There are only two groups of people in the world.
THEY ARE NOT
1. The Good and the Bad
The typical person thinks good people go to Heaven and bad people go to hell.
According to God’s Word, the Bible, no one is good or righteous, by God’s standards. Romans 3:10-12 declares “There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that understandeth. There is none that seek after God… There is none that doeth good. No, not one.”
Romans 3:23 declares that ” All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” All of us fall short of God’s holy, standard.
What is God’s standard? Perfection! That’s what Jesus taught in His Sermon on the Mount. Read it in Matthew 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect.”
How impossible is if for us to attain God’s perfection? It would be like trying to jump from the south rim of the Grand Canyon to the north rim, a distance of 18 miles, a human impossibility. To attempt it is to fall 5,000 feet to certain death.
Attempting to attain Heaven by trying to keep God’s Law is totally futile. All the Law does according to Romans 3:19-20 is to show us our guilt before God.
So when are we going to give up our futile efforts of trying to attain Heaven by our goodness? To attempt it is an impossibility!
2. The Religious and the Non Religious
So what does sinful man do to try to make himself presentable to God? Many turn to religion; including the major religions of the world, Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, Mohammedanism, and the various oriental religions. Many turn to the sects, such as Mormonism, Jehovah Witnesses, and many lesser known ones.
Some modern intellectuals grasp at modern religions that appeal to their supposed intellectualism. Christian Science or Scientology.
Others turn their back on all religions and attempt to live a total irreligious life.
Most religious people simply follow the religion they were taught by their parents. It becomes their tradition. Peter wrote in I Peter 1:18, that we are not redeemed or saved from our sins by following the traditions we learned from our parents.
Let me assure you that whether we are religious or irreligious, it makes no difference. We are all in the same boat, lost and hell bound. The religionist is no better off than the non religious. The religionist has simply wasted more time in church while the irreligious were out having fun.
Read in Acts 17:16-31 of how the Apostle Paul dealt with the super- religious.
3. The Baptized and the Non Baptized
Then there are those who are vainly trusting in their baptism; whether it was infant baptism by their parents or whether it was baptism by immersion which they chose as adults. If you are trusting in infant baptism or adult baptism, you are all wet. Water does not cleanse your sinful soul and make you fit for Heaven.
Sacraments of the church, including baptism, do not make you holy and fit for Heaven. That is all an invention of men who want to enslave you in religion.
So whether we are trusting in baptism or not; we are all in the same boat, lost in our sins and bound for hell.
So, if morality, religion and baptism do not make us fit for Heaven, let’s cut to the chase. How can we be presentable before God and how can we be sure of Heaven when we die? I challenge you to trust your Creator who created this universe, including you.
WHAT DID YOUR CREATOR DO FOR YOU?
I challenge you to read the Gospel of John. In the first chapter you will learn that your Creator took on a human body and came down here in the person of Jesus to live among us and show us what God is like in human flesh.
After thirty years of showing us God in human flesh, God the Father, used the hatred of sinful man to mistreat Him, flog Him, punch Him in the face, spit at Him, lie about Him and finally crucify Him. Jesus was not the helpless victim of circumstances and evil men. If was God the Father Himself who used evil men to kill His Son, the Lord Jesus.
Why did He allow it? Jesus died experiencing the furious wrath of God on Himself as He took the punishment for every sinner who ever lived. In six hours on the cross, Jesus bore the wrath of God for the sins of the whole world. What He endured was equivalent to an eternity in Hell fire for every sinner on the face of the earth.
THAT’S WHAT OUR CREATOR DID FOR YOU AND ME.
ULTIMATELY, THERE ARE ONLY TWO GROUPS OF PEOPLE IN THE WORLD.
1. Those who in their pride and self-righteousness reject Jesus as God and Saviour.
2. Those who humble themselves before Him and receive Him as God and Saviour.
Those who receive Him are given the Gift of Eternal life now which includes an eternal Home in Heaven with Him when we die.
Those who reject Jesus forfeit His Gift of Eternal life.
The Great White Throne Judgment awaits you and eternity in a Lake of Fire prepared for Christ rejecters. Revelation 20:11-15
Will you bow your heart before God right now and receive Jesus and His gift of Eternal Life? The choice is yours. John 3:36
Don’t delay. You can only come as God draws you to Himself by His Holy Spirit. John6:44 If His Spirit is speaking to your heart, trust Jesus now and receive His gift of eternal life. II Corinthians 6:1-2. To reject Him NOW is to reject Him FOREVER!
As God gave birds two wings with which to fly, so nearly all of God’s truth must have two wings with which to fly. To attempt to focus on only one wing and ignore that which appears to be in opposition, is to end up flying lopsided.
For example, when the Bible speaks of Christ’s Kingdom, it’s referring to a present spiritual Kingdom, as well as a future literal Millennial Kingdom.
When the Old Testament prophesies of the coming of Messiah, it is speaking of two comings. His First Coming was to come as a baby boy, grow to adulthood and eventually die on a cross as a blood sacrifice for our sins. His Second Coming is about His return to this earth one day to conquer His enemies and reign for a Millennium.
When the Bible speaks of God giving us His righteousness to make us fit for Heaven, He is not only speaking of His judicial act of imputing His righteousness to our account through Justification, but He is also speaking of practically imparting His righteousness to us through the life-long process of Sanctification which in Heaven will be complete when we are glorified and sinlessly perfect for eternity.
Perhaps the main problem dividing Christ’s Church is the failure to understand the relationship of faith to works.
Recently I posted on my Face Book page the following statement. “We are never more like our father, the devil, than when we insist on having our own way, even if it means hurting others. We are never more like our Heavenly Father than when we sacrifice our self interests for the good of others. If yours is a life of selfishness, don’t deceive yourself. Jesus said, “You are of your father, the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do.” John 8:44
An increasingly heavy burden weighs down on my heart as I observe deceived people who claim to know Christ as Saviour, but whose lives show absolutely no hatred for sin and no love for Christ and His Word, the Bible. Though they testify to being Christians, their lives show little or no evidence of that reality. It grieves and frightens me that though they think they are saved and going to Heaven; one day they will wake up in Hell.
I realize I am no judge of hearts. Only God knows our hearts. But I can observe lives and I know what the Bible says about salvation.
TWO FALSE EXTREMES
1. Some teach that after trusting in Christ for salvation, we can lose it by falling into sin or by failing to produce a life of good works. That statement represents the Arminian theological camp and is contrary to the Bible.
2. Others teach that because salvation is all of God’s grace, if one is predestined and called to salvation, he will one day be in Heaven, regardless of how he lives. In other words, our works have no relationship whatsoever to our salvation. That also is a false position.
I am not saying that Calvinists and Arminians are not saved. I believe many are. If one is accused by a Calvinist of being an Arminian and if he is charged by an Arminian of being a Calvinists, I think perhaps he has the correct balance.
SOME BASIC TRUTHS REGARDING SALVATION
A. Salvation is received as a pure gift of God’s grace and is not earned nor secured by our works. Ephesians 2:8-9
B. Saving faith results in God regenerating our hearts, enabling us to walk with God and live a new life of good works, as taught in Titus 3:5-8 and Ephesians 4:1 and 2:10.
C. Faith without works is dead. That is, faith that does not result in a changed life is not saving faith. James taught that in James 2:14-26.
D. Those who trust Christ alone for salvation, are eternally secure in Him.
Follow along in Romans 8:29-39 as we describe the steps to that security.
1. It all begins with God’s foreknowledge and love of those who would come to Him for salvation. Before the world was ever created He knew and loved us and predestined us to be conformed to His image and to be with Him forever in Heaven. See Ephesians 1:3-14 for a strong statement concerning this marvelous truth.
2. Those whom He foreknew, He predestined or predetermined to be conformed to His image. Note, that if you are not becoming more and more like Jesus, that is a red flag that something is wrong. Don’t deceive yourself. To become a Christian is to increasingly become more and more like Jesus as we hunger to read and meditate on God’s Word and hear it proclaimed.
3. Those whom He foreknew and predestinated to be conformed to His image, He called to Himself. Christ calls us as we read and hear His Word preached. His Holy Spirit takes the Word and convicts us of our need of Christ and draws us to Him. In John 6:44 Jesus announced, “No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
You cannot come to Christ on your terms or on your timetable. You must “seek Him while He may be found.” Isa. 55:6 “Behold, NOW is the day of salvation.” II Corinthians 6:2 If He is speaking to you concerning your need of Him, trust Him now. Tomorrow, your heart may be cold to the Truth and you may never have another opportunity to be saved. Hearts only grow harder as they continue to reject Christ.
4. Those whom He called He justified. Justification is an act on God’s part by which He takes one who has responded to His call to salvation and transfers all his sins (past, present and future) to Jesus account and transfers Jesus’ righteousness to his account. That is an amazing truth, For more on this read and meditate on II Corinthians 5:21 and then go to my message on JUSTIFICATION on this SALVATION link and read it and reread it until you understand and rejoice in this marvelous foundational truth of God’s grace.
5. The final link in this chain of salvation is Glorified. To be glorified is to be just as pure and as perfect as Jesus Himself. That will not happen until we stand in His presence in Heaven. Only then will we be glorified and sinlessly perfect. What a day that will be!
In the meantime, there is another link in the chain between Justified and Glorified. That link is called Sanctification. Perhaps the reason it is not listed as a link in Romans 8:30 is because it is implied in being Glorified. Sanctification is the process by which God takes a justified believer and turns him into a glorified believer.
Sanctification is a life-long process. It begins the moment we put our trust in Christ to save us and it concludes as we draw our last breath on this earth and pass into the presence of Christ. Glorification is guaranteed to the one who has been justified.
How does God sanctify us or make us saintly? He uses three tools.
a) We are sanctified as we read and meditate on and learn to obey God’s Word. John 17:17
b) We are sanctified by the indwelling Holy Spirit as He enable us to grasp God’s Word in our minds and apply it in our hearts. II Thessalonians 2:13 and I Peter 1:2.
c) God also uses suffering to gain our attention and draw us to Himself to make us more like Himself. I Peter 5:10
HOW WILL WE KNOW WE ARE SAVED ON THE ROAD TO HEAVEN?
As we learned in Romans 8:29, we will become more and more like Jesus. What does that look like? How can we and others recognize we are becoming more like Jesus? As His Holy Spirit lives and reigns in our hearts, He will begin producing His fruit in our lives. That fruit is described in Galatians 5:22-25 as The Fruit of the Spirit. It is His supernatural love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance that begins to be manifested in our lives.
In contrast, the unbeliever is described in Galatians 5:19-21. Read both lists and determine which list best describes you. Remember that you can’t fake it. If you are not truly born again and indwelt by Christ’s Spirit, you cannot possibly bear His fruit. It will all be a sham and a counterfeit. The Christian life is a supernatural life, the very life of Christ being lived out in us by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
THE DANGER OF DECEPTION
Because these truths of salvation are so vital to us now and to our eternal destiny, Satan does all he can to deceive us and foil God’s plan. Christ warns of the danger of false professors of Christianity in His Parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13:24-30. He also warns of the dangers of self-deception in James 1:22-27 and the danger of falling from our own steadfastness in II Peter 3:17-18.
So let’s ask ourselves four questions that will help us determine whether our faith is genuine or spurious.
1. Is ours a living or dead faith?
2. Are we becoming more and more like Jesus?
3. Are we what the Bible describes as Overcomers?
4. Do we have Jesus’ love for others?
I. IS OURS A LIVING OR DEAD FAITH?
James asks that question in James 2:14-26.
As it is vain and empty for us to “bless” a needy person with our words when we have the ability to bless and help him with our time and substance and refuse to do it; so it is vain and empty for us to be testifying with our mouth that we are saved, while at the same time continuing to live in known sin with no thought nor desire for a clean life. Such a testimony is just empty, vain talk.
Such faith a merely academic, static, false and dead. In contrast, saving faith is dynamic and life-changing. II Corinthians 5:17 explains that when we put our trust in Christ for salvation, we are made a new creation, created unto good works. The old life is gradually being replaced by the supernatural new life, Christ’s very life being lived out in us, which brings us to our next question.
