Saturday, April 22, 2017

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This blog is meant to encourage you to do the good works, which were prepared beforehand for those who are saved by grace through faith.  It was for these good works that the Lord created us.

As the Scripture says:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Eph 2:8-10)

Resting from Work Keeping Sundays Holy Christian Sabbath is Sunday, not Saturday
The Lord's Day Keeping Sundays Holy - Part II Famous Christian Sabbath Observers
Sabbath Period The Origin of the Sabbath Righteous Deeds and White Robes
 Doing What is Right Your Rewards Are Based on Your Practice The Law Established Through Faith
Law of Love in the New Testament Deleted Scriptures in the Bible? Why Paul Lived Like a Jew Among the Jews
Is Obedience Optional? The Cost of Discipleship Obedience by the Spirit
The Law Fulfilled in Us The New Covenant Costly Grace
Partaking of the Divine Nature House of Idleness God Has Not Rejected His Jewish People, Has He?
Faith Works! The Spirit's Law of Life The Spirit of the Law
Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth? Righteousness by Faith not Law The Ebb and Flow of Ministry for the Lord
Compelled by Love   God's Idea of Work What Then Must We Observe
The Law is Good if Used Lawfully The Sale of Christian Music and Art -- A Robbers' Den? Remember the Eternal Law of God
All Our Deeds Are Known to the Lord Practicing Your Righteousness The Righteous Will Shine Forth as the Sun
The Ways of Life Followers of the Way Judging with Righteous Judgment
Holding Fast the Faithful WordWhatever You Do, Do All Like ThisThe Conditional Security of the Believer
No Flesh Will Be Justified by Works Wesley's Sunday Sabbath Keeping Running from God

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. The Good Samaritan by Dan Burr of Dan Burr Illustration copyright 2013 used by permission.

You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. Partner with us online by giving to DMI.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Running from God

There are some wonderful lessons of mercy, grace, and compassion to learn from Jonah and his experience when God sent Him to proclaim His message to the lost. Let's take a look and observe how God responded in each situation, and His sovereign control over everything as He sends and appoints whomever and whatever He pleases.

The Lord Sent Jonah
The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me." (Jon 1:1-2)

Here God appointed or ordained Jonah to go forth when He sent him to Nineveh. However, Jonah ran away from the Lord and fled from His presence. Just as He appointed Jonah, He also appointed some other things. Let’s take a look at what those were.

The Lord Sent a Great Wind
The first thing the Lord did in response to Jonah running from Him was to send a great wind. “Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.” (Jon 1:4, NIV). In fact the word for “sent” in this verse may also be translated “hurled” to indicate the mighty force with which the Lord sent it.

God opposes the proud, and He was opposing Jonah, who was acting in a selfish, strong-willed, rebellious manner.

Because of the storm, the sailors called on their gods and the captain ordered Jonah to get up from his sleep in the hold of the ship and call on his God. The sailors also cast lots to determine who was the cause of this storm and the lot fell to Jonah. When they asked him about it, he admitted he was to blame and once again said that he was running from the Lord, just as he had already told them. When they asked what they should do to calm the storm, he advised them to throw him into the sea, which they did. As soon as they threw him overboard, the sea grew calm.

The Lord Appointed a Fish
The next thing the Lord did was to appoint a fish to swallow Jonah. “And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jon 1:17, NASB)

The word “appointed” comes from the Hebrew word “manah,” which is used four times in the book of Jonah, meaning “sent” or “appointed.” The NET Bible translates the word as “sent”. “The Lord sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jon 1:17, NET).

While Jonah did not obey God when he was sent, the fish obeyed God when it was sent. It swallowed Jonah.

The Lord Commanded the Fish
The next thing that happened was that Jonah prayed from inside the belly of the great fish. He cried out to God and the Lord heard him. The Lord’s response to Jonah’s prayer was to give him a second chance, so He commanded the fish to disgorge him. “Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.” (Jon 2:10)
Once the fish had vomited Jonah onto dry land, God sent him a second time to Nineveh.

Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you."
(Jon 3:1-2)

In obedience to God, Jonah arose and began his first of three days walk through the city with the message, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown." (3:4). The people responded well to the message and repented sincerely. “Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.” (Jon 3:5). In fact, when the king heard the message, he ordered all of his citizens to repent.

“When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, ‘In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish." (Jon 3:6-9)

That moved the heart of God, who saw their repentance and relented from sending the calamity He had intended to send upon the people of Nineveh.

The Lord’s decision not to send destruction on Nineveh really displeased Jonah. In fact, it made him angry (4:1).

He prayed to the LORD and said, "Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. (Jon 4:2)

The Lord Appointed a Plant
He decided to go east of the city, set up a shelter, and watch to see what God would do. Perhaps he hoped that God would still destroy them, since Jonah complained to Him about it. “So the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant.” (Jon 4:6)

The next thing God did was He appointed that plant to grow up to rescue Jonah from his misery. He did it because He knew Jonah was very hot and this would make him extremely happy. But He didn’t do it just for the sake of making Jonah happy. He did it to teach him a lesson.

God was concerned about all the people in Nineveh, because if they did not repent He would have to destroy them. However, Jonah was concerned about himself and his own comfort level.

