Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Discipleship #12 Investing in Heaven

As Jesus taught His disciples, not only in Luke 12, but throughout the Gospel accounts; He challenged them with the wise stewardship of money as a test of whether they were prepared for greater responsibilities. His teachings, of course, apply to all Christians.

BIBLICAL MONEY FACTS

Before we proceed with this lessons from Luke 12, let me share some foundational Biblical facts concerning money.

1. God, the Creator of the earth owns everything. Psalm 24:1

2. Wealth, as well as life, comes from God. Deuteronomy 8:18

3. We are stewards of our resources: time, talents and finances. Matthew 25:14-39

4. Don’t be lazy. Work and save for a rainy day. Proverbs 6:6-11, 10:5, 12:11,

5. Parents are to provide for their children. II Corinthians 12:14 By preparing for our own old age, we avoid putting an unnecessary financial burden on our grown children.

6. Nevertheless, sons and daughters are responsible for the care of their aged, infirmed parents. I Timothy 5:8 To ignore this responsibility is to be “worse than an infidel”.

7. Money, property, and material possessions are uncertain. They can vanish overnight. Psalm 62:10

8. Learn to be content with what you have. Philippians 4:10-19

9. Don’t love money for the love of money is the root of all evil. I Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19. The best antidote for the sin of loving money is to love God.

BIBLICAL STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLES

Jesus continues training His disciples by giving them these stewardship principles In this 12th chapter of Luke

1. Take responsibility for providing for your own needs, but at the same time, learn to trust God for all your financial and material needs.

2. Worrying over our finances is futile, sinful and dishonoring to our Heavenly Father.

3. God expects Christians, those in His Kingdom, to devote their time, talent and resources to the furtherance of His Kingdom; not legalistically nor by compulsion, but in response to God’s grace poured out on us.

4. By all means avoid credit card debt. Proverbs 22:7 says the borrower is servant (slave) to the lender.  If you use a credit card to pay some bills, make sure you pay it off on time each month so you NEVER carry over a balance and  pay interest.  In fact, our credit card pays us each month for using it, hoping of course, that we may not fully pay it off and have to pay interest.  This also saves us the cost of postage stamps for paying our bills and we even pay that monthly bill by automatic withdrawal from our bank.

GAINING VICTORY OVER MATERIALISM

In Luke 12:22-30 Jesus devotes His teaching to the futility of worrying and to our need to trust God.

There is no sin in saving and investing some of our income for the future. God does not require that we spend every cent we earn. At the same time, we are encouraged not to worry. God knows our needs. Luke 12:30 Matthew 6:7-8, 32 and He promises to supply all our needs. Philippians 4:19

Be prudent and prepare for your future, but leave the future to God who provides for birds and cares for the wild flowers of the field. In previous articles in this series, we reminded you that our needs are His concern. So don’t be concerned to the point of worry. Leave those concerns with God and devote yourself to His concern, seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness.

Though we live in a material world and have need for money and the things money can give us, we Christians are not to be so wrapped up in material things that they become everything to us. Beware of being snared by advertisements and the “I’ve just got to have it” mentality.

The word seek in Luke 12:30 could better be translated crave. Jesus tells us that the
Gentiles or the heathen crave money and the things money can buy. So much of what we buy is physically and spiritually unprofitable. Much of it tends to be a liability to us rather than an asset.

How can we gain victory over a materialistic heart? We can gain victory over craving things by craving God. In Psalm 42:1-2 the Psalmist tells us how he craves after God. He likens it to a running, tired, thirsty deer panting for a brook where his thirst can be quenched. In Psalm 27 he speaks of his one great desire to know God and enjoy fellowship with Him. When we thirst to know God intimately, the things of this world grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

DON’T WORRY!

In this same 12th chapter of Luke Jesus warns us to beware of the sin of worry. When we worry, we evidence little faith in God. Three reasons why we need not worry are:
1. God knows our needs Luke 12:30
2. He cares for us. I Peter 5:7
3. He has promised to provide for every need. Philippians 4:19

Instead of being consumed by the sins of worry and materialism, let us focus our attention, our strength and our assets on building the Kingdom of God. That is, we should focus our attention of winning the lost to Christ and building up believers in The Faith.

FEAR NOT, LITTLE FLOCK

Note that He encouraged them and He encourages us with the words, “Fear not little flock.” 12:32 Why did Jesus refer to His disciples then and to His Church now as a “little flock”? He refers to us as a little flock because Satan’s Kingdom, so glamorous and attractive, is in the majority today. We, Christ’s Church, are the despised, hated and seemingly insignificant minority in the world today. To us Jesus promises that it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom. That Kingdom promised to us is the prophesied Kingdom of the future. Study our series on PROPHECY to learn more about this.

HEAVEN-BOUND PILGRIMS

As Moses, mentioned in Hebrews 11:24-27, we live and serve God by faith in anticipation of the coming glory in the Millennial Kingdom of Christ.

By faith we see our sacrificial offerings and service to the Lord in this age as a safe, profitable investment. Note how Paul viewed this investment in II Timothy 1:12

Read Matthew 19:27-30 and Luke 12:33 to learn of the high rate of return on these investments.

One more reason for investing in Christ’s cause is that our investments affect our hearts. Both God and Satan demand our all. We can’t split our heart’s devotion. Winner takes all. As Jesus taught in Matthew 6:24, You and I belong 100% to either God or Satan.

