Category Archives: salvation

Simplicity from Confusion

Jesus Loves MeMy life is simple. I hold to this one truth and it clears up so much confusion.  The one truth is this:

Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so.

This is not scripture but so much common sense about belief is wrapped up into this child’s song.

  1. Jesus—the only Son of God, God himself, loves me. Jesus, the Creator of all that we see and don’t see, Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus, the great “I AM!”
  2. Love—Agape, the self-sacrificing love of God. This love which goes beyond the physical or emotional “love” that this world offers, is poured out upon me!
  3. Me—not my brother or my sister, but me! Me!
  4. This I know—how simple! How completely wonderful to know something to the core of my being. I know this better than I know anything else, and this knowledge brings everything that is good into my life: peace, wisdom, joy, direction, hope.
  5. For the Bible—that Book of all books! God’s love letter to His creation. Inspired—God breathed—into the hand and heart of its writers, the Bible is my anchor, my love letter from my Savior, heavenly Father, Creator, and Best Friend
  6. Tells me so—that’s why I read it every day. That’s why I study it every chance I get. That’s why I MAKE the time to study it when life gets too busy.  That’s why I sit under its preaching every time my church opens its doors. That’s why I love it, believe it, and defend it.

It’s so simple and yet most people miss it. This world is confusing.  This world is cruel.  This world (kosmos—the world’s system of thinking) and its ruler, Satan, wants to ruin life. God wants to give life. Satan is the deceiver. God is the way, the truth, and the life. So simple! That anchor of simplicity holds me fast when the storms of life HOWL!!! That tower of truth allows me to rest at night and then face another barrage of confusion which life spews forth!

Won’t you join me in the simple life?

For they have [said], Peace, peace; when there is no peace. Jer 8:11

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments. Ps 119:73

And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”
Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? John 14: 6-9

“Ah, but Wanda, your site is called Beyond Common Sense. Why is that?”

“I’m so glad you asked that.  Because common sense tells you to play it safe and stay where you are. To have this simple comfort and security you have to go beyond common sense to FAITH!  There is nothing commonsensical about faith! But all the blessings of God come when we step out in faith, trusting God completely—that what He said He will do!

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Mt 11:28-30

His yoke: Faith and Trust! Only then do I have that Friend that sticks closer than a brother to lift my burdens and carry them for me!

Six Hours—When Time Stood Still

selective photo of teal cross decor
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The world may rush on by today not remembering why they have the day off, but Christians know, or at least they should. Good Friday—the day the Son of God died—is truly good because it was on that day that Satan’s chains of death were broken. All eternity hinges on this day—the day our sin-debt was paid for on that Roman cross!

The world may try to obliterate any remembrance of God. They even change the name of time itself from B.C./A.D. (Before Christ/Anno Domini, or the year of our Lord) to B.C.E./C.E., but the date itself cannot deny the fact that something extraordinary happened over 2,000 years ago. But why can’t we get it exactly right? Why must the calendar be adjusted every four years by including one extra day during Leap Year? Aren’t we sophisticated enough count our minutes and days to match the exact rotation of the earth and its journey around the sun?

Perhaps someday we will have yet another calendar which will accomplish the elimination of Leap Years, but as I was thinking about this extra 24 hours every 4 years, I did the simple math: 24/4=6. Six hours every year lost somewhere, but where?

Could it be that our wonderful, awesome, omniscient, loving God had us “lose” that six hours every year to remind us once again of Christ’s suffering on the cross? For six hours, Jesus suffered the agony of the cross, satisfying the sin-debt of every human being that ever or will ever take a breath.

Six hours when time stood still.