The Lord Appointed a Worm
Afterward God sent a worm. “But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered.” (Jon 4:7)

The worm obeyed God and attacked the plant that God had appointed. Just because God has appointed something doesn’t mean it will last forever, because He can appoint it to be destroyed. By appointing the worm to attack and destroy the plant, God was removing the shade that the plant provided, which brought relief to Jonah’s discomfort. He wanted Jonah to see that just as the plant had been important to Jonah, the people were even more important to God. He wanted Jonah to feel the concern that He had for the people of Nineveh.

The Lord Appointed a Scorching East Wind
Finally, after God destroyed the plant he had appointed, He appointed a scorching wind. “When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah's head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, ‘Death is better to me than life.’" (Jon 4:8)

Through this object lesson, God taught Jonah about His love and compassion for people. “Then God said to Jonah, ‘Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?’ And he said, ‘I have good reason to be angry, even to death.’ Then the LORD said, ‘You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?’” (Jon 4:9-11)

God loved and cared for those people of Nineveh, whom He created, far more than Jonah cared for the plant for which he did not work and which he did not cause to grow. God even loved the animals and did not take pleasure in having to destroy them either. He showed Jonah that it is right for Him to have compassion like that, which is why Jonah should have obeyed the first time, when God initially sent him.

Putting it All Together
It doesn’t pay to run from what God has told you to do. The same way He sends His people and appoints them to do a work for Him, He also sends and appoints everything else as He sees fit. He does whatever He pleases. He is sovereign and is ultimately in control of everything. He's a big God. For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things (Rom 11:36). No wisdom, no insight, no plan can succeed against the Lord (Pr 21:30). When He appoints someone or something, nothing can stop Him.

The Lord sent Jonah to preach to the people of Nineveh and warn them of the coming destruction that He was going to send upon their city. When the prophet disobeyed and ran from the presence of the Lord, God sent a wind, then a fish, then a plant, then a worm, and finally He sent a scorching wind. See how the elements all do His bidding! The wind obeyed God, the fish obeyed Him, the plant obeyed Him, the worm obeyed Him, but Jonah didn’t – at least not initially. But God gave him a second chance and then he finally did obey when he was sent. When he finally did, many people were saved from destruction as a result. The one thing God changed His mind about, and did not send  as He initially planned to do, was the destruction upon Nineveh.

Jonah taught us that God is a God of mercy and compassion. He is the God of second chances. Just as He gave Jonah a second chance, He also gave the people of Nineveh a second chance, too. He opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. He loves people and is more concerned about the salvation of many than He is about our own personal comfort.

If you have been running from what God told you to do, now is the time to repent, turn back to Him, ask for His forgiveness, and obey Him. If you sincerely humble yourself before Him, He may give you a second chance. Likewise, if you have been living in sin, away from God, living for your own self, repent and turn to God through Jesus Christ, who died for you on the cross. He loves you and wants to save you. In fact, He has already gone to great lengths to save you, but you must repent and turn to Him to be saved, or else you, too, will perish.

Attribution noticeScripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. Other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, as well as the NET Bible, where noted. 

Author's note: If you enjoyed this article, I also recommend 
Striving to Enter the Kingdom of GodSins That Will Keep You From HeavenPleasing the LordLiving a Life Worthy of the LordDrifting AwayThe Straight and Narrow PathAsk for the Ancient PathsRighteous Deeds and White RobesPracticing Your RighteousnessHoly Living in a Perverted WorldDoing What is RightYour Rewards Are Based on Your PracticeIs Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?Faith Works!The Judgment Seat of ChristThe Obedience of FaithThe Difference Between a Disciple and a BelieverRemember the Eternal Law of GodPurge the Evil from Among YouJames Agboola Revelation of Heaven and HellThe Role of the Trinity in Drawing People to GodElection and PredestinationKeeping Power of God, and The Righteous Will Shine Forth as the Sun. Other related articles are available on the Home page. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?


“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Wesley's Sunday Sabbath Keeping

John Wesley
Since the earliest days of the church, immediately following the resurrection, the Church has been meeting for worship on the first day of the week (Joh 20:19; Ac 20:7-8; 1 Cor 16:2), and the apostles recognized the first day of the week as the Lord's Day. For example, the apostle John wrote, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day" (Rev 1:10), which is a reference to his worship on the first day of the week. Although some who believe in Saturday sabbath teach that the expression used in this verse refers to the seventh day, that view contradicts the evidence from early Christian writers that wrote in the days immediately following the apostles. Dr. Stephen Flick has written an article containing quotes from those writers, called Sunday Worship or the Lord’s Day in the Early Christianityproving that "the Lord's Day" was always synonymous with the first day of the week.

As I mentioned in my previous article, Famous Christian Sabbath Observers, John Wesley was a famous preacher who kept the Christian Sabbath. I read a comment made by a reader of one of his sermons posted online about the Sabbath, in which the reader wondered why the Methodists worship on Sunday, since their founder Wesley was a Sabbath keeper. The reason is that he believed Sunday was the Sabbath day of the New Covenant, and it is clearly evident throughout his journals that he kept the Lord's Day holy. This can easily be proven by doing a search on the word "Sunday" in his journals posted online.

