I was blessed with a second opportunity to encourage and admonish my church by preaching about how to grow in our love for God’s Word, the Scriptures and why it is so important.
I was blessed to be able to share with my church my defense of the Inerrancy, Infallibility and Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures.
It’s been quite some time since I’ve written anything. I usually write to process something, share something exciting or write about something that is weighing heavy on my heart.
Right now, what is weighing most heavy on my heart, and what I feel God prompting me to say something about is, in a sense, idolatry. We can make idols of many things, but one of the most dangerous yet most subtle things we do is make false versions of God. So many people interpret Scripture based on how they feel. When we do that, we deny, twist and misinterpret certain aspects of Scripture, and consequently God’s character. Scripture warns us that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
What should be happening is we should be allowing Scripture to change the way we feel about ourselves and about God. Instead of reading into Scripture who we think God should be and our own pre-conceived notions, we should be seeking to know God for who He really is as He has revealed Himself in His Word, and humbly accepting and embracing the Truth and allowing it to change our lives as we stand in awe of who God really is. The only way to be able to do that is to know and embrace Jesus Christ as the Sovereign God of all creation and the only Savior for the world, and thus of your life. And this cannot leave you unchanged.
Unfortunately, the Jesus that many embrace today is a soft-spoken, all inclusive guy who would never tell anyone how to live, who wants to bless everyone who says his name with health and wealth and would certainly never tell anyone that they are going to Hell if they don’t embrace Him as Lord. It is true that Jesus called all kinds of people to be His disciples, and still does today. He calls people from all kinds of races, ethnicities and backgrounds. But He changes people’s lives to be conformed to His image! He takes them as they are if they come broken before Him, and molds them and makes them into who He wants them to be. They can’t do it on their own and they have to realize that. All are invited to “‘Come.’ Let anyone who hears this say, ‘Come.’ Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life” (Revelation 22:17), but not all will accept that invitation. Jesus was really clear about what will happen to those who don’t accept His invitation. He clearly explains that at the end of time, they will be gathered and thrown into a fiery furnace (the Lake of Fire) where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:36-42, 47-50).
Sadly, many even within the Church believe that if you live a good enough life, Jesus will accept you. But the Jesus of Scripture was actually very selective about the kinds of people who could follow Him. He said things like “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matt. 12:30), and “…then I will declare to them (those who call Him Lord, but don’t obey Him), ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’”(Matt.7:23). Elsewhere in Scripture, there are several passages which proclaim the exclusivity of Jesus’ message; among which is Acts 4:12: “And there is Salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we MUST be saved” (emphasis mine).
The Old Testament even refutes the idea that any amount of works can save us with passages like Isaiah 64:6: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” In other words, every “good” thing we do is tainted by some sort of selfish motive. And, of course, passages that tell us that we aren’t even good at all, like: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:12, Psalm 14:3 and 53:3 all carry the same idea).
The Jesus of Scripture told would be followers that if they loved their families more than Him, they couldn’t be His disciples. He spoke out against sin, turned over tables in the temple of a false religion (it became false because of the fact that it lost sight of the intent of the Law), claimed to be THE Way, THE Truth and THE Life and that no one could come to the Father except through Him and, most importantly, He claimed to be God! The Jesus of Scripture spoke a ton about Hell and judgement, and will one day return to judge unrepentant sinners.
I don’t think the Jesus of Scripture would be very well received if He Himself were on earth today preaching the same message He preached then. He wasn’t well received in His own day. I think He would be crucified all over again. He would be called “narrow-minded,” “crazy” and even “Satan” just like He was then. He told His disciples that they would be called the same names He was called, be treated the way He was treated, and that some of them would even be killed for speaking His Truth, and many still are today. He said that when you mistreat one of His followers, you are mistreating Him (Matthew 25:41-46, John 15:18-25).
