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Are You On The Winning Team?

Are You on the Winning Team?

   Excitement was high among many this past week as the two top teams in the NFL for this year were making preparation to face each other for the distinction of being the best team in the league. I have noticed some folks in my area wearing jerseys so others will know which team they desire to win. Now, I know that not everyone that lives in North Carolina was born here.  Some have moved here with their families for employment, or while in the military or whatever. But I feel sure that the majority of these people did not move here from New England or Los Angeles. So, why are so many people here wearing jerseys from these two teams?  The answer is quite simple – They want to be associated for the “winning team”.  

     We see this each sports season. When the NBA season nears the championship games, folks “choose” sides and root for their team. The same for Baseball, Soccer, and maybe even Hockey.   Often you can tell who is “in the playoffs” in a particular sport, and what season is drawing to a close by the jerseys worn in your town. This is done for the same reason; all want to be identified with the winning team.

     Believe it or not, in religion there is more confusion than there is in sports. Why is this you ask?   Well, most folks are aware that in sports, only the team that has the best score at the end of the game is the winner. Yet, it seems that most think that all groups within religion are going to win. How do they figure that?  Well, many teach that whatever one believes, so long as they are sincere, will be winners when the Lord hands out the reward.    Ask most anyone if they think they are going to heaven and they will say something like: “Of course I am, I am saved or I have been born again.”   Then, ask them to which church they belong, and many will give you the name of the denomination where they are enrolled.   Isn’t it interesting that man knows in sports, only the winning team gets the trophy, ring or prize, but when it comes to religion, many think that everyone is going to receive eternal life?

    Another interesting thing is that folks seem to know most all the rules about their favorite sports and many can quote much of the rulebook.    But, when it comes to religion, the ultimate rulebook, the Word of God is rarely consulted, let alone quoted or remembered by most “religious” people.   Most know just enough to “justify” their specific ideas about salvation.   For instance, in John 5:24 we see what Jesus said to the Jews who sought to kill Him.   Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.  Many try to “bend” this rule to their benefit. They teach that all one has to do to have everlasting life is to believe. Even the devils believe in God and tremble per James 2:19. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.    Are they on the winning team?   You know the answer to that!

   These “belief only” people are the same folks claim to be disciples of the Lord, and as far as they are concerned are part of the “winning team”, but what did Jesus have to say about it?  In John 8:31-32 Jesus spoke to some Jews who already believed in Him. He said: If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  This should show us that believing alone will not suffice.   It also points out that one who does not continue in the Word (follow the rule book) is not a disciple. Then, as we look to 2Timothy 2:5 we find another place that proves that the rules have to be followed or one cannot receive the prize. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.  The rules have to be followed.

   Now the big question. On whose team are you; and will you win? God’s team is always going to win. In the O.T. we see Joshua was on the Lord’s side. We find the Spirit having him tell Israel in Joshua 24:15 to choose wisely, and also have their response in vs 16. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. 16 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;  He followed God’s rules under that dispensation and received the reward God had promised.

     Then as we come to the N.T. we find that Jesus gave “rules” to become part of His Winning team in this dispensation. Jesus tells us in Mark 16:15-16 how the “recruiters” were to find those who would become God’s “team members” and that by believing alone one cannot be a part of the team. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.     If you are on a team that does not have these requirements, or the others stated in the New Testament, you are not on the winning team. Everyone wants to be on the team that wins.   When it comes to your soul’s eternal destiny, you cannot afford to be on the teams that will lose and be condemned forever.  

   Follow God’s rules, Obey the gospel, and become part of God’s Winning team.

                              Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ


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