One of John Wesley's favorite Bible commentators was Matthew Henry (October 18, 1662 – June 20, 1714), who was a Nonconformist minister and author, born in Wales but spending much of his life in England. Incidentally, Henry happens to be my favorite Bible commentator, as well. John Wesley was a great preacher, teacher, evangelist and the founder of Methodism. He was born June 17, 1703 in Epworth, England. In his own commentary of the Bible, John Wesley's Explanatory Notes, he often quoted Henry without using quotes or crediting Henry. He shared many of the same views as Henry, just as I do. So my beliefs are very much in harmony with both of these men. For the sake of today's topic, let's look particularly at the commentaries of these two men on the fourth commandment in Exodus 20:8, in order to understand what they believed about the sabbath. The Scriptures says:

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who [a]stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy." (Ex 20:8-12).

Matthew Henry John Wesley
The fourth commandment concerns the time of worship. God is to be served and honoured daily, but one day in seven is to be particularly dedicated to his honour and spent in his service. The fourth commandment concerns the time of worship; God is to be served and honoured daily; but one day in seven is to be particularly dedicated to his honour, and spent in his service.
It is taken for granted that the sabbath was instituted before; we read of God's blessing and sanctifying a seventh day from the beginning (Gen_2:3), so that this was not the enacting of a new law, but the reviving of an old law. It is taken for granted that the sabbath was instituted before. We read of God's blessing and sanctifying a seventh day from the beginning, Gen_2:3, so that this was not the enacting of a new law, but the reviving of an old law.
They are told what is the day they must religiously observe - a seventh, after six days' labour; whether this was the seventh by computation from the first seventh, or from the day of their coming out of Egypt, or both, is not certain:  They are told what is the day, they must observe, a seventh after six days labour, whether this was the seventh by computation from the first seventh, or from the day of their coming out of Egypt, or both, is not certain. 
How it must be observed. First, As a day of rest; they were to do no manner of work on this day in their callings or worldly business.  How it must be observed; As a day of rest; they were to do no manner of work on this day, in their worldly business. 
As a holy day, set apart to the honour of the holy God, and to be spent in holy exercises. God, by blessing it, had made it holy; they, by solemnly blessing him, must keep it holy, and not alienate it to any other purpose than that for which the difference between it and other days was instituted. As a holy day, set apart to the honour of the holy God, and to be spent in holy exercises. God, by his blessing it, had made it holy; they, by solemn blessing him, must keep it holy, and not alienate it to any other purpose than that for which the difference between it and other days was instituted.
Who must observe it: Thou, and thy son, and thy daughter; the wife is not mentioned, because she is supposed to be one with the husband and present with him, and, if he sanctify the sabbath, it is taken for granted that she will join with him; but the rest of the family are specified. Children and servants must keep the sabbath, according to their age and capacity: in this, as in other instances of religion, it is expected that masters of families should take care, not only to serve the Lord themselves, but that their houses also should serve him, at least that it may not be through their neglect if they do not, Jos_24:15.
Even the proselyted strangers must observe a difference between this day and other days, which, if it laid some restraint upon them then, yet proved a happy indication of God's gracious purpose, in process of time, to bring the Gentiles into the church, that they might share in the benefit of sabbaths. Compare Isa_56:6, Isa_56:7. Even the proselyted strangers must observe a difference between this day and other days, which, if it laid some restraint upon them then, yet proved a happy indication of God's gracious design, to bring the Gentiles into the church.
God takes notice of what we do, particularly what we do on sabbath days, though we should be where we are strangers. By the sanctification of the sabbath, the Jews declared that they worshipped the God that made the world, and so distinguished themselves from all other nations, who worshipped gods which they themselves made.
A particular memorandum put upon this duty: Remember it. It is intimated that the sabbath was instituted and observed before; but in their bondage in Egypt they had lost their computation, or were restrained by their task-masters, or, through a great degeneracy and indifference in religion, they had let fall the observance of it, and therefore it was requisite they should be reminded of it. A late pious Writer seems to prove, That the sabbath was changed, when Israel came out of Egypt; which change continued till our Lord rose again: But that then the Original Sabbath was restored. And he makes it highly probable, at least, That the sabbath we observe, is the seventh day from the creation.
Note, Neglected duties remain duties still, notwithstanding our neglect. It also intimates that we are both apt to forget it and concerned to remember it. Some think it denotes the preparation we are to make for the sabbath; we must think of it before it comes, that, when it does come, we may keep it holy, and do the duty of it.
The reasons of this command. [1.] We have time enough for ourselves in those six days, on the seventh day let us serve God; and time enough to tire ourselves, on the seventh it will be a kindness to us to be obliged to rest.
This is God's day: it is the sabbath of the Lord thy God, not only instituted by him, but consecrated to him. It is sacrilege to alienate it; the sanctification of it is a debt.[3.] It is designed for a memorial of the creation of the world, and therefore to be observed to the glory of the Creator, as an engagement upon ourselves to serve him and an encouragement to us to trust in him who made heaven and earth. By the sanctification of the sabbath, the Jews declared that they worshipped the God that made the world, and so distinguished themselves from all other nations, who worshipped gods which they themselves made.
God has given us an example of rest, after six days' work: he rested the seventh day, took a complacency in himself, and rejoiced in the work of his hand, to teach us, on that day, to take a complacency in him, and to give him the glory of his works, Psa_92:4. God has given us an example of rest after six days work; he rested the seventh day - Took a complacency in himself, and rejoiced in the work of his hand, to teach us on that day, to take a complacency in him, and to give him the glory of his works.
The sabbath began in the finishing of the work of creation, so will the everlasting sabbath in the finishing of the work of providence and redemption; and we observe the weekly sabbath in expectation of that, as well as in remembrance of the former, in both conforming ourselves to him we worship. The sabbath begun in the finishing of the work of creation; so will the everlasting sabbath in the finishing of the work of providence and redemption; and we observe the weekly sabbath in expectation of that, as well as in remembrance of the former, in both conforming ourselves to him we worship.
He has himself blessed the sabbath day and sanctified it. He has put an honour upon it by setting it apart for himself; it is the holy of the Lord and honourable: and he has put blessings into it, which he has encouraged us to expect from him in the religious observance of that day. It is the day which the Lord hath made, He hath himself blessed the sabbath day and sanctified it. He hath put an honour upon it; it is holy to the Lord, and honourable; and he hath put blessings into it which he hath encouraged us to expect from him in the religious observation of that day.
let not us do what we can to unmake it. He has blessed, honoured, and sanctified it,
Let not us profane it, dishonour it, and level that with common time which God's blessing has thus dignified and distinguished. Let us not profane, dishonour, and level that with common time, which God's blessing hath thus dignified and distinguished.

