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Up Way Publications 34th Anniversary

Don't Seek the Living Among the Dead!
Don't Seek the Living Among the Dead!
Volume 2   No. 6                                                                                     June  27, 2001
This message was first written  by Samuel M. Smith March, 1972 in Up Way for Christians magazine Fall 1972       ©1972 Up Way Publications.   Internet Edition ©2002 Up Way Publications. 
Also online at http://www.followersofjesuschrist.org/selectedesermons/selectedesermonsv01n01.html

 With more leisure time than ever before in history, people today plainly are  thinking about LIVING spelled in capital letters.  Television and radio, newspapers, magazines, and billboards urge,  "You've got a lot to live for."   Car manufacturers all advertise that you will live more carefree with their make.  Tires and accessories to make your driving more carefree and pleasant.   Soft-drinks and better tasting foods,  diet and vitamin supplements so you'll look and feel better to enjoy life more.  Rides and shows and festivals to provide more entertainment and excitement so we  can really LIVE!  But how many are really LIVING?

 To satisfy the religious person, you can go to "Drive-in Church" where you can "Come as you are: No need to dress up."  Other churches provide religion that allows you to live exactly  as everyone else. "Everybody sins a little bit every day, but we serve a forgiving God who understands. Just believe in Him is all He requires." 

Some put a price tag on praying for you, others ask for your freewill offerings and tithes. Many provide a full schedule of social activities, dances, inter-church baseball a~ bowling leagues, bingo, table-tennis and even carnivals complete with fortune telling to keep up attendance and good-will. But mean-while the members are hungry for the power and presence of God.  Many churches are very legalistic about matters of clothing and smoking or drinking and divorce, but when a member is in need, they can't lift a finger to help.  No wonder so many people have lost faith in a dead,  legalistic religion: Who needs it?
 So for those who have turned off to religion,  we take a look at what gives at the taverns and 

night-spots. A beautiful young lady slips in and is soon joined by a good-looking young man. They drink and dance, and soon are laughing empty laughter at such nonsense as would have nauseated them if they were sober.  Both quite giddy, they sit in a booth and soon her head is on his shoulder and they begin kissing and petting, when another man enters the room.  He looks around, as though  searching for someone, spots the couple  and approaches them from behind.  Suddenly he confronts them.  Possibly he is the husband, or maybe a jealous lover. A small caliber pistol appears, speaks twice - three times and the second man disappears into the night. The laughter and reveling stop abruptly, and here and there patrons slip silently away, and the management hurriedly prepares for the arrival of the police.  Of course nobody saw anything until it was all over. Nobody knew the killer.

Less spectacular is the case of the mother of four children whose father is no longer welcome in the home because he interfered with her affairs. She was in too big a hurry to get prettied up for the evening to cook supper for the children, and only warned the oldest, a fourteen year old girl, to be careful not to get in any trouble,  and above all be sure nobody knows she won't be home tonight so the juvenile authorities don't start bothering again.  While she is in a night-club across town, having a big time with her date for the night, the two year old, an asthmatic has an attack, and before the frightened big sister braves the consequences and calls the emergency squad,  it is too late.  The baby is dead while mama has fun. Not a real LIFE is it Mama?  Especially after the juvenile authorities finish with you! 

   (Continued on Page 15)
(Continued on Page 2)

Don't Seek The Living Among the Dead! 
(Continued from Page 1)

 The TV advertisement shows a group of young people "Living it up" in their friend's patio, enjoying the advertiser's brand of alcoholic beverage. One of them remarks,  "Boy, our host really knows how to LIVE!" as he waves the bottle. What the ad fails to show is one of those same young people as he staggers into a skid-row mission a few years later with maggots crawling out of his gangrenous toes, frostbitten while sleeping in abandoned cars in zero weather. The remaining members of the happy party, basking under a facade of LIVING IT UP, squirm uncomfortably under the grip of their alcoholic master, and wish they could give it up.

A young man barely leaving his teen years is caught up in the search for excitement.  Already he has tried beer and hard liquor, but this isn't enough to satisfy the urge to LIVE. He tries first marijuana, then LSD, and finally heroin.  No regular employment will support his habit, even if he could hold a job, so he turns to holdups or muggings or burglary, and every police bullet in town could have his name on it, as well as those of  others like himself.  Real LIVING?

 A young girl turns on with drugs and sells herself to pay the bill.  Pregnant and with a case of VD, too embarrassed to call on her family for help, she tries to end it all. Real living, eh?  These are not rare occurrences, but everyday happenings all over the United States.  Looking for LIFE but finding death.

