Is Jesus the Only Way

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 6.13.52 PMAre you telling me that Jesus is the only way to God? How can you say that all the other religions are wrong? How can you say that with my ___________ (Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim) friend will not be in heaven?

These are fantastic questions.

The first thing to clear up is that I am not claiming that Jesus is the only way to salvation. The church is not claiming that Jesus is the only way to salvation. Pastor Brad, Katie, Justin are not claiming that Jesus is the only way to salvation.

The person who claims to be the only pathway to salvation is Jesus.

It is Jesus who declares, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

The Book of Acts echoes this teaching, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

For the Christian who believes that Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, the exclusivity of Jesus as the only pathway to salvation is not a church teaching, it’s a Jesus teaching. This is what the Bible says.

Either Jesus is God and therefore, everything that he claims are the statements and declarations of God, or these are the crazy rants of a lunatic. There is no middle ground.

One cannot claim Jesus to be a wise and good teacher and at the same time have Jesus proclaiming that he is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. Either Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior of the world, or he’s a raving lunatic for thinking that he is the Son of God and the Savior of the world.

There is absolutely no middle ground.

And if Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior of the world, then his word and his teaching is the truth. We can like it or not. It doesn’t change the fact that it is God’s teaching. Either we will receive all of Christ’s teaching or we will have to reject Christ as a lunatic.

One of the saddest things about this is that while Jesus asks us to proclaim this good news to the world, the church has not done a very good job of proclaiming this good news. The arrogant and haughty, better than everyone else, way this truth has been taught, proclaimed, and shared has made this good news feel anything but good.

For a moment, lets just say that Jesus is God, that Jesus is telling the truth, that Jesus really is the only way for human beings to truly come alive and live the life that we were created to live. Wouldn’t it be absolutely fantastic that we can finally know a way to live life the way it was meant to be lived? Wouldn’t it be good news if we could finally start living live with purpose and passion?

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 6.11.26 PMThis morning, I stopped by Starbucks before coming to church. In the parking lot was parked one of the most beautiful cars ever made – Ferrari 308 GTS (or better known as the Ferrari that Magnum PI drove). Imagine if the owner of that Ferrari was a farmer and because that was the only vehicle he had he was trying to use that car to plow. The Ferrari would absolutely suck at plowing. It has a terribly low ground clearance. It’s tires have no grip on dirt and mud. It would constantly get stuck. How sad would that be? Here is one of the most beautiful machines ever made, and it would be absolutely horrible as a tractor.

But that’s not what the Ferrari was made for. That beauty was made for a racetrack. Get that car out in the open road, and it will sing!

When we are living our lives apart from God’s will for us, we are like the Ferrari on a farm. We constantly get stuck. We’re not very useful and keep failing at the task before us.

But we weren’t built to be a tractor. When we live our lives the way we were created to live, you should hear us sing!

Everyone wants to live a life with purpose and passion. Everyone wants to live a life that counts and matters. And everyone can. Because in Jesus, we can discover what we were created for.

That’s why Jesus said, “I came that you might have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

And if Jesus was trying to help people discover their God-given purpose and identities, and Jesus shared with the world how we might come to know who we are in and through him, wouldn’t that be absolutely great news?

Our job as the church is to share this amazing good news in a humble, gracious, loving way to help people discover their place in God’s kingdom. This is good news!

Why Should I Join a Small Group?

Screenshot 2015-04-17 at 11.57.41 PMWhy Should I Join a FOCUS Group?

Why small groups? Why FOCUS groups? My life is going fine. Why should I bother joining one of these FOCUS groups?

Those are great questions!

I believe there are good reasons why we ought to be in community, in relationships, in small groups.

Let’s be crystal clear about what small groups ministries can and cannot do:

  • Small groups are not the only way a person can grow and mature as a Christian.

    However, if you are not in some form of a small group of Christians, you are probably not growing and maturing in your faith. Christian community is absolutely necessary for Christian growth. In fact, it’s impossible to grow and mature as a follower of Jesus Christ apart from being in Christian community.

  • Being in a small group ministry will not help you find your soul mate. A small group is not a place where you will be able to share your deepest spiritual thoughts, fears, and feelings.

    In fact, if that’s what small groups are, that kind of sounds yucky.

    However, there’s a good likelihood you are going to meet some fantastic, quirky, lovely, interesting people through your involvement in FOCUS groups.

  • Participating in a small group ministries will not guarantee you will become a spiritual giant. If that happens that would be really great.

    The goal of our small group ministries is to have our faiths stretched, challenged, and encouraged through your participation in one of our FOCUS groups.

 

Why join a small group? Why sign up for a FOCUS group?

 

Because God created us for relationships. We are better when we are together.

 

FOCUS groups are a fantastic place to grow in our understanding and love for God. And FOCUS groups are a fantastic venue to put our growing love for God into action as we practice our faith with one another in small groups.

 

We will be having sign ups for the summer FOCUS groups May 10-June 7.

 

Don’t miss out on an opportunity to grow deeper in your friendships with folks at LCOP and to grow deeper in your relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

Looking forward to seeing you in one of our Summer FOCUS Groups!

Standing Under the Authority of God’s Word

Screenshot 2015-04-14 at 5.19.31 PMChristians have been called “the people of the Book.” This is because the Bible takes the central place in the life of the Christian.

  • How do Christians know who God is and what he did for us in the person of Jesus Christ? The Bible tells us.
  • How do Christians know who we are and how we are to live? The Bible tells us.

The Bible is how Christians come to know God, all that God has done for us, and how we ought to live because of all that God has done for us.

We come to know God’s truth and God’s grace because God’s word – the Bible.

Given the central role of the Bible in the life of the Christian, what should be our relationship to the Bible? What should the Christian’s relationship and posture be toward the Bible?”

A study of the New Testament Church and the early church fathers quickly reveals one of the distinguishing characteristics of the church was the reading of God’s word followed up by the exposition of God’s word.

What made the New Testament Church different than the “Rotary” Club of Jerusalem” or the “Lions” Club of Capernaum was the reading and the proclamation of God’s word. There were, and there are, many groups that do good things in the community. But one of the things that makes the church, the church of Jesus Christ, was and is the reading of God’s word and the exposition of God’s word in our gatherings.

When the people gathered and heard the word of God and the exposition of God’s truth, and when their lives, thoughts, opinions, beliefs, and practices were out of sync with God’s word, they did the craziest thing in the world! They adjusted their thoughts, beliefs, opinions, practices, and lives to match God’s word!!!

Can you believe that?!?!

Isn’t that crazy?

No. That’s Christianity. That’s discipleship.

Whenever Christians read God’s word, God’s word begins reading us. And because we are all sinners, the Bible shows us where we are out of line with God’s truth and God’s grace. Not only will God’s word show us where we are out of sync with God’s grace and truth, but God’s word shows us how to get ourselves aligned with God’s grace and truth.

We are told, “All scriptures is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right” (2 Timothy 3:16 NLT).

You see, it’s when Christians stand under the authority of God’s word that God’s truth and grace begins to be understood.