Perhaps in eternity, we will understand all that happened that day, but while here on earth, with our limited finite minds, we can never comprehend the enormity of that day. God, the Father, sacrificed His own Son—His Only Son—for His image-bearers, even though the majority of mankind completely ignore His greatest gift. Instead, they choose this life over eternal life, sin and death over forgiveness and life, anxiety over peace, sorrow over joy. But at any moment, on any day, anyone can receive that change by simply trusting Jesus to be his Savior! Suddenly, it all becomes clear. Like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, the lost sinner realizes his weight of sin and comes to the cross for cleansing forgiveness. At the foot of the cross, the burden is lifted! Hallelujah! No wonder it’s a Good Friday!

So, take a moment to be still today and remember the six hours when time stood still.

And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. Mark 15:25

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying,
Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say,
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?Matthew 27:46

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said,
It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. John 19:30

The One Word Difference

the rookieIn the 2002 movie The Rookie, Jim Morris (Dennis Quaid) checks his pitching speed by pitching past a vehicle speed check; however, two of the lights which make up the numbers aren’t working. Instead of reading 95, the number comes up 75.  As he walks away dejected the camera swings back to the numbers and the two unlit bars sputter to life revealing the truth.   Those missing lights made all the difference in the message.

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God,even to them that believe on his name: John 1:12

Every translation I checked uses the word “received” in this verse. It’s a powerful statement and it cuts a wide path through witnessing opportunities. So often we talk about Jesus—and that’s good. We talk about church—and that’s good. We talk about the love of God—and that’s really good. We may mention sin, and possibly the word “repent” and those words are really important, but this verse cuts to the chase. For me, this little word made all the difference. I was raised in a Christian home and in church, but that church did not “preach the Gospel.” When I say that, I mean that I never heard verses like: “Ye must be born again (John 3:3),” “But whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13),” and John 1:12. I honestly thought that they were Baptist terms and was shocked when I read them in the Bible for the first time.

So, when a friend sent me a Gospel tract and it dawned on me that I had believed as long as I could remember, but that I had never received Him, I did so that night. As I just read back over the tract, I realize for the first time the power of God’s Word! I always thought that the writer of the tract asked the question, “Have you ever asked Jesus to be your Savior.” IT DOESN’T! It merely quotes John 1:12! When giving my testimony, I’ve always said, “When the tract asked if I had ever asked Jesus to be my Savior, I knew that I hadn’t.”  

IT WAS NOT THE WORD OF MAN WHICH BROUGHT ME TO A SAVING KNOWLEDGE OF JESUS CHRIST, BUT THE WORD OF GOD!

One little word: receive.

But as many as received him,

to them gave he power to become the sons of God,

 even to them that believe on his name. John 1:12

Notice the end of the verse: “even to them that believe on his name.” Hmmm. So… does this verse mean that someone can believe and not receive, which would mean he or she would NOT be a child of God?

That would be my testimony. I “received” Jesus as my Savior the summer before my senior year in high school. Did it make a difference in my life? Absolutely!  I shudder to think where I would be if I had not been saved—born-again—converted. I don’t think I would have ended up in jail or anything, but I believe my marriage may have failed, my kids’ lives may have shipwrecked, and I may have been a “successful” career person… and lost!

As we approach the end of another year, would you consider the state of your soul? Have you ever asked Jesus to be your Savior?  Have you “received” the gift of salvation? Are you born-again? Believe me, if you are, you will know it! Your life purpose becomes pleasing and serving your Savior. He is not only your Savior but your Master and best Friend.

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. 1 John 5:13

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17

* (FYI: the term “Cut to the chase was a phrase used by movie studio executives to mean that the audience shouldn’t get bored by the extra dialogue and that the film should get to the interesting scenes without unnecessary delays.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cut_to_the_chase)

Bug Zapping Theology

Electric-Bug-Zapper-612x630Americans are very creative in their ways to destroy pests. We don’t simply use mouse traps or just poison them anymore. We can catch them on sticky stuff and then…? I’m not sure what happens. Do you have to kill them or just let them starve or suffocate to death in the trash can? We are also creative with our flying insect destruction. Ah yes, we use fly swatters and practice our aim until we can get “seven in one blow.”  But look where that got Mickey Mouse!  Then there’s the roll of sticky stuff, which is placed by the door so flies get stuck there instead of coming in for a visit. What a wonderful sight to welcome guests!