II. ARE WE BECOMING LIKE JESUS?
According to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:48 it is God’s purpose and plan for us to eventually become as perfect morally as He is. Of course, there is not a one of us who can achieve that perfection on our own. That’s why Jesus did it for us through His death and resurrection. That’s why when Christ’s life begins to be seen in us as believers, it is all to the praise of His glory, for He’s the One who makes it possible. Ephesians 1:6-14.
A true Christian is constantly growing and becoming more and more like Jesus, according to II Peter 3:18.
Look again at that great eternal security passage in Romans 8:28-39 and note that the whole purpose of all these things God is working out in our lives is for the sole purpose of us being “conformed to the image of His Son” Romans 8:29. If that is not happening, please do not disgrace God by talking about your “salvation.” I’m not saying that if you are not perfect, don’t claim to be a Christian. None of us are perfect, nor will we be perfect until we are in Heaven. However, all genuine Christians are in the process of becoming more and more like Jesus.
Saving faith is more than abstract theory. It MUST affect our lives. That’s what Peter tells us in II Peter 3:11-14
III. ARE WE OVERCOMERS?
Revelation 21:7-8 tells us that Overcomers go to Heaven and those who are not Overcomers, but continue on in their sins, go to Hell.
If you are comfortable with sin and enjoy it and feel no conviction of sin, you have evidently never been born again and you are still lost in your sins and Hell bound; regardless of the pious things you say about Jesus and the pious experiences you have in a worship service and regardless of your academic knowledge of the Bible. That’s what James teaches in James 2:19-20.
When a Christian sins, he is grief stricken and broken before God. He cries out for mercy and forgiveness as David did in Psalm 51 and God hears and forgives him.
Genuine Christians, who have been forgiven and are being delivered from the bondage of sin are described in I John 5:4-5 as Overcomers.
Why are we Overcomers? I John 4:4 and 5:4 teach that Christ Jesus who indwells every believer by His Holy Spirit is greater and more powerful than Satan who is the present god of this sinful cosmos, or world system,
So how do we overcome the world? Christ already has overcome the world. Go to the Gospel of John. John 16:33 and 17:4 and read of this reality and of Christ’s prayer for us as believers. As we surrender to His Lordship, we share in His victory over the world.
How do we overcome Satan, the god of this present world system? Read Revelation 12:9-11 We overcome this world:
1. By faith in the sacrifice of the shed blood of Jesus for us.
2. By the word of our testimony that we belong to Christ.
3. And by the total surrender of our lives to Him, even to death if need be.
How do we overcome evil men and difficult circumstances? Let God deal with them. See Romans 12:19-21
Christian friend, don’t turn back to the sin from which you have been delivered. If you turn back you will be overcome by it and your punishment will be more severe than for the one who has never known Christ. That’s the teaching of II Peter 2:18-22.
Note Christ’s promises to Overcomers in Revelation.
Rev. 2:7 They will eat of the Tree of Life in Heaven, which is a way of saying we will have eternal life.
Rev. 2:11 They will never experience the Second Death and Hell.
Rev. 2:17 As Israel was given Manna, supernatural food to eat in the wilderness, so Overcomers are given the spiritual Bread of Life to eat that the world cannot grasp or appreciate.
Overcomers will also be given a “white stone” In ancient times, the winning athletes were given a white stone as an invitation to a victory celebration. So Christ will invite all those who overcame by His blood sacrifice and we will join Him at the victory celebration in Heaven.
The new name engraved on the stone speaks of a personal relationship with Christ which all believers have experienced and will continue to experience throughout eternity.
Rev. 2:26 tells of the power and authority which we will share with Christ over the nations in His Millennial Kingdom. See more about this under the PROPHECY category.
Rev. 3:5 Our names will never be blotted out of the Book of Life.
Rev. 3:12 Christians will be pillars in the Heavenly temple of God.
Rev. 3:21 We will sit with Christ in His Throne.
One final and ultimate test of the genuiness of our faith in Christ.
IV. DO WE HAVE HIS LOVE FOR OTHERS? I John 4:7-12, 19-21
This is an evidence of genuine Christian that no one can fake.
Christ’s agape love, something every genuine Christian has, is not a selfish emotion. It is not lust or selfishness. It is totally others-centered.
Christ’s love is expressed in the genuine Christian by selflessness and kindness towards others, even to our enemies or those who do not deserve our love.
One with Christ’s love cares abut the feelings and needs of others. Hebrews 4:15 Whereas, a selfish person cares only about his own needs and feelings. A selfish Christian is a shame and disgrace to the name of Christ.
True love is utterly selfless. Christ, the perfect example of true love expressed it to us by dying on a cross and shedding His blood for our sins.
Have you received that gift from Him? Until you have, you will never have the power to live the Christian life.
A CHALLENGE TO YOU
I challenge you with Paul in II Corinthians 13:5 to examine yourself. Is there evidence that Christ lives in you and is controlling your life? If not, do not deceive yourself. You are not a Christian.
Yes, we are saved by God’s grace alone and through our faith in His sacrifice for us. We are kept saved by His grace and not by our works.
But the other side of the coin is that if we are saved, we have become His workmanship and He is presently at work in our lives enabling us to live a life of good works, and be overcomers and to share our love, His Love through us, to those who need it.
If none of this matters to you, you are still lost in your sins and bound for Hell. You desperately need to be born again today.
The virgin birth of Christ is one of the most important doctrines of the Christian Faith. It is clearly prophesied in Isaiah 7:14 and it is clearly described as fulfilled in Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-38. If Jesus was not virgin born, we have no Saviour.
To deny the Virgin Birth of Christ, or the truth of His miracles, or the power of His blood sacrifice on the cross as the complete and only atonement for our sins, or to deny His Bodily Resurrection, or the fact that Jesus is the sinless, holy Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity; is to deny the Doctrine of Christ.
To deny the Doctrine of Christ is to be without God and condemned to Hell. II John 9-11 This same warning in this little Epistle next to Revelation, also warns us to reject as a Bible teacher anyone who denies the doctrine of Christ. Don’t give them your support or your encouragement. Those who do are partakers of their evil deeds. If you find yourself to be in a church where the doctrine of Christ is ignored or denied, I urge you to get out now and find a church that proclaims it without compromise. It is impossible for you to receive Christ as your Saviour from sin and at the same time deny who He is. To deny the doctrine of who He is, is to deny Christ and be lost in your sins and headed for Hell.
A Church that denies the doctrine of Christ is part of Mystery Babylon, the church of Anti-christ that will be left behind after the Rapture of the True Church, to face the judgment of God in the Great Tribulation. Read Revelation 17 for a full description of this church and read Revelation 18:1-4 for God’s warning for you to separate yourself from this false system NOW! To learn more about Mystery Babylon, you can find that topic in my series on PROPHECY.
Why is the doctrine of the Virgin Birth so important?
Genealogy of Mary
Consider the genealogy of Mary, the mother of Jesus and Joseph, His step-father. Luke 3 gives us the genealogy of Mary. Heli in Luke 3:23 is the father-in-law of Joseph. This genealogy traces Jesus, the son of Mary, all the way back through Nathan, the son of David and back to Adam and to God who made Adam. This shows us that Jesus was a man in the same sense that you and I are men and women. He was totally human, though totally sinless.
Genealogy of Joseph
In Matthew 1 we have the genealogy of Joseph, the step-father of Jesus. This genealogy goes back through Solomon, another son of David, and continues back to Abraham showing that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s covenant to Abraham found in Genesis 12.
The curse of Coniah
However, in Joseph’s genealogy we go back to a king of Judah whose name was Jehoiachin. He was also known as Jechoniah or Coniah. He only reigned three months and then was taken into Babylonian captivity. What’s so interesting about Jechoniah or Coniah is that God cursed him and his descendents. That curse is recorded in Jeremiah 22:24-30. That means that no one from Coniah’s descendents could ever sit on the throne of David as King and Messiah. Joseph, the husband of Mary was from Coniah’s line. So that ruled out Joseph or any son of Joseph from ever being king.
Sin nature passed from father to child
If Jesus has been the biological son of Joseph, He could not have been the promised King. Furthermore, since the sin nature is passed on from father to child and not from mother to child, any son of Joseph or any other human father would have inherited a sinful nature.
Therefore, for two reasons Jesus had to be born of a virgin mother.
1. So that He would not inherit a sinful nature from his father.
2. So He would not be barred from the curse of Coniah which was upon Joseph and his sons.
Virgin Birth God’s amazing solution
By being virgin born, Jesus was truly man and truly God. As God in human flesh, He was totally sinless and His death and resurrection made possible the one, final sacrifice for sin for all the sins of the world. Read about that wonderful sacrifice in Hebrews 10. There it tells how God prepared a sinless, human body, the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Those who have received Christ as their sacrifice for sin are saved. Those who reject Him are still lost in their sins. I urge you to trust Jesus this moment as your sacrifice for sin and discover God’s wonderful salvation from sin. John 1:12
In Luke 19:10 Luke declares that “The Son of Man (Jesus) came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost.” Then in verse 1-9 Luke tells the story of Zacchaeus’ meeting with Jesus and his conversion, a wonderful illustration of Jesus’ mission statement.
This event takes place about a week before Jesus was crucified. As Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem for that fateful event with destiny, He traveled through Jericho, a city about 25 miles northwest of Jerusalem. It would be the last time He would pass through that city. The crowds were building as Jesus’ popularity grew with the common people.
In that city was Zacchaeus, a publican. He was a Jewish tax collector for the Roman Empire, and as such, he was known as a publican and a sinner. He not only collected the required taxes, but collected as much as he could beyond the taxes to line his pockets. As such, he was hated and despised by the Jews.
Zacchaeus had heard that Jesus was passing through. It was the big story of the day and everyone knew it. By some powerful compulsion, Zacchaeus desperately wanted to see this righteous Man. The problem was that he was short of stature and it was impossible to see Jesus because of the crowded streets. So he got an idea. He ran down the street ahead of the procession and found a sycamore tree hanging over the street. Climbing up into the tree he found a branch where he could perch and get a good view of Jesus as He passed by. Now he waited with growing anticipation to meet this great Man.
Most sinners run and hide from Jesus. Zacchaeus, was different. He made every effort to see Jesus.
As Jesus passed by, He stopped and looked up into the tree, gazing right into Zacchaeus’ eyes. Then Zacchaeus was stunned when Jesus spoke his name and made a shocking announcement. “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down: for today I must abide at thy house.”
Zacchaeus must have almost fallen out of the tree with shock. He thought to himself, “Why would such a righteous man want to come and spend the evening with me?” But he gladly and excitedly came down and assured Jesus he was welcome to come to his home.
The crowds were disgusted and shocked with Jesus. “Jesus, don’t you realize that man is a sinner? Why on earth are you choosing to spend an evening with Him, of all people?”
They could not fathom that Jesus loved sinners. He came into the world to save sinners. In a week He would be hanging on a cross to shed His blood and die that sinners could be saved from their sins and be given a new life.
That evening, perhaps at the supper table, Jesus saved that hungry-hearted sinner. We don’t know what was said. All we know is that Zacchaeus was saved and became a changed man from that hour.
Who was Seeking Who?
What caused Zacchaeus to seek after Jesus? Was it mere curiosity? It may have been that, but it was something far deeper than curiosity. Zacchaeus was hungering to know God and be a righteous man. He somehow knew that this was his last chance to see Jesus. Though he probably was not aware of Isaiah’s call to sinners in Isaiah 55:6-7, he was seeking God, though he knew not why.
Isaiah warns in that passage, “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord and He will have mercy upon Him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”
Jesus had earlier preached in His Sermon on the Mountain, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (the necessary material things of life) will be added unto you.”
Why did Zacchaeus seek after Jesus? Because God had taken the initiative and was seeking after Zacchaeus. That’s the way it always is with sinners. Sinners don’t take the initiative to seek after God. God takes the initiative to seek after sinners. If that were not the case, no man would ever seek after God.
Paul write in Romans 3:11 “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” You remember in the Garden of Eden after Adam sinned that he and his wife Eve tried to hide themselves from God. They did not seek God. He sought after them and found them and confronted them with their sins.
