inward reflection and self-love ultimately leads to more despair, but focusing on Christ and what He has done for us in spite of who we are, ultimately leads to a “joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.” (1 Peter 1:8)

If you are reading this and you are struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts, let me encourage you to reach out for help. You don’t have to deal with those feelings alone. One of the reasons God gave us the church is because He knows we cannot do life by ourselves. The Bible says we receive comfort from God so that we “may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction.” (2 Corinthians 1:4) Secondly, recognize that you do have worth and value. Your worth does not come from what other people say about you. Your worth does not come from how well you do or how you look. Your worth comes from the fact that you are made in the image of magnificent Creator.

Finally, there is hope in this life and in the life to come. We all are broken sinful people and deserve the wrath of God. Yet God is merciful and has made a way for sinful people to be forgiven. 2,000 years ago God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ. He lived a perfect life and died a sacrificial death so those who repent of their sin and trust in Him can be forgiven and redeemed. If you don’t have this hope, I encourage you to repent and to turn to Christ. He will set you free and give you eternal life.

If you would like to learn more or discuss these matters, please join us at Maranatha any Sunday. Feel free to contact me or another Bible-believing pastor in the area. Help and hope are available for those who seek it. Also, check out www.theEXITmovie.com to watch the new documentary and find other resources about the cultural appeal to suicide and the hope we have in Christ.

By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ
facebook.com/MBCGlobe

The Depravity of Man Rears Its Ugly Head

As I sit down to write my weekly article, I seem to be having a hard time focusing. Why? Just a few moments ago I read the press release from the Gila County Sheriff’s Office that not only has there been another burglary in the area, but this time an elderly woman was assaulted and left for dead. Thankfully, 82-year old Virginia is recovering from the attack. However, it will take some time for her to heal from this ordeal, emotionally, as well as physically. News of this event deeply troubles me.

Is this the new norm for the Globe-Miami area? Should we just learn to expect break-ins and assaults? As I communicate with other area pastors, I learned a few days before this that another local church has been burglarized. From our count, that makes 6 churches that have been broken into and robbed within the span of weeks; not to mention local businesses and homes. The depravity of man rears its ugly head yet again.

You see, that is our problem. Our culture has come to despise the things of God to the extent that basic moral and ethical values have gone out the window. Our culture desires a supposed “freedom” from God but the natural trajectory of such “freedom” is the kind of behavior we are seeing in our local news. This behavior points to the fact that the person apart from Christ has no freedom, but is, in actuality, a slave. How so? We are enslaved to our sinful desires. That is why men, like those who violently assaulted Virginia, do such a things; they are slaves to their sinful desires. The Apostle Peter warns of false teachers saying, “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” (2 Peter 2:19) These men, I can only assume, are enslaved to their use of drugs so much so that they are willing to break into an elderly lady’s home and sacrifice her for their “high.” Their master must be served no matter the cost.

Do you recognize this? Do you recognize this in yourself? What controls you? Who is your master; the “god” that you serve? Every person worships and serves something. Are you a slave to sin or to Christ? (Ephesians 6:6) Do you desire the will of God or the depraved will of man? Until we recognize our root issues we cannot begin to make any progress. The issue is a heart enslaved to sin.

With this in mind, dear Christian, we must take a stand for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and boldly proclaim the message of hope in the midst of our broken town. We cannot expect secular authorities to wave their wand and change hearts; God is the heart-changer. And it is to Him that we must turn when we are at a loss. I pray that Virginia will heal and feel God’s peace. Finally, I pray that these sinful men would be convicted by God and turn themselves in.

By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ
facebook.com/MBCGlobe

Why Truth Matters

“You’re wasting your time… Religious truth is whatever makes you feel better… Whatever your personal beliefs are is just fine as long as you keep them to yourself… That is just your ‘interpretation’…” Phrases like these abound throughout conversations with friends and family all over the world. Many try to dismiss the attempt to make any truth claim when it comes to spiritual matters. So the question is, “Why does it matter to know truths about God?” Is one wasting one’s time to even begin such a journey of discovery? Why does it matter that we know God is the Creator? Why does it matter that we understand God has revealed Himself in His handiwork, in His Word (the Bible), and in His Son Jesus? Why should we care that God has revealed His triune nature throughout the unfolding of redemptive history? Why study theology?

The first answer to all of these objections has to be that truth matters. We live in a time and culture where most people believe that truth is relative; that is, that truth is whatever you want it to be. However, from a biblical worldview this is not a tenable position. Followers of Christ must hold that truth is objective because we have an objective standard, the Bible. Therefore, we believe that truth can be known because of God’s self-revelation, and that we should desire and strive to know that truth as much as humanly possible.