Still others make a regular practice of going to a church every Sunday morning.  There, depending on the particular denomination, they perform certain ceremonies or rituals and hope that this will somehow satisfy God and cause Him to forgive their sins and give them a place in heaven, and maybe a little easier life here on earth. Having thus "done their religion" for another week, they can return to living the same self-centered, unhappy lives they were living before they went to church. The pastor has given them a Christ who died for their justification or perhaps just one who was a good man or a great teacher, but whose sole purpose was to teach people how to get along with each other and maybe He provided eternal salvation, and maybe there isn't really any hereafter to worry about.

Of course there is no such thing as a miracle happening in our day. That would be unreasonable! We KNOW there HAS to be an explanation for why everything happens. In fact we don't need God anymore, since we have grown so smart,  and since we can't see His physical form, then perhaps He is dead! No wonder no miracles take place.  Miracles are the end result of faith. Such unbelief doubly assures that no 

miracle will take place.  Miracles, they say were for the days of the Apostles and ceased with the death of the last Apostle.  Now we have' the Bible, and don't need miracles.

 Don't Seek the Living Among the Dead! 

(Continued from page 7)
Another dead church is that great church which is known for prayers to Mary and the Saints using the rosary as a medium of prayer. Since the Bible prohibits bowing before graven images in Exodus 20:4, and states several places in the New Testament that we can approach God only through Jesus,  we readily  see why no life comes through this great', church. You will find this church vividly described in Revelation 17.  Even the seven hills of Rome!

Nor is real life to be found in the church where the "saints" all go around with mule-faces  and acid tongues. (Romans 3:13) Seldom will more death be found anywhere than in these supposed houses of worship.  In fact, as a general rule, religious people are legalistic and cruel and totally UnChristlike. As Jesus said of the religious leaders of His days,  "... they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne,  and lay them on men's shoulders; but they  themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries,  and enlarge the borders of their garments." (Matthew 23:3-5).

The truth of the matter is that a dead church is more dangerous to your present earthly fulfillment, and your eternal salvation than outright heathenism! A heathen, faced with the Good News of Jesus can at once see his need of a savior, but the member of the dead church which has  "...a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof," THINKS he is alright and sees no need of repentance and surrender to Jesus. I firmly believe the Heavenly Record will reveal far more of heaven's inhabitants never darkened the doors of a dead church, than did. To paraphrase Jesus statement in Matthew 9:12 "If you are well, or think you are, you don't go to the doctor. It's when you feel sick that you call on him." Likewise, when you are in a supposedlY Christian church,  you are lulled into a sense of false security.  Don't seek life in the midst of death! Get out now while you can.

Enough of the matter of death!  Let us find where there is life! Believe it or not, there are churches where people are filled with the Spirit of God, and you can FEEL His presence and His LIFE when you walk in the door. Just like the demons in the man in the tombs of Gadara sensed that Jesus was 

 (Continued on page 16)
Don't Seek the Living Among the Dead! 
(Continued from page 15)
more than just another man.  This Man was God in the form of a Man! And what a Man! He could speak and the wind and the waves were instantly stilled. The blind see instantly, the dead rise from their funeral bier or tomb. The leper's flesh is restored whole, the issue of blood stanched. That same Presence can and should be in the church today!

But are we supposed to go to church just to feel good or to see miracles happen? Jesus said in Matthew 12;39, "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas." So then we aren't to seek signs?  But Jesus said in Mark 16:17, "These signs shall follow them that believe; in My Name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues." Isn't this a contradiction of the Matthew passage? Not at, all! The difference is that between God's way and man's way. With man, seeing is believing, but with God, believing is seeing. Herein lies the whole balance.

 The church that is always seeking for manifestations of the power of God will go overboard look-ing for the gift and forgetting to seek to be more like our Lord Jesus Christ, thereby losing out with God and becoming prime territory for a  Satanic counterfeit to move in. In case you didn't realize it, the devil speaks in tongues and prophesies so realistically that Jesus says in Matthew 24 : 24, "... Insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." But, "By their fruits ye shall know them," (Matthew 7:16,20).  Watch out!

When you find a church where the people truly love the Lord Jesus Christ,  and sincerely trust Him, you will also find a church full of LIFE and real miracle power There will be love one for the other and joy on every hand. But how will YOU know? The Spirit of God dwelling in you will rejoice in the presence of God dwelling in your brothers and sisters in the Lord, and you will know them at once

 If you are not yet a born-again believer, yourself, obey the words spoken by the  Holy Ghost through Peter on the day of Pentecost, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the 'Gift of the Holy Ghost." (Acts 2:38).  Find a church that has the Love of God manifested, and learn what LIVING  is all about!

--  S. M. S.

NOTE:  Original page continuation points repeated here.
ENDNOTES: 1 Timothy 2:5; John 10:1-9 & 14:16; Ephesians 2:18; Hebrews 4:14,15.
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