As Noah, Abraham, David and the other saints listed in Hebrews 11, let us see ourselves as Heaven-bound pilgrims.

Let us see ourselves as stewards of all God has given us. Let us recognize our responsibility to be wise stewards of our time, energy and resources.

As Paul, let us see ourselves as a bond-slaves of Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 6:19-20.

As Moses, recorded in Hebrews 11:24-27, saw Christ by faith, so let us recognize Christ as our Lord and as our whole purpose for living.

HAVE YOU BOUGHT SALVATION?

If you are not a Christian, none of this applies to you. You need make only one investment. Isaiah 55:1-2 invites you to make the greatest purchase of your life without money. Buy Jesus as your Saviour. His is a totally free gift offered to sinners who see their need of salvation. Trust Him freely right now, then return to this message and read it again and determine to invest your life in Christ and His Kingdom.

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August 29, 2006 Posted by | Discipleship | Comments Off on Discipleship #12 Investing in Heaven

Discipleship #13: Crowns or Stripes?

A SOBERING TRUTH 

In Luke 12:35-48 and again in Matthew 24:45-51 Jesus teaches one of the most sobering truths in all the Bible dealing with rewards and loss of rewards when He returns for His own.  The parable Jesus relates here is certainly about the return of Christ.   It is also about rewards for faithful servants and punishment for unfaithful servants.  I doubt there is any argument there. 

One major problem in understanding this parable is in the mistranslation of the Greek word analuo  in Luke 12:36 which means depart  by using the preposition  from.   The Greek word for from is apo, a preposition which is widely used throughout the New Testament.   This Greek word analuo is only used twice in the New Testament; here in Luke 12:36 and also in Philippians 1:23  where is speaks of our death as our departure to be with Christ.  

So what I believe Jesus is saying here in Luke 12:35-36 is  “Let your loins be girded about (with Truth)  and your lights burning and you  yourselves like those who wait for their Lord when He departs from Heaven to meet His Bride for the wedding feast. When He comes and knocks, be ready to meet Him and  open to Him immediately.”  That can be summarized in the simple warning,  “Be ready for His return!” 

WHO IS CAUGHT UP WITH CHRIST IN THE RAPTURE? 

1. I Thessalonians 4:16 declares that the dead in Christ will rise first, then we Christians  who are alive when He comes  will join them to meet the Lord in the air.  

2. Hebrews 9:28 assures us that those who look for Him will be caught up. The Greek word for look is apehdektomai.  This word translated look is stronger than the Greek  word optomai  which is the common word for look, such as look at the book.  The word used here is the look of waiting with anticipation.  This is the look you see in an airport as family members scrutinize the crowd for their loved one.  It’s the look of a bridegroom as he stands at the front of the church eagerly watching for his bride to appear.  

3. In II Timothy 4:8  we read that He is coming back for those who  love His appearing 

4. In our text in Luke 12:43 we also learn He is coming for His faithful servants. In this passage it is obvious that this parable is about the secret, imminent return of Christ for His own, commonly known as The Rapture. It is also about the rewarding of faithful servants and the chastising of unfaithful servants. These servants are certainly Christians and not unsaved people.  

Let’s consider these three themes: 

1 The Rapture 

2. The rewarding of faithful servants  

 

3.  The chastisement of unfaithful servants. 

THE RAPTURE 

Luke 12:35-40  is about the rapture: the secret bodily resurrection and catching away to Heaven  of both deceased and living saints in their glorified bodies, bodies that are just like the resurrected body of Jesus described in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20-21, Acts 1 and I Corinthians 15:1-8.  The two major passages on this topic are found in I Corinthians 15:50-58   and I Thessalonians 4:13-18   In these and other passages note the following truths concerning the Rapture. 

1. It is secret and imminent.  Luke 12:40  Matthew 24:36-44, 50 Acts 1:7  Repeatedly we are told that no man knows the day nor the hour of this event.  For 2000 years Christians have expected His return at any moment.  Even Paul expected Jesus to return in his lifetime as is seen in Thessalonians 4:17 

2. It is a comforting truth.  I Thessalonians 4:18 

3.  it is a purifying hope. I John 3:1-3 

4. Jesus comes unexpectedly as a thief in the night. Luke 12:39,46  I Thessalonians 5:2  Revelation 3:3  16:15 

5. At the rapture, we, the Bride of Christ, meet our Heavenly Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ, and delight in the Marriage Feast of the Lamb.  We are forever with our Lord. 

6. The Day of the Lord, spoken of in II Peter 3:10 is 1007 years long. Note the description in that verse.  It begins with the rapture and it ends at the conclusion of the Millennial reign of Christ when He destroys this earth as we know it now and remakes it into a new earth and new heavens totally free of all contamination of sin.  Satan and all those who rejected Christ are banished to the eternal  Lake of Fire. 

FAITHFUL SERVANTS REWARDED 

Whereas the Great White Throne Judgment described in Revelation 20:11-15 has to do with  Christ rejectors being condemned  to the Lake of Fire,  the Bema Judgment is only for Christians and it has to do with rewards for faithful service and the loss of rewards for unfaithfulness.  This Bema Judgment is spoken of in I Corinthians 3:9-15  II Corinthians 5:9-10  Revelations 22:12 and in Luke 12:42-44.  It is also referred to in  I John 2:28 and in II John 8.  