Secondly, if human beings are in the state of sin which the Bible tells us that we are, and that we can do nothing to rectify this problem by ourselves, then we need to know what God has done for us. Only the true God can save you from your sins. Many people claim to know God and even say that Jesus is their savior. The question is, “which Jesus are you talking about?” The Apostle Paul states, “For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed… you put up with it readily enough.” (1 Corinthians 11:4) Paul is concerned when people say that they believe in Jesus but the one they believe in is not the true Jesus.

Imagine I come to you proclaiming myself to be the President of the United States. What would you say to me? Perhaps I even told you that my name was Donald Trump. Would you accept me as the President? I don’t think so. You would recognize that even if I use that title and name of the President, we are different people; our characteristics makes that clear. We are different ages, come from different backgrounds, and our physical appearances are different. In the same way, merely using the words “God”, “Jesus”, etc. don’t in and of themselves mean anything. It must be discovered through the details and characteristics of who we are talking about. Is Jesus the Son of God or simply a traveling moralistic teacher? Is Jesus God in the flesh or a created being? Fundamental questions must be considered as to the character and nature of the Jesus we are talking about, because only one Jesus can save you, the Jesus proclaimed and revealed in the Bible.

Finally, only the true Triune God of the Bible can bring you peace and comfort in this broken world. People everywhere are daily dealing with and struggling through a multitude of issues. People killing one another, children being abused and abandoned, and relationships torn apart are all frequent occurrences in a world that is living out the consequences of sin. Through all the stress and strain we long for peace. We long to bring peace and comfort to our friends and family members who are going through instances of these calamities. This desire causes us to reach out to others. Often you hear people say they are sending “good thoughts” or “vibes” to the person. Although these people have the best of intentions and truly care about others, the facts remains that your thoughts and “vibes” do nothing for that person. If you really care about someone you will fall on your knees before the only Sovereign and plead for mercy and grace. Why is it important to know truths about God? Because knowing the true God brings peace. Jesus tells His followers, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27) You see, Jesus brings a peace to the hearts of His people that the world can never bring. He brings a comfort that is alien to us, a comfort that gives us the ability to move forward in life no matter the circumstances we find ourselves in. A false Jesus cannot do this– a false ideology cannot do this,–only God can. This is yet another reason that we desire to know and follow Him.

Truth matters. That is why it should be our life-long pursuit to know God as He truly is, as He has revealed Himself. Knowledge of spiritual things should not puff us up in arrogance, but should humble us to know we serve a living God who cares about us. Truth breaks the heart of the proud and heals the heart of the humble. I encourage you, dear reader, to join me on this pursuit and desire of knowing the truth of God.

By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ
facebook.com/MBCGlobe

If the Foundations Are Destroyed

Popular culture is constantly changing. Sometimes the change is for the better, while other times, for the worse. However, our perspective on change has much do with our individual worldviews.

From a Christian worldview, many changes in our culture over the past 10 years or so have caught us off guard. Why? Because there are many things that, in times past, seemed so foundational to the human experience that are now being put to the test. For instance, a brief perusal of current news outlets shows questions we once all knew the answer to, but now… not so much. Questions like, “What is the family?”, “What is marriage?”, or “What is male and female?” At one time, a simple answer would suffice. However, many people now disagree with these simple answers.

How do we respond to this current landscape filled with many opposing views? Let me start by stating what I think we should not do. We should not use our disagreements as an excuse to destroy one another. All too often, various groups on either side of the political and ideological aisle have forgotten basic human kindness when wrestling through current topics. This is to our shame. When did we become so hateful? Now, let me be clear what I mean when I use the word “hateful”. The word hateful cannot be used to describe someone who simply has an opposing view to yours. Our culture has fostered such self-centeredness that many people believe that others with a different view are “mean, bigoted, and hateful.” No, hateful is when we disagree with an idea and then hurl personal insults, slandering another person with the intention of tearing them down. Hateful is “believe like I believe, or else…”

So, what should we do? King David asks the same question in Psalm 11. “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” As Christians, we see so many things that are foundational, things God instituted for the good and flourishing of mankind, being changed. I believe there are 3 things (at least) we should keep in mind as we address current issues. 1) We should listen. Are we truly listening to those with whom we disagree? We need to be more intentional to listen and come to understand them even if we remain opposed to their ideas. 2) We should love. As followers of Christ we are called to be known for our love; whether our neighbor or enemy, Jesus calls us to love. Those with whom we disagree remain image bearers of God and have inherent worth and value. Let us disagree in a way that shows this. 3) We should proclaim the Gospel. Our political aspirations or humanitarian efforts are futile if we are not preaching the Gospel. We cannot expect change until there is a heart change and that only comes through Christ. We must remember that our hope and faith is not in worldly prosperity but in Christ alone.

By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ
facebook.com/MBCGlobe

Where Are The Faithful?

