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The Godly Way of Life

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Is merely believing on Jesus as Lord and Savior sufficient to receive eternal life?

“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. 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?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23 Matthew 7:21-23 21 Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.
American King James Version×
; compare Luke 9:23 Luke 9:23And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
American King James Version×
).

Although the acceptance and honor of Christ’s role in our salvation is essential, Jesus said merely believing on His name does not fulfill all of God’s requirements regarding the way we should live. We must also do the will of the Father.

Jesus explained that He expects much more from His followers than simply believing that He is the Christ—the Messiah—and calling Him Lord. He also requires that we change the way we live.

How did Christ describe the way we should live?

“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. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14 Matthew 7:13-14 13 Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few there be that find it.
American King James Version×
; compare Luke 13:23-25 Luke 13:23-25 23 Then said one to him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said to them, 24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say to you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. 25 When once the master of the house is risen up, and has shut to the door, and you begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us; and he shall answer and say to you, I know you not from where you are:
American King James Version×
; emphasis added throughout).

George Barna, an American pollster who specializes in observing and cataloging religious trends and behavior, says modern Christianity is a mile wide and an inch deep. But mile-wide Christianity is not the path to God’s Kingdom. Rather, according to Jesus, it is the highway to destruction.

The way leading to eternal life is the way of living within the boundaries defined in God’s law. It is not the broad and popular way that approves of any behavioral preference and practice.

What is the source of most people’s views on the way they should serve and worship God?

“These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8-9 Matthew 15:8-9 8 This people draws near to me with their mouth, and honors me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
American King James Version×
).

“I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they would have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings” (Jeremiah 23:21-22 Jeremiah 23:21-22 21 I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. 22 But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.
American King James Version×
; compare 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
American King James Version×
).

As it was in the days of Jesus and the biblical prophets, so is it today! Most people put their faith in the words and opinions of the religious teachers they like the most. Few look first to God’s words in the Scriptures as the primary basis of their beliefs.

What should be the source of our beliefs and the guide for our behavior?

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17 Romans 10:17So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
American King James Version×
; compare Romans 10:15-16 Romans 10:15-16 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias said, Lord, who has believed our report?
American King James Version×
).

“To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20 Isaiah 8:20To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
American King James Version×
).

If we really want to follow God according to His instructions, we must honestly evaluate the origins of our present worship habits and way of life. We need to ask ourselves whether they are derived from the Scriptures. Are our teachers faithful to God’s Word? Or are they merely disseminating the ideas and teachings of men? The answer to these questions make an enormous difference in whether God will work with us as His servants or whether He will reject us.

Is worshiping God in vain a recent trend?

“Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’ ” (Matthew 15:7-9 Matthew 15:7-9 7 You hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draws near to me with their mouth, and honors me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
American King James Version×
).

“My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice” (Ezekiel 33:31-32 Ezekiel 33:31-32 31 And they come to you as the people comes, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear your words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goes after their covetousness. 32 And, see, you are to them as a very lovely song of one that has a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear your words, but they do them not.
American King James Version×
, New International Version).

More than 2,500 years ago the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel described the self-serving and ultimately worthless approach to worship the Israelites had taken. The people heard the words of God’s messengers, but they did not practice what they heard. Later, in New Testament times, Jesus said this approach amounted to worship of God in vain—ultimately fruitless and worthless. Little has changed. Our age is the age of disbelief.

How do the Scriptures describe the beliefs and conduct of the earliest Christians?

“… When Priscilla and Aquila heard [Apollos], they took him aside and explained the Way of God to him more accurately” (Acts 18:26 Acts 18:26And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him to them, and expounded to him the way of God more perfectly.
American King James Version×
, New Revised Standard Version).

“And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way” (Acts 19:23 Acts 19:23And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.
American King James Version×
).

“But when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of the Way, he adjourned the proceedings and said, ‘When Lysias the commander comes down, I will make a decision on your case’ ” (Acts 24:22 Acts 24:22And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter.
American King James Version×
; compare Acts 9:1-2 Acts 9:1-2 1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, 2 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 to Jerusalem.
American King James Version×
; Acts 19:1-10 Acts 19:1-10 1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2 He said to them, Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed? And they said to him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3 And he said to them, To what then were you baptized? And they said, To John’s baptism. 4 Then said Paul, John truly baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied. 7 And all the men were about twelve. 8 And he went into the synagogue, and spoke boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. 9 But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spoke evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. 10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelled in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.
American King James Version×
).

Members of the early Church often referred to themselves as those who followed the Way . Paul refers to their way of life as “ the way of the Lord” and “ the way of God” (Acts 18:25-26 Acts 18:25-26 25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spoke and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. 26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him to them, and expounded to him the way of God more perfectly.
American King James Version×
). In other words, the early Christians, directly taught by Christ’s apostles, were recognized by their deeds and actions. Their godly way of life distinguished them from the society around them.

The way of life of the early Christians was called the Way because they lived the way Christ lived . They followed His example. They obeyed His instructions. The “Way” was then, and still is, a way of living and thinking that is profoundly different from that followed by the vast majority of humanity.

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