He provided salvation for them through killing the first animal and shedding its blood for their sins. That sacrifice of an animal began a long series of animal sacrifices throughout the Old Testament, all a picture of Jesus, the Lamb of God, who would one day be sacrificed once and for all for our sins.
A Changed Man
So there in his home that night, his Guest, Jesus, led Him to salvation. How do we know he was saved? His life was radically changed. He was no longer a thief. He stood and announced that night or the next morning, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.”
There’s no question about it. Zacchaeus was a changed man. Jesus announced to him, “This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham.”
Jesus explained that Zacchaeus was saved; not by his own righteousness, not because he wanted to make restitution for his sins; but he was saved just as Abraham was saved, by faith and not by his works. Read the story of Abraham’s faith in God in Genesis 12 and 17. Then read the explanation of the story in Romans 4:1-13 and Galatians 3, If you wish to go into this in more depth, go to my series of messages on the book of Galatians which you will find under the category FREEDOM. In that series I cover Abraham’s faith and show you that you and I are saved exactly as Abraham was saved by faith in God alone, apart from our works.
No, Zacchaeus was not saved by his works; nor are we saved by our works. Rather His faith in Christ resulted in his salvation which was evidenced by his changed life. II Corinthians 5:17 makes it clear that any genuine conversion is evidenced by a changed life. One who claims to be a Christian, but continues in his old life of sin with no desire to be clean, evidences that he was never saved in the first place. That’s why in II Corinthians 13:5 we are admonished to “Examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. We must prove the genuiness of our faith. If Christ is not living within us by His Spirit and if our lives do not demonstrate the change, then we are deceiving ourselves. We have never been saved.
If God is speaking to your through His Word and calling you to trust Christ for your salvation, do it now. Don’t put it off. Jesus is passing by this moment. He wants to come and spend some time with you right now. Will you invite Him in or will you reject Him. Your decision today could be final for you. If He is knocking on the door of your heart, invite Him in and He will spread a feast of salvation for you and change your life so that you might glorify Him with whatever days you have left on this earth. Read Revelation 3:20 and open the door to His knock right now.
You are invited.
In Luke 14:16-24 Jesus tells a story of a The Great Supper illustrating salvation to which sinners have been invited. We, His servants, are to take His invitation to the world. Just before Jesus returned to Heaven after His crucifixion and resurrection, He gave His Great Commission to His disciples to take the Gospel to the whole world. Every Christian has the responsibility, regardless of his secular vocation, to obey that Commission.
The Great Supper is also mentioned in Song of Solomon 2:4 and Mathew 22:2-14 This is the banquet of salvation that is offered freely by God’s grace to sinners. It will culminate with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, mentioned in Revelation 19:7-9. Though it is freely offered to us by the grace of God, it cost Jesus everything. The only reason anyone misses out on this banquet is that they, in pride and unbelief, reject Christ’s invitation to come to Him and be saved.
Some might argue, “But what about the people who have never heard of God or the Bible? Abraham answered that question in Genesis 18:22-25. In summary he is declaring that God, the Judge of the earth will always do right. Actually, everyone who is seeking for God’s truth will find God as he considers the glory of God’s creation. Read Psalm 19:1-4. Furthermore, Romans 1:18-23 argues the same truth.
All things are ready
The banquet is ready now, Luke 15:17 declares. God is always ready. He is never behind time. God did not create Adam until there was a garden prepared for his home. God did not make his wife, Eve, until Adam was emotionally ready for her. God did not invite us, His Church, to salvation until the preparation was completed through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus spoke from the cross, “IT IS FINISHED!” Paul reminds us in II Corinthians 6:2 the “Now is the time. Now is the day of salvation!”
Mothers are rightfully upset when dinner is ready and the family is called to come and some straggle in five minutes later. So the Lord of this feast, recorded in Luke 14, is angry when the invited guests begin to make excuses for not coming to the dinner.
Note that these are excuses; not reasons or flat refusals. It’s one thing to refuse to come, but it is even more offensive to make silly excuses. Back of the excuses is a lack of desire to come.
Why do the guests make excuses and refuse to come to the dinner? It’s not that they were invited to a prison to live in solitary confinement for the rest of their lives, or to the hospital for surgery. They were invited to a banquet, a royal feast! How foolish to refuse the invitation!
Listen to their silly excuses. These men were either liars or fools!
1. “I have bought some ground and must go out and see it.” Does a normal person buy property and then go out and check it out, or does he check it out before he buys it? Does he check it out at supper time when it is getting dark? This is a foolish excuse, but basically many are allowing property and material possessions to keep them from trusting Christ for salvation.
2. A second excuse, even sillier, was that a man had bought some oxen and now at supper time had to yoke them and go plough some ground and see if he got a good deal. Would you agree that it wiser to check out the animals before you buy them rather than after you buy them? This is a sample of those who are hindered from accepting Christ’s invitation to salvation for business excuses, even though this one was not a very good excuse.
Married and won’t take your wife out for dinner?
3. The third excuse was given by a man who had just been married and for that reason could not accept the dinner invitation. Really? What wife would not like to go out to a nice banquet? This man represents the excuses people make for rejecting Christ because of family concerns. These are the people who say, “Sunday is my only day with my family. I cannot come to church.”
My answer to such a person is, “What better way could you spend Sunday with your family than by going to church with them and sitting with them and then going home and discussing the sermon with them in the light of the Bible?
The Matthew 22 account augments the Luke 14 story. There we learn that some made light of the invitation and went their own ways just as the prophet Isaiah had prophesied in Isaiah 53:6 “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned everyone to His own way.”
Some of the invited turned on the servants who invited them and murdered them. The persecution of God’s servants is going on in many parts of the world even today. Sinners despise the Good News of salvation. They despise Christ and Christ’s servants who come to them with the Good News. Provoked by their father, the devil, they hate Christ’s servants almost as much as they hate Christ Himself. That truth is seen throughout the Bible. Read John 15:18-23. If you are a Christian, this explains the source of the hatred you experience from some unbelievers.
Will you be speechless when you stand before Christ?
Some attempted to come to the Wedding Feast without a wedding garment. Read Matthew 22:11-12 When confronted with the fact that they were not wearing the wedding garment it says they were speechless. Why is that? The King provided the spotless wedding garments. These spotless garments speak of God’s righteousness imputed to those who trust Christ. Everyone who goes to Heaven will have that spotless garment of Christ’s righteousness. If you dare to stand before God in your own self-righteousness, you will be speechless when you face His wrath. Paul mentions that again in Romans 1:20 and 3:19.
You may make excuses today for rejecting Christ, but when you stand before Him at the judgment, you will be speechless and silent before Almighty God.
As those men in Bible times made excuses for rejecting the dinner invitation, so people today make their excuses for rejecting Christ. I’ve heard lots of them. Let me list a few. Perhaps one of them is your excuse if you are not a Christian.
1. “Later, perhaps, when it is more convenient for me.” Are you taking that gamble? It has to be the gamble of eternity. It has to be more dangerous than Russian roulette.
Felix after hearing Paul preach, trembled and said, “Go thy way for this time. When I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” Acts 24:25
King Agrippa in Acts 26:28 said to Paul, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” There is nothing in Scripture to assure us that these men ever had another chance to get right with God. The facts are that as an unbeliever grows older, his heart grows harder in sin and rejection of the Saviour. That’s why Paul urges, “Now is the accepted time. Now is the day of salvation.” II Corinthians 6:2
2. “I’m not good enough.” My first impression is that there is something insincere about that excuse. You know that salvation is all of God’s grace; and yet in pride and self-righteousness, you reject God’s grace. On the other hand, if you really feel unworthy, you are half way home. The Gospel is ONLY for those who sense their unworthiness before God and put their trust in Christ alone.
3. “I can’t live the Christian life!” Of course, you can’t. Neither can I. No one can. Christ lives His life through us when we as Christians are controlled by His Holy Spirit. Galatians 2:20
4. I’m too busy with my life and work to think about my condition before God. You are too busy playing marbles, as far as the importance of what you are doing in contrast with what you ought to be concerning yourself.
5. There are too many hypocrites in the church. I’ll agree with you that Christendom is filled with hypocrites. In churches where the Gospel is preached, there are certainly weak Christians, including pastors themselves. A weak Christian is one who is trusting Christ for his salvation, but is struggling with Christ’s lordship in his life and is failing as a good testimony for Christ. Don’t contrast yourself with weak Christians or with hypocrites. Contrast your life with the pure, holy life of Christ alone. He is our ultimate standard; not some weak Christian struggling and failing to walk with God.
Those who refuse to come to Christ are failing to face the truth that it’s a matter of their own will. They refuse to come to Christ. John 5:40
Quit the excuses. Just be honest with God and with yourself. Tell God you are not interested in His salvation, that you want Him to leave you alone in your sins and let you go to hell. The real reason you don’t come to Christ is found in John 3:19-20.
If you choose to reject Christ’s invitation to be saved and to live forever with Him in Heaven, He will turn from you and turn to others needing a Saviour. Luke 14:21-24 He will reject you, If you reject His invitation, it may well be the last invitation you will ever hear or read. Rejecters face His wrath. John 3:36 Ps. 2:12 “Kiss the Son lest He be angry and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little.”
RSVP Him today!
Come now; poor, maimed, halt and blind sinner. RSVP Christ today and reserve your place in Heaven at that great wedding Feast of the Lamb.
Jesus, accompanied by His Disciples, was on His final journey south to Jerusalem where death awaited Him on a cross. Luke 18:35 through 19:10 describes His one night stop-over in Jericho where He healed and saved some blind beggars and transformed the life of a hated Publican tax collector, Zacchaeus.
The Jericho of Joshua’s day is a pile of dirt and stones today. You may remember that city that stood in the way of Israel‘s conquest of the Promised Land. God destroyed it as Israel marched around it. Later on a new city of Jericho was rebuilt close by the old ruins. That city still stands as one of the oldest cities in the world.
While in Jericho overnight, He had the opportunity to heal and save perhaps five people: four blind beggars and one hated Publican, Zacchaeus, a Jewish tax-collector for the Roman government.
The four blind beggars include Bartimaeus, whose story is found in Mark 10:46-52. The story of the blind beggar they confronted as they approached Jericho is found in Luke 18:35-43. It is his story we will consider in this article. Two more blind beggars were healed as Jesus departed from Jericho. That story is told in Matthew 20:29-34.
These are the final healing miracles of Jesus, except for the restoration and healing of Malchus’ right ear which Peter cut off with his sword in his efforts to defend Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. But apart from these, Jesus healing ministry, before Calvary, was complete. This was the last chance for these blind beggars. It was now or never for them.
These were also the final conversions to Christ before Calvary. No one else would be saved from their sins except for the repentant thief on the cross and the Roman Centurion who was saved as he watched Jesus die. Matthew 27:54 and Mark 15:29 inform us that he and some who stood with him were convinced Jesus was the Son of God. Yes, I believe that we will see that Roman Centurion and perhaps some of the Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus in Heaven.
Let’s learn now how the condition of this blind beggar in Luke 18:35-43 describes all of us as sinners.
THE CONDITION OF SINNERS
II Corinthians 4:3-4 and Ephesians 4:17-18 describe the spiritual blindness of the natural man and woman; that is, one who has never been born again. We Christians are warned to let our light shine in this dark world. When we hide the light of Christ, we are hiding Him from a sin-blinded world that so desperately needs him.
Not only are we spiritually blind as sinners, but we are beggars. We come to God bankrupt of any righteousness. Not only are we bankrupt of righteousness; but as the result of Bible-denying Liberalism in America, we have become a nation of citizens with a victim mentality who depend on our Federal Government to take care of us from the cradle to the grave.
Christians never need to beg. We know Christ; not only as our Saviour, but as our Good Shepherd, who provides for all our needs. It is a shame and disgrace for Christians to beg. In so doing, we reflect on our Shepherd as one who cannot be trusted to provide for us. In Psalm 37:25 the Psalmist thinks back over his life and says, “I have been young and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread.”
We Christians live in a world of spiritually blind beggars. The best way we can help them is to introduce them to Jesus who will save them and provide for all their needs. If we get people to Jesus, He will meet all their physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs.
