Born to Holiness

John MacArthur Sep 7, 1986

I want to welcome you to our continued study of the epistle of James.  So you can take your bible and open up to James.  We have much ahead of us in this great epistle, but we are going to stop tonight for just a brief look at verse 18.  Normally, we would be taking another section starting in verse 19, since we did mention verse 18 in our last study.  But I want to stop for a moment and expand our understanding of James 1:18, because it is such a great, great verse.  This is a verse that really articulates in a very simple way the meaning of the new birth, the meaning of salvation.

I was interested this morning in the reception for our first time guests to meet a lovely young lady from Japan who understands some English, conversational English and confessed this morning that she found it very difficult to follow what I was saying in the message.  And it alerted me not so much to the fact that the words that I say are not intelligible as such, but the fact that the longer you are a Christian and the more you get involved in Christianity and in the word of God, the more sort of evangelical lingo you probably develop and somebody coming in who knows conversational English is going to have a very hard time plugging into what you are saying.  It’s a good reminder also, that every once in a while, we need to go back to the simple reality of what the gospel really is and that’s what we want to do tonight.  Let’s look together at verse 18 of James chapter 1. 

It says this, of his own will, speaking of the father, God the father mentioned in verse 17, “Of his own will begot he us, with the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.  A simple verse, but on in which is bound up all the richness of the new birth.  The Old Testament said, be holy for I the Lord am holy.  Peter says in his epistle, be holy, for I the Lord am holy.  In order to enter into the presence of God, man must be holy.  Set apart from sin unto righteousness.  Now men are not holy.  That’s obvious.  They are not righteous, that is, they are sinful.  They do not think right, speak right, act right, do right.  They to not rightly perceive God.  They do not rightly perceive themselves.  They do not rightly perceive God’s truth, God’s revelation or God’s law or God’s will.

But even though men are not holy and they are not right with God, for the most part they do not perceive that they are not holy.  They do not understand that they are not righteous, they do not willingly agree with the diagnosis of scripture that they are sinful.  Men are not holy, and worse, they do not recognize either the need for holiness or in many cases, the absence of it.  And if they do recognize that they are not holy, they usually blame someone else for that reality. 

And that’s what we were discussing in our last look at this tremendous chapter.  In directly, men push the responsibility for their sinfulness off on God, typically.  And as we looked at verses 13 through 18, we saw that we have no one to blame but ourselves for our own sinfulness.  Certainly, we cannot blame God by saying, well, God created us.  God made laws that are impossible to keep.  God has allowed me to become the way I am by my environment.  God put me into circumstances that put such constraints on me I can’t control my behavior, et cetera, et cetera.  But what James says to us is, God cannot have any part in our sinfulness either directly or indirectly.

So men have to be holy in order to have a relationship with God.  They are not holy.  For the most part, they don’t even recognize that they are not holy and if they do recognize that they sin, they will usually blame someone else’s and that someone in a very vague sense is the God who put them in the circumstances they are in and gave them the impulses he gave them and they want to shirk the responsibility.  So James says in verse 13 to 18, you cannot blame anyone but yourself for your sin.  In verse 13 he says, the nature of evil demonstrates that.  No man can say, when he is tempted, I am tempted by God, for God can’t be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man.  You can’t blame God for evil because God and evil are mutually exclusive.  And then in verse 14, the nature of man.  He says, man has his own problem.  Man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed.  The problem is in man, it is in his sinfulness, his fallenness.  Then he talks about the nature of lust in verses 15 and 16. 

Lust when it conceives brings forth sin, sin when it finally comes forth produces nothing but death, and don’t you be wrong about that.  In other words, understand that that is the reality of sin, so it isn’t God, because God and evil are incompatible.  The problem is in the nature of man and in the nature of man the problem is his evil desire, his lust, his passion for that which is wrong.  Then in verse 17, he goes back to discussing the nature of God and says, from God comes every good gift and every perfect gift and that never varies and there is never any shadow cast on that, so you can’t blame God because his nature is to give only good things.  Only good comes from God.  So, he says, we can’t blame God for our sin because of the nature of evil, the nature of man, the nature of lust and the nature of God  Then in verse 18 he sort of sums up his argument by saying, the nature of regeneration itself or conversion or salvation or the new birth shows us that God does not lead us into sin.  Verse 18 says, of his own will in other words, it was his will to beget us to become like him.  A kind of first fruits of his own creation.  So the purpose of regeneration was to give birth into life.  To create us to do good not evil.  To give us power over sin as a part of a new creation. 

So God is in no way involved in our sinfulness.  He cannot be mixed with evil.  The problem is in man.  In man, the problem is bound up with his lust.  The nature of God is such that he only gives good gifts and when God touches your life, it is to produce life, not death, to produce righteousness not sin.  To make a new creation, not exercise the old one. 

So all of those things we looked at last time, point to the fact that God cannot directly or indirectly be the source of sin.  God is not and cannot be tempting men to sin.  And so we looked at verse 18 in that light.  But the verse is so rich because it discusses this matter of the new birth of begetting a person, of regenerating a person and it demands a closer and longer look and we want to do that tonight.  He introduces us to the subject of regeneration in verse 18 in connection with a point in his context.  And the point is what I have just said to you, he is using regeneration as a way to show you that God doesn’t lead people into sin, he leads them to be creations of a new kind, like him.  He leads them out of sin into new life.  And that would be inconsistent with any thought that he would lead us into sin.  He is recreating us away from sin, not into sin, but apart from the context itself, as we look at the verse, I want you to just examine it in and of itself, because it says so much about regeneration, and the whole teaching of regeneration and new birth is worthy of our careful attention.  Now keep in mind what I said earlier and what we noted in the text that man is filled with lust and lust produces sin and sin begets death.  It is true that without holiness no one will ever have a relationship with God, no one will ever fully know God.  No one will ever enter into God’s eternal presence without holiness.  And yet man is unholy and he is sinful and everything in his nature produces lust and evil.  To give you a clearer understanding of that, look at Romans with me, chapter 3.

A very familiar portion of scripture to bible students but one that needs examination, in the light of this particular point.  At the end of verse 9 he says, Jews and Greeks, they are all under sin.  They are literally under the mastery of sin.  They are all subject to the control of sin.  And then he goes on to show this in extent by quoting from some Old Testament passages and he says, “As it is written, There is none righteous no not one.”  There is not one human being created in this world since the fall of Adam that is righteous and that means that is right with God, that does righteously, that obeys the will of God in and of himself.

There is none righteous, no not one.  There is none that understands.  That is, there is none that fully comprehends that which God requires and is fully able to understand it and carry it out.  There is none that even seeks after God.  The bent of man is to seek sin.  Men love what?  Darkness, John 3 says, rather than light because their deeds are evil.  They are all gone out of the way.  They have all diverted themselves from the path that God ordained for righteousness.  They are altogether become unprofitable.  The Greek word has to do with sour milk.  It is good for nothing.  They are absolutely useless.  And there is none that does good, not even one.  And then he describes the nature of their evil.  Their throat is an open sepulcher.  It stinks like a dead corpse whose scent comes oozing out of a tomb.  With their tongues, they have used deceit.  The poison of asps or snakes is under their lips.  A man is basically revealed in his conversation and in his mouth, and the ugly, evil, defiled, deadness of his sinful nature comes out through his mouth.  The mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.  Their feet are in a hurry to shed blood.  Destruction and misery are in their ways.  The way of peace have they not known and there is absolutely no reverence of God before their eyes.  Here is a definition of sinful man, man without God.  And the whole world comes under this in verse 18.  Every mouth is stopped and all the world stands guilty before God.  And there is no way he says, in verse 20, that through their flesh, they can be justified by God, by keeping some rules by obeying law, even though it be the law of God.  The law simply produces the knowledge of sin, it doesn’t produce righteousness.  So there is the definition of man from Romans 3.  Man in his sinful state, look at Ephesians 2.

In Ephesians 2 it says, verse 1, “And you who were dead in trespasses and sins.”  And here we find that man is characterized again as  being dead, the stench of a corpse and the characteristic of his deadness is a deadness in trespasses and sins.  Just using two words to show kind of the breadth and the extent of his sinfulness.  He walks, it says, according to the course of this world.  In other words, he daily conduct is dictated by the evil system.  The one who is in charge of his life is the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that works in the children of disobedience, those are titles for Satan.  He functions, verse 3, in the lust of the flesh.  He fulfills the desire of the flesh and the mind and he is by nature a child of wrath.  That means, he is a target of judgment, he is the object of God’s judgment. 

Now all this is very basic, man in order to have a right relationship to God, needs to be holy.  Man is not holy.  Man doesn’t recognize that he is not holy and sometimes if he does recognize that he is not holy and sinful he tends to blame God for his circumstances, pass off the responsibility which keeps him confined under the subjection of sin and therefore cut off from God.  Now the question comes up, what are you going to do to help this man?  What are you going to do to change the situation?  What does this man need?  External changes are not enough.  He cannot by some resolution in his own mind determine that he is going to obey the law of God and work his way out of this deadness.  He cannot give himself new life. 