We starve the flies on sticky rolls, poison them with spray, try to keep them out with screens, but my favorite is the bug-zapper. How soothing it is to sit on a patio with the sound of bugs frying in the background!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a bug lover.  I know they have their purposes, but I do wonder if they are a part of creation or the curse.

It’s interesting how the bug-zapper works. The light attracts the unsuspecting bug who thinks it is just going to get warm. Boy, does it get warm! Little does it know that it is in mortal danger!  It can’t see all the fried carcasses stuck to the thing.  It doesn’t smell sizzling critters, and it is not hearing the zap! It is just following the instinct of all Diptera ( the scientific name for flying insects. FYI: the scientific name for Praying Mantis is Mantis religiosa!)

So, what’s the point? Why the title “Bug Zapping Theology?” What is Bug Zapping theology? So glad you asked!

Bug Zapping Theology deceives its followers into thinking that they are following the True Light: Jesus Christ. It is so dangerous for the same reasons a Bug Zapper is lethal–it kills!

Whether it is a false leader who has convinced its followers to blindly follow his cult, or a seemingly upstanding religious pastor or priest who is watering down the Bible, both can be eternally dangerous!

How do you know if you are being deceived? Here are some guidelines for avoiding false teaching:

  • Check the Bible. If someone is teaching a doctrine that runs against the grain of the Bible, it is a false doctrine. In this day and age, EVERYTHING is being questioned. Even the Ten Commandments aren’t excluded from the scrutiny. For example, commandment number four: Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. What does that mean? The Bible is certainly open for many applications, but only one interpretation. When the application says that attending church is not part of keeping the Sabbath holy, we are on dangerous ground. Sadly, many ignore the warning signs of false doctrine for various reasons: family and cultural traditions, feel-good and bandwagon mentality…
  • Check the Bible.
  • Check the Bible.

Why am I so adamant about this? Ask yourself this question: Where is the best place to go for information about God, eternity, morality, etc.? Doesn’t it make sense to check the Book that was written by God? Better yet, don’t just check it–read it!

  • Check your heart. Ask a few questions concerning basic beliefs, like: What do I have to do to get to heaven? Many people say, “Receive forgiveness of my sins by believing that Jesus died for me.” This is the correct answer as long as you don’t add anything to it. You may word it differently, but the idea is the same. For example, Believe that Jesus died for my sins, and be baptized, join a church, do my best, be good, pay my dues… If we add anything to the blood of Jesus, we are saying that His Crucifixion and Resurrection were not enough to take away my sin! It’s sad to me how many people are being duped by charlatans–false lights!
  • Watch out for “easy-believism.” What’s that? It comes in all shapes and size, such as salvation without a knowledge of sin. Can we truly be saved from sin if we do not know or believe that we are sinners? the philosophy of “Come as you are”  opens the door to all, which is a good thing, but “stay as you are” means that salvation never made a difference, and it should! “Just give your heart to Jesus.” Sometimes folks are urged to do this with no explanation or understanding. Then it becomes no more than a good gesture, like giving someone a cookie.
  • Check your life. Did your decision to trust Jesus Christ as your personal Savior change your life? We hate to ask this because of “Check your Heart!” We’re afraid of being legalistic–adding anything to simple belief for salvation. But life DOES change once we are born-again! I’m not talking about putting more gas in the tank, I’m talking about dropping a brand-new engine into a dead car! It would NOT move before, but now it has motion.  It was useless–now it has a purpose. It may have been comfortable, but really, who wants to sit in a beautiful car that can’t take you anywhere? Jesus Christ cannot abide in your heart and NOT affect your life.
  • Be discerning. We can’t follow our feelings.  Sometimes, we can’t even trust our leaders!  That’s scary! But poor council keeps folks enslaved to false religions. If you are in this situation and you feel there is no one to turn to, turn to God! He never goes against His Word!
  • Be prayerful. Praise God, He will ALWAYS answer when we humbly seek His face!

