In recent years, people have stayed away from Church in larger numbers than previously reported.   In part because of the many charlatans that seek out paychecks instead of souls, and give a watered-down version of the gospel, depreciating its real worth by promises of riches and miraculous cures.   Many false claims about getting wealth, sudden good fortune and health are being circulated  by so called gospel preachers such as Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer, often aiming their message at gullible and unsuspecting audiences.   Because of their highfalutin ways and promises and what appears to be a tinsel thin knowledge of the true gospel, you would think that their gatherings would decrease after a while.  Actually, they are not.  They are increasing.  So much so that Joel Osteen scheduled meetings in Memphis, Phoenix, Los Vegas, Miami and Phoenix are being filled, ticket sales for Phoenix alone range from 32$ — 37$.  You heard it, folks.  Pay to meet your favorite preacher.  He does not come for free.   So you should be pleased to know that as the promo on the Web says, this is another thing you can take off your bucket list when you attend.   Just think of it.  You can pay good money to go and hear a gospel that will give you whatever you want to hear.  Is that not what you always wanted?  It is a sorrowful time we live in.    Save your money and buy some Chinese food instead and read the note in your fortune cookie afterwards.   At least you will have a meal to show for it.

Currently there are  over 1,500 people groups mostly in dangerous places that have not heard the gospel,  I do not think any of these high priced evangelists will ever touch down in these regions with their ten million dollar jet any time soon to risk telling the poor the good news of the gospel.   Rather they use God to get things from desperate people to profit themselves.   Is it any wonder that many question that even knowing the truth such as the supernatural (the existence of God), morality,  religion,  or knowledge (the idea of certainty) is even possible when shysters all around us are making half-baked promises.     A perplexing and disturbing trend has found its way into our current idea of truth.  For some,  God is thought to be nothing more than a genie in a bottle  to get from Him whatever they may wish for.  Perhaps, you are smarter than this.   Numerous skeptics and doubters believe in something divine.  They just do not believe everything about God.   You may be one of these that see yourself as already good and in no need of being saved from your sins but still hold to the idea of the possibility of God but have long ago scraped the idea for divine intercession.   If so keep reading.

Jesus was approached by a religious man for an answer to a question that should be asked by all of us.   What should I do to inherent eternal life?   Obviously, this man is on the right track and stands opposite to the doubter.  He knows the O.T. since his job is to interpret it.  But the parody of this situation is that he is like a skeptic since he did not agree with the answer Christ gave.  Just like the skeptic before him, he is not an atheist, but believes in something, just not everything Christ teaches.  Jesus gives replies to his question:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  (Luke 10:27)

Once he heard Christ reply,  he sought to justify himself.  He may have realized his own failure to observe the supreme command, to love God with your all, and he knows he cannot insist on meeting its demand, or he may think that it was not even possible so why try anyway?    In other words his pride and sense of goodness led him to excuse or justify himself by re-directing his question to the second command by asking about who his neighbour may be,  which was a clever way to change the direction of the conversation to either take the heat off of himself or cause Jesus to be tripped up or stumped since his original intention was “to test” Jesus. (vv25).     Christ reply about who we should consider our neighbour so we can love him in the way God tells us to was a lead-in to the story of the good Samaritan.  It served to intensify humanity`s need for salvation.  Priori reasoning is seen here.   Before the  religious leader could even learn how he may inherent eternal life,  he must first understand the reason you must come to God, first.    It is unfortunate that humanity has a huge  capacity for religion that often requires only minimal effort from us that often is self-regulated.  Church attendance and doing good seems to be at the top of the list.   But religion does not save as we can see from this parable.   Both the priest and Levite,  outstanding religious figures in their community, pass by the wounded man by the road side.  In fact they purposely cross over to the other side of the road.  These men taught that doing good deeds and obeying the laws of God were the ways to heaven.  Yet, they felt they were inherently good.    Recently another religious giant spoke these words to an audience of children in the Vatican at Christmas time.   “Be generous channels of goodness and welcome with everyone, to build a world that is more fraternal, more supportive, more Christian,”

(   Although religion often insist on salvation through works and many men believe this to be so, it cannot be without the divine intercession of God to make men good.   Man in his natural state does not love God in the manner intended by God.  That is why when  Nicodemus came to Jesus inquiring about eternal life, Jesus explained to him first that it must be supernatural and cannot be attained by human means or works.  When the good Samaritan came down the road and attended to the dying man it gave evidence of someone who knew the love of God personally and that he had been truly saved and was demonstrating that inner work of the Spirit by showing love to his neighbour, who as we know now is “anyone in that is in need.”

Perhaps, when you consider these two great commandments, you realize what the lawyer should have discovered, that he could not fulfill the “law of love” himself in his natural state, but instead should have recognized his own inability to love both God and man.   The law does not save but mirrors our own inability and unwillingness to fulfill the demands of divine love to each other and to God.   To see it in any other way is to insist that your personal goodness is acceptable before God.  If so, it  can only leave you convinced of your own sense of self-importance and blinded in spiritual pride.

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)

Or perhaps, you have become skeptical because of the false promises and pretentious ways of others.     You may bristle at the thought of listening to the gospel because of past indiscretions from others.  Understand that when Christ spoke to this leader, Jesus pointed out that if this man was to find eternal life, than he would need to love both God and man beyond what was considered humanly possible.  That to love supremely meant that a divine work would be needed first in his life.  Jesus showed us this love when he came from above to become like this good Samaritan to pull us out of our distress and hopelessness.  Christ did this by giving His own life, where the good Samaritan oversight of the injured man provided his own wages for the medical bills and convalescence,  Jesus gave much more and paid with his life for our return from spiritual death to eternal life. Jesus sought us from the ruins of our own sinfulness to rescue us and heal our brokenness so that now we have had our eyes opened and ears attentive to the spiritual realities of this life, and brought us back from certain destruction to a life that abounds with grace and mercy.   Will you put away your doubts and fears and see Christ as the great physician who can forgive our sins and give us life abundant.

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