What he needs is to be recreated.  He needs is a new heart, a new inner person, a new life principle.  He needs to be born again.  He needs to start all over and come out different.  As if in the words of Nicodemus, he could crawl back into his mother’s womb and start all over again with a different nature.  Since holiness is the absolute condition for acceptance into fellowship with God, sinful man in his fallen dead condition can’t ever have that fellowship and God won’t accept his corrupt self, so he needs a new life.  He needs a brand new life.  So when we talk about the gospel or the new birth, we are not talking about adding something.  We are not talking about tacking something on.  We are not talking about putting a ribbon on a sow.  We are not talking about putting a new suit of clothes on an old man.  We are talking about a total transformation.  To enter into a right relationship with God, demands a total new person.  You have to go back and start all over again and be born all over again into a new life.

Now scripture affirms this.  It isn’t even new, in the New Testament, this was part of the promise in anticipation of the Old Testament.  Jerimiah for example, says the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked and Jeremiah says, can the Ethiopian change his skin?  Can he by willingly and by being willing rather and wishing can he change the color of his dark skin?  And then Jeremiah says, can the leopard change his spots?  And the answer is of course not, then, may you also do good that are accustomed to do evil.

You can’t change your life either, so you need a transformation.  That’s Jeremiah 13:23 and over in chapter 31, comes the wonderful promise of that transformation, Jeremiah 31:31, “Behold the days come, says the Lord, I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the hand of Egypt, and so forth.”  He says, “I’ll make a new covenant,” verse 33, “I will put my law in their inward parts.  I will write it in their hearts.  I will be their God and they will be my people.  I am going to get inside and change their inside.”  They can’t do it on their own so it has to be done for them.  Man has to have a change at the very core of his being. 

The natural man, that is the unregenerate man, the man that doesn’t know God.  The sinful man, the unredeemed man, the unsaved man, does not, 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “Receive the things of the spirit of God.”  He can’t receive them.  He’s dead.  And a corpse doesn’t respond to anything.  And so what does he need?  He needs new birth.  He needs new life.  I just read you Ephesians 2:1 to 3, how that men are dead in trespasses and sin following the lust of the flesh, the lust of the mind, the desires of the flesh, being subject to the leadership of Satan, the prince of the power of the air, they are children of wrath, but it says, even when we were dead in sins in the same chapter verse 5, Christ has made us alive and raised us up.  And here is the idea of a resurrection from the dead, of new life, of a new birth.  In Romans 6, it says, when you put your faith in Christ, you die and you rise to walk in and it uses this wonderful phrase, newness of what?  Of life.  Now that’s what every person has to have, newness of life.  The old life has to be totally done away and a new life has to come.  In Ephesians 4:24, you have put on the new man, which, listen to this, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.  When you come to salvation, you put on a new man, a new person, not new clothes.  A new person. 

It’s a recreation.  The best and most graphic illustration of this is found in the wonderful encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus so turn to John 3 and let’s look at it briefly and remind ourselves of this wonderful, wonderful story.  There was a man of the Pharisees, that was, he was a religious leader of great esteem.  He may have well been as prominent as any teacher because in verse 10 Jesus says, are you and uses the definite article, the teacher of Israel and don’t know these things.

So here is one man who is recognized perhaps publicly as the teacher in Israel of some great stature, a Pharisee well versed in the law.  He approaches Jesus and says we know you are  a teacher from God.  Here is a man of great esteem.  Here is a man who recognizes his own calling, but recognizes one who is even significantly above himself in understanding, so he comes to Jesus and he says in verse 2, we know you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do the miracles that you do except God be with him.  And he never says what’s in his heart.  He doesn’t ask a question, but Jesus reads his heart.  And Jesus answered, that’s an interesting statement because he didn’t ask anything.  He just said, you are a teacher, and went on to say, you come from God, we know that, but Jesus answered the question in his heart and said, Truly, truly I say to you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God and he knew that what was in the heart of Nicodemus was how do I get into the kingdom.

Here was a man who was the teacher in Israel.  A Pharisee, had it all going religiously, but knew he had not entered into truly to the kingdom of God.  How did he know he hadn’t?  Because there was nothing inside of him confirming that.  So he comes to Jesus and the question of his heart is, what do I do to get into the kingdom and the implication would be, I’m very religious, I study the law, I try to live by the code of the Old Testament.  I’m an ethical man.  I’m a trusted man.  I’m a respected man.  What do I need to add to my life to get into the kingdom and Jesus said, you don’t add anything, you start all over again.

You just kill the whole thing and start with birth.  You have to be born again.  And Nicodemus said to him, how can a man be born when he’s old.  Now he’s not asking the physical thing.  Give him a break.  He’s not saying, physically, how can I go back and be born?  He knows what Jesus is talking about.  He is simply picking up on the same use of veiled language, of parabolic talk of the meshal, the kind of speech that they use.  And he’s picking up on the same metaphor, the same descriptive terms that Jesus is using and he’s saying how does someone so many years in one religion, so many years following one code, so many years to be now a Pharisee and a rabbi and a teacher of the law, ever go back and undo all of that and start all over again.

That’s what he’s saying.  And if you have ever witnessed to an orthodox Jew, of any years, you will understand this mindset.  How can I ever unravel all this lifelong pursuit of religion and start all over again, that’s what was in the mind of Nicodemus.  Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born and he’s tongue in cheek at that point.  He’s saying that again, consistent with the analogy that Jesus was using.  How can I be born again spiritually?  He knows Jesus speaks spiritually.  How can I do it?  How can it happen?  And Jesus says to him, basically, you can’t do it. 

You can’t do it Nicodemus, truly, truly, I say to you, except a man be born of water and the spirit, he cannot what?  Enter the kingdom of God.  He says, you can’t do it.  It has to be done by water and the spirit.  It has to be done by a power and a resource outside yourself, outside of you.  And that power is the water and the spirit.  Now what does that refer too?  That’s the water of salvation, I believe if you go back for a brief moment to Ezekiel 36, you will see Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus in very familiar terms, he knew the Old Testament.  He knew the promise of Ezekiel 36 verse 25, I will sprinkle clean water upon you.

Who is I?  God.  This is a sovereign act.  And you will be clean from your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleans you, what he is saying to Nicodemus is this, number one, you must have a sovereign cleansing by God.  Secondly, it comes through the Holy Spirit.  You need a sovereign salvation that comes from outside yourself.  Just like Ezekiel prophesied, clean water, cleansing your filthiness.  Paul writing to Titus talks about the washing of water through the word.  The water of regeneration, verse 26, a new heart will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you, take away the stony heart out of your flesh, I will give you a heart of flesh, then this, I will put my spirit within you and cause you from the inside to walk in my statues.  You shall keep my ordinances and you shall do them. 

So when Jesus says to Nicodemus you must be born of the water and the spirit to enter the kingdom, he’s taking Nicodemus right back to Ezekiel 36 and saying, you know what the prophet said, you need a sovereign cleansing that comes from God outside yourself and the planting of his holy spirit in your heart to give you a new life and a new heart and a new motivation.  Why?  Verse 6, if you try to do it on your own, that which is born of the flesh is what?  All you are going to do is reproduce what?  Yourself.  More of you.  But that which is born of the spirit is what?  Spirit.  So don’t be surprised that I said you must be born again.  Don’t be surprised.  Then he says, the wind blows where it wants and you hear the sound and you can’t tell from where it comes and where it goes and so is everyone that is born of the spirit.  You know what he’s saying there?  He’s saying, I can’t tell you how or when the Holy Spirit does this, but this is a sovereign act of the Holy Spirit.  It can’t be charted.  You can’t even see it coming or going, but the spirit of God moves in where he wills and gives new birth to whom he wills as sovereign God by the agency of the spirit, through the washing of the water of the word in regeneration, cleanses the heart and plants that spirit within a man.  What you need Nicodemus is a new life and that is a sovereign act of God.  Just what Jerimiah 24 said in verse 7 where God said, I will give them a heart to know me.

A new nature, a new heart, a new life.  If any man be in Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:17, he is a new creature, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new.  So what I’m saying here is a new birth is essential.  That’s what salvation is.  It is God sovereignly coming down to a sinner and by his grace cleansing that sinner and planting his spirit in that sinner so that the cleansing of that sinner takes care of his relationship to God and the planting of the spirit takes care of his power to live in the will of God.  And that’s the purpose or regeneration. 

Now I want to ask four questions in our verse, James 1:18, let’s go back.  That was introduction.  James 1:18, I want to ask you four questions about regeneration.  Very simple questions and it won’t take us but a brief time to answer the four.  First question, what is it?  You’ve just said that man cannot know God without holiness.  Man is not holy.  Man doesn’t recognize his unholiness and when he does, he tends to blame God.  How is he ever going to get out of the dilemma.  Here is he blaming God for it, or not recognizing it.  How is he every going to change.  Well, you say somebody brings him so higher standards, some better ethics, a law that he is supposed to keep and he does it on his own.  No, that which the flesh produces is more what?  More flesh, so what has to happen is, he needs the divine intervention of a sovereign God,  who by his spirit comes in, washes away his sin, plants a new life in him.  Gives him his spirit to energize that new life unto obedience, that is a sovereign act.  That’s really regeneration.  But let’s get into this verse and look at the four questions, question number one.  What is is? What is the nature of regeneration?  And I have already alluded  to it, in fact already covered a great portion, but just this phrase, of his own will be begat us.  That’s the nature of regeneration.

