Tag Archives: 1 John 4:1

The Great Train Wreck of 1918

On this date in 1918 what has often been called the worst rail accident in U.S. history occurred in Nashville, TN. It took place when the No. 4 train from Nashville collided at full speed with the No. 1 train from Memphis. 101 people were killed in the wreck and more than 170 were injured.

In the ensuing investigation it was found that the No. 1 train was 35 minutes behind schedule. Because of this, when the No. 4 train came through the last checkpoint before the wreck, the tower operator waived them through with an “all-clear,” not realizing the No. 1 train had not yet come through. By the time the error was discovered, the train had passed and there was no way to get word to the engineers on either train.

At that time, the train engineers were absolutely dependent upon the tower operators for information about whether the tracks were clear to proceed. They had to maintain absolute confidence in them and trust what they had received because they had no way of knowing the information personally.

Unfortunately, many people do the same thing spiritually today. They take the word of their friends, family, or preacher as the truth for what track they should take. As long as they get the “all-clear” from that trusted source, they believe everything is okay.

What if those sources are wrong? It may not be intentional on their part, but it can happen. Will you know of the danger ahead? Will you be able to change course? That is why John wrote of the necessity to test the things we are told to make sure they are from God (1 John 4:1). The Bereans did this (Acts 17:11) and were commended for it. Do not make the mistake of taking someone else’s word as a substitute for what God said, always check it out for yourself.

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“Come Try My Brand-New, Never-Before-Seen, Remedy For Sin!”

You see it all over Facebook, e-mails, and other forms of social media: the advertisers trying to get you to buy their new drug, remedy, food product, diet, or super-simple means of changing your life forever. People are constantly spending their days trying to find the latest, greatest idea or concoction to deal with things that, most of the time, already have answers that have been known and effectively utilized for generations. Often, the comments and responses from people include such lines as: “This looks cool,” or, “I’ll keep this to try later if _______ does not work,” or, “I guess it can’t hurt to try it.”

While it is true that there are some new things that are worthwhile, and for many of these things there is not a right or wrong decision to be made across the board, it must be recognized that there is a limit to which this mentality can be applied. Unfortunately, many people have taken this same mentality and applied it to religion as well. They jump on the band-wagon for whatever new idea or concept comes along. They affirm to people the necessity of simply “finding what’s right for you,” and they are constantly advocating how much they know that you cannot know.

However, this is not some new fad in regard to religion. Men have been trying to come up with new ways and means of salvation since the early centuries of Christianity. There are nearly as many ways man has tried to purport as acceptable means of salvation as there are cold remedies in the aisles of the local pharmacy. In the 3rd century men began arguing for the acceptability of sprinkling instead of immersion. In the 4th century, some began the practice of infant baptism as an acceptable means of salvation. In the 16th century John Calvin popularized the notion that there was nothing one could do to be saved, God either predetermined you to be saved or lost and you could not change it if you tried. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, men such as Moody and Graham popularized the idea of belief and prayer for salvation. While this is by no means an extensive list, it gives you an idea of the fads and beliefs that people have utilized with the same mentality as has been discussed above.

Like those cold remedies, there are elements of each that are the same. However, unlike a cold remedy (whereby you could take an inferior concoction and still get a meaningful result), taking an inferior remedy for sin will only leave you with one thing: sin.  You cannot take away sin with an inferior method or inferior practices, it can only be done by the system that was originally prescribed for its removal.

Utilizing systems that only go back a few centuries, instead of all the way back to the beginning, are not sufficient because they do not go back to the proper source. While religious leaders will use a modicum of truth and Scripture that seems to support their claims; but much like most of the above claims of new products, there is only enough Scriptural detail to pass a cursory glance. A deeper inspection removes the credibility of the claim.

If you go back to the original (the New Testament Scriptures), here is the prescription for the removal of sin: believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (John 8:24; Acts 16:31), repent of your sins (Acts 2:38; 3:19), confess Christ before men (Mat. 10:32; Rom. 10:10), be immersed in water for the remission of sins (Mat. 28:18-20; Acts 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4), and remain faithful to God until death (1 John 1:7; Rev. 2:10).

This is the pattern Christ presented, both during and after his time on earth. It is the original, and only, God-ordained means by which one can be saved. Do not be confused by imitations claiming to bring forth a “new way” or an “easier way.” The path God gave is the one that works, and it will be the only one that leads to eternal life.

Remember the words of Paul: “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:9), and utilize the teaching of John: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

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