THE CONVERSION OF SINNERS
People told this blind beggar of Luke 18:35-43 that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. Somehow, this man who lacked physical eyesight had spiritual eyesight. He recognized in his heart who Jesus was. He was more than simply Jesus of Nazareth. He was Jesus, the promised Son of David. He was Jesus the Messiah. He was Jesus the Saviour of the world. He was the Jesus the Virgin Mary knew in Luke 1:30-33. He was Jesus whom Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, knew in Luke 1:69-73.
As Jesus approached him, he cried out to Him, “Have mercy on me!” That’s the cry of a penitent sinner. Often the Psalmist, realizing how sinful he was, cried out to God for mercy. Perhaps the best example of this is Psalm 51, the prayer of David begging God for mercy after he had sinned with Bathsheba and murdered her husband, Uriah.
In Isaiah 55:6-7 we are urged as sinners to seek the Lord and call upon Him for mercy while He is near. His promise is that He will show mercy to us and abundantly pardon us. Ephesians 2:4-9 describes the abundant mercy freely available to every repentant sinner.
As Jesus passed by and the beggar cried for mercy, the crowds tried to silence him, but he would not be silenced. He cried out all the louder, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Jesus heard him and stood still. He made the beggar confess his need. He cried to be able to see. Jesus healed him, but He did far more than that. He saved his soul. The Greek word there is “Sozo”. It always means to save. He not only healed him of his blindness, but He saved his soul.
THE CONSEQUENCE OF THEIR CONVERSION
The inspired record tells us that this man, now saved and able to see, began to follow Jesus. That’s the real evidence of a saved person. He immediately begins to follow Christ. How can any Christian do less than turn over his life to Christ? Romans 12:1-2 tells us that it is our reasonable service. It’s the least we can do for Christ. It’s also the most we can do for Christ. If Christ has saved us from an eternity in hell, how can we offer Him less than our best.
Hebrews 12:12-15 also challenges us to follow Him in His unpopularity outside the camp; that is, outside the circle of popularity. Any Christian, no matter how nice and how loving he is in his dealings with others, will experience the rejection of the world as soon as he evidences his love for Christ.
I challenge you this moment, as you have been confronted with Christ, to trust Him right now. He’s passing your way. He may never pass your way again. Call out to Him, ”Jesus, Son of David, Messiah, Son of God, thank you for dying on the cross for me and rising again the third day. Thank you that you have proven to me that You are the Son of God. I trust you this moment. Have mercy on me and save me.”
Read the promise again in Isaiah 55:6-7. Receive Him as your Saviour right now. Then take the next step and start following Jesus today. A good place to start is to get into this web site with your Bible and get to know Him. Then find a church that is true to the Bible and get involved in reaching others with the Gospel.
In Luke 18:18-24 as well as Matthew 19:16-30 and Mark 10:17-22 we have three accounts of the story of a rich young ruler who came to Jesus seeking how he could attain eternal life. Actually, he was a superficial seeker, full of himself and really not that concerned about God and eternal life. Romans 3:11 teaches us that no one truly seeks after God. In John 6:44 Jesus declared that “no one comes to Christ unless the Father draws him. Luke 19:10 declares that “Jesus came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost.” He did not come to save the self righteous.
Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that you can come to God when you get good and ready. That time will never come. Isaiah 55:6-7 warns us to “Seek Him while He may be found. Call on Him while He is near.” You can only come to Him as God’s Spirit draws you to Christ.
I fear that many go through life rejecting Christ because they want to live their own lives independent of God; however, they plan to get right with God in old age just before they die. The problem is, none of us know when we will die. Proverbs 27:1 warns us, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for thou knowest no what a day may bring forth.” “Behold, now is the day of salvation.” II Corinthians 6:2
The Bible starts out with God seeking sinful man. Genesis 3:9 and concludes in Revelation 22:17 with God’s Spirit and His Bride (that is, we Christians) calling the lost to come to Christ.
Let’s look now, at this supposed seeker after eternal life. Most of us would be thrilled to meet one who asked “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
We would quickly take him to the Romans Road ( Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9-10) and invite him to pray the sinner’s prayer, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” Then we would chalk him up as another convert. Jesus, the Master Soul Winner, did not do that. Of course, the Roman’s Road had not yet been written by the Apostle Paul.
HIS FATAL FLAWS
1. He did not recognize Jesus as God.
Jesus took time to help this man understand some basic truths that he needed to understand before he could be saved. Before one can be saved, He has to have a correct understanding of who Jesus is. The seeker had addressed Him as “Good Master” He recognized Jesus as a Good man and a Good teacher, but He did not yet know Him as God in human flesh.
Jesus wants him to think this through. He asks the seeker, “Why do you call me “Good? There is none good but God.” Until we understand that Jesus is God in human
flesh, we cannot be saved. Not just one of many gods, but the only one God, Creator of the universe. God the creator of the universe come down in human flesh to die for our sins. That’s the Jesus we Christians love and adore.
The rich young ruler saw Jesus only as a good teacher. He was not yet ready to hear and understand the Gospel.
Christian friend, when dealing with an inquirer, make sure he understands who Jesus is before you proceed to explain the Gospel to him.
II John 9 warns us to beware of any teacher who is wrong on the doctrine of Christ. What is the doctrine of Christ?
1. Jesus is the one true God, creator of Heaven and the universe, including earth and all that is on the earth.
2. In order to save us from our sins, He became a man through the miracle of the virgin birth of Jesus. He was totally human, though He never ceased to be God.
3. He became a man in order to pay the penalty of sin that we deserved to pay in hell throughout eternity. He, our holy God, bore that penalty on the cross, suffering and dying for our sins.
4. Three days later He arose bodily from the tomb and showed Himself alive in His glorified body to many witnesses, including His disciples and others.
5. Then He ascended from the Mount of Olives back to Heaven in His glorified body, as His disciples watched Him disappear from their sight.
6, Before He left, He promised He would return to this earth to judge sinners and set up His Kingdom on this earth for 1000 years.
7. At the end of the Millennium He will destroy this earth as we know it, judge the lost and cast them with the devil and the anti-christ and his false prophet into the Lake of Fire for eternity.
8. He will make a new Heaven and new earth and we His redeemed saints will enjoy sinless perfection with Him forever.
Though you are not expected to understand all of this in order to be saved, you must understand and accept who Jesus is and that He died on the cross and rose again to pay the full penalty for our sins.
2. He did not recognize that he was a sinner.
Not only did Jesus want the rich young ruler to understand Jesus’ deity; but He also wanted the young ruler to understand that he was a sinner. In order to do so, He confronted him with the ten commandments. The young ruler in self-righteousness declared that he had kept all of God’s Laws from childhood. He did not see himself as a sinner.
Just as no one can be saved until they accept the truth of who Jesus is; so no one can be saved until they accept the fact that they are sinners.
3. He did not accept that salvation is by God’s grace and not by our works.
The young ruler asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The answer is clear throughout the Bible that it is not by our works of righteousness, but by trusting in and receiving God’s Gift of His grace, His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8-10, Titus 3:5-6.
From the days of Adam and Eve, salvation has always been through the sacrifice of innocent blood. The animal sacrifices throughout the Old Testament were all pictures of Jesus, the Lamb of God who would be the one, final sacrifice for sin forever. No one, including Abraham and the other Old Testament saints were ever saved by their works, but through faith in Christ’s coming sacrifice. Read and study carefully Galatians 3 and Romans 4 for clear teaching on this.
4. He valued his wealth more than eternal life. Luke 18:23, Mark 10:22
HOW DID JESUS DEAL WITH HIM?
Jesus’ heart ached for him in love, as He did for Jerusalem and for all the world.
He forced him to confront his sin of covetousness before he could comprehend his need of the Gospel
No one ever comes to Jesus for salvation until they understand their sinfulness and understand that they cannot save themselves through their own self efforts.
THE SAD RESULTS
He went away rejecting Christ for he valued his material wealth more than the wealth of knowing Christ as his Saviour from sin. Read Mark 8:34-38 for a grave warning concerning this.
Not only did he go away as a lost sinner, but he went away as an enemy of Christ. One who is not for Christ is against Him, Matthew 12:30 tells us. No one can be neutral about Jesus. We are either His friends or His enemies.
WHICH BRINGS ME TO AN INTERESTING THOUGHT
I do not state this as a fact for it is not clearly taught in the Scriptures, but I wonder whether this rich young ruler who turned his back on Jesus could possibly be Saul of Tarsus who eventually was saved and was renamed Paul the great Apostle.
Let me show you some similarities.
1. He was intense and exuberant. He ran to meet Jesus. Before and after his conversion, whatever Paul did, he did with all his heart.
2. He was certainly self righteous, just as Paul was. Paul writes about his self righteousness before he was saved in Philippians 3.
3. As the sin of covetousness kept the rich young ruler from Christ, so the sin of covetousness was the sin that caused Paul to become convicted as a sinner. He writes about this in Romans 7:7.
As that young ruler turned away from Christ to disappear into the darkness of sin, perhaps he grew angry with Jesus and became His chief enemy.
If that were the case, we can thank God that after Jesus ascension back to Heaven, He continued to pursue after him all the way to the Road to Damascus where Saul of Tarsus was traveling on his way to persecute more Christians. The glorified Christ knocked him down and confronted him with who He was. He was gloriously converted and called of God to be His Apostle to the gentiles. God used Him to write much of the New Testament and give to us the doctrine of salvation and the doctrine of His Church in the thirteen Epistles he wrote.
No, I do not strongly believe that the young ruler of Luke 18 became the Apostle Paul. It is only an idea I have considered. Note how Jesus concludes this story in the Mark 10 account. In Mark 10:27 Jesus said as He and His disciples watched that young ruler disappear from sight, “With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.”
Is salvation a once for all experience, or is it a daily process? It is my purpose in this article to show from God’s Word that it is both a once for all experience and a lifetime daily process.
An Instant, Once for all Salvation.
Salvation is a once-for-all experience that begins when we, as sinners, are confronted with God’s demand in Matthew 5:48 that we be as righteous as God Himself and we are made aware of our sinful, helpless, hopeless, lost condition, as described in Romans 5 and Ephesians 2. We inherited that sinful nature from our first father, Adam.
Not only are we aware of our lost condition, but we are confronted with the truth of the Gospel, that Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins, and He rose again to justify us; that is, count us as righteous as God Himself. Salvation instantly occurs when we receive this gracious Gift of God by faith alone.
By trusting Christ alone, we are given the gift of eternal life that we can never lose. It is as eternal as God and is as certain as His promises in John 3:16, 36, 5:24, 6:37. Acts 16:31, Romans 8:28-39, 10:9-10, I John 5:10-13
Not only is this a once for all transaction with God, but it marks the beginning of a daily salvation that continues for the rest of our life.
Salvation can be likened to the birth of a baby which takes place in a moment of time, resulting in a new life of growth and increasing maturity that continues for the rest of his life on earth.
It can be likened to a wedding. As a wedding marks the beginning of an intimate, loving relationship between a man and a woman, which continues until death parts them; so being saved marks the beginning of a personal, eternal loving relationship with Christ which normally results in a life of growth in godliness.
A Daily Walk
Salvation is not just a one time experience of the past. It marks the beginning of a daily walk with God. Old Testament saints, such as Enoch, Noah and Abraham, are known as men who walked with God. Salvation takes place in an instant; but more than that, it takes place day by day for the rest of our lives and it is consummated in eternity when we are glorified sinlessly perfect in His sight.
Here is just a sampling of verses of Scripture that show that the Christian life is a life of walking with God. Ephesians 4:1, 17, 5:1, 8, 15, Galatians 5:16, 25, Colossians 2:6, Psalm 1, 86:11, 89:15, 101:1-3 116:9. All of these verses speak; not of an emotional experience, but of daily progress as we walk a holy life in the midst of a sinful world.
A Daily Surrender
In Romans 12:1 Paul challenges us as Christians to invite Christ to sit on the throne of our lives. This is not only an initial surrender to Christ; but a daily life of surrender to Him as Lord. Sometimes in our carnality, we rebel and suffer for it. When we ignore the promptings of Christ and go our own way, it is important that we confess it as sin and invite Him to return to the throne of our lives. So although the initial surrender may be a crisis experience; in reality, it become a daily surrender to His Lordship.