It is God brining us forth, giving birth to us as new beings.  You are not the same.  You are a whole new creating.  Its’ the same verb, by the way, exactly the same one used back in verse 15.  God, when he conceives brings forth regeneration.  Brings forth new life, it’s the very same verb.  It’s in Eros tense so it looks back to the event of salvation when we were born by the divine parent and given new life as children of God.  Now if you want a technical definition for he begat us, here is one that I think is excellent.  It’s given by the theologian Berkhoff many years ago, but really says it.  Regeneration is, that act of God by which the principle of new life is implanted in man and the governing disposition of his soul is made holy.  That is a great definition.  Regeneration is that act of God by which the principle of new life is implanted in man and the governing disposition of his soul is made holy.  That is a total transformation.  That doesn’t sound anything like Romans 3, does it or anything like Ephesians 2:1 to 3.  In fact, Peter says, we become partakers of the divine nature.  God gives us his own life, his own self, his own righteous character, his own holiness is implanted in us, just a tremendous thought.  As a Christian, you and possess the very nature of God, 2 Peter 1:4.  We are partakers of this divine nature.  Now, in its fullness, we are yet to receive all that that implies, but already that new life principle is planted in us.  This is completed in a moment of time.  It is not a process.  It is an event.  It is an act by which God creates you new.  It is a secret work.  It cannot be perceived.  That’s why we can’t, in the words of Jesus, tell the wheat from the tares, because this particular act is imperceptible.  It is known only through its effect.  We can’t see God recreate someone.  That is a divine miracle unseen by any human eye.

But it plants in the person a new life principle and a new disposition that is enabled and driven to keep the law of God. Marvelous.  It overcomes the deadness of sin.  And the deadliness of sin.  No longer are we subject to sin, Paul says in Romans chapter 6, sin no longer has dominion over us.  We now follow a new master willingly and eagerly.

Jesus said in John 10, I am come that they might have what?  Life.  What do dead men need most?  Life.  And so, he comes to give us new life.  So what is regeneration?  What is it?  He begot us.  What does that mean?  He gave us new life.  Total transformation of the inner person.  Second question, who does it?  Well, I have already told you that from John chapter 3, who does it?  Look back at verse 18 again, of his own will, he begot us.  He being God the father mentioned in verse 17 as the source of every good and every perfect gift, of his own will is first in the Greek in the verse, which put is it in the emphatic position showing that the sovereign will of God is the root of this new life.  It couldn’t be any other way, because how is a dead person going to give himself life?  Impossible.  The source of new life is God.  God.  It is the grace of the giver, not the desire of the receiver.  That desire of the receiver is prompted by the grace of the giver.  So it is wholly the choice and the work of almighty God.

If I am saved, and you are saved, who gets all the credit?  God does.  We praise him.  Go back to John 1:12 and I want to just draw a little more on this thought.  You say, but wait a minute, didn’t I receive Christ, didn’t I believe, of course, you did.  You reached out and received him and believed.  Look at verse 12 of John 1, “As many as received him to them gave he the right or the authority to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name.”  You say that’s right.  I believed and I received.  Didn’t I do that?  Didn’t I initiate that?  Look at verse 13, who were born, not of the blood, not talking about a human birth, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man,” but of what?  “God.”  You believed and you received because it was the will of whom?  Of God.  It is a sovereign thing.  Yes, you believed.  Yes, you received.  Behind it, all was the sovereign, determinative, gracious will of God. 

No, child has ever been born into the world humanly speaking because he or she wanted to be born.  Fair enough?  The birth of a child is strictly the decision of parents, not of unborn children.  Spiritual birth is analogous to that.  It is the decision of the sovereign divine parent.  No man comes unto me Jesus said, except the father what?  Draws him.  Except the father draws him and even the very faith we exercise, is granted graciously by God.  So our conscious experience of conversion, our conscious experience of committing our life to Jesus Christ of believing in his death and resurrection, of opening our hearts to receive him, of believing the gospel, all is a consequence of his sovereign will.

Beloved when you stop to think that you are saved because he predetermined in eternity past to save you, that is a marvelous thing.  God in his grace and love predetermined to have an eternally intimate love relationship with you just because that’s what he wanted, marvelous.  John put it this way, we love him because he first loved us.  A child gives love to a human parent as a response to parental love and care and the life they gave that child.  And because God has willed to save us, because God has willed to give us new life and a holy nature, it is absolutely impossible, James says that he could ever lead us into sin.  You see how absolutely incongruous that is?  What a thrilling thought.  He predestinated us to set his love on us.

To give us new life that we might have eternal fellowship with him and he longs for us to be in his presence and when we go into his presence he will make us like his own son and he will pour out eternal blessing on us forever and ever and ever.  No wonder John says in 1 John 3, “Behold what manner of love the father hath bestowed on us that we should be called the children of God.”  He can’t even think of an adjective.  It’s absolutely indescribable.  He just says, what manner of love, he couldn’t even come up with an adjective to describe that kind of predetermined sovereign free choice to love. 

Now looking back at James 1:18, just one other thought about that particular point, when it says of his own will, it uses the word boultheis, aorist participle.  It is not just a wish, but it is an active will of accomplishment.  It isn’t God just wishing it.  He wishes us to be saved, it is he wills it to the extent that it actually happens.  May I say something to you that’s very profound theologically?  This is what we would say is God’s productive will.  That is when he wills this, it happens.  It is not a wish.  You can wish something, oh, I wish, oh, how I wish this will happen and it may be remotely unrelated to what will happen.  Or you can say, I will that to happen because it’s within your power to make it happen.  That’s the intent of the word here, God’s desire produces the end of that desire.  So what is regeneration?  It is God recreating us.  Who does it?  God does it by his sovereign power and we respond to that sovereign grace.  Third question, okay, we have asked what and who here is the third on, how does it happen?  How does it happen?

You say, well, does God just reach down and bang you are saved, does God just zap you?  How does it happen?  Well, let’s look back at the verse, verse 18, “Of his own will he begot us,” here it comes, “With the word of truth.  With the word of truth.”  Or literally, by truth’s word.  By truth’s word.  That means the word of God, the scripture.  You see, God regenerates us and washes us and cleanses us and gives us a new inner person and plants a spirit in us through the power of his what?  Of his word.  Of his word.  Men are born again by the power of the word.  If you don’t hear the word, you don’t hear the message that saves, in 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Paul is commending the Thessalonians for how they responded to the preaching of God’s word.  He says, “For this cause we thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God,” listen to this, “which effectually is working also in you that believe.  It is the word that works with a believing heart.  God Sovereignly moves to redeem.  A person responds to the exposure to the word with faith and salvation takes place.  God’s will then of salvation is brought to the heart of a person through an understanding of the word mixed with faith and regeneration takes place.  How does it happen?  It happens through the word of God.  And again, I remind you of Titus 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done.”  We don’t get salvation and new life by doing things, by trying to obey God in the flesh, but according to his mercy, he saved us, watch this, “by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.”  There are the same two things, the washing of the water of the word and the planting of the Holy Spirit.  That’s the sovereign work of God.  SO, the word of truth is the issue.

Now let me just take that phrase a little bit further, the word of truth or truth’s word.  That particular designation is used several times in the New Testament.  In 2 Corinthians 6:7, you don’t need to look these up, I’ll just mention them to you.  It says, by the word of truth, by the power of God and it goes on.  In Colossians 1:5, it says, “Of which you heard before,” listen to this, “in the word of the truth of the gospel.  The word of the truth of the gospel.”  And there the word of the truth is specifically linked to the gospel.  By the way, 2 Timothy 2:15 also mentions the word of truth, rightly dividing the word of truth.  So the word of truth in general is the word of God.