 

At the Bema Judgment Christians will be reward for faithful service  and  the fire of His judgment will burn up wasted, useless activity that failed to glorify God.  Our motives for serving Christ will also be judged by the eyes of the One who sees our hearts.  Psalm 7:9  Proverbs 17:3  Jeremiah 11:20  I Thessalonians 2:4.  

 

In Romans 14:4, 10-13 we are warned not to try playing God by attempting to judge the measure and value of another’s ministry; though in Romans 16:17-18 we are commanded  to recognize, expose and separate from false doctrine.

UNFAITHFUL SERVANTS CHASTENED 

As a loving father chastens his disobedient children,  so our loving Heavenly Father chastens His stubborn, rebellious, disobedient children.  See Hebrews 12:5-13 for a full treatment of this subject.  

I encourage you to stop at this point and read for yourself Luke 12:45-48 and try to determine what Jesus means by this.  Here are my thoughts  on the passage. First this passage describes the fate of unfaithful believers; not unbelievers.  These people are divided from faithful Christians and are given their portion with unbelievers. See verse 46.  This passage also  speaks of degrees of pain inflicted by severe punishment.  Read the following passages that teach a loss of rewards for some Christians. Revelation 3:11  II John 8  I Corinthians 9:24-27 

Though Christians cannot lose their salvation; yet this and other passages of Scripture teach that unfaithful Christians will be chastened, not only in this life, but at the time of the Rapture.  It is evident to me that unfaithful Christians will miss the rapture and will be chastised for their unfaithfulness by finding themselves plunged into the  Tribulation. Let me give you Scriptural reasons for my position. 

THE MULTITUDE DESCRIBED IN  REVELATION 7:9-17 

There are two groups spoken of in Revelation 7  The first group are the 144,000 Jews, including 12,000  from each of the Tribes of Israel.  This group is found in Revelation 7:1-8 and also chapter 14.  These faithful Jews are a firstfruits of many others who will come to Christ during the Tribulation. 

The second group referred to in  7:9-17 is a vast multitude from the whole world.  They are seen in verse 9-10 worshipping Christ, the Lamb of God. Angels join the worship as they observe these saints of God.   In verse 13 the question is asked, “Who are these purified saints and where did they come from?” 

The answer is that they have come out of great tribulation and are cleansed and purified in the blood of Christ, the Lamb.  Their suffering is over and their tears are wiped away. I believe these are the wicked servants of Luke 12:45-48 who had their portion with unbelievers in the Tribulation and who experienced the pain of God’s chastening.

These are those who were martyred for Christ during the Tribulation.  These are the Christians whose service was burned up and they were saved by faith in the blood of the Lamb but were saved, so as by fire as it taught in I Corinthians 3:15.  They went through the fire of martyrdom.  

Note Revelation 6:9-11. Here you see souls in Heaven under the altar crying out to God for vengeance.   These are souls martyred for their stand and service for God.  I  believe these could be the unfaithful Christians of Luke 12:46 who are separated from the Christians who were caught away in the rapture.  The Tribulation suffering were the stripes spoken of in that Luke 12 passage. 

Because these unfaithful Christian had truly been born again through faith in Christ, their salvation was guaranteed by the promises of God and even tribulation itself could not separate them from the love of Christ.  See Romans 8:28-30  with special attention to verse 35. 

TEARS IN HEAVEN? 

Rev. 7:17 assures us that these martyred saints of the Tribulation will have their tears wiped away when they arrive in Heaven.  It seem obvious then that those who were raptured also had their tears wiped away at the moment of the rapture. Revelation 21:1-2 assures us that at the end of the Millennium when we enter the new heaven and new earth,  all tears will be wiped away. 

ARGUMENTS  

 Some may argue that the Bema Judgment has to do with our service for Christ and not with our spiritual condition.  However, we must understand that the value of our service is determined by our spiritual condition before God.  A carnal, selfish Christian’s service is of no value to God. It is likened to wood, hay and stubble which will be burned up when  we stand before God at the Bema Judgment.  A spiritually-minded Christian is going to faithfully serve God. 

Some may argue that because I Thessalonians 4:16 declares that all the dead in Christ will be raptured, that will be the case, regardless of their spirituality or service.  That passage is true, as is all the Word of God.  Those who are truly “in Christ” will be caught up in the rapture.  The question is, who is truly in Christ? 

The answer is found in II Corinthians 5:17 “If anyone be in Christ, he is a new creation.  Old things are passed away. Behold, all things are becoming new.”  If that does not describe you, why would you think you will be among the raptured saints? God knows those who are truly His.  If you are truly born again and miss the rapture, I assure you, based on the promises of Romans 8:28-39 that you will make it to Heaven and that even The Great Tribulation and martyrdom cannot separate you from Christ. 

Someone may ask, what about the carnal, selfish Christians of the past, will they be raptured?  That’s none of our business.  We can leave the answer with God.  Deuteronomy 29:29 teaches us “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”   Too many Christians are trying to pry into God’s secrets instead of doing what they know the Bible clearly tells them to do. 

CONCLUSION 

Since faithful Christians will be caught up to Heaven in the rapture and since unfaithful Christians may face martyrdom during the Tribulation, we are all challenged in Luke 12:35-40 to be constantly clothed in the armour of God described in Ephesians 6:10-17.  We are also challenged to let the light of our testimony shine brightly in this sin-darkened world. Finally, we are challenged to watch and wait for the imminent return of Christ for His own. 