A Daily Filling
In Ephesians 5:18-21 Christians are urged to be filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9 teaches us that He lives in the life of every believer. The problem is that He does not fill and control each of us. When we surrender to the Lordship of Christ, the filling of the Spirit takes place automatically. Again, we need not seek an emotional experience. We simply need to surrender to Christ and the Spirit fills and controls us. The evidence of that filling is found in Ephesians 5:19-21. We are filled with joy, thanksgiving and given the ability to submit ourselves to one another as we seek God’s best for others. Furthermore, when we are filled with the Spirit, we bear His fruit which is described in Galatians 5:22-23.
A Daily Worship
Genuine worship of God is practically expressed as we magnify Christ in our lives and minimize our own preferences and desires. That is expressed in John the Baptist’s motto in John 3:30. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” According to Psalm 138:2, we must magnify God’s Word in order to magnify Christ. We get to know and love Christ as we give ourselves to reading and listening to the preaching of His Word, the Bible, and let it control our thinking, attitudes and actions. Otherwise, we don’t know the Christ we claim to worship.
I encourage you read the activities that took place daily in the early church, as listed in Act 2:42-47. Worship is not even mentioned. Why is that? Because, every activity of the church was then and should be today, an expression of our worship of Christ. Worship is not a twenty or thirty minute segment of a church service. Worship of Christ should be going on constantly, regardless of our activities in church or in the so-called secular activities of life. As long as Christ is Lord and the Spirit of God is filling our lives, we live in ceaseless praise and worship of Christ.
Frances Ridley Havergal understood this truth about worship when in 1874 she wrote the beloved song of consecration, “Take My Life and Let it Be”
“Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee.
Take my moments and my days, Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice and let me sing always only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold. Not a mite would I with-hold.
Take my intellect and use every power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will and make it Thine. It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart. It is Thine own. It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love; my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.”
Dear Christian friend, that’s worship!
Worship is the most intimate relationship we have with God. The closest thing I can liken it to is the intimate relationship of a husband and wife. That intimacy is not flaunted in public. That would be vulgar. So public, fleshly displays of our intimacy with God, such a drooling pious talk or doing anything in a worship service to try to make an impression on others, are inappropriate and sometimes vulgar as they draw attention to us, rather than to God. Such Christian tend to worship themselves rather than God.
Do you want a worship experience with God? Spend time in the Word, reading and meditating on it. Talk to God about its application to your life. Expose yourself to the faithful preaching of God’s Word, even if it tends to offend you at times. That’s worship; “magnifying God’s Word above His name.” Psalm 138:2
A Daily Supplication
God expects us to talk to Him each day. He teaches us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Psalm 68:18 reminds us that “He daily loads us with benefits.” We daily depend on His faithfulness to us, Lamentations 3:22-23 reminds us. Whether we ask Him or not, we depend on Him daily for all our needs, proving to us that we can’t get through one day without thinking of, speaking with and depending on our God and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
A Daily Searching of His Word
Israel gathered manna every morning, Exodus 15:21 reminds us. In John 6:32-35 Jesus teaches us that He is our Manna which we feed on, preferably each morning, as we read and meditate on His Word each day.
The Church of Berea is held up as an example to us. Acts 17:11 tells us that they searched the Word daily to test what they were hearing by the plumb line of God’s Word.
It’s a sure thing that our growth in the grace and knowledge of Christ will be proportionate to the time we read and obey God’s Word.
A Daily Vigilance
Because we live in enemy territory surrounded by powers and influences that would destroy us, I Peter 5:8 warns us to be sober and vigilant against our ever present enemy, Satan, who would take great delight in ruining our lives. Psalm 141:3 warns us to be ever alert and WATCH; guard our Words, Actions, Thoughts, Companions, and our Heart.
Our Daily Cross
In Luke 9:23 Jesus taught His own to take up their cross daily and follow Him. In I Corinthians 15:31 Paul testified that he died daily. That involves being dead to our rights, our feelings, our desires and our preferences. Sure, we still have them; but if we don’t get our way, it doesn’t really matter. In Galatians 2:20 Paul taught “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” What a wonderful freedom that gives us! For more on this doctrine of the crucified life, I encourage you to work your way through my series on Freedom, which is actually a study of Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians.
A DAILY WITNESS
In Psalm 96:2 we are challenged to “show forth His salvation from day to day.” The key to evangelism is to “show and tell” Christ wherever you go. That’s what the Thessalonian church did, as recorded in I Thessalonians 1. In the early church, souls were saved daily Acts 2:46-47 tells us. Why such success? Because Jesus was absolutely everything to those early Christians. They lived and died for Him.
A DAILY STRENGTH
In the 1940’s I often rode steam engine drawn trains. The steam generated, only took the trains a short way down the tracks. As they kept on shoveling the coal into the engine. It generated enough steam to take the train a little further on down the track.
So, we don’t have enough spiritual power to live the Christian life to the end. We are only given enough for the day. Sometimes it is only enough for a few hours and we need to continue to lean on Christ for more strength, especially when life is difficult with pain and sorrow and confusion.
Listen to these wonderful promises of His strength for each day. “As thy days, so shall thy strength be. The eternal God is thy refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:25, 27
“He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might He increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31 Take time to read in II Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul’s testimony of how God strengthened him in his weakness.
A Daily Rejoicing
If you are saved and on your way to Heaven, you have lots for which to rejoice.
I challenge you to choose to rejoice every day, regardless of the circumstances. Rejoicing is a matter of the will. You can either choose to complain or rejoice. It’s up to you. David determined in Psalm 118:23 to rejoice daily. He said, “This is the day that the Lord hath made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.”
As we learn more of God’s sovereignty, wisdom, power and love; rejoicing will become a way of life for you. It sure beats going through life depressed, bitter and angry; and it surely is much better on your health.
As joyful, surrendered Christians grows older, we experience the truth of Proverbs 4:18 “But the path of the just is as a shining light, that shines brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.”
The following story was passed on to me. It beautifully illustrates the message of John 3:16.
In the city of Chicago, one cold, dark night, a blizzard was setting in. A little boy was selling newspapers on the corner. The people were in and out of the cold. The little boy was so cold that he wasn’t trying to sell many papers.
He walked up to a policeman and said, “Mister, you wouldn’t happen to know where a poor boy could find a warm place to sleep tonight would you? You see, I sleep in a box up around the corner there and down the alley and it’s awful cold in there for tonight. Sure would be nice to have a warm place to stay.”
The policeman looked down at the little boy and said, “You go down the street to that big white house and you knock on the door. When they come to the door you just say John 3:16, and they will let you in.”
So he did. He walked up the steps and knocked on the door, and a lady answered.
He looked up and said, “John 3:16.” The lady said, “Come on in son.” She took him in and she sat him down in a split bottom rocker in front of a fireplace, and she went off. The boy sat there for a while and thought to himself: “John 3:16…… I don’t understand it, but it sure makes a cold boy warm.”
Later, she came back and asked him, “Are you hungry?”
He said, “Well, just a little. I haven’t eaten in a couple of days and I guess I could stand a little bit of food.” The lady took him in the kitchen and sat him down to a table full of wonderful food. He ate and ate until he couldn’t eat any more. Then he thought : “John 3:16….. boy, I sure don’t understand it but it sure makes a hungry boy full.”
She took him upstairs to a bathroom to a huge bathtub filled with warm water and he sat there and soaked for a while. As he soaked, he thought to himself: “John 3:16….. I sure don’t understand it but it sure does make a dirty boy clean.. You know, I’ve not had a real bath in my whole life. The only bath I ever had was when I stood in front of that fire hydrant as they flushed it out.”
The lady came in and got him. She took him to a room, tucked him into a big old feather bed, pulled the covers up around his neck, kissed him goodnight and turned out the lights. As he lay in the darkness and looked out the window, at the snow coming down on that cold night, he thought to himself: “John 3:16…. I don’t understand it but it sure makes a tired boy rested.”
The next morning, the lady came back up and took him down again to that same table full of food. After he ate, she took him to that same split bottom rocker in front of the fireplace and picked up a Bible. She sat down in front of him and looked into his young face. “Do you understand John 3:16?” she asked gently.
He replied, “No ma’am, I don’t. The first time I ever heard it was last night when the policeman told me to use it.”
She opened the Bible to John 3:16 and began to explain to him about Jesus. Right there, in front of that fireplace, he received Jesus as His Saviour and Lord. He sat there and thought: “John 3:16. I don’t understand it, but it sure makes a lost boy feel safe.”
You know, I have to confess I don’t understand it either, how God was willing to send His Son to die for me, and how Jesus would agree to do such a thing. I don’t understand the agony of the Father and every angel in Heaven as they watched Jesus suffer and die. I don’t understand the intense love for ME that kept Jesus on the cross till the end. I don’t understand it, but it sure does make life worth living.
John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Why don’t you believe this wonderful good news and receive God’s gift of salvation right now?
If someone were to confront you and ask you if you are saved, what would you answer? Most people react negatively to that question. They become irritated, defensive and angry. They would say something like this, “I’m not a sinner. I’m as good as the next guy. I’ve always been a Christian. I attend church. I take the sacraments. I don’t need salvation. I’m not lost.”
But, dear friend, you are lost if you’ve never received Christ as your Saviour.
Everyone born into Adam’s human race is born a sinner. Romans 5:12-19 If you are part of the human race you are a sinner. Read the first three chapters of Romans. Read Psalm 51:5. Until you can humble yourself before God and admit the truth about your sin, there is no hope for you. You are a sinner and need to be saved.
But I’m religious!
Religion does not save. Religion is man’s futile effort to try to impress God with his self-righteousness. Baptism, confirmation, taking the sacraments, giving to the poor, attending church regularly, teaching a Sunday School class, giving your life as a minister or priest or missionary or faithful church worker; none of these efforts can make you worthy of Heaven. Titus 3:5-6
Saul of Tarsus, whose name was changed to Paul after his conversions, was as religious as they come. Read in Philippians 3:1-6 his testimony of the vanity of religion Then continue reading the rest of that chapter and see the difference Jesus made in his life when he was confronted by Jesus and trusted Him for salvation.
The Bible teaches your need to be saved
The Bible has much to say about the need of salvation and it shows us the only way of salvation. Here is just a small sampling of the hundreds of Scriptural references to salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The angel Gabriel when explaining Mary’s pregnancy to Joseph said, “And she shall bring forth a son , and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21
Peter preached at Pentecost, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under Heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
In answer to the Philippian jailer’s question, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved and thy household.” Acts 16:30-31
Paul shares his broken heart for his people, Israel in Romans 10:1-4 “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer for Israel is that they might be saved. For I bear them record, ( I know because I was one of them) that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness (or the fulfillment of righteousness) to everyone that believeth.”
Later in the same 10th chapter of Romans in verses 8-13 he explains how one is saved by believing in Jesus and confessing Him publicly as Saviour. I encourage you to read the passage and then ask yourself if you have received Christ and publicly confessed Him as your Saviour.
Paul writes to the Ephesians, “ For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
Salvation has three tenses: past, present and future. II Corinthians 1:10 outlines these three tenses. “Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver us, in whom we trust He will yet deliver us.”
In the following articles on salvation we will emphasize these three tenses as we consider the three major doctrines of salvation: Justification, Sanctification and Glorification.
Salvation has three tenses: past, present and future. II Corinthians 1:10 outlines these three tenses. “Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver us, in whom we trust He will yet deliver us.”
In this and the following articles on salvation we will emphasize these three tenses as we consider the three major doctrines of salvation: Justification, Sanctification and Glorification.
First, consider Justification. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans is the best place to find a clear explanation of justification.. The theme of Romans is the Righteousness of God.
Our Desperate Need of God’s Righteousness
In Romans 1:18 through 3:20 we have the first truth that needs to be understood and that is our desperate need of God’s righteousness. Without it, no one can live in God’s presence. The problem is that no one is good enough or righteous enough to live in God’s presence in Heaven. We are all born sinners, hopeless and helpless to do right. Romans 5:6,12-19, 3:23 Ephesians 2:12. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount He demands in Matthew 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” If that does not strike despair and hopelessness to your heart, I don’t know what will. We desperately need God’s righteousness.