It is that which God brings to us to unfold an understanding to us of his revelation of himself.  In specific, on the basis of Colossians 1:5 we could call it the word of the truth of the gospel.  Now with that in mind, we go back to James and we can just simply say that we wouldn’t be out of line to say, that we are born again with the word of truth, not only God’s general revelation, but as in Colossians 1:5, his specific revelation of the gospel.  And you say what’s the gospel?  The good news that Jesus came, died and rose again, so people are saved then when God sovereignly sets out to give them new birth, to give them a new nature to wash away their sin, to plant his spirit in them.  He brings them an understanding of that through the knowledge that comes in the gospel that is preached or that is given to them.  That mixed with faith results in the new birth.  In Romans 10:17, and I’m just picking up some scriptures that come to mind that I think are related to this as we kind of wind down.  But in Romans 10:17, do you remember this, how then shall they call on him whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in him in whom they have not heard?  How shall they hear without a preacher?  And then it says, and how shall they preach unless they be sent and so forth and so on.  It’s talking about we have to have preachers.  How are people going to hear if they don’t have a preacher?  How can we send anybody if there is no one to send?  People have to have a preacher, how beautiful, quoting from Isaiah, are the feet of them that preach the gospel.  How important it is to preach it, why?  Because of verse 17, faith comes by hearing, a speech about Christ.  That’s the proper Greek rending of 10:17, faith comes by hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ, Romans 10:17.  So, God sovereignly saves by moving into a life and recreating that life, but that takes place when a person comes to hear and understand the gospel and it is mixed with faith and that brings about the new birth.  What is it?  It is total transformation.  Who does it?  God does it by his own sovereign will.  How does it happen?  By hearing and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ that he died on the cross and rose again, that comes through the reveled word of God.  One other scripture on this regard is 1 Peter 1.  Being born again, it says, and here is the definition of the means.  Being born again, not of corruptible seed, he’s not talking about human birth, but of incorruptible, here it comes, by the word of God, which lives and abides forever. 

By the word of God which lives and abides forever.  For flesh, you can’t have a new birth in the flesh, it’s just like the grass and the glory of man is like the flower of grass, the grass withers and the flower falls away.  The flesh can’t produce anything lasting, but the word of the Lord endures forever.  Now listen, and this is the word, which by the gospel is preached unto you.  And again he says, you are born again by the word and the word that you are born again by is the gospel and the gospel is the story of Jesus death and resurrection.

So God sovereignly chooses to redeem, comes down, cleanses the heart, plants his spirit, but in order to do that, the heart must be comprehend the gospel as clearly preached and that comprehension mixed with faith brings about new life, new life.  Now, if anything is to change in us, God must do it, but we must respond as well, to the gospel.  Now that leaves us with one question, one question.  Why is it done?  Why?  Why does God bother.  We know what, we know who, we know how, but why?  What is the purpose of making us new?  The end of verse 18, this is marvelous.  In order that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creation.  Boy, what a statement.  We could really go to town on this one.  The ramifications of this are just tremendous, that we should be, that’s an ace with the verb to be, that’s a purpose cause, with the purpose of producing a new kind of creation, that’s what God wants.  He wants a new kind of creation and we are the first fruits of that.

That’s great.  What are first fruits?  Well, if we had time and we won’t take the time, we could study the Old Testament, mark down Exodus 23:19, Leviticus 23, Deuteronomy chapter 18, Deuteronomy chapter 26, that tells about first fruits.  When you planted a crop, God said, I want your first fruits.  First fruits meant two things, I want the first in order and I want the best. 

When you harvest that crop, bring an offering to me and I want the first that you harvest and that will show that you live by faith, because if you take your first, the tendency for a farmer is to take the first thing that he harvest and he hordes it incase nothing else comes through.  So you bring me the first and you bring me the best, that’s the first fruits.  The first of a full crop that’s coming later and that’s exactly what it means here. 

He says, I want you to, this is thrilling, to be the first and the best indicative of a whole crop that’s coming later.  That’s marvelous.  Now listen to me carefully, do you realize people that the world will not continue the way it is right now?  Do you know that?  Do you know that we are headed to a total transformation of the world as we know it?  Do you know that this entire operation on the earth will burn up and the bible tells us that the Lord will recreate this earth, to his own liking?  He will make a new creation, everything will be born again, everything.  Men and women and dirt and hills and valleys and water and grass and plants and animals and everything, in fact, he will make a new heaven and a new earth, there is coming a whole new creation and we are just the first evidence of it. 

As Paul says in Romans 8, the world doesn’t even know what we are going to be yet, because we are still veiled in our flesh and waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God when it becomes clear to everybody what we really are. That’s kind of exciting to know what I am in that regard.  I’m a sample as a Christian and so are you, of what’s coming.  We’re just the first look at the new creation.  Incredible.  We are his.  And he recreates us as symbols, as examples, as illustrations, of his coming new creation.  You want to know what the future is going to be like.  I’ll tell you what it’s going to be like.  It’s going to be like us all new on the inside.  It’s going to be like us after we get all new on the outside too, but we are just the first fruits.  What is that?  The first fruits is the promise of the full crop.  The promise of the full crop.  And we are the first fruits.  What a thought.  God says, I want to take you to be my special possession.  I want to take you to belong to me.  To be symbols of the full new creation yet to come. 

Do you realize that here we are in little Grace Community Church in this little pocket of bricks here tonight and the world has no idea what we are, but we are just first fruits of an incredible new creation when God recreates the whole heaven and the whole earth?  We are just the first fruits.  Creation, it says in Romans 8 is groaning waiting for its recreation.  And we also are crying out for the recreation, not of our soul, we have had that, but of our what?  Of our bodies where the flesh hangs on.

This new life we have in Christ is a taste of future glory when the whole universe will be recreated.  So, what a marvelous privilege is ours.  What is regeneration?  It’s recreation.  Making us all new from the inside.  Who does it?  God does it sovereignly.  When does it happen or how does it happen?  It happens when we hear with believing hearts the word of the gospel and then God mixes his faith with his sovereign power, transforms us and why does he do it?  Because we are to stand out in the world as living examples of where this world is headed when he recreates is.

Now to put this thing back in James context, try to tell me now that God wants us to sin and I’ll tell you you got a screw loss.  There is no way that God wants you to sin.  No way he is pleased with your sin.  He created you to be a model of a sinless society.  That’s what he wants.  So when you sin, don’t blame him.  Put the blame where it out to be on your flesh and long for the day when your flesh is redeemed. 

That’s what it means to be born again and we have much to praise God for.  Let’s bow in prayer.  Our father, we titled our message tonight, Born to Holiness.  And we indeed are committed to that.  That we have been made new in order that we who were unholy might be holy. What a tremendous truth that is.  Father we thank you so much for making us the symbols of your new creation.  And father, we pray that we might shine as lights in the world.

That we might, who have been redeemed be so grateful that we might live in such a way as to properly represent that whole new creation of which we are but the first fruits.  Forgive us for those times when we have blamed you for our sin and help us to realize that it is your desire to recreate us unto holiness.

And help us to pursue that with all our might and the power of the spirit.  And father, if there are some in our fellowship tonight who have never come to Christ who have never been born again, who have not yet received the life principle.  Who have not been changed on the inside.  Who have not been washed from all their sin.  Who have not received a new spirit and a new inner person.  A new life principle.  Who have not received the Holy Spirit to live in them.  Who are not your special beloved and intimate possession, your first fruits and a promise of a whole new universe.  Oh Lord, may this be the night when they embrace Jesus Christ.  May they believe in the one who died on the cross for them, shed his blood to pay the penalty for their sin.  Rose again the third day for their salvation.

May they put their faith in the living Jesus Christ and may they experience that glorious sovereign mercy and grace and the joy of being first fruits, living examples of the coming recreation.  Oh God, help us who know you to live up to who we are.  And rightly represent to this world what is coming in the future.  We pray in Christ’s name, amen.

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/59-8/born-to-holiness

The Power of Patience: Part 1 (James 5:7–12)

Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr.

James is still addressing the suffering saints when he writes, “Be patient.” This is his counsel at the beginning of his letter (1:1–5) and is still his counsel at the end of his letter. He knows God is not going to right all the wrongs in this world until Jesus returns, so we must patiently endure—and expect.

Three times James reminds us of the coming of the Lord (5:7–9). This is the “blessed hope” of the Christian (Titus 2:13). We do not expect to have everything easy and comfortable in this present life. “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). Paul told his converts, “We must go through much tribulation to enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). We must patiently endure hardships and heartaches until Jesus returns.

But the question we must answer is: How can we as Christians experience this kind of patient endurance as we wait for the Lord to return? To answer that question, James gave three encouraging examples of patient endurance.

The Farmer (James 5:7–9)

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

If a man is impatient, then he had better not become a farmer. No crop appears overnight (except perhaps a crop of weeds) and no farmer has control over the weather. Too much rain can cause the crop to rot, too much sun can burn it up, and an early frost can kill the crop. How long-suffering the farmer must be with the weather! He must also have patience with the seed because it takes time for plants to grow. He has to wait many weeks for his seed to produce fruit.

Why does he willingly wait so long? Because the fruit is “precious” (v. 7). The harvest is worth waiting for. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).

James pictures the Christian as a “spiritual farmer” looking for a spiritual harvest. Our hearts are the soil and the “seed is the Word of God” (Luke 8:11). There are seasons to the spiritual life just as there are seasons to the soil. Sometimes, our hearts become cold and “wintry,” and the Lord has to “plow them up” before He can plant the seed (Jer. 4:3). He sends the sunshine and the rains of His goodness to water and nurture the seeds planted; but we must be patient to wait for the harvest.

Here, then, is a secret of endurance when the going is tough: God is producing a harvest in our lives. He wants the “fruit of the Spirit” to grow (Gal. 5:22–23), and the only way He can do it is through trials and troubles. Instead of growing impatient with God and with ourselves, we must yield to the Lord and permit the fruit to grow. We are “spiritual farmers” looking for a harvest.

