The Way

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

Today we are going to talk about “The Way.” The way is what the early religion of the Christian Church was called soon after Pentecost. The Way, it was that old time religion such as that old hymn by J. Baird, “That Old Time Religion.” I remember way back then at that old country Church of my younger days that we would sing that wonderful song. “Give me that old time religion, give me that old time religion, give me that old time religion, It’s good enough for me.” As I remember back and go through the verses of days gone by. That old time religion “Makes me love everybody, and it has saved our fathers, it was good for the prophet Daniel, it was good for Hebrew children, and it’s good enough for me.”

We read in the book of Acts that Saul of Tarsus went about Jerusalem and the area searching for those who followed The Way in order to persecute them. “Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.” (Acts 9:1-2) But Saul on the road to Damascus was converted by the grace of God and became a leader in the Church of those early believers of Jesus who followed The Way. Barnabas went to Tarsus to find Saul, who had changed his name to Paul, to bring him back to Antioch to form a missionary team. It was at the Church in Antioch that The Way became known as the Christians. “And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” (Acts 11:25-26)

I have wondered where the name “The Way” came from. Was it just something attached or does it have Scriptural root. If we look in the Book of Deuteronomy we see that Moses described the way. “You shall walk in all the way which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess.” (Deuteronomy 5:33) I think that is probable as most of the early believers were of Jewish background. More likely it came from the words of Jesus Himself which we read in the Gospel of John. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6) The Way was the new religion of the day.

Now we are members of the Christian religion which are followers of Christ and serve in His Church, the Church of Jesus Christ. But what is religion? The Oxford English dictionary defines religion as this. “The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods: A particular system of faith and worship: A pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.” For our purposes James gives the better definition in his epistle. “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27) There are many religions in the world today, as there have always been, but, there is only one true religion and that is the worship of God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ. Some will say that is just my stinking opinion but I say that it is the absolute truth.

In the Apostle Paul’s second letter to Timothy he warns of the difficult times that will come upon the Christian Church. I am sure these difficult times have come in the past but it is becoming more prevalent as the times draw nearer to the end. As society and the Church also participates in a drift further away from the precepts of The Way they lose the moral compass of God’s truth in the character that we are to develop in living accorded to His teachings. Without obedience to God’s Word there is no accountability to the thoughts that come into the heart of man. The general populace today live on the pop opinion rather than on the Rock of God’s truth. It was once taught in the home, the school, and the Church the Word of God. Not only has society rejected the teaching of God’s Word but has abandoned it all together. Some Churches have softened the truth to make it more palatable so as to not lose the unbelieving members. Without the compass of God’s Word there is no understanding of the fall of society or the troubles that face the Church. The heart which has no root is desperately sick. “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

In my stinking opinion all religion that does not accept Jesus Christ as The Way, as the Son of God, and our Lord and Savior of mankind is an empty religion. Paul warns us in verses 2-4 that those who practice these traits in the world and worse in the Church are a danger for us all. We see it openly in the world but we do not always see it in the midst of the Church. It is not that which we see that defiles but that which is in the heart. For what is in the heart will come out from within and reveal itself. “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.” (Matthew 15:18) This is not only a poor testimony to the congregation but to our Lord.

It is an easy enough trap to fall into that we relate to the crowd that we are associating with. There are some who profess to be Christians that can be found in the local tavern on Saturday night letting the badger out. They become filled with the wrong spirits and find themselves dreaming of pleasurable encounters. There are some who profess to be Christians that gather around the water cooler and speak things that they know in their heart that is not truth and give witness that they are a part of the in crowd. I know the importance of being accepted with present company. I also know the greater value of leading the present company to a higher realm in the eternity that all will face. As Christians we are ambassadors of the Kingdom of God and if we do not live as such how can we testify to the greatness the riches of His glory that is within our grasp? “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)

I have heard where else would you find a hypocrite but in the Sanctuary of a Church? I believe this is a true statement as each of us in one way or the other at times are hypocrites. But the Christian is in the Church worship service to learn and gain the power to overcome this world and their lust for it. But to come into the Sanctuary of God’s House and not leave the world and its way on the outside is a foul form of hypocrisy. Just as foul as the hypocrisy to leave the Church professing to be a Child of God and living in a worldly way. The Christian who is following The Way comes into the Church to bask in the light of God’s truth. He leaves the Church to live in the light that others my see The Way. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

Paul gives us list of ungodly actions that we can find ourselves being involved in. I graded myself as I read through them, and, no I am not going to share my grade. They are: “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” When we live in the appearance of holiness but on the inside live in unrighteous thought we are denying the power that is in us. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” (Ephesians 6:10) We cannot profess to live in Christ and walk in the darkness of our own evil desires. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:6-7)

There are many in the Church that believe their connection with the Church is a union with Jesus Christ. This is not the truth, as Church membership will not produce salvation for your soul. Jesus warned each of this truth. “And He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.” (Luke 13:27) For Jesus to know you, you must have a personal relationship with Him and follow Him keeping His commandments. This is how we can have the power of Christ living within us. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” (Ephesians 6:10) Outward appearances will not work for as Paul wrote we walk by faith. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Our outward appearances will perish with the flesh we are tented in. For that which is seen in this world will not stand the test of the fire of God’s judgement. What endures through eternity is that which is not seen, the soul of a man. What is in the heart of a man that defiles him must be removed. Thus this is the dire need of the forgiveness that only Jesus Christ can give to us. It is in His righteousness that we will be presented before the Father one day soon. What is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal. We must have purity in our spirit. “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

Jesus prayed that each one of us would receive the Spirit of Truth that would guide us into all truth. The Spirit of Truth that would sanctify us into the likeness of Christ who we follow. The Spirit of Truth that will seal us into the family of God and testify that we are the sons of God. “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14) This has been given us by the grace of God that through Jesus Christ we will overcome the world. Do not ponder upon the things of this world, as they are temporary, ponder upon the things of God, which is eternal. “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

Durant Bible College, November 5, 2015

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