Please turn to II John 8 and read as I paraphrase it for you. “Watch out how you live your life as a Christian. We can’t lose our salvation, but we can lose rewards.  Don’t lose the gains you have made. Live for Him to the very end so that you receive a full reward!”

August 27, 2006 Posted by | Discipleship | Comments Off on Discipleship #13: Crowns or Stripes?

Discipleship series # 14: Our Humble Saviour

The previous article in this series was “Crowns or Stripes”.  You will need the background of that article to understand this one.  The truths we shared in that article dealing with faithful and unfaithful Christians sheds light on what follows in this article. In a sense, this is a sequel to that article. 

Sometime following the rapture of the saints, we will experience the joy of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.  The parable of the Ten Virgins, found in Matthew 25:1-13,  is  associated  with this event.

The Bride of Christ

Ephesians 5 is the primary New Testament passage on the topic of Marriage. In that chapter the spiritual union of Christ and His Church, described as His bride. is likened to  marriage between a husband and wife.  All of us who have been redeemed by Christ’s blood are His bride.  This is not a sexual union as is the marriage of a man and woman; rather, it is an intimate union far surpassing the intimacy of a husband and wife.  Virginity speaks of purity.  We, His redeemed bride, are likened to pure virgins.  I believe the Parable of the Ten Virgins is a parable about the complete  Bride of Christ.  All ten of these virgins are pure through the righteousness of Christ imputed to them.  See my article on Justification in the SALVATION series for more on this.  

All ten of these  virgins are looking for the return of Christ. All ten of these virgins have lighted  lamps which speak of their testimonies for Christ.  Oil throughout Scripture is a type of the Holy Spirit.   The problem is that five of these virgins who do not have their vessels filled with oil.  Their oil runs out and the lamps of their testimonies are extinguished and as a result their service for Christ is worthless.  It is described in I Corinthians 3:11-15 as wood, hay and stubble to be burned up when Christ returns.

Is Your Vessel Filled With Oil?

In Ephesians 5:18 every Christian is commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  That simply involves being surrendered to Christ as Lord and allowing His Spirit to fill and control our lives.  The results are seen in Ephesians 5:19-21  and Galatians 5:22-25. This filling has nothing to do with seeking an emotional experience or attempting to speak in tongues.  The modern day “speaking in tongues” by the Charismatics has nothing to do with the experience of the early Christians at Pentecost, described in Acts 2. The early Christians were given the supernatural ability to speak in foreign languages they had never learned so that the foreigners present could understand the wonderful works of God that were taking place.  

The Total Bride of Christ is Ready

In Revelation 19 we see the total Bride of Christ, composed of raptured saints and the martyred saints of the Tribulation joined together in Heaven. ( See, I told you that you would need to read the previous article, before this one would make sense.)  The wife has made herself ready.  She is clothed in fine, beautiful spotless white linen.  This purity is an outworking of the righteousness of Christ that had been imputed to us at the moment of our salvation.

The Humility of Christ

There’s  an amazing truth about Jesus and His Bride hidden away in Luke 12:37. At the wedding Feast in Heaven, Jesus is going to seat us, His holy, beloved Bride, at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and HE IS GOING TO SERVE US!!! Does this surprise us?  It shouldn’t.  Humility is as much an attribute of Christ as His holiness, or His grace or His love.   Jesus’ character never changes.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever, as Hebrews 13:8 tells us.  He was the humble servant of God prophesied in Isaiah 42:1-4.  He is the humble, suffering servant of Isaiah 53. He is the babe of
Bethlehem, born in humble circumstances.   He is the humble teacher who welcomed sinners and who paid special attention to little children and to needy people. He is the humble servant who at the Last Supper, just hours before His crucifixion, took a basin of water and a towel and washed the feet of His disciples.  

Our humble Saviour teaches us, His followers, to have a servant heart.  Do you want to be great in Christ’s Kingdom?  Be a servant now to those around you. 

There Are No Big Shots in the Church

This includes preachers, elders, deacons or women who have leadership positions in the church. There are only those who think they are big shots when in reality they are nothing!  The true leaders in a church do not lord it over others, but serve humbly with no expectation of thanks or appreciation.  These are the ones who are going to shine in the Kingdom.

Are You Ready for Christ’s Return?

In Luke 12:35-40 we are warned to be ready for Christ’s return.  Are you ready? Are you a Christian?  Have you put your faith in Christ’s sacrifice for your sins?  Christian, are you ready for Christ’s imminent return. Are your loins girt about with truth?  That is, are you wrapping you mind and heart in God’s Word?  Are you guarding your testimony, making sure the light of Christ shines brightly?  Do others see Christ living in you?  Are others drawn to Christ because of your testimony?  Are you waiting and watching and longing for His imminent return?  If so, one day you and I will sit down together at Christ’s Marriage Supper and have the awesome experience of being served by Christ Himself.

August 26, 2006 Posted by | Discipleship | Comments Off on Discipleship series # 14: Our Humble Saviour

Discipleship #15: Settle Out of Court

Up to this time, everything Jesus said in this twelfth chapter of Luke has been addressed to His Disciples.  Though the unbelieving crowd listened somewhat, Jesus’ attention was focused on His disciples.  But now as we come to the last six verses of chapter twelve, Jesus turns His attention to the crowds and addresses them as hypocrites.  