You can enjoy this kind of harvest only if your heart is established (James 5:8). The ministry of the Word of God and prayer are important if the heart is going to be established. Paul sent Timothy to Thessalonica to establish the young Christians in their faith (1 Thes. 3:1–3); and Paul also prayed for them that they might be established (1 Thes. 3:10–13). A heart that is not established cannot bear fruit.

Keep in mind the farmer does not stand around doing nothing: he is constantly at work as he looks toward the harvest. James does not tell these suffering believers to put on white robes, climb a hill, and wait for Jesus to return. “Keep working and waiting” was his admonition. “Blessed is that servant whom the Lord finds doing so when He returns” (Luke 12:43).

Nor does the farmer get into fights with his neighbors. One of the usual marks of farmers is their willingness to help one another. Nobody on the farm has time or energy for disputes with the neighbors. James must have had this in mind when he added, “Don’t grumble against each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged” (v. 9). Impatience with God often leads to impatience with God’s people and this is a sin we must avoid. If we start using the sickles on each other, we will miss the harvest!

The Prophets (James 5:10)

Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

A Jewish congregation would understand this simple reference James made to the Old Testament prophets. These men were well known for suffering wrong when they had done no wrong. They were harshly treated for faithfully declaring the Word of God. James alluded to such prophets to urge his readers to be patient when they themselves were suffering for doing good. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus also used the prophets as an example of victory over persecution (Matt. 5:10–12).

What encouragements do we receive from their example? For one thing, they were in the will of God, yet they suffered. They were preaching “in the name of the Lord,” yet they were persecuted. Satan tells the faithful Christian his suffering is the result of sin or unfaithfulness; yet his suffering might well be because of faithfulness! “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” (2 Tim. 3:12). We must never think obedience automatically produces ease and pleasure. Our Lord was obedient and it led to death!

The prophets encourage us by reminding us God cares when we go through sufferings for His sake. Elijah announced to wicked King Ahab there would be a drought in the land for three and one half years; and Elijah himself had to suffer in that drought. But God cared for him and God gave him victory over the evil priests of Baal. It has been said, “The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.”

Many of the prophets had to endure great trials and sufferings, not only at the hands of unbelievers, but at the hands of professed believers. Jeremiah was arrested as a traitor and even thrown into an abandoned well to die. God fed Jeremiah and protected him throughout the terrible siege of Jerusalem, even though at times it looked as though the prophet was going to be killed. Both Ezekiel and Daniel had their share of hardships, but the Lord delivered them.

Why is it that those who “speak in the name of the Lord” often must endure difficult trials? It is so their lives might back up their messages. The impact of a faithful, godly life carries much power. We need to remind ourselves our patience in times of suffering is a testimony to others around us.

This example James used from the Old Testament prophets ought to encourage us to spend more time in the Bible, getting acquainted with these heroes of the faith. “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). The better we know the Bible the more God can encourage us in the difficult experiences of life. The important thing is that, like the farmer, we keep working and, like the prophets, we keep witnessing, no matter how trying our circumstances may be.

In Part 2, we will look at the third example of patient endurance: Job.

https://joequatronejr.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/the-power-of-patience-james-57-12/

Good and Bad Guilt?

Guilt can be a merciless taskmaster that drives us far from God. Or, guilt can gently lead us back to a right relationship with Him, more fully convinced than ever of the Father’s love. How we respond to guilt today can determine our success in life for years to come. It can even determine where we will spend eternity.

Listening to Our Guilt

The Bible says we are created in God’s image and His glory. This wonderful privilege of bearing His image also holds out the requirement that we live righteous lives. When we do something that conflicts with our sense of right and wrong, an alarming thing happens: we feel guilty.

If you are feeling guilty, then this internal moral compass is sounding an alarm indicating that you may have sinned. And sin separates us from God.

That’s why it is important to listen carefully to your guilt. Don’t just try to ignore those nagging feelings of moral ill. Listen to your heart. Then determine to find out what’s causing your guilty conscience.

Guilty as Charged

Even as you read these words, you may be coming to a realization of the source of your guilt. Perhaps you have offended someone. Or you have done something you know God did not want you to do.

Guilt can arise from things we say and do that directly violate God’s law. Even if we are not familiar with a specific Bible passage, God has given us a law that is written on our hearts and helps us know when we have sinned (Romans 2:15)

True guilt is God’s way of warning us to repent and turn away from our sins so He can forgive us, cleanse us and make us entirely guilt-free. The fact is, the Bible says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Another passage says “the Scripture has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe” (Gal. 3:22).

Guilt is a fact of life because sin is a fact of life. And our sin has the consequences of death (Romans 6:23). But God does not leave you “shut up” under the emotional burden and deadly consequences of sin. He has made a way to break free from our sin and guilt.

God’s Answer for Guilt

God works through everything that happens in our lives, including guilt, to draw us to Jesus (John 6:44,45; John 14:6; Romans 8:28,29). No matter what you have done, God has made a way home – through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life, yet He was willing to die on the cross and receive the punishment we deserved. His death on the cross and triumphant resurrection secures for you all the blessings of God, including forgiveness. All you have to do is repent an turn your life over to Jesus (Acts 3:19).

This is what the Bible calls being “born again” of the Spirit of God (John 3:3,5). We enter into the born-again experience by repenting of our sin, yielding our lives to Jesus as Savior and Lord, and trusting in faith that He will forgive and cleanse us from all sin (Romans 3:23; Romans 10:13; 1 John 1:8-9; John 1:12).

Guilt-Free Living

God’s answer for sin and guilt accomplishes what no amount of human effort could manage. Thanks to the blood of Christ, we can “draw near” to God “in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:22).

This cleansing is not just a one-time event. Every time the Holy Spirit prompts our spirit that we have sinned, we can return to His throne of grace to receive mercy (Heb. 4:16). If we fail to respond to guilt in repentance, we can expect God to continue to work in our lives until we come to Him in humility. For God desires children who can serve Him with a “clear conscience” (1Tim. 3:9).

Having a clear conscience also requires that we walk in humility and repentance towards those around us. Be sure to seek forgiveness and to forgive.

Taking On the Accuser

At times, the enemy of our soul, Satan uses guilt to keep us from the Lord. The Bible describes Satan as the “accuser of the brethren” who appears before God day and night with accusations against believers (see Rev. 12:10).

These accusations leave us feeling as if God has not forgiven – or will not forgive – us. We respond in shame, anger, bitterness, and depression – which further drives us from God’s presence.

This kind of guilt – a guilt that does not leave even after we repent and turn to Jesus for cleansing – is not from God. As we have seen, the blood of Christ fully satisfies God’s righteousness. Thus, “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

If you have repented of your sins but still feel the accuser lurking in the shadows, confront the accusations with God’s Word. As Jesus said, “If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). Walk in that freedom.

As You Pray

God wants to free you from anything that would hinder your full life and liberty in Him. If you are dealing with guilt, choose the path that leads to life; repentance. Then stay on that path by fully accepting God’s forgiveness and cleansing:

“Father, I confess my sins to You. Thank You for forgiving me of every sin I have ever committed. And thank You for releasing me from the burden of guilt. Help me to continue living every day for You. Amen.”

God’s Word on Guilt

“Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is His flesh, … let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb. 10:19,20,22)

Scriptures For Study

Romans 6:23 — Wages of sin; gift of God

1 Timothy 4:2 — Effect of lying on our conscience

1 John 1:9 — God’s faithfulness to forgive

Jeremiah 31:34 — No remembrance of sin

John 1:12; John 5:24; John 8:36 — Belief in Christ delivers from sin

Romans 6:18, 22; Romans 8:1 — Freedom from sin and guilt

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible.

Can God change your life?

God has made it possible for you to know Him and experience an amazing change in your own life. Discover how you can find peace with God. You can also send us your prayer requests.

https://www1.cbn.com/good-guilt-bad-guilt

The Door to Heaven is Narrow (Luke 13:22-30)

Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr. Book of Luke

This is a message that will tell you how you can go to heaven when you die.

There are two doors after death: destruction or delight, and we choose which door we will pass through while we are alive; either the narrow door to heaven or the wide door to hell. Many of you are already believers and know you are going to heaven, so you may wonder why I’m speaking on this topic. The Bible makes it clear that many people think they are going to heaven, but they are mistaken. So it’s good to occasionally clear our minds of all of our preconceived notions and consider how a person can go to heaven. Heaven can only be entered through a narrow door. Have you found heaven’s narrow door? Let’s read about it in Luke 13:22-30.

Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as He made His way to Jerusalem. Someone asked Him, “Lord are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ But He will answer, “I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!” There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the Kingdom of God. Indeed, there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

If we want to enter heaven, there are four important truths we need to understand:

1. There is Only One Door to Heaven and it is Narrow

These words of Jesus are not politically correct in our age of religious pluralism. If Jesus came to America preaching this message today, He would be labeled a radical and would probably be arrested. In fact, that’s exactly why the Jews arrested Him and executed Him 2,000 years ago.