As you can see, their views were very similar, if not identical. John Wesley practically copied and pasted everything Henry had to say about this topic.

Matthew Henry
I would like to draw particular attention to one comment that John Wesley made here. He said, "A late pious Writer seems to prove, That the sabbath was changed, when Israel came out of Egypt; which change continued till our Lord rose again: But that then the Original Sabbath was restored. And he makes it highly probable, at least, That the sabbath we observe, is the seventh day from the creation." Wesley believed that the sabbath we observe on Sunday is the true seventh day from creation, if you were to compute the day back to the original week of creation. He mentions a "late pious Writer" as his reason for believing this. Since we know who his favorite Bible commentator was, and since his views on the sabbath were essentially identical to Henry's, we can assume that he was referring here to Henry.

In Henry's commentary, he stated: "A particular memorandum put upon this duty: Remember it. It is intimated that the sabbath was instituted and observed before; but in their bondage in Egypt they had lost their computation, or were restrained by their task-masters, or, through a great degeneracy and indifference in religion, they had let fall the observance of it, and therefore it was requisite they should be reminded of it."

Henry was saying that God commanded the Israelites to remember the sabbath, which implied that the sabbath already existed from the beginning, and had been observed at some point prior to the giving of the Ten Commandments. He cited three possible reasons why the Jews needed to be commanded to remember the sabbath. One possible reason was that while they were slaves in Egypt, they lost track of which day the sabbath occurred. Another possibility is that their task masters prevented them from keeping it holy. A third possibility is that they degenerated spiritually or became indifferent, and simply stopped observing it. It seems certain that one of these three would have happened, and that is why Wesley says that this "pious Writer seems to prove that the sabbath was changed when Israel came out of Egypt."

The day on which the Jews observed the sabbath remained the same from the time of their wilderness wanderings until the time of Christ, although it was not the seventh day from the Creation. But then at our Lord's resurrection, which according to their calendar at that time was on the first day of the week, the original Sabbath was restored. At that point, God knew exactly which day the true sabbath should be kept, based on the computation of weeks dating back to the Creation. Wesley said that Henry made it very probable that now the sabbath we observe on Sundays is the actual seventh day from the creation. I believe this is very possible. In fact, it is quite probable, and is perhaps the best explanation I have ever heard. 

I also believe that God might have simply changed it so that instead of giving God the last day of the week, we now give Him the first day of the week in worship. Instead of resting after we have worked for six days, we rest on the first day before we begin our work week, as a reminder that now our whole life must be spent in a state of rest and trust in Him. It is also a reminder that we are not returning to observing the Law of Moses, or becoming Jewish, and by resting on the first day, it sets us apart. Likewise, since God created light on the first day of the week, we remember that Jesus is the Light. We are reminded to walk in the light as He is in the light. Just as He rose again from the dead on the first day of the week, we celebrate His resurrection on that day. We are reminded that if we have died with Christ, we will also live with Him (Ro 6:8).

In all likelihood, the explanation I have just given and the ones Henry gave are both correct. Not only was God restoring the original sabbath when Christ rose again, but He was also making all things new (Rev 21:5). This would be consistent with other things that God instituted with the New Covenant. Not only did He give us a New Covenant, (Jer 31:31; Heb 8:8; Mt 26:28; Lk 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25), but He has also given us new wine, which flows from the Father in heaven by the Spirit (Mt 9:17). He also gave us a new life (Rom 6:4) and a new self (Col 3:10; Eph 4:24). 