God Counts Us Righteous
The second section of Romans deals with how God counts us righteous and fit for Heaven through His gracious act of justification. That’s the theme of Romans 3:21 through 5:21 Justification is God’s gracious work of counting me righteous through the merits of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who died and rose again to pay the full penalty of all my sins. When I put my faith in Christ, God puts His righteousness to my account and makes me fit for Heaven. I do not go to Heaven because I am good enough or because I live a righteous life. No one lives the Christian life perfectly. I go to Heaven because Jesus is my righteousness. I Corinthians 1:30 Philippians 3:7-9
As a wealthy man deposits a million dollars in the account of a poor man and makes him rich, so God deposits Jesus’ righteousness to my account and makes me fit to dwell in His presence. II Corinthians 5:21 makes it so clear, Read the verse and let’s go through it together. “He (God) hath made Him, (Jesus) to be sin for us ( He bore my sins on the cross even though He was totally sinless) that we (sinners) might be made the righteousness of God in Him (Jesus). If you are still unsure of your salvation, I urge you to keep reading this verse and ask God to open your spiritual eyesight to understand it. When you understand it and receive Jesus as your only righteousness, you will be born again and fit to dwell with God in Heaven. It’s not a difficult verse to understand. As a nine year old boy I was confronted with this truth and put my faith in Christ. My life was changed from that moment on.
Do you see it, Friend? When I admit I am a sinner and understand I am deserving of Hell and I turn to Jesus to save me; He takes my sins and gives me His righteousness as a free gift.. Isn’t that good news!!! That is why it is called The Gospel. That is the meaning of Justification. When I see myself as a sinner and deserving of Hell and cry to God for His mercy and put my faith in Jesus who died and rose again for my sins; God takes my sins and puts them to Jesus’ account. He takes the perfect righteousness of Jesus and put it to my account, making me fit to live with Him in Heaven. When Jesus died on the cross it became dark and God the Father turned His back on His Son. Jesus cried out “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” God gave Him no answer nor comfort.. He totally forsook Him in His death for our sins for, you see, He was bearing the sins of the world. Thank God that because of His great sacrifice for me, I am now a child of God through faith in Christ as my own personal Saviour from sin. As His child I have been brought into fellowship with God and will dwell forever in His presence.
If you see yourself as a sinner, will you right now bow before God and admit to Him that you are a sinner and unworthy of being in His presence and that you are helpless to save yourself? Will you look by faith to Jesus who died on the cross some 2000 years ago and rose again the third day to be your Saviour? Will you ask Him to be your Saviour? He will save you now. Romans 10:9-11 He will justify you from all your sins and count you as righteous as Christ Himself. The perfection demanded in Matthew 5:48 is the righteousness of Christ Himself, imputed to your account.
Go now to the next link, Sanctification, and learn what God has started to do in your life if you are a believer and what He is going to continue to do until you arrive in Heaven.
God does not save us simply to give us a free ticket to Heaven. It’s true, salvation is free. It’s a gift of God’s grace; Ephesians 2:8-9 Titus 3:5-6 but God’s purpose in saving us is to make us like Jesus. This brings glory to God. This doctrine is called Sanctification and it is God’s ongoing purpose and work to make us Saints.
We are declared Saints the moment we are born again just as an infant son born to the king and queen is born a prince. But the little prince needs to be trained to live and act as the prince that he is. So God works in us to make us saintly. Most of the New Testament Epistles are given to us for that express purpose; to teach us to be saintly. Ephesians 1:11-14; 2:10; II Thessalonians 2:13; I Peter 1:15-16; I Peter 2:9-10. Note that the Epistles are addressed to saints and even the unsaintly, carnal Corinthians are referred to as saints. Thank God for His faithfulness to us in this great undertaking. I Corinthians 1:9
How does God take a redeemed sinner and make Him a saint? First, understand that we are qualified to be saints only through faith in Christ’s blood sacrifice for us. Hebrews 10:10; 13:12 What then are the tools God uses to make us saintly?
1. God begins His work of sanctification in us through the use of His Word, the Bible. The more we read it, study it and submit ourselves to it; the more saintly we become. II Timothy 3:16-17; John 15:3 God gives pastors and teachers to help perfect saints through the preaching of His Word. Ephesians 4:11-15 Because there are many voices that claim to be preaching the Word, it is important that we follow the example of the Bereans in Acts 17:10-11 who searched the Scriptures to determine whether they were hearing the truth.
2. God also gives His Holy Spirit to come and live in our hearts. The Holy Sprit is the third Person of the Trinity. When Jesus left this earth to return to Heaven, He promised He would send His Holy Spirit to live in us. John 14:16-17. The Holy Spirit has a part in our sanctification as He convicts us of sin. He guides us into all truth. John 16:13-14 He indwells the believer. I Corinthians 3:16-17 II Corinthians 6:14-18. If the Spirit of God is not living in us, then according to Romans 8:9 we are not Christians.
Every Christian is commanded to be filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 When we are filled with the Spirit, we do not lose self control. Galatians 5:22-25 Rather the Holy Spirit so controls us that we have self control. He puts a song in our hearts. Ephesians 5:19 He enables us to be thankful in every situation. Ephesians 5:20 He enables us to submit ourselves to others Ephesians 5:21. We don’t insist on having our own way; rather we live and work in harmony with our brothers and sisters in Christ. A Church business meeting where all the saints are controlled by the Spirit is a thing of beauty to behold. Christ also beautifies marriages when husbands and wives are living under the control of the Spirit. Ephesians 5:21-33.
3. God uses the trials and difficulties of life to sanctify us and make us more saintly. I Peter 5:10 Job is a prime example of one of God’s children who became more saintly through the sufferings God allowed. It is interesting as we look at the life of Job to see that God even uses Satan to help sanctify Job. Of course, Satan intended to cause Job to dishonor God, but God turned it around and brought glory to His name through the victory that He gave Job.
God is at work in every believer’s life to bring us to spiritual maturity as His saints. Praise God, that whatever He begins, He completes. Philippians 1:6 Let me caution you. Don’t ever think that you have arrived and have attained perfection in this life. If you do, you are deceiving yourself. I John 1:8,10 Paul in Philippians 3 gives his testimony. In verses 10-15 he makes it clear that he has not arrived at perfection, but he longs to know Christ intimately and live in consistent victory over sin. This is the thinking of a mature saint. He knows he has not achieved perfection, but he desires it. If you claim you are saved because you put your trust in Christ, but you have no hatred of sin and no love for Christ and no desire to live a holy life, you are deceiving yourself. James 2. Examine yourself and make sure you are genuinely saved. II Corinthians 13:5 Only as Christ is doing His sanctifying work in your life can you be sure that He has already Justified you.
Salvation begins in our lives, when God justifies us by His grace through faith in Christ. Salvation continues through our lives as God uses His Word and His indwelling Holy Spirit and the testings and sufferings of life to bring us to maturity as His saints.
But there is more!
Thank God that He does not stop with what He does for us in this life. God will not be satisfied and we will not be satisfied until we are in His very presence, sinlessly perfect. David, the Psalmist, even back in Old Testament times understood something about this. He speaks of His longing for perfection in the presence of God in Psalms 17:15.
Paul in Philippians 3:20-21 wrote of that wonderful moment when we meet Christ and are changed into His perfect image. He also spoke of that wonderful day in I Corinthians 15:50-58 and I Thessalonians 4:13-18.
In I John 3:1-3 the Apostle John wrote of all three phases of our salvation, as we have discussed them in this mini-series on salvation. In verse 1 he rejoices in God's love in saving him and making him a Son of God. In verse 2 John looks forward to the time when he will be glorified and sinless just like Jesus. In verse 3, in the light of this glorious truth concerning our futures, he speaks of our responsibility to surrender daily to the Holy Spirit's practical, sanctifying work in our lives.
We can know for sure!
Dear Friend, Have you been saved ? Do you know it for sure? I John 5:11-13 tells us we can know for sure. If you have been saved, are you allowing God to conform you to the image of His Son? Are you experiencing daily victory over sin? God saved you to live in sinless glory with Him throughout eternity. Don't you think it's about time you got started living the life you are going to enjoy with Him in eternity?
Eternal security is an important, yet greatly misunderstood Biblical doctrine. If it is taught incorrectly, it can lead to antinomianism, the false teaching that declares or implies that if one is saved by grace, it doesn't matter how he lives because he can't lose it. Such a person would ask the question of Romans 6:1 "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" Paul's vehement answer is summed up in two words. "God forbid" or "Absolutely not!" Then he explains God's plan of victory over sin.
On the other hand, there are those who reject the doctrine of eternal salvation because they think it is the height of pride and presumption for anyone to believe they are good enough to be sure of Heaven. They imagine they are being humble by taking the position that no one can know for sure whether he will make it to Heaven until he dies. Only then will he be secure. That is not humility. That is sinful unbelief. In fact, it is pride because one is ultimately depending on his own righteousness to attain Heaven.
The Bible is clear on both sides of the issue.
On the one hand, when one recognizes he is a sinner and puts his faith in Christ for salvation, God gives him the gift of eternal life and the assurance of it. Anyone who doubts his salvation has reason to believe he has never put his trust in Christ. If you are resting in Christ's finished work on the cross and you are taking God at His Word and you understand that the life that has been given to you is as eternal as God Himself; this matter should be settled in your heart. Eternal life does not start when you arrive in Heaven. It starts the moment you put your trust in Christ and it continues throughout eternity for as long as God lives. True, our body will die someday; but as our body dies, our eternal soul continues to enjoy God's presence in Heaven. John 3:16, 36 John 10:27-30 Romans 3:20-39 Ephesians 2:8-10 II Corinthians 5:21 I John 5:11-13
On the other hands, if one has saving faith in Christ, his heart is radically changed and as a result his life is transformed as he begins to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.
II Corinthians 5:17 II Peter 3:18 I John 3:5-10
Salvation is a gift of God's grace and it is received by faith alone; not by our works. Titus 3:5-6 However, if one has saving faith, it is going to be evidenced by good works. That's the message of James 2.
It is a false humility and a lack of faith that claims no one can know for sure that he is saved until he dies. Such a person does not truly have saving faith.
At the same time it is the height of presumption for one to claim to be saved because he went forward in a church service or evangelistic crusade or because he was baptized; and for that person at the same time to have a calloused, careless attitude about sin. Paul warns us in II Corinthians 13:5 to examine ourselves to see if we are in The Faith. Only as Christ is living and ruling in our hearts by His indwelling Holy Spirit does God give assurance that we are saved. Romans 8:14-17
No Christian is sinlessly perfect, nor will we be until we are in Heaven. I John 1:8-10. Thank God, when we sin we can have forgiveness and cleansing by confessing our sins to God. I John 1:7 Thank God, He is going to complete the work that He began in us. Philippians 1:6 I John 3:1-3
The evidence of genuine Christian maturity is not perfection in this life, but a desire for perfection. Philippians 3:10-15 A person with this desire has assurance and rejoices in his eternal salvation because his faith is resting in Jesus. II Timothy 1:8-12
Misunderstanding of the Biblical doctrine of election has troubled and brought needless division among Christians. Is it possible that we who call ourselves Bible-believing Christians could ever be united on this doctrine? That is my prayer as I write on this topic.
A blessed doctrine
The Greek word, eklektos appears 23 times in the New Testament and can be translated both elect or chosen. Both the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul in I Peter 1:2 and II Thessalonians 2:13 shine the identical same light on this doctrine. Two witnesses come together to confirm the truth of election. Note three things both of these verses teach. 1. Election is according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and it took place from before the foundation of the earth. 2. Election is accomplished for the believer through faith in the sacrifice of Christ’s shed blood for our sins.3. Election is assured through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit leading to a life of obedience to God’s Word. If you have questions concerning the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, study my previous article on this topic in this SALVATION series.