To say there is only one way to heaven is an unpopular stance today. Most people think there are many ways to get to heaven. They think it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are “sincere.” Well, those Palestinian suicide bombers are sincere in their beliefs, and they are wrong. You can be sincere – and be sincerely wrong.

A man told me he thought getting to heaven was like flying in an airplane. I could fly American Airlines, he could fly Delta, and somebody else could fly Northwest airlines, but we’d all get to the same destination. “Doesn’t that sound logical?” he asked.

I told him it sounded logical, but when you get on an airliner, you could never be 100% certain it would arrive at the intended destination; it could be diverted by weather, hijacked, have mechanical problems, or even crash. I told him I am booked to fly on Jesus Airlines and it’s the only one in the universe with a 100% on time arrival record! For Jesus (or any of us) to insist there is just one way to heaven seems too narrow-minded in this age of enlightenment. But look at His words again in verse 24: “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” Jesus didn’t speak of different doors or different airliners. He didn’t say “enter through one of the narrow doors.” He spoke of the narrow door.

Other Scriptures confirm there is only one way to heaven. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Now, let me misquote this verse the way most folks believe. They think Jesus said, “I am one of the ways, part of the truth, and one kind of life. No one comes to the Father unless they are religious, good, kind, and sincere in whatever it is they believe.” But Jesus didn’t say He was one of the ways or even the best way; He said He is the only way.

For five decades, Billy Graham had been filling stadiums around the world preaching Jesus is the only way to heaven. He always had a banner with John 14:6 placed in a prominent place. Many people thought his position was too narrow-minded. Several years ago, after he conducted a crusade in Australia, a woman wrote a letter of complaint to the newspaper. Her words are typical of many who do not appreciate our insistence that Jesus is the only way to heaven. She wrote, “After hearing Billy Graham on the air and viewing him on television, I am heartily sick of the type of religion that insists my soul (and everyone else’s) needs saving–whatever that means. I have never felt that I was lost. Nor do I feel that I wallow in the mire of sin, although his preaching insists I do. Give me practical religion that teaches gentleness and kindness and acknowledges no barriers of color or creed, that remembers the aged and teaches children about goodness and not about sin. If, in order to save my soul, I must accept such a philosophy as I have recently heard preached, I prefer to remain forever damned.”

Sadly, Jesus confirmed that millions of people share her attitude. He pointed out that only a small percentage of the entire population are going to be saved and He was dogmatic about it!

What’s wrong with being dogmatic about some things? If you go in for surgery, you wouldn’t want your surgeon to say to you the night before the surgery, “I don’t want to be dogmatic about the way to do this surgery. I think I’ll try a different approach this time. I may try going in from the other side for a change. After all, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” You’d say, “But I’m not a cat and I don’t want to be skinned! Do the surgery the way you were taught to do it!” How far do you think the surgeon would get if he did it the wrong way?

We can’t bend God’s rules either. The people in this passage were at the door; they were even knocking on the door. But almost getting into the door won’t get us into heaven. When it comes to our eternal salvation there is only one door. What is it?

2. Heaven’s Door is Knowing God by Knowing Jesus

A few years ago, I conducted a survey. One of the questions on the survey was: “In your personal opinion, what do you understand it takes for a person to go to heaven?” As you can imagine, I got a variety of interesting answers. Everybody has an opinion. The most common incorrect answer to the question of how to get into heaven was: “Do good or be good.” Wrong. Access to eternal life in heaven can only be gained when we have a personal relationship with God.

In verse 25, Jesus describes people who will be pounding on heaven’s door after it is shut. They will be hollering, “Let me in! Open the door! I went to church; I even went to Sunday School! I gave my money to the church. I even worked for You! Hey, let me in!” Notice the reply of the Master of the house. He says, “I don’t know you.” It’s all about knowing God. Do you know Jesus Christ? Does He know you? He said in John 10:27, “My sheep hear My voice; I know them and they follow Me.” Do you recognize God’s voice when you hear it? Do you know Jesus and does He know you?

All of us in this room know about President Obama. Maybe you’ve met him or shaken his hand, but do you really know him? Have you visited with him enough that you are known by him? The same can be said about Jesus. Everyone here knows about Jesus, but some of you might have had casual contact with Him. Others of us have met Him and we know Him intimately because we talk with Him regularly (by the way, it’s easier to gain access to Jesus than it is to President Obama, so feel free to get to know Him).

Eternal life is knowing Jesus. Let me call your attention to the verse that best defines what eternal life is: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent” (John 17:3). Eternal life is knowing God. That’s the door to heaven and it is the only way to get into heaven.

I love to read fables because they are like the parables of Jesus. Many of them teach practical lessons that can be applied to spiritual truth. There’s an old Russian fable about a cat and a fox. The fox bragged to the cat about how clever he was. He claimed he had hundreds of ways of escaping from the hunters who chased him. He could hide in a hole, or backtrack in a creek, or lie flat in tall grass. He was proud of his big bag of tricks. The cat replied she only had one way of escape, but that seemed to work.

At that moment, they heard the sounds of the hounds coming toward them. The cat scampered up the tree and hid herself among the leaves. She said to the fox, “This is my plan. What are you going to do?” The fox first thought of one plan, then of another. While he was debating the best plan the hounds came closer. At last, in his confusion, the fox was caught by the hounds and soon killed by the hunters. The cat witnessed the whole scene and provides the moral of the story: “Better to have one safe way than a hundred by which you cannot be sure.”

God is Spirit and no man can see Him without dying. That’s why Jesus came to this planet. God took on human flesh and became one of us, so we can relate to Him. Jesus said, “I am the door; whoever enters through Me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture” (John 10:9). The narrow door into heaven is Jesus Himself. There is no other way to get to heaven than by trusting in Jesus as your Savior and Lord.

Maybe you have heard of the name, “Ivan the Terrible.” He was crowned the first Czar or Caesar of Russia in 1547. He was cruel and ruthless. He gouged out the eyes of the architects who built the beautiful St. Basil’s Cathedral, so they would never be able to build anything more beautiful. He had seven wives and abused them all. He even killed his own son in a fit of anger. There were many reasons why people called him “terrible.”

When he died in 1584 the leaders of the church followed his strange instructions. They shaved his head and dressed him in a Monk’s robe. Ivan the Terrible knew he was such a wicked man that he was hoping God would mistake him for a monk and let him into heaven. But you can’t get into heaven by disguising yourself as someone and hoping God will mistake you for him or her. There is only one door and that door is Jesus.

3. There are Only Two Doors Leading to Eternity – Choose Your Door

Each of us faces these doors. Behind one is eternal life and delight. Behind the other is death and destruction. There is no mystery involved in these doors. The doors are clearly marked and Jesus tells us what is behind each door. Beginning in verse 28, Jesus describes the fate of those who don’t enter through the narrow door. He says there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” That means there will be hopeless sorrow and unending pain. It makes me shiver in revulsion just thinking about it. Jesus said these people will “see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the prophets.” One of the worst parts of hell is the ability to realize others are in heaven and you aren’t. What a terrible place hell will be. In his epic, Inferno, Dante described hell as having different levels and circles of torment. He created minute details you never find in Scripture, but he got it right in one respect. He inscribed over the gate to hell these words: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

Then Jesus contrasts that awful scene with the delightful glories of heaven. People from all four points of the compass, from all over the planet will gather for a feast! The Kingdom of God is like a feast, not a funeral. So, how do you get to enjoy the party and miss the pain? Choose the right door. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus lets us know there are actually two doors that lead to two totally different destinies. He said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Consider the two doors. The one leading to destruction and hell is wide, and easy to find. Jesus said most of the world is on the pathway that leads to that door. But the door that leads to the delight of eternal life is narrow and only a few find it. God loves us so much He has made a way for us to know Him and to spend eternity with Him. But He also loves us so much that He has honored us by giving us the capacity to choose.

4. Heaven’s Door is Open Now, But Someday it Will be Shut

I can tell you on this very day, God’s door of grace is still wide open. But in verse 25, Jesus says one day the Master of the house will get up and close the door: “Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.” The door could close for you today. You could die today and that would close the door. Or, Jesus could return today and that would close the door of grace as well. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know things are heating up to a new level in Israel. All of that is a clear indication we are in the season of the return of Christ. So, if you haven’t trusted Jesus yet, do it today. Christian, if there is someone you know and love who hasn’t walked through God’s narrow door yet, don’t let another day pass by without lovingly urging them to trust Jesus alone for their salvation.

You can choose to enter heaven’s door today. Jesus said it’s a narrow door. Think about that for a minute. It’s so narrow only one person can walk through it at one time. In other words, you can’t walk through heaven’s door holding someone else’s hand. I thank God my parents raised me in church and sent me to Christian school, but when it came time for me to give my life to Jesus, I walked through that door all by myself. Some of you think because your grandfather was a preacher or your mother was a godly saint that you can walk through the door with them, but you can’t. The narrow door to heaven says, “One person at a time.”