“Too many hypocrites in the church!” 

One of the chief arguments people make for rejecting Christ is that there are too many hypocrites in the church. I’m not saying that there are no hypocrites in the church; for if we are trying to appear more spiritual in church than we are at home, we are hypocritical. But in the full sense of the word,  a Christian is not a hypocrite.  He may be weak and carnal, but he’s not a hypocrite.  A genuine Christian has confessed he is a sinner, lost and unable to save himself.  He has put his trust in Christ alone for salvation.  He may be a pathetic Christian who brings shame to the cause of Christ and be chastened in this life by His loving Heavenly Father;  but by the grace of God he will one day be in Heaven, sanctified, glorified and sinless. 

A hypocrite, on the other hand, is not a Christian.  His “Christianity” is simply an act.  He has learned the language of a Christian, but underneath his disguise is a proud, self-righteous, wicked heart.  Saul of Tarsus was such a man.  Though he did not claim to be a Christian; he claimed to be a good Jew, despising Christ and  hating and persecuting Christians.  In  Philippians 3 Paul shares his testimony. In verses 4-6  he tells us of his proud, self-righteous, hypocritical life before he met Christ.  Then in verses 7-14 he glories in Christ and in the wonderful salvation Christ has given to him.   Prior to Saul’s conversion,  he was a Jewish Pharisee and Jesus had labeled them all as hypocrites in Matthew 23. 

 Unbeliever, you are the hypocrite! 

If you will compare Matthew 24:51 with Luke 12:46 you will find that in God’s eyes, unbelievers are hypocrites.   If you are an unbeliever, quit looking at the weak, stumbling Christians within the church and look at your own wicked, unbelieving heart.  Your whole life is a sham.  You are the hypocrite.   Jesus’ message of Luke 12:54-59 is addressed to you.

This is basically what He is saying to you in this passage. You are able to look at weather conditions,  predict a storm and take precautions before the storm, but you do nothing to prepare to face the coming storm of God’s wrath when He judges you for your sins.    When you have done damage to someone or to their property, you are wise enough to see you are going to face a law suit and an expensive trial. So you take steps in advance by attempting to settle out of court.    So you should be wise enough and honest enough to admit you are a guilty sinner who will one day face God and be condemned to hell.  That’s the condition of all of us  for all have sinned and come short of God’s glory and His holy standards.  Romans 3:23. 

 Judgment Day is coming! 

If you continue through life rejecting the salvation God offers you through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus,  you will ultimately face His fury and be condemned to eternal hell.  Read the terrifying account of God’s Judgment that awaits every unbeliever. Revelation 20:11-15.  Warnings of God’s Judgment abound throughout the New Testament. 

The Bible is clear that we are all sinners and that sinners are going to face God’s judgment.   John the Baptist warned of it in Matthew 3:7-12   Peter warned of it whenever he preached.  Acts 2:22-41  3:13-21  II Peter 2:4-6  3:3-12 Stephen warned of it in Acts 7:51-52.  For such preaching he was stoned to death. 

James warned of judgment.  James 5:7-9 The writer of Hebrews warned of it in Hebrews 9:27 Jude wrote about the Old Testament prophet Enoch and his message in Jude 14-15 The Apostle John gives us the most solemn warning in Revelation 20:11-15 

Jesus, who took our judgment and condemnation  on  the cross, warned us to trust Him and thus escape that Great White Throne Judgment, over which He will one day preside. See John 3:16-18, 36  5:24 The Apostle Paul had the most to say about the judgment. In Acts 17:30-31 Paul preached to the Athenians about the certainty of a coming judgment in which The Lord Jesus Christ would be the Judge.  In Romans Paul writes much about the coming judgment. In Romans 2 he teaches that this judgment will be according to four principles. 

1. It will be according to TRUTH. Romans 2:2  Today human courts often fail to discover the truth because of the lack of full knowledge of the case, or because of prejudice.  Jesus’ judgment will be according to truth because He knows each heart and he knows the secret things that men  fail to grasp. 

2. Jesus’ judgment will be according to the deeds of the body.  Romans 2:6 and 3:23  We’re all guilty.  Our deeds are recorded in God’s Books.  See Revelation 20:11-15 again. 

3. Jesus  judges the secret things, including our motives and our thoughts. See Romans 2:16   According to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7  one who has  lustful thoughts is an adulterer. One who hates his brother is a murderer. 

4. Finally, Jesus’ judgment will be absolutely impartial. Romans 2:11  He is not impressed with those who are rich and famous and powerful.  All men, great and small, will one day stand before Him to give an account of their lives;  Jews as well as Gentiles. Romans 2:9,12. In the light of that judgment, the sinner stands inexcusable and inescapable.

First, you will stand inexcusable.  According to Romans 1:20  2:1 and  3:19 you will be silenced.  On that Judgment Day, your mouth will be silenced. You will be  guilty as charged before God. 

Secondly, you cannot escape this judgment.  Romans 2:3   In this world today, guilty criminals  often escape conviction and sentencing through lies, crooked lawyers and money.  Today people plead the 5th Amendment, they post bail, they have connections.Law abiding citizens as well as the victims of their crimes are sickened and disillusioned by mis-trials and crooked juries and judges who allow criminals to go free.  Judgment Day is circled on God’s calendar. See Acts 17:31.  No one will escape that day when they stand before Christ whom they despised and rejected. 