Likewise, when Jesus instituted the New Covenant at the Last Supper, which took place on the Last Passover (Mt 26:17-20), He did not use lamb's meat as the emblem of his body. He used bread and wine, which was new symbolism. The bread represents his body, not lamb's meat, because He is the Lamb of God (Joh 1:29; Rev 6:16;17:14; 21:27; 22:3). Otherwise we would have to slaughter a lamb every time we celebrate the Lord's Supper, and He has not called us to return to animal sacrifices. He sacrificed His body once for all as the final sacrifice (Heb 7:27; 10:10,12). We now have a better sacrifice. When Jesus fulfilled the Passover, He changed it and gave us the Lord's Supper as a new ceremony instead, and said that whenever we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim His death until He comes (1 Cor 11:26). 

Moreover, instead of circumcision, we now have water baptism as the ceremony for those who decide to follow Jesus and become His disciples. Instead of this ceremony being done as a baby, eight days after birth, it is now done to newborn believers. "All of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death. Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." (Rom 6:3-4).

Similarly, just as Jesus fulfilled the Passover and gave us a New Covenant with new elements, as well as water baptism to replace circumcision, so too, when He rose again, He gave us a new sabbath day of worship -- the Lord's Day. Since He is the Lord of the Sabbath, He has the authority to do this (Mt 12:8; Mk 2:28). Old things have passed away, and behold, all things have become new (2 Cor 5:17). While we must obey God's commandments, we do so according to the Spirit, rather than the letter. "We serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter" (Rom 7:6). Let this be an encouragement to us all to keep Sundays holy, just as Wesley, Henry, the first Christians, and the apostles did.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB

Author's Note: If you enjoyed this message, you may also be interested in the other posts on this blog, available through the Home page, especially Resting from Work , Keeping Sundays Holy -- Part I, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part IIFamous Christian Sabbath Observers, and Christian Sabbath is Sunday, not Saturday. I also recommend reading David Wilkerson's message, Honoring the Sabbathwhich I discovered after writing this article, as well as Zipporah Mushala’s Second Testimony of Hell, in which she saw a man of God in hell for relying on His obedience to the Law to save him. You can also find my complete collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Friday, December 2, 2016

No Flesh Will Be Justified by Works

Let's remember what the apostle Paul said in his epistle to the Romans that no flesh will be made righteous by the works of the law. He said:

"By the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin." (Rom 3:20)

Matthew Henry explained it like this: "Man, in his depraved state, under the power of such corruption, could never, by any works of his own, gain acceptance with God; but it must be resolved purely into the free grace of God, given through Jesus Christ to all true believers that receive it as a free gift."

He says that we are not "the judaizing Christians, who would needs join Christ and Moses together - owning Christ for the Messiah, and yet too fondly retaining the law, keeping up the ceremonies of it, and imposing it upon the Gentile converts."

According to Paul, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law." (Rom 3:28). He also said, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom 5:1).

Nevertheless, Paul concluded this passage by saying, "Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law." (Rom 3:31)

Matthew Henry concluded with his own paraphrase of Romans 3:31: "...'though we do say that the law will not justify us, yet we do not therefore say that it was given in vain, or is of no use to us; no, we establish the right use of the law, and secure its standing, by fixing it on the right basis. The law is still of use to convince us of what is past, and to direct us for the future; though we cannot be saved by it as a covenant, yet we own it, and submit to it, as a rule in the hand of the Mediator, subordinate to the law of grace; and so are so far from overthrowing that we establish the law.' Let those consider this who deny the obligation of the moral law on believers."

According to Henry, we do not say the law will justify us. However, we don't teach that the law is of no use to us. We affirm the right use of the law on its correct basis. We submit to it as a rule in the hand of Christ, which is subordinate to the law of grace. It's still of use to convince us of what is past and direct us for the future. However, we cannot be saved by it as a covenant.

John Wesley paraphrased Romans 3:31 like this: "We establish the law - Both the authority, purity, and the end of it; by defending that which the law attests; by pointing out Christ, the end of it; and by showing how it may be fulfilled in its purity."

According to Wesley, Paul was saying that we establish the authority of the law. We also establish its purity. And we establish the end of the law, which is Christ. We do all of this by showing how it may be fulfilled in its purity.

We know that Paul did not teach us to disregard or violate the law, because he said, "For it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified." (Rom 2:13). It is the doers of the law who will be justified.

Henry commented on this by saying, "The Jews prided themselves very much in the law; but, to confirm what he had said, the apostle shows (Rom_2:13) that their having, and hearing, and knowing the law, would not justify them, but their doing it. The Jewish doctors bolstered up their followers with an opinion that all that were Jews, how bad soever they lived, should have a place in the world to come. This the apostle here opposes: it was a great privilege that they had the law, but not a saving privilege, unless they lived up to the law they had, which it is certain the Jews did not, and therefore they had need of a righteousness wherein to appear before God. We may apply it to the gospel: it is not hearing, but doing that will save us, Joh_13:17; Jam_1:22." We must be doers of the Word and not merely hearers.