Do you know what else it means because it’s a narrow door? It’s so narrow you can’t bring a bunch of excess baggage with you. In fact, you’ve got to unload all your “stuff” before you walk through it. I read once about a hiker who got trapped in a cave. He found a small opening to escape, but he couldn’t squeeze through with his backpack. So, he removed his backpack, and then his canteen, and then his jacket before he could slip through the opening. When you walk through the narrow door of heaven, you’ve got to leave your backpack of sinful habits and sinful attitudes behind. As the old song says, “Nothing in my hand I bring, Only to your cross I cling.”

Have you discovered heaven’s narrow door? Jesus is inviting you to come to Him today. Is there a need in your life? Does there seem to be an unquenchable thirst in your soul you haven’t been able to satisfy by anything this world offers? On the last page of the Bible, God extends an invitation to all of us. He says, “Is anyone thirsty? Come! All who will, come and drink. Drink freely of the Water of Life!” (Revelation 22:17).

The Bible speaks about another kind of door: it’s the door to your heart. And the way you walk through heaven’s door is by asking Jesus to come into the door of your heart. The most famous painting of the 19th century is by English artist Holman Hunt and is called “The Light of the World.” It’s a dark picture because it is night, symbolizing that the night has come and the day of salvation is almost over. Jesus is wearing a crown of thorns and standing at a door with a lantern in His hand. He is knocking on the door and His message is hard to miss. Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with Me” (Revelation 3:20). Art critics looked at the painting and pointed out that Holman Hunt made a mistake–there was no latch on the door. His reply silenced the critics. He said the door of our heart only has a doorknob on the inside. We are the only ones who can open our hearts to Jesus.

Right now, Jesus is standing at the door of your heart. He’s knocking. Do you hear His voice? Will you open your heart to Him? When you do that, you will have found Heaven’s narrow door.

https://joequatronejr.wordpress.com/2015/04/30/the-door-to-heaven-is-narrow-luke-1322-30/

7 Steps To Welcoming Christ Home! (Part-2)

 July 15, 2020 Author: hephzibahgarden

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. Luke‬ ‭19:5‬

On the backdrop of Zacchaeus’ life we saw the first three ways of how we can invite Jesus into our home/life. Here’s the second part on the same topic. Let’s take a look:

  • Need of a Pure Conscience – Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 1 Timothy‬ ‭3:9‬. Without purity no one can see God. Also, to have Jesus come and dwell in our hearts, we need to have a pure conscience. How can we receive purity in our conscience? By allowing the Blood of Jesus to wash away the filthiness and iniquities of sin in us. Zacchaeus also did the same and was delivered of the miserable life he lived. Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews‬ ‭10:22‬
  • Keep His Word – Soon after Zacchaeus accepted his shortcomings and transgressions before the Lord, we see an immediate change of heart taking place in himHow was that possible? Because somewhere deep in his heart he loved and adored Jesus. Zacchaeus had heard quite a lot about this Teacher before, and that’s how his love for Him grew. Now, on meeting the Saviour, he obeyed God’s Word by restoring everything that he had taken unjustly from people. Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. John‬ ‭14:23‬
  • Fellowship in communion – By partaking in the Lord’s table/having communion, we become partakers of eternal life. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. John‬ ‭6:56‬. Flesh here refers to the Bread/Word of God. Jesus said – I am that bread of life. John 6:48. When Jesus called Zacchaeus, who was on the sycamore tree then, he obeyed and quickly came down and welcomed Him with great joy. That day he had a close communion with Jesus and became a new creature in Christ.
  • Waiting for Him – Zacchaeus waited patiently upon the sycamore tree, to see Jesus when He passed by that way! 😇 He was a little man, yet his “little stature” could not stop the deep desire he carried within him — to see Jesus. And Finally… !! Not only was he able to see Jesus, he was even able to welcome Jesus into his house that day!! Hallelujah!

Dear child of God, those who wait upon God will never be ashamed. They will go from strength to strength and appear before God.

May the Lord help us! Be blessed! 💕

VIDEO The Immensity and Intensity of the Christian Faith – A deeper meaning to the crucifixion

SEPTEMBER 4, 2019 BY FRANCES ROGERS

Or, we might use the title, The Immensity and Intensity of the Gospel.
They are the same.

There is no Christian faith without the Gospel.

The Gospel is the means to a life of faith. It is more than just words spoken by men. The good news of Christ is more than men can ask and more than men can imagine. It is the revelation of the kingdom of God by the Spirit of God within the spirit of men.

It is meant to be experienced within the mind, the heart, and the life of men ~ beyond our own doing.

The Christian faith is different than any other faith. It is the only religion that addresses, deals with, and resolves the issues of sin and death.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ promises more than any other ~ promises we can trust ~ greater than any man could plan for himself.

Its immensity is little known because man cannot desire what he has never tasted. We do not taste unless we are drawn to and search God’s Word. The kingdom of God is the kingdom of the Christian faith to which the Gospel brings His people.

“It is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom.”
Luke 12:32

Who can describe such a kingdom?

The intensity of the Gospel and the Christian faith that excels through the Gospel is the working of the Gospel itself by the power of the Holy Spirit in the heart and life of men. Yes, I am repeating myself. The Gospel bears repeating even as preachers continue to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 10).

It is not puny words of men that fall to the ground, but it is the power of God for salvation to those who believe (Romans 1:16). It is power to quicken those who are dead in their trespasses and sin, awakening their senses to their sin and need of a Savior.

The power of the Gospel is the good news of Christ raising the dead to life in Him.

And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead,
and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
Even when we were dead in sins,
hath quickened us together with Christ,

(by grace ye are saved;) 
Ephesians 1:19-20; 2:5

No minister, worth his salt, will throw out a dry bone to his congregation. Dead men need the meat of God’s Word to live. Those who have been revived ~ made new through the new birth of the Gospel ~ need the continual Gospel to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ as we wait for the promise of eternal life in Him.

The man of God digs deep into the treasury of God’s Word and presents those treasures to his hearers.

The Gospel works its immensity within the hearts of the ministers of the Gospel.

They must be overwhelmed with the greatness of God’s redeeming love.

They must know the reality of a heavenly Father who, in the covenant of redemption, planned to sacrifice His own Son to secure our place with Him for eternity and the reality of His Son, in agreement with this covenant to sacrifice Himself.

What love! What sacrifice! ~ immensity of grace greater than can be comprehended by mortal men.

This should bring forth an intensity of the Gospel which the man of God cannot keep to himself.

He should be zealous, always ready to present the Gospel wherever He is called, to whoever hears.

Are there such ministers in the world today? Yes! I would not be writing on this subject if it were not so.

Our own pastor, Chris Strevel, is such a minister of the Gospel and the Christian faith. Preaching for thirty years, he holds Christ in the center of every sermon, continuing to unfold the treasures of His kingdom. My heart is weekly quickened, opened and enabled to receive the Good News of Christ ~ His grace and His glory. You can listen or view all his sermons on Sermon Audio. He is presently preaching through the Gospel of Luke and Exodus.

Another pastor, Ryan McKee, in Northern Ireland, is younger, but also preaches the immensity of the Gospel with the intensity of Christ. I began watching these services in 2016 when we were unable to attend church for ten months. Five hours ahead, their morning worship is at seven. Their evening worship is at two. Ryan is preaching through the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew’s Gospel.

We have one among us here on WordPress from California. Check Jim’s blog here.

I mention these who are devoted to Christ and His Gospel as they serve God’s people. The Gospel and the Christian Faith are too valuable to take for granted ~ too precious to keep hidden. If you know other local pastors, please let me know.

We should pray for a revival among the ministers of God’s Word in our local churches. Some preach to the masses in conferences, etc. but we need daily, weekly oversight of pastors who shepherd God’s people in the name and power of Christ.

Gracious heavenly Father. Lay it upon the hearts of your ministers to draw near to you ~ to seek the face of Christ as never before. By your Spirit, draw them to your Word, fill their hearts with the zeal for the power of the Gospel. Enable them to proclaim your Word to your people. Open the hearts of your people to hear and to live the Christian faith Jesus died to give. In His name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Five Lessons for Preachers  Charles Spurgeon

The Immensity and Intensity of the Christian Faith


A deeper meaning to the crucifixion | IN HIS DEATHS | The Book of Mysteries

You Talking To Me?

Aug 9, 2019 by Jeff Jones

As I sit at my desk this beautiful morning looking at a sunny Arizona sky through my window (when is it not a sunny sky in Arizona), I wondered to myself what could I possibly write that hasn’t already been covered? What could I write for myself, for these men out there, and for God, above all, that already hasn’t been discussed? Smarter minds, more “spiritually mature” men, theologians, pastors, and the like have written about, produced videos on, preached over and discussed just about every topic imaginable. Even just reading the prior blogs on Discerning Dad, I scratch my head wondering how can I prepare something– anything– that will speak into the lives of those who may read it without sounding like a soggy box of cereal?