Years ago when I pastored  among the ranchers in the Sand Hills of Nebraska, I sometimes visited with the ranchers when they were corralling cattle to walk up the chute into trucks to go to market. Often the cattle would run back and forth trying to escape being herded into the truck, but the sovereign rancher who directed the whole thing was persistent until every last steer he had chosen for market was forced into the truck.  So it will be for sinners on Judgment Day. No one will escape.   

 Why not settle out of court now? 

If you are a wise person, you will humble yourself before God NOW and admit you are a guilty sinner.  You will cast yourself on His mercy, receiving His gracious salvation through Jesus.  In so doing, you have settled out of court.  You will never face that White Throne Judgment.  Read God’s repeated promises concerning this.  John 3:16-18, 36 John 5:24  Romans 8:1  If you continue to reject Christ,  your heart will only grow harder and your judgment will only grow more severe.  Romans 2:5 Don’t wait to face Christ at The Great White Throne Judgment described in Revelation 20:11-15.  In this age of grace,  trust Christ now who died to pay the full penalty for your sins. Read II Corinthians 5:20-21 and ask Christ to save you right now and discover the peace and joy of sins forgiven and the assurance of eternal life.  Read John 5:24   and Romans 8:1. 

As Jesus pleaded with the hypocrites in Luke 12:58-59, settle out of court right now by admitting your guilt before a holy God and trusting the provision of His beloved Son, Jesus.   If you do not trust Him now, you WILL face Him one day and be condemned to eternity in Hell.  You cannot be neutral about Jesus.  You must  either receive Him now as your Saviour and begin learning how to be His disciple (follower); or else  you have rejected Him and will one day face Him as your Judge. 

August 25, 2006 Posted by | Discipleship | Comments Off on Discipleship #15: Settle Out of Court

Discipleship #16: Christ’s Terms of Discipleship

From the beginning of Jesus public ministry, Luke 4:22  and John 7:46 record  that  the crowds were continually drawn to Him because of His gracious words, kind deeds and miracles.  Most of the previous  messages in this series on discipleship came from our study of Jesus’ teachings about discipleship in Luke 12.

Now in Luke 14:25-35 we learn of Jesus’ terms of discipleship. In this passage before us, the crowds are continuing to follow Jesus.  Will He capitalize on His success and show them more miracles to capture their attention?  Will He flatter the people by giving them what they want to hear? 

No, Jesus throughout His ministry on earth always offered severe conditions for those who wished to follow Him as disciples.  His teachings then were as unpopular as they are for those who are confronted by them today.  We learn in Luke 9:57-62 that the crowds faded away then as they do today wherever His terms of discipleship are presented.

Before we get into the terms of discipleship, let’s differentiate among the terms of Salvation, Apostleship and Discipleship.  

Salvation  

First, understand that the door of salvation is open wide by God’s grace to all who will come by faith to Christ  and receive Him as Saviour.  See John 1:12  Romans 10:13  

Apostleship

Understand that the Apostles were 12 men Jesus chose to invest His time teaching them and training them to lay the doctrinal foundation for His Church after He was gone. Read  Ephesians 2:19-22, Acts 2:41-42.   In Jude 3 we learn that the doctrine of Christ was delivered to the saints (the Church) once for all.  It is the Body of doctrine given by Christ through His twelve Apostles, that we are to contend for its purity throughout the Church Age.

According to II Corinthians 12:12 these twelve  Apostles were given special gifts and signs, such as performing miracles, healing the sick and raising the dead, as evidence of their calling.  With the passing of the Apostles, those special gifts and signs disappeared during the first century.  We no longer need these signs as evidence of the Truth.  We have the completed Bible which we accept as God’s Word.  It’s true that God still works miracles today, including healing the sick; but those miracles come in answer to the prayers of the Church.

Discipleship

Becoming a Disciple of Christ remains open to anyone in any age who qualifies.  A Disciple of  Christ and a Christian ought to be synonymous, but in reality it is not. 

We can be saved from sin by admitting we are sinners and putting our trust in Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection for our sins. We are justified by faith alone; but we bring shame to Christ’s name, when we as believer refuse to submit to Christ’s Lordship and become His disciples.

A disciple is a believer who has come to Christ for salvation and who follows Jesus, patterning His life after Jesus and living that life in Christ’s strength.  He is a born again believer who has been justified by faith and is surrendered to the indwelling Holy Spirit, and is progressing in sanctification and spiritual maturity. He  is a learner; not one who simply learns facts about Jesus;  but one who is learning to know Jesus personally.

We are aware that salvation is received on Christ’s terms; not ours.  But are you aware that becoming a disciple of Christ is also on His terms?  What are Christ’s terms of discipleship?  What does He require?

I. UNRIVALED AFFECTION  Luke 14:26  Matthew 10:34-37

In these verses  Jesus is not telling us that we should have an angry, hostile attitude towards our family or others. Rather, He is speaking of contrasting preferences for God over our families and loved ones.  God must be first.   After Jesus’ resurrection, He pushed the issue with Peter at a breakfast on the shores of Galilee. See  John 21:15-17

In Luke 14:26 Jesus presses the issue further.  We must not only prefer Christ to our families, but we must also prefer Him to ourselves.  Again Jesus is not teaching that we must have a self-destructive, morbid, suicidal attitude towards ourselves.  Rather, we consider our wills, our desires, our ambitions in life to be unimportant in contrast to doing the will of God.  Paul summed it up well in Philippians 1:21  “For to me to live is Christ; to die is gain.”