As James said, "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone." (Jas 2:24). Therefore, we do not teach that men should break the law or ignore the law, but that they should be doers of it, even though we know that no man will be justified by observing it. We establish the law and our moral obligation to it. However, you can never gain acceptance from God by any works of your own. You can only be accepted by the free grace of God, given through Jesus Christ to all true believers that receive it as a free gift. And we certainly don't seek to misuse the law by being so fond of it that we retain its rituals and ceremonies and impose them on Gentile Christians. We are not seeking to join Christ and Moses together.

If you have been trying to gain acceptance from God by the works of the law or simply by your own good works, please repent of your futile efforts. You need to come to God by grace through faith in Christ. He will confer upon you the very righteousness of God. And then as a disciple of Christ, you will be forgiven, accepted by God in Christ, set free from the power of sin to do what is right. Then you will be empowered to be a true doer of the law, not as a covenant, but as the rule of Christ that is subordinate to the law of grace.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. The calligraphy and artwork by my daughter, Charity V. Lacroix, available at A Brush with Life.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy Never Trust in Your Own Good Works, The Conditional Security of the Believer, Sins That Will Keep You From HeavenDrifting Away, Is Obedience Optional?, The Apostasy Parables, Obedience by the Spirit, The Obedience of Faith, Holy Living in a Perverted World, Aim for Perfection, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, Baptized with the Spirit, Holy Fire Baptism, The Straight and Narrow Path, Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God, Pleasing the Lord, The Burning Ones, Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies, Ask for the Ancient PathsLiving a Life Worthy of the Lord, Keeping a Good Conscience, Separation from the World, Having a Servant's Heart, The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, Righteous Deeds and White Robes, Doing What is RightThe Ways of Life, Whatever You Do, Do All Like This, The Mark of the Beast (666), and Listen to Jesus, Who Upholds Moses and the Prophets. You can find more of my articles related to Seeking the Lord on the Home page of this blog. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Conditional Security of the Believer


If a picture paints a thousand words, then we should picture the word "if" in golden letters. You see, God has spoken this simple, two-letter word in the Scriptures with regard to our great and glorious salvation, yet so many seem to have missed it.

The popular view of the New Covenant of grace is that reaching heaven is automatic for all Christians. It is assumed that once a person gives his life to Jesus, he is going to make it into the kingdom of heaven no matter what. However, the Bible teaches that there are specific conditions of the New Covenant, just as there were also conditions of the Old Covenant. Let's look at some of those conditions in God's Word, as well as some warnings, which are negative conditions.

I will not include all the conditions, but primarily the ones that contain the golden word "if", which is a primary particle of conditionality. That may be a little word, but it has significant implications for each one of us, when used in the context of the conditions of the covenant in Christ's blood. Therefore, in this article, I will capitalize the word "IF" for emphasis.

Positive Conditions
We begin with the positive conditions.

Enter Through Christ Alone
Jesus said, "I am the door; IF anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (Joh 10:9)

Hear the Lord's Voice and Open the Door of Your Heart
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; IF anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev 3:20)

Deny Yourself, Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus
“And He was saying to them all, ‘IF anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’” (Luk 9:23)

Become United with Christ in His Death
“For IF we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection…” (Rom 6:5)

“Now IF we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him…” (Rom 6:8; cf., 2Ti 2:11)

“But IF by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Rom 8:13b)

Suffer with Christ
“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, IF indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” (Rom 8:16-17)

Keep His Commandments and Keep His Word
“And He said to him, ‘Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but IF you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’" (Mat 19:17)

“So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘IF you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’" (Joh 8:31-32)

"Truly, truly, I say to you, IF anyone keeps My word he will never see death." (Joh 8:51)

"IF you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (Joh 14:15)

Jesus answered and said to him, "IF anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” (Joh 14:23)

“"You are My friends IF you do what I command you.” (Joh 15:14)

“By this we know that we have come to know Him, IF we keep His commandments.” (1Jn 2:3)

“As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. IF what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.” (1Jn 2:24)

Hold Fast the Word
"Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, IF you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain." (1 Cor 15:1-2)

Love One Another
“No one has seen God at any time; IF we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.” (1Jn 4:12)

Walk in the Light as He is in the Light
“But IF we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1Jn 1:7)

Judge Ourselves Honestly
“But IF we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.” (1Co 11:31)

Eat of Christ, the Living Bread
"I am the Living Bread that came down out of heaven; IF anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh."  (Joh 6:51)

Be Freed by the Son
"So IF the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (Joh 8:36)

Become a Son
“Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and IF a son, then an heir through God.” (Gal 4:7)

Be in Christ and Belong to Him
“Therefore IF anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2Co 5:17)

“And IF you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise.” (Gal 3:29)

Do the Deeds of Abraham
“Jesus said to them, ‘IF you are Abraham's children, do the deeds of Abraham.’” (Joh 8:39b)

Forgive Others For Their Transgressions
"For IF you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (Mat 6:14; cf., Mk 11:25)

Your Eyes Must Be Clear
"The eye is the lamp of the body; so then IF your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.” (Mat 6:22)

Confess with Your Mouth Jesus as Lord, and Believe in Your Heart That God Raised Him from the Dead
“…IF you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved: for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Rom 10:9-10)

"Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.” (Mat 10:32)

Hold Fast Our Confidence and the Boast of Our Hope Firm Until The End
“But Christ was faithful as a Son over His house--whose house we are, IF we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” (Heb 3:6)

“For we have become partakers of Christ, IF we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end,” (Heb 3:14)

Continue in the Faith Firmly Established and Steadfast, and Not Moved Away from the Hope of the Gospel
"And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach-- IF indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister." (Col 1:21-23).