So I prayed. I asked the Holy Spirit to guide me and these words. Am I saying that the words here are now “inspired” and from God himself? Not really. Well, maybe they are. I don’t know. All I know is what we now read here is either the product of direction from God, my imagination, or perhaps a mysterious combination of the two.

In any event, this article is a bit different. It is not going to give a sappy story, then tie in a scripture with an inspiring ending. It is not going to give you feel-good tidbits to nod your head to and walk away feeling self-fulfilled (why? Because the Gospel is about God and not about us!). Rather, it is going to pose a single and solitary (yes, what I just said there is redundant) question. You may first brush it off, then try to go back to scrolling on Facebook or whatever it is you do when you zombie out. But I ask you, or rather–implore you–to really just take a minute and think about it. As in, if you were in class, and called out by the teacher to stand up and answer the question in front of everyone, what would you say? If it were the final exam, what would you write? If you were about to win the game show with this final answer, how would you respond? (Ok, ok, I think you get it now).

Of course, none of this really matters if the question weren’t important. So I suppose it must be a pretty important question for us to care how to respond.

So what could be so important to ask that justifies spending part of your busy day reading this article and pondering about? Well, I’m glad you asked. It is not a question of mine; rather, it is a question that is begged from the words of Jesus himself. Matthew 7:21-23 ESV states:

21 Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” 23 And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

So the question is this- who is Jesus talking about?

Of course, if you are like me, your natural inclination is to immediately disregard the question. That’s not me. That’s someone else. I’ve seen that verse a hundred times and it doesn’t apply to me. We all think it. I have never once, until recently, actually considered whether that really could be me and sincerely ask the question.

Or, even worse, we just immediately think of “cults” or other deviations from orthodox Christianity, figuring that’s what is meant, and we package it up, place it on the shelf and move on to the next question. Hence, we never really examine it closer or compare it with the dark areas of our life.

Have you ever thought about, and I mean really pondered, that a person who is deceived actually doesn’t know at the time they are being deceived? Well, duh! What a wise comment. Seriously though. So think about it again. If the person isn’t you, then who the heck is it?! It has to be someone. Jesus said it. Therefore it is true. If everyone was correct, that it has to be someone else, Jesus would be wrong, because it would then be nobody. But obviously it is somebody. And not just a somebody, but MANY. Read the verse again. Jesus says “. . . many will say to me . . .” Obviously, we can probably reasonably predict that doesn’t mean one out of a hundred. It will be much more. And these people are “Christians”. That is assumed or implied in the passage as Jesus says that they lived “in his name.” Hence it is not your atheist or Muslim friend, but rather the “Christian” next door, at your job, at the grocery store or sitting next to you at church. Or, perhaps, maybe it’s you…

The wonderful pride of mankind, and especially in men, such as myself, is that nothing negative, or bad, can ever be us. It is always someone else. For example, before an alcoholic has an epiphany that he or she is an alcoholic, they usually don’t acknowledge or see it. They see their activities but they are blinded. Everyone around them can point it out, but they deny it. It usually takes hitting rock bottom or some tragic event to remove the wool from their eyes. I see the same when watching “Hoarder” shows and everyone in the family is trying to reason with the hoarder but the person is in complete denial.

Another example? As an attorney, I was involved in hundreds of criminal defense cases. Sadly, many of my guilty clients would never accept the typical punishment that came with the crime, or they would not confess because they believed they had a valid excuse. Nearly all of them, probably 90%, always had an attitude of “I should get an exception because… [fill in the blank]. They would have an excuse why they needed special treatment and that the rules shouldn’t apply to them. To me, as an outsider, their situation clearly fit into the crime or punishment. To them, they didn’t see it that way. They wouldn’t, or couldn’t, objectively see their situation, and it usually took some significant event or tragedy to finally open their eyes.

That attitude used to annoy me, because to me it was clear. But over time, I realized I did that myself. It is part of our human nature to always expect justice or uphold certain standards or principles, but not as easy or often do we want the same to apply to us. We tend to act like that isn’t us, and it’s always someone else. This concept is the same with God and his evaluation of our lives.

We can be blinded and deceived, whether self-deceived or deceived by Satan or our flesh or whatever else you want to blame it on. And in that deception, we do not see it. Which is why it can be frustrating to try to reason with an addict about their addiction. For those of you who have struggled with addiction, or have a friend or loved one who has, you know how difficult it can be trying to reason with them unless and until they have come to an acknowledgment and opening of their eyes.

What this all means is that to us, through our eyes, as a “Christian”, we think we are ok. But when Jesus is looking at us through his eyes, which is the most pure, objective look you will ever get, what will he see? Will we look like the guilty criminal defendant who has not truly repented and feels that the same rules should not apply to him? If you say no, that’s not you, think again.

The purpose of this article is not to condemn. Rather, it is to save! If we have been blessed with another breath to be able to read this article, and more importantly, to read Jesus’ words, then we have an opportunity to examine our hearts and ask God to align our heart with His, and to ask God and ourselves whether we have, in fact, genuinely repented and committed ourselves to Christ. We have an opportunity to ask whether we are the ones about whom Jesus is speaking.

Jesus made it clear to us that a nominal, lukewarm and superficial Christianity does not save (please do not misunderstand; I am not implying that works save, and we as Christians will go through periods of being lukewarm). Rather, if we are truly indwelt by the Holy Spirit, that beauty will be manifest by the bearing of fruit in our lives. Jesus was pointing out that to be saved, it is merely more than just saying a prayer and living a certain way. It is true that such a prayer can save, but it’s not the prayer itself. It is the belief and surrender behind the prayer. The belief that Jesus is the Christ, who is God manifest in human form, who came to this Earth and was born of the virgin Mary, who lived a sinless life, who laid down his life and died a physical death as the payment for the sins of man, who satisfied the rightful and just wrath of God due to our sin, who was raised from death three days later and is at the right hand of the Father. It is our belief in not just “Jesus”, i.e. in that he existed, as even the demons know that. Rather, it is a laying down of our life, our pride, and in repenting and committing ourselves to Him. Jesus made this very clear-

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Matthew 16:24-25 ESV

This verse is often taken out of context. “Taking up your cross” does not mean give your burdens to God (which we obviously still should do). It means to die to yourself and live for Christ in order to “find” your life. Jesus says we cannot be his disciple if we will not bear our own cross. Luke 14:27. We must “. . . take our own cross and follow [Jesus] . . .” Matthew 10:38.

To be called a disciple, to be the one entering the Kingdom of Heaven, we, as “Christians”, must be the ones who have taken up our cross and died to ourselves. Having done that is a true understanding of repentance and commitment to be covered by God’s saving grace. Unfortunately, there are many–even those with good intentions and a “good heart”– who have not self-reflected and undertaken such an actual commitment. So it begs the question, which must be asked again, who is Jesus talking about?

As I think through all of this, I have learned one thing: to study the Gospel message again and again. God’s plan of redemption has been evident and laid out before the foundations of the earth. The Bible is a beautiful story which unfolds from beginning to end about a master plan of redemption and grace for his chosen people. Without the Gospel, nothing else matters for me, or for you. It is Jesus- his grace- that matters. Every fiber and being of our body and lives, from when we wake up to go to bed, should be in, about, through and for him. While we will go through spiritual droughts, we must pray and take off the blinders and ask ourselves if God is not our priority, if we don’t have a desire to read the Word and know him, if we aren’t producing any spiritual fruit, if the world could not differentiate you from the unsaved, are you, am I, saved? Are we part of the remnant? Will I hear those tragic words from Christ himself that he never knew me? It is my prayer that none of us do. And sadly many of us will. We can’t say it will be “someone else,” because that someone else has to be someone.

We should all take time to reflect on our own lives, our own hearts, and our relationship with the Lord to see where we stand. We should re-orient ourselves with the Gospel. Read it. Seriously. Perhaps start with the Gospel of John. Remind yourself of the plan of God, life of Jesus and our need for him. Ask yourself if you live for what God can do for you, or what you can do for Him? Remind yourself of our depravity, his grace, and why we are here. Make sure that your love, knowledge and commitment to the Lord will give you peace and confidence so that you can answer the question truthfully and in confidence that you are not the one referred to by Jesus. And pray, deeply, for those who are in deception that the Word of God be spoken into their lives, the blinders be lifted and that they repent and return home.

I feel this is important to the Discerning Dad. It takes significant discernment to see the truth and differentiate it from deception. Much more than we tend to appreciate. I know that for many years, I would have been the one about whom Jesus was speaking. I am thankful he has given me time to be able to see the truth. I pray the same for you.

Prayer-

Father, please examine my heart and expose the truth of where I stand. Help me to become vulnerable and to bear my cross for you. I desire you to be the God of my life, to be my life, and that I may be a witness to those around me. I thank you for your saving grace and allowing me another day to do your will. Please permeate my heart and my mind with your word, and your will, and give me discernment so that I may see, declare and defend the truth.

Jeff Jones
Guest Discerning Dad

Guest- Jeff Jones- You Talkin’ to Me??