Every so often a video or story hits the internet about a good deed or inspirational tale. The tagline often adds “Faith in humanity restored!” It seems we so long for good things in the world that we make a big deal out of them when they happen. But what about that phrase “faith in humanity”? It seems our assumption is that humanity is basically good and all we need to do is focus on that goodness more often. However, this is not always our experience.

This Fourth of July was a another great year to be with friends and family yet, little did I know that while I was heading to bed that night my office at Maranatha Baptist Church was being broken into. Thieves busted through my office door and proceeded to rummage through my desk, stealing money that was to be used for helping others, computers and other electronic tools that are used to teach the Bible and serve God’s people, and, sadly, a personal computer that had all of my family pictures and videos. -that one hurt the most. If you’ve ever experienced this, then you know a burglary like this not only hits you financially but emotionally. You feel completely helpless and violated that someone would do such a thing. I’ve been feeling this way. It makes me want to shout out with the Psalmist, “the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.” (Psalm 12:1)

However, I can’t say that I am surprised. You see, the only “faith” that I have in humanity is that humanity will act in a way consistent with what the Bible reveals. The Bible tells us humanity is fallen, sinful and “follow(s) the course of this world.” (Ephesians 2:1-2) These thieves were living out their sinful desires not caring about those who would be at a loss in the wake of their trouble.

What can I do? I pray. Primarily, I am praying for those people who committed this crime. Why? Because, although I will miss having those pictures and videos of my children growing up, and although, I am saddened that they won’t get to see the videos of them learning to crawl or their 1st Christmas, it saddens me more to know what awaits people who commit such crimes.

Thieves do not inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:10) If the ones who broke into Maranatha happen to read this, I would implore them to be made right with their Creator. Repent (turn away from) of your sin of theft and turn to Christ. You need to come to Jesus and call out to Him to save you. You might have taken my belongings, but God will take your soul. I forgive you for your sin against me and the people at Maranatha, but most importantly, I pray that you will come to know Jesus Christ. This is where my faith lies, in Christ alone! -not in humanity.

By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ
facebook.com/MBCGlobe

Pay Attention!

I have always been interested in the arts, especially theatre and film. I even had the opportunity to study acting in New York City with some great teachers who worked in the business. With that background, I have always been fascinated how concepts that you learn in an acting class translate to life, specifically as a follower of Christ.

For instance, when working on a scene an important thing to remember is that you must keep your attention on the other person; you must be really listening to them. If you are focusing on yourself, how you look and sound, then you will not be present in the scene and you won’t be truthfully responding to them. This is a big difference between an experienced actor and a novice. Many times the beginning actor is merely waiting for the opportunity to say his lines, instead of actually listening to what the other person is saying. This results in stale, lifeless line readings. As an audience member, I go to the theatre to see life unfold before my eyes, not to watch actors who have simply memorized words in a script.

In the same way, life itself becomes stale and meaningless when our desire is to make it all about ourselves, to put all of our attention on “self”. We often believe the idea that if we focus on bettering our self, on finding our own personal happiness, then everything will be great. The problem is that this type of personal fulfillment is not lasting. The thing that once brought us so much joy and happiness becomes dull and common and we soon lose interest in it. So we have to leave that behind and find a new thing that will give us that buzz and rush once again. For example, we are in love with idea of “falling in love”. We become infatuated with someone and chase after them. However, according to recent statistics, 40%-50% of married couples end up divorced. Why is this? Didn’t they “fall in love”? The problem is that most marriages begin with the idea that it is all about personal fulfillment. The moment one person does not feel they are getting from the relationship what they used to get, they move on to another one. It’s not the person that we cared about; it was that feeling of something new and exciting. With this in mind, we can see why 30%-60% of all married individuals will engage in infidelity at some point in their marriage. (Journal of Research in Personality, 31, 193-221) The all-important “I” must be fulfilled and we see to it that it is, even if it comes to cheating on a spouse, running away from problems, or turning to drugs and alcohol.

However, when we read God’s Word we see that, as people who have been made in the image of God, we are not created for ourselves but for God. We are made to focus on God, worship God, and to reflect His goodness. The writers of the Westminster Catechism had it right when they wrote that “they chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” When we come into a relationship with God through Christ we start to see life as it really is. We see that all of those things we once used to bring fulfillment never actually satisfied. It is only in God that we find fulfillment that lasts. In God, we find joy inexpressible (1 Peter 1:8) because we recognize that we deserve nothing from God and yet, by His grace, have received everything. Every good gift is from God (James 1:17). In response all of our focus and attention should be moved from “self” to Him who actually deserves it. When we put our attention on God, on what has been accomplished for us by Christ upon the cross, and what the Bible teaches us, we will find that everything else will fall into place. Then we can sing that words of the hymn “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” with full hearts knowing that God is all that we need and He is our primary focus.