Years ago someone shared a short anonymous poem with me that has blessed me.

“Lord Jesus, make Thyself to me

A living, bright reality,

More present to faith’s vision keen

Than any outward object seen;

More dear,  more intimately nigh

Than e’en the sweetest earthly tie.”    

II. UNAVOIDABLE CROSS Lk. 14:27  

Our cross is not a physical infirmity, a temperamental weakness, or some misfortune. These are the common lot of all humanity.  Rather, bearing our cross is voluntarily accepting  the suffering and shame that comes with identifying ourselves with Christ as His disciple and witness.   Bearing His cross is a matter of our choice.  Beware when you refuse to stand for Christ in order to avoid suffering for Him. Luke 6:26  As Christians we are to expect unpopularity and reproach and rejoice in it. Matthew 5:11-12, and Hebrews 13:13

Vance Havner, a preacher of a past generation said, “As long as the church wore scars, they made headway. When they began to wear medals, the cause languished. It was a greater day for the church when Christians were fed to the lions, than when they bought season tickets and sat in the grandstand.”

With Paul we should long to experience and share in Christ’s sufferings. Philippians 3:10. In fact, it is impossible to follow Christ as His disciple and avoid the cross. We are crucified with Him. Galatians 2:20   Matthew 16:24 teaches that discipleship involves self denial.  It is not a once time emotional experience. It is a daily taking up of our cross. It is putting ourselves in a position where we experience the pain and suffering  of being identified with Him in a holy walk. Luke 9:23   It is losing our rights for Him. Matthew 10:38-39

Paul does not ask us to be irresponsible and fool-hardy, but he challenges us to follow him as he follows Christ.  In so doing the world sees the true follower of Christ as a fool, as weak and as despised.  I Corinthians 4:9-16   This is what it ultimately means to be a true disciple of Christ.  There  is quite a difference between us soft  American Christians  who crave for ease, popularity and a successful self image in contrast with the terms of discipleship Jesus taught.

III  UNSELFISH DEVOTION TO CHRIST  Luke 14:33

The true Christian disciple belongs exclusively to Christ, as do our possessions,  our homes, our cars,  our bank accounts, investments, our time, talents and abilities.

For Abraham, Moses, Paul and all the other faithful men and women of the Bible, it meant forsaking all to follow Him.

Do you remember the rich man in Matthew 19:16-22  who came to Christ desiring  to follow Him, but went away sorrowful. It cost him more than he was willing to pay. To learn more about the cost of discipleship  read Jesus’ conversation with Peter  in the same chapter, verses 27-30.

Discipleship also includes taking joyfully the wearing out and the spoiling of our material things  in our service for Christ.  Hebrews 10:34

Though we have other relationships, such as husband, wife, children, parents, and job, etc. yet our relationship and loyalty to Christ must be our first priority.

Though we own property, a home, a car and other material possessions necessary for life in this age, our attitude towards it all is that Christ is our Lord.  We hold our possessions loosely, knowing that the God who gives can also take them away. We seek to use our possessions only for His glory.  When Christ is first, then everyone and everything else falls into its proper priority. We do not become irresponsible  towards our lesser responsibilities.   We recognize that all we are and all we possess is subject to His sovereignty.

This kind of total surrender results in a life of powerful influence for God.  Inversely,  the Christian who lives primarily for himself has an insipid, tasteless testimony that attracts no one to Christ. You have trusted in Christ as Saviour. Have you gone any further?  Will you pray with me, “Lord, all I am, all I have and all I ever hope to be, I sacrifice to  You.  Direct me. Use me as  You will.  I’m Yours unconditionally now and forever.” 

August 24, 2006 Posted by | Discipleship | Comments Off on Discipleship #16: Christ’s Terms of Discipleship

Discipleship series # 17: Building and Battling

In almost every church there are two kinds of Christians: spiritual and carnal. The spiritual are concerned with building lives for Christ and battling Satan who seeks to destroy God’s work.  The carnal are more concerned with their own feelings and selfish desires and ambitions.  They have little or no devotion to Christ nor to the ministry of building up others; but they are devoted to having their own way.  Life centers around them. Rather than battling Satan, they are being used of Satan to attempt to actively or even passively hinder and destroy God’s work.  

The question each of us should ask ourselves is, “Am I being used by the Holy Spirit to encourage and build up others in Christ, or am I being used by Satan to discourage and destroy others?”  Salvation is free and available to any sinner who will call on Christ to save him.  Discipleship is restricted to the few who will pay the price. We dealt with that high cost  in the previous message in this series. 

The cost of discipleship is severe. Luke14:25-33  It involves:

1. An unrivaled love for Christ 

2. An unavoidable cross as we identify with Christ in His sufferings.

 3. And unselfish devotion to Christ for the good of others. 

Why are the requirement and cost so severe?  For the same reason that standards are high in special branches of the military, such a Navy Seals, or fighter pilots or Special Forces.  The cost of discipleship is high because it involves building and battling for Christ. Charles H. Spurgeon, British pastor of the nineteenth century, understood this and published his paper, The Sword and the Trowel in which he showed the Christian ministry is involved in building lives for Christ and battling Satan in the process. 