Sadly, as we see the day of our Lord’s return approaching, the deception grows stronger every day!

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

But take heart! John 8:32 is still in the Bible:

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

As a child, I believed in God and that Jesus died for me.  I faithfully attended church, sang in the choir, and played the organ.  But I had never prayed and asked Jesus to save me until I was seventeen.  Would I have gone to hell if I had died before then? I believe so, but I’m so thankful that I didn’t have to find out! If you have any questions, check out God’s Simple Plan of Salvation. It’s important enough to get right–all eternity depends upon it!

 

Many Judases

The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born. Mark 14:21

In just a few days the horrific yet wonderful story of Jesus’ last days on earth will end in glory, and we will celebrate His omnipotent victory over death.  Jesus is very much alive!  He has conquered death. But where is Judas? Judas Iscariot is dead. Who was Judas? What do we know about this man?

Here are the facts that we can gather from scripture:

  • Iscariot tells us that he probably lived in the area of Kerioth in southern Judaea
  • His father’s name was Simon
  • Luke 6:16 calls him a traitor—that he became a traitor
  • John 17:12 labels him as the “Son of perdition” which means he is identified as a man destined for eternal destruction in the Lake of Fire.
  • Several passages allude to the fact that Judas was the treasurer and a thief.

Judas was progressive.  We don’t know what he thought when Jesus chose him as one of the twelve; however, Jesus’ ministry was already flourishing and it could be that Judas saw it as an opportunity to improve his situation. While all the other disciples were disillusioned into thinking that Jesus was about to usher in His Kingdom, it may be that, as time went on, Judas began to believe differently. It seems as though Mary’s gift was the last straw. All this waste—money that didn’t make it into his purse!

Whatever the reasoning for Judas’ hard heart, he betrayed the One who would die for him, rejected God’s precious gift, and took his own life.

“… good were it for that man if he had never been born.”

 Jesus’ words are haunting. What a strong statement, and yet it can still be applied to people today. If we continue in this life, seeking our own way, our own salvation through personal beliefs or the beliefs of false religions, it would be better if we had not been born! Why? Because any other belief will take our souls to hell, and Jesus knew this! Perhaps His greatest suffering on the cross was the realization that so many would still spend eternity in hell, in spite of His ultimate sacrifice!

As our world becomes more diverse, it seems too intolerant to believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Can all the other religions of the world be wrong? Here’s a thought that might stretch you a bit.  Bear with me!

When this world was destroyed by the worldwide flood, eight people disembarked from the ark. Every one of those people knew the one true God and saw His incredible power, but just one hundred years later, they had forgotten Jehovah’s instructions for a blood sacrifice and were building a tower to God—an amazing symbol of man’s efforts to reach God by his own design. They scattered, and instead of taking the truth about the one true God with them, they chose to be smarter than God and make their own gods.

“… good were it for that man if he had never been born.”

The truth is always available to anyone who seeks it. Did Judas have a choice or opportunity to embrace Christ instead of betraying Him? Absolutely! Any person who has taken a breath has that opportunity. If you doubt the truth about Jesus Christ, will you consider this: He died in your place! If you want to read more, here’s a wonderful story that may help to make everything clear, and here’s is the Gospel, plain and simple. May it not be said of you, dear reader…

“… good were it for that man if he had never been born.”

When we leave our hearts and mind open and empty of God’s Holy Spirit, we are just as susceptible to Satan as Judas was.

Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.     Luke 22:3

Desperate vs. Curious

p_0006As Jesus was approaching Jericho, He and his followers pass by Bartimaeus, a blind man who sat by the road begging. When he was told that it was Jesus passing by, he cried out even louder. The disciples told him to be quiet, but he couldn’t be silenced. Prior to this meeting, Jesus had dealt with so many people: the children whom the disciples also tried to turn away, the rich young ruler who would not give up his riches to follow the Master, Lazarus whom He raised from the dead, and James and John who asked to sit next to Jesus in the Kingdom Age. All the while, He tells his disciples of the upcoming events, but they do not understand.