The Gospel of Jesus is exclusive, yet there are an alarming number of professing Christians who are beginning to buy into the lie that all religions lead to God. Even more alarming is that there are many leaders within the Church that are questioning the Word of God now the way the Serpent did in the Garden. “Are we really to believe that the only way for people to get into Heaven is by holding to a certain set of beliefs about God, and that people spend eternity in Hell because they didn’t make a right decision with a small amount of time they had on earth?” is the line of thinking. And to an extent, they are right. It’s so much more than just holding to a certain set of beliefs. Belief is essential for salvation, but that belief must be genuine, from the heart; and it must change your life!
Jesus warns everyone to “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many” and that “…the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt. 7:13-14). But He does tell us what it takes to be His disciple. One of the best passages for this is the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12.
First, we have to become “Poor in spirit.” This means that we must come to an understanding that we have nothing to offer God and are completely dependent on His Grace to be able to be made right with Him. This will lead to “mourning” over our sin and the ways in which we have offended God. That should “humble” us and cause us to “hunger and thirst for righteousness.”
We have to be “merciful” because we have been shown great mercy. The one who shows no mercy will receive none (James 2:13). All of these things will help us to become “pure in heart” because, as God works in our lives, our thoughts become more conformed to His and He is able to overcome our deceitful hearts more and more.
Being a “peacemaker” should then characterize our lives. Paul says in Romans 12:18: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” In the end, that comes down to repaying evil with good, and not avenging ourselves. But at the same time, Jesus warned us that people would persecute us because they did it to Him. He even went as far as to say: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). When we speak Christ’s message, it is naturally going to cause people to hate us because they resent the fact that there is only one way to God. And, as Jesus warned later in that passage, it may even mean that our own family members turn against us. Our response should be to continue to show them love and, even more importantly, to pray for them to come to Christ!
I hope that as you have read this post, it has been encouraging, and yet convicting. It certainly has been for me as I’ve written it. My biggest prayer is that we as believers will take Scripture seriously and as it is. It takes a lot of discipline on our part, but it also takes the Grace of God to help us to see the Truth for what it is. That is my prayer for myself, and it is my prayer for you as well!
Grace, love and peace in the Truth!
I’ve always kind of struggled with the idea that Adam’s one sin ruined us all and made us all sinners. It doesn’t seem fair does it? I mean, one person ruled the fate of all mankind just by eating a piece of fruit?
Over the years I’ve come to understand that the sin committed by Adam was much worse than just eating a piece of fruit. He wanted to be like God, which is why he gave in to the Serpent’s lie when he told them that they would be like God if they ate the fruit. Adam was also supposed to be the protector of his wife and he just stood by as she was being tricked and then he took of the fruit himself. Have you ever noticed that their eyes were not opened until after Adam ate of the fruit, even though he ate after Eve did? Just something to think about.
I believe that God has helped me to see a better way to understand what happened in Eden and what is happening now with an illustration. When Adam took on the disease of sin by taking of that fruit, he took on a disease that would spread to all of his offspring.
We are facing a disease today that is very similar to the disease of sin. AIDS is a result of sexual immorality and generally is contracted when sexual immorality takes place. The disease is often spread to the sexual partner, and in most if not all cases, to the offspring. Now wait a minute, that baby didn’t have sex outside of marriage did it? And yet it contracted AIDS because of it’s father’s choice. That is just like us. We may not have been there in the garden of Eden to choose to disobey God, but the disease of sin was spread to us because of the nature of what sin is.
We are all born with the disease called sin, and are hopelessly and terminally ill with it. For some people, its symptoms are very mild and it does not show itself very often. For others, the symptoms are very strong. The point is, the symptoms of sin are different for everyone and the severity of the symptoms is different, but the fact of the matter is, we are ALL, every single person on this earth, born with the terminal disease of sin and without hope of a cure on our own. And if we are not cured of it, we will die of it. The only way to be cured of it is by a miracle.