God’s eternal plan
Briefly, election is the doctrine of God’s eternal purpose and plan before this world was created, to personally know us and save us and conform us to the very image of His Son, Jesus Christ, by His grace and through faith in His provision for sin. Read and meditate on these passages also as the Scriptural basis for this definition of election. Ephesians 1:3-14 2:1-10
God’s special people
In I Peter 2:9 we learn that Christians are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession; and that we have been chosen to show forth the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. That’s not only encouraging to me, but it is also challenging. As a Christian it is my responsibility; not only to understand this doctrine, but in the light of what Christ has done for me, to shine for Him in this world of sin and darkness.
A troubling doctrine
Though election is clearly taught in God’s Word, it is also a troubling doctrine because of unbalanced teaching on this subject. The doctrine itself is not troubling. In fact, it is a very comforting doctrine and a source of assurance for the believer.
God’s wonderful chain of events
In Romans 8:28-31 is listed a chain of events God is working out for the believer which began before the foundation of the world. In that chain of events is Divine Election. Romans 8:33 asks, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.”
A comforting truth
It is comforting to know that I am one of the elect of God. Because I have put my trust in Christ and love Him and He has cleansed me from my sins and justified me and therefore no sin can ever be laid to my account now or in the future. They’ve all been laid on Jesus and He has taken the full penalty for my sins. Because I am resting in Christ’s provision for my sins, I am assured I am one of the elect of God.
A slanderous assumption
The troubling aspect of this doctrine of election is caused through the teaching of some that God chooses or elects some people to remain lost and go to Hell. Such preachers, using their reasoning, deduct that if God chooses some to be saved and go to Heaven’ it’s only logical that He must choose others to remain lost and go to Hell. That is a false assumption and slanders the character of God and is contrary to Scripture.
Does God really will anyone to go to hell?
It’s true that all of us are born into Adam’s race and are cursed and deserving of hell apart from our faith in Christ as our Saviour. Romans 5:12-19 But the Bible teaches that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. II Peter 3:9 He also teaches the well known truth in John 3:16 That God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Rejoice in the truth of election.
So if you have been born again through faith in Christ, rejoice in the truth that God foreknew you, He loved you long before you were born, He chose, elected and predestined you to salvation. In John 6:44 Jesus teaches that His Father draws you to Christ. He does that by the convicting and wooing of the Holy Spirit. Apart from His drawing, we would have no desire to be saved.
Don’t meddle with God’s business.
But someone says, “Wait a minute. Look at Romans 9:13 and 18 Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated. Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardens.” Doesn’t that sound like God is capricious and that He chooses to save some and damn others?” Romans 9 is not primarily talking about salvation. Instead it is teaching the sovereignty of God in regards to choosing the line through whom Christ will come. In verse 21 we are pictured as clay and God is the Potter. He does with His clay what He chooses. If God saw fit to choose Jacob over his older twin brother, Esau, to be the chosen tribe through whom Jesus would come; that is God’s business. No one has a right to question Almighty God’s sovereignty.
God uses evil tyrants for His glory.
In II Peter 3:9 and Romans 9:17-22 we read about the long-suffering of God. These passages are teaching that even though God endured evil men like Pharaoh to live and enslave Israel for a time, yet God who is long-suffering endured these vessels fitted for destruction and used them for His glory by using Moses to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage and drowning Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea.
Thank God for His Drawing Power.
We are all sinners and undeserving of the least of God’s mercies. Except for the fact that God has intervened and drawn us to Himself, all of us would be under His judgment. Romans 9:29
The Stumbling Stone
Would you take time right now to read Romans 9:30-33? What is this passage saying to us? Verse 30 – We Gentiles who knew nothing about God and were not able to keep His commandments; through faith in Christ have attained the righteousness of God and been made fit for Heaven. Verse 31 – Israel, who had God’s Law, but also failed to keep it; have not attained God’s righteousness which only comes through faith in Christ.
Are You stumbling on Jesus?
Verse 32 – Why has Israel, as a nation, failed to attain God’s righteousness? Because they stumbled at the Stumbling Stone. Who is pictured as a Stumbling Stone? None other than Jesus the Messiah. He was prophesied in Psalm 118:22 and in Isaiah 8:14-15 as a Stumbling Stone.. Those who refuse Christ, fail to attain God’s righteousness. Without that righteousness none can go to Heaven.
Stumble no longer!
Verse 33 – The Jew or Gentile who puts his trust in that Stumbling Stone, is saved and will not be ashamed. Then in Romans 10 Paul pours out his heart for his kinsmen, the Jews, who seek to establish their own righteousness and reject the gift of righteousness that comes through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank God for many Jews and Gentiles who have put their trust in Christ in this Church Age and are now one in Christ. Read about it in Galatians 3:24-29 and rejoice in your Messiah and Saviour from sin.
You Can’t Blame God If You Go To Hell.
There may be some of you reading this who still refuse to humble yourself and admit you are a sinner in need of a Saviour. You make excuses by blaming God for not electing you to salvation. Your problem is not election. Your problem is your sin. and your pride. You don’t want to admit that you are a helpless sinner in need of a Saviour. You think you can save yourself through your own efforts. You stumble; not on the doctrine of election, but on the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He is your Stumbling Stone. I pray that you will face this fact right now and cast yourself on Jesus and on His blood sacrifice for your sins.
Election is not a doctrine to argue about.
Election is a truth upon which you can rest as a believer. Quit trying to fully grasp the doctrines that are so high that they are beyond our reach and ability to grasp.
Worship God whose ways are far above ours.
If you are trusting Christ, read Romans 11:33-36 and worship God whose ways are far beyond our ability to fully grasp and fully understand. May God bless you and fill you with joy in the knowledge of Jesus Christ your Saviour.
To the sinner, sick of his sins and tired of trying to run from God; to the Christian weary, worn out and burned out, trying hard to live for Jesus and serve Him- and failing; Jesus invites, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden; and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.
The key to salvation is resting in Jesus.
The key to living the Christian life is resting in Jesus.
The key to serving the Lord is resting in Jesus.
Sin is pleasurable. Sin is attractive. Sin is exciting. Sin is fun. No one, but God, is going to convince us otherwise. But we must understand that the Bible teaches that our sins infuriate God. He must punish us with eternal damnation in Hell. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die!” Ezekiel 18:4 “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23 “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable,(perverts) and murderers and whoremongers, (those guilty of illicit sex), and sorcerers,(fortune tellers) and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake of fire which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Revelation 21:8
The fact is that YOU are a sinner. I am a sinner. Everyone born into the human race is a sinner and we all deserve to die and go to hell. This is the teaching of God’s Word, the Bible. What can you and I do to make ourselves presentable to God? NOTHING! We are helpless and hopeless to save ourselves. That’s the teaching of Ephesians 2:11-12
But thank God, there is good news for sinners and only for sinners. God can do nothing to help the self-righteous. But if God is speaking to you through His Word and has convinced you that you are a helpless, hopeless sinner headed for eternal damnation, then God can intervene and save you. The Good News is that God Himself came down to earth in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and paid the penalty for your sins on the cross 2000 years ago. Three days later He rose from the dead. His death and resurrection provide His gracious Gift of Eternal Life for anyone who will receive Jesus and REST in His complete, final sacrifice for our sins. Yes, salvation is as simple as RESTING in Jesus. Will you quit struggling and trying to impress God with your self righteousness? He describes it as filthy, smelly rags.. Isaiah 64:6
Perhaps you had taken the step of salvation earlier and you have been struggling to try to live the Christian life and all your efforts have failed. Though Christ has saved you, you still struggle with sin and are constantly defeated. I have a word for you also. Give up the struggle and REST in Jesus. His invitation to come to Him and rest is addressed to defeated Christians as well as to the lost. “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.
Throughout the Bible we are taught to rest in God. Read and meditate and rest in some of God’s promises to you.
“Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord.” Exodus 16:23 The seventh day of the week was given to God’s people, Israel. For further teaching on the Sabbath, go to my article on the SABBATH on this web site.
“My presence shall go with thee and I will give thee rest.” Exodus 33:14
In Deuteronomy 3:18-20 God challenges Israel to conquer the Land of Canaan which He has given them and possess it until He has given them rest.
Numbers 13-14 tells the story of how the older generation failed to trust God to conquer Canaan.
All the old generation wandered for forty years and died in the wilderness except for two men, Caleb and Joshua. These two men had the opportunity to conquer Canaan with the younger generation.
Joshua 21:43-45 tells of how God gave them victory and rest in Canaan.
In Hebrews 3-4 the Christian is instructed to learn from Israel the importance of resting in Christ. I encourage you to read these two chapters carefully and prayerfully and ask God to help you to learn of this rest in your own life. Note that our rest as Christians is the theme of these two chapters.
Going back to our text in Matthew 11:28-30, note that rest comes as we accept the yoke of Jesus. Think of the yoke on two oxen or two horses. Jesus is the strong one. You and I are the weak ones. But when we accept His yoke on our necks and bow to His will in our lives and allow Him to direct us, the load that was once heavy, becomes light. The neck that is yielded to Christ is not rubbed sore trying to fight the yoke. His yoke becomes easy.
In John 15 Jesus likens us to branches in His grape vine. He is the vine. We are the branches. How do we bear fruit? How do we live for Christ and serve Him effectively? It’s easy. Just abide in the vine and allow His life-giving sap to flow through us. Only then can we bear His fruit and He alone gets the glory. That’s how we serve Him without growing weary and experiencing “burn-out”.
Read, meditate and rejoice in this wonderful truth from Isaiah 40:28-31 “Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of His understanding. He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might He increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary and the young men shall utterly fall. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
I encourage you to read and mediate on Psalm 37. Like the cow lying down in the pasture and ruminating on its cud, read and ponder this comforting Psalm.
“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.
Are we saved simply by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, as Paul answered the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:31? What does repentance have to do with salvation? Can one be saved without repenting of his sins? Let’s go to the Bible to learn what repentance has to do with our salvation. The Greek word for repentance means to have a change of thinking or a change of heart. Repentance is related to conversion. It has the idea of making a 180 degree turn around.
We preachers have a way of confusing the vital issue of salvation by using terms that may be misleading. These are good terms if they are properly explained, but I note that they are not usually explained when inviting people to salvation. Some of these invitations include:
Make a commitment.
Commit your life to Christ.
Surrender to Christ.
Give your heart to Christ.
Invite Jesus into your heart.
Come to Christ.
Look to Christ.
Believe that Jesus died for sinners.
Come and follow Christ.
Make Jesus Lord of your life.
Repent and be baptized. This last one, found in Acts 2:38, was Peter’s invitation to his Jewish audience.
Today it is sometimes used to lead people into the false doctrine of baptismal regeneration. It is possible to be led astray into a false assurance of salvation by going forward on an invitation by the preacher to “Come follow Christ.” That could lead a person to pride and self-righteousness as a person tries his best to follow the example and teachings of Christ.
I understand that you could have come forward on one of these invitations and be truly saved. The issue is not the words the preacher used to invite you to salvation. I came forward as a child on the invitation to “invite Jesus into my heart.” If the lady dealing with me had not made salvation crystal clear to me, I might have only had an emotional experience that night as a nine year old.
What is God’s part in salvation?
Salvation is all of God from start to finish. God draws us to Himself. He convicts us of sin. He, in the person of His Son, Jesus, took the full punishment for our sins when He died on the cross and rose from the dead three days later. God leads us to repentance. He justifies us. He sanctifies us. He keeps us saved by His power and one day He will glorify us when we are in His presence.
What must I understand to be saved?
First I must understand that I am a lost sinner, helpless and hopeless to save myself. I must understand that no church and no rites of a church can save me. Then I must understand that Jesus is God come down to this earth in human flesh to shed His precious blood and die as an offering to God for my sins. As Israelites who were bitten by poisonous snakes in the wilderness were instantly healed of the snake venom by simply looking to a serpent of brass that Moses had fashioned and put up on a pole, so I must simply look to Christ as my Saviour from sin. This is how Jesus explained it to Nicodemus in John 3. He was referring to an incident recorded in Numbers 21.
As a young woman who has fallen in love with a young man who loves her and has called her to be his wife, entrusts herself and her future completely into the hands of her husband in the sacred act of marriage, taking his ring and his name and completely identifying herself with him; so is our relationship with Christ when we are saved. Read carefully Ephesians 5 for this wonderful analogy of salvation to marriage.