Endure to the End
IF we endure, we will also reign with Him… IF we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2Ti 2:12a,13).

"But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved." (Mat 24:13)

Your Heart Must Not Condemn You
“Beloved, IF our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God…”(1Jn 3:21)

Those Who Have Strayed from the Truth Must Turn Back to God
“My brethren, IF any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (Jas 5:19-20)

Confess Our Sins
IF we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1Jn 1:9)

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And IF anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;” (1Jn 2:1)

Warnings Against Failing to Meet the Conditions
In addition to all the positive conditions listed above, we are also warned in Scripture of the following negative conditions.

Do Not Harden Your Hearts
“He again fixes a certain day, ‘Today,’ saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, ‘Today IF you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’" (Heb 4:7)

Do Not Refuse Him Who Speaks
“See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For IF those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.” (Heb 12:25)

Do Not Neglect Salvation Through Transgression and Disobedience
“For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape IF we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard…” (Heb 2:1-3)

Do Not Fall Away
“For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but IF it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.”  (Heb 6:4-8)

Do Not Fall Short of the Promise of Entering His Rest
“Therefore, let us fear IF, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it.” (Heb 4:1)

Do Not Go On Sinning Willfully After Coming to Know the Truth
“For IF we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,” (Heb 10:26)

Do Not Shrink Back
“But My righteous one shall live by faith; and IF he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” (Heb 10:38)

Do Not Become Weary in Doing Good
“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap IF we do not grow weary.” (Gal 6:9)

Do Not Lose Heart When the Lord Rebukes You or Make Light of His Discipline
“But IF you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” (Heb 12:8)

Do Not Become Tasteless Salt
"You are the salt of the earth; but IF the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” (Mat 5:13)

Do Not Fail to Deal Radically with Sin to Remove It
"IF your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Mat 5:29)

"IF your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Mat 5:30)

Forgive Others from Your Heart
"But IF you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Mat 6:15; cf., Mk 11:26)

"And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. "My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, IF each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart."  (Mat 18:34-35)

Do Not Hate Your Brother
IF someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1Jn 4:20)

Guard Your Eyes, So That You Do Not Become Filled with Darkness
"But IF your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Mat 6:23)

Do Not Become Entangled Again in the Defilements of the World
“For IF, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.” (2Pe 2:20-21)

''But IF that evil slave says in his heart, 'My master is not coming for a long time,' and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 24:48-51)

Do Not Fail to Carry Your Cross and Follow Jesus, Even at the Expense of Family Relationships
"IF anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (Luk 14:26-27)

Do Not Fail to Listen to Moses and the Prophets and Believe Christ's Words
"But he said to him, 'IF they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.'" (Luk 16:31)

"For IF you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But IF you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" (Joh 5:46-47)

Do Not Have Dead Faith without Works
“What use is it, my brethren, IF someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?… Even so faith, IF it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” (Jas 2:14,17)

Do Not Love the World nor the Things of the World
“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. IF anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1Jn 2:15)

"For what is a man profited IF he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luk 9:25)

Do Not Worship the Beast and His Image or Receive a Mark on the Right Hand or Forehead
“Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘IF anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name." (Rev 14:9-11)

Do Not Fail to Abide in Christ
"IF anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” (Joh 15:6)

Do Not Be Arrogant nor Fail to Continue in God's Kindness
“But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but IF you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’ Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for IF God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, IF you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.” (Rom 11:17-22)

Do Not Live According to the Flesh
“For IF you are living according to the flesh, you must die…” (Rom 8:13a)

Do Not Walk in Darkness
IF we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;” (1Jn 1:6)

Do Not Deny Your Own Sin
IF we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1Jn 1:8)

IF we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” (1Jn 1:10)

Keep a Tight Rein on Your Tongue
IF anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless.” (Jas 1:26)

Don't Fail to Wake Up
“'So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore IF you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.” (Rev 3:3)

Don't Destroy the Temple of God
IF any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.” (1Co 3:17)

Don't Deny Christ
IF we deny Him, He also will deny us.” (2 Tim 2:12b)

"But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” (Mat 10:33)

"For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels." (Luk 9:26) 

Don't Fail to Love the Lord
IF anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed. Maranatha.” (1Co 16:22)

Putting it All Together
As we have seen in God's Word, reaching heaven is not automatic once you say a prayer to accept Christ. It is not a foregone conclusion. Nor is it assumed that you will reach heaven, simply because you sincerely gave your life to Jesus at one time and still consider yourself a true believer.