Not only are the requirements of discipleship severe, but they are humanly impossible. The standards are beyond our natural ability. They are supernatural.  That’s why we have to count the cost.  It takes God’s power and resources to do His work.  That’s what Jesus taught in His stories in Luke 14:28-33.  Without God’s resources and power, we will crack up and burn out.  In fact, we may even compromise God’s message to make it more palatable to the natural man so we can attract crowds and have what is popularly called “success”.  

Discipleship involves building.  Luke 14:28-30 


In Luke 14:28-30 we have an example of a man attempting to build a tower; perhaps a look-out tower or a silo for grain.  Whatever it is, he must first ask himself whether he has the resources to build it.  How embarrassing it would be to lay the foundation and then leave it incomplete because he lacks the funds to  complete it!    So we are challenged to count the cost before we attempt to serve the Lord as His disciples.  

Building lives for the Lord involves both a negative and positive aspect.  These are pointed out in Jeremiah 1:10. They involve both the tearing down of that which is worthless and harmful in our lives and the building up of that which is useful and of eternal value. Nehemiah  was called of God to lead the rebuilding of the broken walls of Jerusalem after the Babylonian invasion and seventy year captivity of Israel.   In Nehemiah 4:17-18 we learn that his work was constantly beset by enemies seeking to discourage and destroy and so each worker  carried a sword on his side as he built. The Bible constantly warns throughout of the dangers of false doctrine and those enemies of the Gospel who would seek to nullify the Gospel of God’s grace. Christians are constantly warned to reject their teachings and have no fellowship with them.  For a fuller treatment of this topic see our series on SEPARATION on this website. 

Many Christians in this last half century despise and reject this unpopular doctrine.  They don’t practice it nor preach it because of the fear of being labeled narrow, unloving or legalistic.   Jesus warned in Matthew 7  that His way was narrow and unpopular and that most would prefer the broad way.  A Christian who obeys Christ in this matter does not have to be unloving, rude or obnoxious. 

The Biblical doctrine of SEPARATION needs to be practiced and preached in churches. This doctrine is as important a Fundamental of the Faith as the deity of Christ or the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible.  Jude 3 & 4 teaches that contending for the faith is as important as declaring the faith. Throughout  Paul’s epistles he devotes himself to building lives to maturity and battling those Satanic forces that would attempt to destroy Christians.  

If you’ve read much of this web site, you can’t avoid being aware that we also are devoted to building and battling for Christ. What are we building? We are building up lives in the most holy faith. Jude 20.  We are seeking to build Christian homes on Christ. We are building Christ’s Church for a habitation of God. We are His temple.  Ephesians 2:19-22. We are building walls of separation from the wicked world system and from false doctrine.  

At the same time we are seeking to tear down walls of separation from Christians who differ in lesser matters and we are encouraging Christians to develop loving relationships with the lost around them.  Both emphases are necessary.  We must love sinners but reject their sin and false, unbiblical teachings. We must love and accept our brothers and sisters in Christ even though we cannot always agree with them in every detail of doctrine.

  

Discipleship also involves battling. Luke 14:31-32

Here is another story of the cost of discipleship.  A king with an army of 10,000 must consider how he is going to protect his people from an advancing army of 20,000. Will the battle be worth the certain bloodshed and possible defeat?  Is there a way to negotiate peace and avoid the bloody conflict? These two examples illustrate that there are issues in life that are important enough to carefully evaluate our reasons for engaging in battle or avoiding conflict,  as well as calculating our resources for battle.  

Our resources are the Bible, (the Sword of the Spirit)  and the omnipotent power of the Holy Spirit to do what we cannot do in ourselves.  Using these two supernatural resources, the Church must be involved in evangelism and discipleship.  That’s our reason  for remaining on this earth.  Otherwise, Christ would whisk us off to Heaven the moment we were saved.  Satan is very much alive in churches as he seeks to distract us and  focus our attention on everything else but evangelism and discipleship.  

Discipleship is influence.  Luke 14:34-35

In the NASB version of the Bible verse 34 begins with the word therefore showing us there is a connection between discipleship and salt.  It is a well known fact that a little salt not only enhances the taste of food, but it also is used to preserve food.  We learn in the Old Testament that salt was used in sacrifices and in covenants to illustrate their permanence.  Jesus in Matthew 5:13-16 used light and salt to illustrate the purifying influence of Christians on society. 

If our testimony as Christians is not real and fresh and lasting, then we are useless and worthless disciples. We are good for nothing. Christ is looking for long term, permanent disciples who are willing to devote their lives to Him.  He is looking for disciples with Christian character who will stand for Him and attract other to Christ by our lives.  

Are you ready and willing to be His disciple?  It will cost  you everything, perhaps your life.  The question, “Who is sufficient?” in II Corinthians 2:16 in answered in the next chapter, 3:5  “Christ is our sufficiency.” Are you listening to His call as you read His Word?  Note the final call in our text in Luke 14:35. “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.”   You’ll find that same challenge given repeatedly to the seven churches of Asia Minor in Revelations 2 and 3.   Jesus calls you to trust Him for salvation and He calls you to be His faithful disciple.  Will you say yes now?  Or will you reject Him now and take the risk of perhaps never hearing His voice again? 

August 23, 2006 Posted by | Discipleship | Comments Off on Discipleship series # 17: Building and Battling