After pulling my back out nearly a month ago, and further injury caused by a very nasty plane trip, I have healed enough (by the grace of God) to sit at my laptop once more and start hammering out some writing.
Today’s entry takes us a bit off the beaten track a bit, as we focus on the urgency in the Bible to follow God. I write this with a loved one in mind, as well as myself. I start with this favored passage from Joshua 24.
And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Many centuries in the past, the devil deceived Eve, explaining to her that if she ate of the apple in the Garden that she would be like God, knowing the difference between right and wrong. He failed to explain to her the devastating consequences for such an act of rebellion against God. Today, we face a similar proposition. We can live life the way we think is best, by our own moral compass, or we can submit our lives to God. The world acts as Satan did, persuading us that we do not need to follow God or His Word. Rather, we can look in our hearts, and make the decision we think best suits us. And just like before, the world fails to explain to us that doing so has some terrible consequences.
If you speak to most Americans, they will explain that they believe that when they die, God will permit them into heaven. I like to dig a little further and ask them why they believe that. Some will answer that they live mostly good lives. Others will answer that, at some point, they said a prayer for salvation. I challenge them with the following verse from Matthew 7.
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.’
Earlier in Matthew 7, Jesus warned…
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
Jesus gives us these and many other strong warnings that only a minority of the people will find their way to that gate which leads to life. He also points out that many believe they follow God, going so far as to prophesy in His name and do mighty works, and yet never actually knew Jesus.
What is the work of God? Many believe that you must do many good works, or live a righteous life. I believe if you follow Jesus, those things will manifest in your day to day living (and the Bible talks on that, as well). Yet, to believe that these represent the will and work of God misses the point. Jesus clarifies in John 6,
Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
Faith in Jesus is not only the work of God, but it leads to eternal life. Consider these words from John 3,
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
To have eternal life means more than just a statement of confession at a church alter, or even a life characterized by righteous works. No, to obtain eternal life, one must have faith in Jesus. Note how it says “whoever believes in him.” The word, “believes”, is in present tense. We must live a life of faith in Jesus. A confession of faith in our past does not suffice.
Paul Washer clarifies the fallacy of quick decisionalism vs. true spiritual regeneration. For sake of brevity, I have embedded the abridged version, but you can click on the link below for the full sermon.
I pray this helps bring you closer to God. Please do not hesitate to reach out me if I can help you discover God’s truth through His Word.