There are clearly some conditions we are required to meet. We must do the following: Enter through Christ alone. Hear the Lord's voice and open the door of your heart. Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus. Become united with Christ in His death. Suffer with Christ. Keep His commandments and keep His Word. Hold fast the Word of God. Love one another. Walk in the light as He is in the light. Judge yourself honestly. Eat of Christ, the Living Bread. Be freed by the Son. Become a Son. Be in Christ and belong to Him. Do the deeds of Abraham. Forgive others for their transgressions. Your eyes must be clear. Confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. Hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end. Continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel. Endure to the end. Your heart must not condemn you. Those who have strayed from the truth must turn back to God. Confess your sins. This is not a complete list, but it gives you a good idea of the conditions God requires for those who wish to reach heaven. Examples of other conditions include the following: (Heb 12:14; Mt 19:21; Lk 9:24).

Those who meet the conditions of the New Covenant receive the following promises: We will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. We will be true disciples of Christ. We will know the truth and the truth will make us free. We will be free indeed. We are new creatures; the old things passed away; all things have become new. We will have continual communion with the Lord. We will come to share in Christ. We will be the Lord’s friends. We will have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. A multitude of sins will be covered. We will be forgiven our sins and cleansed from all unrighteousness. Our whole bodies will be full of light. We will have confidence before God. We will have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. The Lord Jesus and the Father will love us, and will come to us and make Their abode with us. We will be God’s house. God will abide in us, and His love will be perfected in us. We will abide in the Son and in the Father. We shall be in the likeness of Christ’s resurrection. We shall also live with Him. We will enter into life. We will live forever. We will never see death. Our souls will be saved from death. We will be children of Abraham. We will be heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. Jesus will confess us before His Father who is in heaven. He will present us before the Father holy and blameless and beyond reproach. We will also be glorified with Him. We will also reign with Him. We will have treasure in heaven.

There are also many warnings in Scripture against failing to meet the conditions. The following are some examples of these warnings or negative conditions: Do not harden your heart. Do not refuse him who speaks. Do not neglect salvation through transgression and disobedience. Do not fall away. Do not fall short of the promise of entering his rest. Do not go on sinning willfully after coming to know the truth. Do not shrink back. Do not become weary in doing good. Do not lose heart when the Lord rebukes you or make light of His discipline. Do not become tasteless salt. Do not fail to deal radically with sin to remove it. Forgive others from your heart. Do not hate your brother. Guard your eyes, so that you do not become filled with darkness. Do not become entangled again in the defilements of the world. Do not fail to carry your cross and follow Jesus, even at the expense of family relationships. Do not fail to listen to Moses and the prophets and believe Christ's words. Do not have dead faith without works. Do not love the world nor the things of the world. Do not worship the beast and his image or receive a mark in your right hand or forehead. Do not fail to abide in Christ. Do not be arrogant nor fail to continue in God's kindness. Do not live according to the flesh. Do not walk in darkness. Do not deny your own sin. Don’t open your mouth easily. Don't fail to wake up. Don't destroy the temple of God. Don't deny Christ.

Some of the negative consequences for failing to meet the conditions include the following: Being in a worse state than before you ever came to Christ. Being disqualified to be a disciple of Christ. Being illegitimate children and not sons. Being devoid of the truth. Having worthless religion that does you no good. Being useless to God. Being caught off guard by the return of Christ, as a thief in the night. Being denied by Christ before His Father who is in heaven. Being denied forgiveness by God. God’s soul would have no pleasure in you. Failing to enter the promised eternal rest. Being unable to escape eternal punishment. Losing your life. Being destroyed by God. You must die. Being handed over to the torturers. Being thrown out and trampled under foot by men. Being cut to pieces and assigned a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Your whole body would be thrown into hell. Being in darkness. Being unable to repent. Being cut off.  Being burned. Tormented with fire and brimstone. Being accursed.

Therefore, Scripture clearly teaches definite conditions that must be met by those who have entered into the New Covenant with Christ, and if we want to reach heaven, we must meet these conditions. Otherwise we will suffer an even worse punishment than the wicked.

This message is not being preached or taught in most churches, because it's not popular and it doesn't feel good. People like to preach only the positive side of the gospel or the benefits we receive, but they neglect speaking about the negative side or the warnings we must heed. Nevertheless, both the positive and negative sides are part of the gospel. All of these are conditions that must be fulfilled.

I hope you take it to heart and let it encourage you as well as warn you of areas where your soul is in danger. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal anything in your life that is hidden that must go, and then when He does, repent with all your heart and cry out for forgiveness. Mercy is only available while you are on earth. God's standard for heaven is high and He's not going to lower it for anyone. It's high time we get back to the true gospel, seeking holiness and consecration to God.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy Sins That Will Keep You From HeavenDrifting Away, Is Obedience Optional?, The Apostasy Parables, Obedience by the Spirit, The Obedience of Faith, Holy Living in a Perverted World, Aim for Perfection, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, Baptized with the Spirit, Holy Fire Baptism, The Straight and Narrow Path, Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God, Pleasing the Lord, The Burning Ones, Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies, Ask for the Ancient PathsLiving a Life Worthy of the Lord, Keeping a Good Conscience, Separation from the World, Having a Servant's Heart, The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, Righteous Deeds and White Robes, Doing What is RightThe Ways of Life, Whatever You Do, Do All Like This, The Mark of the Beast (666), and Listen to Jesus, Who Upholds Moses and the Prophets. You can find more of my articles related to Seeking the Lord on the Home page of this blog. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org