To be saved, I believe intellectually that Jesus is God in human flesh and that He died on the cross for my sins. Not only do I believe intellectually, but I trust Him fully with my heart. I receive Him as my Saviour. Read the first three chapters of the Gospel of John for a clear explanation of this. Read also Romans 3:10, 23, 6:23, 10:9-10 and I John 5:11-13. Saving faith comes by reading the Word of God.
If salvation comes by simple faith in Christ, what part then does repentance play in salvation?
We are not saved by confessing our sins. That is required only of Christians when we sin. See I John 1 on this. Rather, repentance is a total change of thinking and heart attitude. Another term for this is a 180 degree turn around or conversion. In Acts 15:3 we read of the Gentiles who were saved as being converted. They turned from their sins and self-righteousness to Jesus.
In Acts 20:21 we see the link between repentance and faith in Christ. These two steps to salvation go together. This was the message to both Jews and Greeks. It is the message for both Jews and gentiles. Which comes first, repentance or faith in Christ? They go together. Saving faith in Christ is preceded by repentance, and a life of repentance follows faith in Christ.
Christians should repent of sin by confessing it to God as sin whenever they are aware of it. That is illustrated in the story of the Prodigal Son who went astray and then repented and returned to His father. His father gladly received him back into fellowship. The repentance of the lost is shown in Philippians 3:1-6 There Saul of Tarsus who was renamed Paul after his conversion, recounts life before Christ and then after he had repented and received Christ as his Saviour and Lord. In Philippians 3:7-8 he describes his transformed life. The transformation was the work of our sovereign God who began the work in his heart as he watched Stephen the first Christian martyr die in Acts 6-7. The Holy Spirit began pricking his conscience from that time forward. Acts 9:5.
The glorified, risen Saviour confronted Saul on the Road to Damascus as it is recorded in Acts 9. Saul immediately repented, recognized Jesus, the one he had hated and persecuted, as his Saviour from sin. There never was a more radical transformation of an enemy of Christ as Saul and there has never been a greater Christian than this former enemy of Christ who became the great Apostle Paul who wrote much of the New Testament.
Saul’s repentance was not a fleeting emotional experience. It was a total, radical permanent change of direction and lifestyle that Christ brings about in one who repents and puts his trust in Christ. As Paul describes it in II Corinthians 7:10, repentance is permanent. It is a total 180 degree turn around or conversion. This conversion is mentioned in I Thessalonians 1:9 Psalm 51:13 Matthew 18:3 and Acts 3:19.
What was Paul’s message to the gentile jailer in Acts 16:31?
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved and thy household.” Why did Paul not command him to repent of his sins? Because it was evident that he had already done that. Was he converted? Did he repent? Absolutely. Look at the change in his life as you read the rest of the story in Acts 16. Only a converted, repentant Christian would act this way. In fact, his life was so changed that his entire family followed him in trusting Christ and being baptized as a testimony to their new found faith in Christ. Such repentance results in joy in Heaven. See Luke 15:7.
Can one be a Christian without repenting? Or to put it another way, is one a Christian who has never had a change of heart that has resulted in a changed life? The answer is NO. When one is trusting in Christ, he is a new creation of God. Old things are passed away. Everything is new about his life. See II Corinthians 5:17. I’m not teaching sinless perfection. We will not be perfect until we are in Heaven. But in the meantime, we have a changed, purified heart that longs to do right and turn from sin. There is no one more miserable than a Christian living in sin.
Who repented or preached repentance?
Job, a man of God, repented of his wrong thinking and wrong attitudes. Job 42:6 Repentance was the message of the Old Testament prophets. See Ezekiel 14:6 18:30-32 Jonah preached repentance to Nineveh, Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:41. Besides the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist preached it. Luke 3:7-14
Peter preached it at Pentecost. Acts 28 He also taught it in II Peter 3:9 Paul preached it everywhere. Acts 17:30 Jesus preached it in Luke 13:1-5 Preaching repentance is part of the Great Commission. Luke 24:46-51
Christians need to have repentance preached to them. See Jesus’ message to the seven churches of Asia Minor as found in Revelation 2 and 3. Five of those seven churches needed to deal with sin by repenting. The Christian life that began with repentance and faith in Christ, continues with a life of repentance concerning sin. II Corinthians 7:10 God leads us to repentance. Romans. 2:4. Those who refuse to repent treasure up God’s wrath and their heart grows harder. Romans 2:5.
If you are a Christian and God deals with you about sin in your life, you had better repent now or your heart will grow harder and you may come to the place where you no longer have any desire to repent. Read the solemn warning in Hebrews 12:5-17. If you are unsaved and God is dealing with you about your sins; repent and turn to Christ now for salvation. II Corinthians 6:1-2 If you are a Christian who has wandered away from God, like the prodigal son in Luke 16, repent; leave the pig pen of sin and come home to your Heavenly Father right now.He’s waiting for you and wants to restore you to full fellowship with Him.
The Gospel Door is narrow. The vast majority of people will not enter. It is too humiliating. The door is open only to those who are humble and broken before God. Only those who see their utter lost, spiritually bankrupt condition can enter. There will be no spiritual snobs in Heaven who attempt to keep their distance from those who would tarnish their self-image. There will be no self-achievers who made it into Heaven by self-effort. Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and many there be that go in thereat; because strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be that find it” Matthew 7:13-14
Jesus said to His disciples, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life: no man comes to the Father but by Me.” John 14:6 Peter preached at Pentecost, “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 Those verses don’t sound very broad minded and politically correct, do they?
The Bible is clear. The only way to Heaven is to come to God in faith as a guilty helpless sinner, trusting in the shed blood of Christ who died and rose again to pay the full penalty for all our sins. Our faith rests in the Bible: the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God. A major part of a preacher’s ministry is preaching and teaching this infallible Word and exposing false teachers in order to protect others from their error. That truth is taught throughout Paul’s Epistles.
WHERE DOES IT LEAD?
The strait gate and the narrow way do not lead to a narrow life. To the contrary. The narrow way leads into the large, wide room of the Christian life. Listen to the Psalmist in Psalm 18:19 as he talks and sings about the wide room of fellowship with God. “He brought me forth also into a large place; He delivered me, because He delighted in me.”
Psalm 31:7-8 “I will be glad and rejoice in Thy mercy; for Thou hast considered my trouble, thou hast known my soul in adversities and hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy; Thou hast set my feet in a large room.” God’s will is not constrictive. Paul writing in I Corinthians 16:9 assures us, “A great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.” We must guard the door of salvation and keep it as narrow as the Bible makes it; but at the same time, we must show people the large room into which it leads us.
HOW BIG IS THE ROOM?
When we lead new Christians through the narrow door of salvation, it is important that we help them see the immensity of the room into which they have come. Consider God’s unfathomable love and wisdom. “Oh, the unfathomable breadth and depth of God’s love and wisdom. Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable.” Psalm 145:3
Paul wrote to the Ephesian church, “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given that I should preach the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hidden in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ; to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in Heavenly places might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God.” Ephesians 3:8-10 After dealing with one of the most difficult doctrines of Scripture, a doctrine that Christian have debated for centuries, Paul bursts into a doxology of praise to God in Romans 11:33-36 “O the depths of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Who hath been His counselor? Who hath first given to Him and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”
May God help us to see how small and inadequate our minds are to fully grasp the mind of God and the richness and fullness and greatness of being a Christian and a part of the Family of God. That little gate of salvation and the narrow way and the narrow stream of salvation empties into an ocean of theological truth that encompasses some Dispensationalism, some Arminianism, some Calvinism, some Reformed Theology and a smattering of Charismatic enthusiasm: most of whom love the Lord and are part of the Body of Christ. Truly we ought to be able to say with the Psalmist, “I am a companion of all them that fear Thee, and of them that keep Thy precepts.” Psalm 119:63
Jesus is speaking to His disciples about stewardship in the first 13 verses of Luke 16. You’ll find those messages under that category on this web site. In verse 14 we learn that covetous Pharisees who heard Him speak derided Him because they wanted to justify themselves. Jesus responded to them in verse 15. “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”
In this message I want to confront a common misconception that claims Israel, under the Old Covenant, was saved by keeping God’s Law; whereas we today in the church age are saved by the grace of God alone. The truth is that mankind from the very beginning has always been saved only one way and that is by the grace of God alone.
Noah was saved by God’s grace through faith alone. See Genesis 6:8 and Hebrews 11:7. Noah showed his faith by building an ark to protect himself from a worldwide flood he had never seen before, but it was God’s grace that saved him.
Abraham was justified by God’s grace through faith in God by obeying Him and leaving his home in Ur of the Chaldees and moving to a new land that God would give to him and his posterity, the land of Palestine. See Romans 4:1-4, Hebrews 11:8-19.
Keep in mind that Noah and Abraham were not saved by keeping God’s Law nor observing ceremonies, such as circumcision. In the first place, God’s law came 1000 years after Noah and 430 years after Abraham.
If you’ll take time to read Genesis 12:1-4 you’ll see that Abraham moved in obedience to God when he was 75 years old. In Genesis 17 you’ll learn that he was circumcised twenty-four years later at the age of 99. Paul in Romans 4:1-16 and in Galatians 3:6-18 goes to great pains to make it clear that Abraham was saved by grace alone, and not by keeping the law or being circumcised.
True, Abraham and his blood descendants have followed God’s law in being circumcised, as a mark of their national identity. The Bible teaches that God is far more concerned about the circumcision of our hearts, whether we be male or female, then He is concerned about circumcision of foreskins in males. Deuteronomy 30:1-6 Romans 2:23-29, Colossians 2:8-13 all show God’s concern for circumcision of hearts.
David who lived under the Law of Moses understood that his feeble, failed attempts to keep God’s Law could never justify him before God. He understood, even back in Old Testament times, that he was justified by God’s grace through faith in Him as he writes about it in Psalm 32. Paul refers to David’s justification before God in Romans 4:6-8. Of course, Old Testament saints looked forward to the promised Lamb, the Lord Jesus, who would take away the sins of the world. In anticipation of that Lamb, they offered the animal sacrifices as taught in the Law of Moses.
Don’t be misled to think that David or any of the godly saints in the Old Testament were legalists. They were not saved by law keeping. They were saved by grace alone, just as we are in the church age. Because of their relationship with God, they loved God’s Law and they obeyed from the heart, just as we today who know Christ, love His Law and are able to live the righteousness of the Law by the power of the Holy Spirit, as shown in Romans 8:1-4.
Read the Psalms as David repeatedly delights in the Law of God. Those Psalms are just as precious to us in the church age. We delight in God’s Law just as much as David did; but we, as David, understand that we are justified by God’s grace.
Some have well described God’s Law as a railroad track upon which God meant the trains, Israel in Old Testament times and the Church in our present age to travel down, led by the engine of God’s grace and coupled to that engine by faith.
The legalists: the false teachers of Old Testament times, the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, the Judaizers of Paul’s day, and the religionists of our present day, are all guilty of the folly and the futility of attempting to lift up one end of those railroad tracks and lean them against the gate of Heaven and attempt to climb those tracks as a ladder and gain entrance into Heaven by their own efforts to keep the Law of God.
That’s the basic difference between true Christianity and false religion, regardless of its name. The true Christian is one who has seen himself as a guilty, lost sinner and who by the grace of God has placed his faith in God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who died and rose again to pay the full penalty for our sins. As a Christian, he accepts the Bible as God’s holy inspired, infallible Word and delights in reading it, hearing it preached and obeying it. He is traveling down the railroad track of God’s Word, bound for Heaven by the grace of God.
The religionist sees the Law of God as a ladder to Heaven. He rejects the fact that he is a sinner and in need of a Saviour. Full of pride and self-righteousness, he attempts to climb that ladder and attain Heaven by his own hopelessly inadequate efforts trusting that through his works and through what his church can do for him, he will somehow attain Heaven. He is bound for Hell. As the Pharisees in Luke 16:15 he rejects and despises Christ and attempts to justify himself. He is an abomination in the sight of God.