The Bible leads people to salvation, but sometimes is unclear about what is required. What are the core beliefs that one must have to be a Christian? When the apostles tell us to follow the fundamental truths of the Faith, what do they mean? What can followers of Christ disagree on without breaking fellowship? What differences in theology are so serious that Christians must separate themselves from people who hold wrong views ? What must people do to be saved?
By Mark D. Harris
Our Sunday School class has been working through the letters of John for the past several weeks. In them, the Apostle repeatedly calls for his readers to know the truth. Most people, even those who deny objective moral truth, believe in some kind of truth. Religions, and non-religious philosophies, claim to contain and convey truth, and ask their adherents to accept it.
The word “saved” differs from one religion and/or philosophy to another. To a Christian, one is saved from separation from God. To a Buddhist, one is saved from false beliefs. To a Marxist, one is saved from economic oppression. To a Muslim, one is saved from hell. Keeping in mind that “salvation” differs by context, we will investigate how to achieve it.
How to be “saved” in major non-Christian religions
Every religion requires adherence to a set of beliefs and actions by those who wish to be part of that faith. For example, Islam expects its followers to do the five pillars:
- Shahada – testify that “there is no God but Allah, and Mohammad is His prophet.”
- Zakat – pay tithes.
- Salah – pray towards Mecca five times per day.
- Sawm – fast during Ramadan.
- Hajj – make a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Muslims are likewise required to perform good works, having just dealings with others, and may be called to fight in a holy war (jihad). Islam has dietary requirements, such as prohibitions on alcohol and pork, and rules for the social order. If one believes and does these things, he or she can justly consider him or herself to be a Muslim and will be considered so by others. After death, if a Muslim’s good deeds outweigh the bad, or if he is killed in a jihad, he or she will enjoy paradise.
Continue reading “What must I do to be saved?”
An Easter sermon on how to deal with the reality of our future…death. Welcome to our future, the end of mortal life for all mankind.
By Mark D. Harris, (Resurrection Service, MBC, Easter 2023)
Prelude – Trombone and French Horn, Low in the Grave He Lay
Congregational song – Christ the Lord is Risen Today
Congregational song – He Lives
(Standing in a cemetery)
Welcome to our future.
Look around. What do you see? Someday we will all be here, or someplace like it, or scattered across land or sea. We cannot avoid it…no man can. Even God abode in the grave. In a few short decades, or years, or minutes, we will be here, never to leave.
Our place at the table will be empty. Our voice in the home will be stilled. The warmth of our touch and twinkle in our eye will be forgotten. Our hopes and dreams will have come… and gone.
Deep in our hearts, we know that this is wrong. Death seems unnatural, and the decay of our mortal frame is not only terrifying. It is offensive.
Continue reading “Welcome to our Future”
Why don’t we have good leaders? Why don’t we have a moral society? Why do the good, the true, and the beautiful seem so scarce in our society? Why do we have so few good men and women? Why do we see a rejection of authority in the human heart? What can we do about it?
By Mark D. Harris
The conscience that God has placed in the heart of each man, and the Law that He has revealed to His people, tell us how He commands us to live. We don’t like it, preferring to go our own way. As a result, we often despise anyone who keeps God’s commands. We pretend that universal moral standards do not exist. We scream and cry that no one can make us do what we don’t want to do. We resent and tear down those sent to help us. Finally, in our rejection of godly authority, and often any authority, we destroy ourselves, and cause terrible suffering to others.
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Nahum, considered a minor prophet because of the shortness of his book, had a huge message. The superpower of the ancient near east, Assyria, was about to be destroyed. The superpowers of the 21st century should take note.
By Mark D, Harris
Nahum, an oft-overlooked minor prophet in the Old Testament, details God’s final judgment on the neo-Assyrian Empire and its leading city, Nineveh. The prophet Jonah, famous for his episode with a fish, had preached in Nineveh a century earlier and sparked a great repentance. In the intervening decades, the Assyrians returned to their wicked ways. Nahum, while showing none of the ethnic animus that so vexed Jonah, felt burdened by the sins of the Assyrians and the oppression of Israel. He asks the Lord what He will do about it, and God replies that His patience passed its limits, Nineveh would soon be destroyed.
Nahum chapter 1 overflows with the power of God, His wrath against evil, and His determination to punish the guilty. The Lord of Hosts reminds His prophet in a thousand ways about His strength to crush His foes and save those who trust in Him. The prophet concludes chapter 1 with the joys of bringing good news – being a herald of peace.
Continue reading “Nahum – The Four Fears”