Next time you are watching a film or a play see if you can tell if the actors are really listening to each other or if they are waiting for their turn to speak. Acting that is vibrant is acting that is not about the actor but that is about the journey the characters are going through. A life that is meaningful and vibrant is a life that is not focused upon “self” but that is focused upon God.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.” -Lemmel 1922

By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ
facebook.com/MBCGlobe

God Has Spoken

God has spoken. This short sentence should not only bring us comfort, but utterly amaze us. The God who has revealed Himself through His awesome creation has condescended to a level in which His creatures can understand. R.C. Sproul explains, “We receive distinct information from God Himself, and that astonishing fact lies at the root of a Christian understanding of knowledge.” In earlier times, God spoke directly to people such as Adam and Noah. Other times, He spoke through various means: as the Angel of the Lord, in the burning bush, in the fire and cloud over Mount Sinai, among others. He also called upon prophets and apostles to be His voice to the nations. However, the highpoint of God’s Special Revelation is found in Jesus Christ. In John’s Gospel he states that “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known (John 1:18).” This powerful statement declares that God has most fully revealed Himself in the person and work of Christ. Commenting on this verse, John Calvin says, “…God is openly seen in the face of Christ.” This means that to understand the character and nature of God, we must understand Jesus. Theologian Charles Hodge further explains, “The words of Christ were the words of God. The works of Christ were the works of God. The love, mercy, tenderness, the forgiving grace, as well as the holiness, the severity and power manifested by Christ, were all manifestations of what God truly is.”

How then do we obtain this “Special Revelation”? In order to answer this question, we must look at the Bible, for the Bible is the modern Christians direct revelation from God. The Apostle Paul writes, “all Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16), that the words that we have in the Bible are the very words of God. Again, Paul writes, “for whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4).” Paul is stating that the Old Testament Scriptures were written for the people of God, so that 1) they may know God, 2) they may know what the will of God is, and 3) through this knowledge they may have endurance and encouragement in life.

If the Bible is truly God’s word, truly written by God, then it logically follows that the Bible has authority. If the words in Scripture are God’s words, then to disbelieve those words is to disbelieve God. To ignore those words is, fundamentally, to ignore God. Therefore, the Bible must be held in high honor, diligently read and studied. This also means that we affirm the Bible is infallible and inerrant; it is incapable of error and cannot “fail” at any point. The book of Titus tells us God cannot lie; because the Author of the Bible cannot lie, His authoritative word is also unable to lie but is completely and consistently true in all that it affirms. The Bible alone must be our sole source of everything that we do and teach as followers of Jesus Christ. With the reformers of the 1500’s, we must proclaim that we believe in Sola Scriptura; that is, we believe that the Bible alone contains all the knowledge we require for salvation and holiness.

The Bible contains the testimony of God and is, therefore, our only rule of faith. The Bible contains the precepts of God and it is, consequently, our only rule of duty. Finally, the Bible contains the promises of God and it is, therefore, our rule of hope. On any issue or controversy that comes before us, we must look to the Bible for instruction. When the Bible speaks on any subject, all else must remain silent. When the Bible speaks it leaves no room for doubt; it is our final appeal on all matters because, fundamentally, God has spoken.

By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ
facebook.com/MBCGlobe

Do You Identify As A Christian?

How do you identify yourself? We have many different ways in which we like to identify ourselves in our modern culture. We say this person is a Democrat and this person is a Republican. We classify people as a conservative or a liberal. Some people are religious, while others are secularists. The popular movie “The Breakfast Club” introduces us to “the brain, the athlete, the basket-case, the princess, and the criminal.” How do you see yourself? And how do others see you? Often, the answer comes from the different identities we claim within each category.

What about the category of “religion”? Would you identify as a Christian? Would you classify yourself in this way? Many people, especially in America, would. I have asked many people if they considered themselves a Christian and often they answer “Yes, I grew up going to church.” Or, “Yes, my parents were very religious.” It seems to me that many people assume a Christian identity based off of their own ideas of what makes a person a Christian as opposed to what the Bible says.

You see, we’ve made self-identification the be-all-to-end-all in terms who we are. However, this is not a new idea. In the Bible Jesus speaks of a group of people who classify themselves as His followers, but the reality is very different. We find these words in Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

The truth of the matter is that many people classify themselves as Christians without understanding what a Christian is and how one becomes a Christian. Simply self-identifying as a Christian does not make you a Christian. Neither does giving money, being baptized, growing up with Christian parents, or even going to a church. Being a Christian means that you trust wholly and completely in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It means that God has done a radical work in your heart, that you have been born-again by the spirit of God, and now desire to live a life that glorifies your Lord. When you reflect on the passage above the question is not do you know Jesus, but does He know you? That is what makes someone a Christian; not self-identification, but being identified by God.

“How Do You Identify?”

By Pastor Nick Jones
Maranatha Baptist Church
1320 E. Saguaro Dr. Globe, AZ
facebook.com/MBCGlobe