The only person who can do any kind of real miracle, especially of this magnitude is God. Why would God help us when we have chosen to consistently turn our backs on Him? Because He is full of grace. He came down to earth as a man who had no earthly father to pass the disease of sin on to Him because God is His Father. He was born without the disease of sin, lived His life completely perfectly without the disease of sin, and yet died as a result of the effects of the disease of sin in everyone else even though He didn’t ever show a single symptom of the disease of sin.
Then He rose from the dead so that He can save those who have died because of the disease of sin. He holds the only cure for this awful fatal disease and offers this cure for anyone who wants it. The problem is, most people don’t realize their need for the cure. Many think they don’t even have a disease that needs curing, or don’t think they have the disease badly enough to need a cure. Now, we all know that the first step to being cured of a disease is acknowledging that we have a disease that needs to be cured, that we need help. But most people are too blind to see that.
But for those who do acknowledge that they have a terminal disease that they have no hope of curing themselves and who ask God to cure them of that disease, He answers and gives them the cure. He sees them as healthy as Jesus, who lived without sin and who died as a result of sin and rose from the dead. God gives them the hope that they will also rise from the dead one day to live forever without the awful disease of sin.
The sad reality is, the world would rather flaunt their symptoms and try to force everyone to believe that they aren’t sick or that it’s ok to be sick since everyone is sick rather than seeking the cure for their sickness. And they will die of their disease and be forever separated from the Holy and Righteous God Who has the only cure for the disease of sin by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Without Christ, no one is cured of sin. Just like with AIDS, no matter how healthily you choose to live or what good choices you make, it cannot be cured but by the miracle that God provided through Jesus Christ.
I realize that this is not a perfect way to explain the Gospel, but I believe that the essential message of the Gospel is included and that this is another way to explain the Gospel to others in a way that can help them understand the seriousness of sin and the amazing Grace of God. Be encouraged! There is hope! Grace, love and peace!
It’s been quite some time since I’ve written (sorry about that). I just wanted to share some reflections on this Good Friday 🙂
The first Good Friday didn’t seem so good, especially to Jesus’ disciples. He had been tried unjustly and condemned to die in the most gruesome way possible, crucifixion. The only reason we can call it Good Friday now is because we have all the information. We know that Christ’s death was not the end. We know that the Resurrection is coming, and that it did come.
But why did Jesus have to die in the first place? It was because we are so wicked and full of sin, and because God cannot rightly allow sin to be in His presence. In His justice He has to do something about it. He desired for those who love Him to be with Him, so He did something about this sin problem: He sent part of Himself to earth to live a perfect sinless life and perfectly fulfill His Holy expectations, and then to become the wrath-bearing sacrifice for those sins. Scripture even tells us that “It pleased God to crush Him” (Isaiah 53:10) because He knew that it would bring sinners into a renewed relationship with Him and ultimately bring Him the most glory.
One of the best ways I’ve heard it put comes from my Gospel Transformation Study Bible, where the commentator, commenting on the passage of 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 says of believers:
“We are connected vitally and legally through our union with Christ because He imputed His perfect, righteous life of obedience into our account. He imputed not only His innocence but also righteousness, not only pardon but also perfection. He not only stood condemned in our place as a punishment bearer; He also stood in our place as our law keeper. Jesus not only died the death that we should have died; He also lived the live that we should have lived. All has been taken care of.”
This is only true of “those who know they are spiritually helpless and utterly destitute of any human resources that will commend them to God. They rely totally on God’s grace for salvation, and they also rely on His grace for daily living.” (John MacArthur)
You see, the bad things have to come before the good. Good Friday and Jesus’ horrific death had to come before Easter and the glorious resurrection. And in our lives, dying to ourselves (changing our hearts and minds about ourselves and our sin, repenting and humbly turning to Christ) has to come before we can be saved.
So, the most loving and caring thing that I can tell you as your neighbor and friend is to get over yourself, and get into Jesus. It’s only because of Jesus’ death that we can rejoice in the fact that He is Risen!!
Happy Good Friday and Happy Easter!!
Grace, love and peace!