By John Larkins
The Way proposes that when Jesus described Himself as “The way, the truth and the life,” He was openly and fervently proclaiming that we must follow Him. Yes, He died for our sins. But He implied, over and over, that the power of His forgiveness is dispensed by His Church through the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Eucharist given through His Apostle-Bishops.
How? Just as explained by Peter as proclaimed to the Jews in the Acts of the Apostles – “Repent, be baptized, and follow the teachings” of His Church, the one He established 2000 years ago. Matthew 28, 18 – 20 says, “And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, “All power in heaven and earth is given unto me. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: and teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world, Amen.”
The recollection of Mark 16: 15-16, is shorter: “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature; He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
An important theme in these writings has been that the journey being described is “action,” going from a situation of no hope for salvation, to the individual death and judgement for all individuals. Why “judgement?” The Way is God’s solution to mankind’s collective and singular embrace or rejection of Jesus Christ’s offer of Salvation, earned by His sacrifice, dispensed through His Church or that Satan was for them.
A radio program recently had a caller who said that Jesus died for our sins and that was the end of the matter – we have no responsibility to participate because Jesus did it all.
Frankly, that does not make common sense. Jesus’s many warnings, Saint Paul’s powerful and completely sound warnings, such as he works out his salvation daily; he puts on the full armor of God to protect his soul from the devil; do not take Holy Communion unworthily lest you sin; when the Apostles asked Jesus if today’s sinners would be punished today, the Master said “ no, let the weeds grow with the wheat. Then, after the harvest, take the weeds out and burn them.” Jesus describes at length what the end of each person’s life would be like as the potential punishment. How could such a terrible end be meted out by Jesus if all sins were forgiven at once, with Jesus’s death and resurrection? God would not send a soul to heaven (or, for that matter, to hell) without that soul’s explicit interaction to demonstrate a desire for the choice.
It is expected that those interested in God’s instructions for letting Him know our choice would read His book, the Bible. Clearly, Jesus started early in selecting and training His new church’s bishops and primary leader. We retain a lot of their system, but much of what Jesus taught them could only be transmitted verbally. The Book of Acts, as well as the several letters following Acts, make some interesting points about leading particular churches. In Jesus’s teaching before His sacrifice, these subjects probably come up, such as what personal characteristics should bishops have and how to keep parishioners from disagreeing. Paul’s letter to Timothy instructed him that he should cling to the Church, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth.
John Larkins was born in Oklahoma to an U.S. Army family. His education was in the Catholic Church and teaching in the United Methodist Church for 10 years. After 50 years of various positions in federal service at home and in Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, John and his wife Carol live in Gadsden. His formal education includes a BS certified for science teaching, an MBA from the University of Missouri and an MPA from Jacksonville State University in public administration and environmental management. For the past 15 years, John evangelized on the street, door-to-door, in tent revivals, and church situations. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.