The religious leaders are scheming, the people are gathering in Jerusalem for this Holy Passover week, and Jesus takes the time to hear the plea of yet another blind man. This man not only receives his physical sight, but he receives spiritual sight as well.

And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.Luke 18:43

A desperate man, seeking sight and finding eternal life through the Son of God. Even though the crowd wanted to push Bartimaeus away, he continued his desperate quest and is even now with Jesus for all eternity!

Lesson: How desperate am I to know Jesus, to see His way more clearly, to have my focus be 20/20 on Christ? Will I seek Him even when others think I’m strange for being so desperate to “see” Him better?

Jesus met Bartimaeus on his way into Jericho, and while walking through Jericho, he finds another man–a curious man named Zacchaeus. As we all know, Zacchaeus was a wee little man, only about four inches high. (Just kidding, but isn’t that the motions we usually do with our fingers?) He was curious, and his curiosity led him up a tree and to Jesus because Jesus was also looking for him! We have a little more information about Zacchaeus than we do about Bartimaeus. When the others criticize Jesus for eating with sinners, Zacchaeus tells about his heart change. How do we know that his heart change was genuine? Because we read of a tax collector restoring what he had stolen! Only a heart touched by God could do that! If this study compared Zacchaeus with the rich young ruler, we would see another obvious contrast: the rich young ruler allowed his love for money to rule his decision, but Zacchaeus had found a better Master!

Desperate vs. Curious–could either of these adjectives be used to describe you? Are you desperate for a changed life? Jesus says, “Come.”  Are you curious about Jesus? Do you know someone who seems to really know God while you only think of Him on occasion?

When I trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior, I must admit it was out of curiosity. A young man from Bible College had sent me a Gospel tract in a letter. I was curious because we had talked about God, and he had left the church denomination that I was in—not only in but pursuing a career as an organist! As I read the tract, I heard myself saying, “I believe that too,” in a somewhat defiant voice. But when the tract spoke of asking Jesus to be my Savior, I realized that I had never done that.  God took my curious heart and washed it white as snow through the blood of His Son!

No matter the reason for your seeking, Jesus can answer the call of your heart!

The Wrong Bottle

brand_cleanersWith fourteen inches of snow outside, I decided this was the week to paint the inside of our home. After six days of painting, I AM DONE! So, I thought I’d quickly wash the inside of the large front window in our living room. Sure, the outside would have to wait, but it would look better. I only had ten minutes before my first piano lesson of the day arrived, but that would be enough time. And it would have been if I had grabbed the right bottle.

I sprayed and wiped, and sprayed and wiped, but the window kept smearing. It wasn’t until I wasted half of my time that I realized that I was using the Clorox Spray and not Windex! Clorox Spray is a wonderful cleaner, my favorite cleaner, but it doesn’t work on windows!

I suppose the first lesson I need to learn would be a challenge for my entire life—SLOW DOWN! One of my husband’s favorite statements is that God gives everyone the same twenty-four hours, and He always gives us enough time to do HIS plan! Admittedly, I am a “stop-and-smell-the-roses” type of person. I rush through my work so I can smell the roses; but lately, I find that too much rush means too much missed life. Life is work, so don’t be afraid to stop and enjoy it!

Lesson number two: Use the right cleaner. More and more often, I find myself wondering if people I know have been truly cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. Our experiences mold and shape us, and, for me that meant years of believing in God, going faithfully to church, even loving God and understanding that He sent His Son to die on the cross to take away sin. But it wasn’t until someone gave me a Gospel tract that I realized I needed to ASK Him to be my Savior. It may sound like a moot point, but it that one of Satan’s lies? John 1:12,13 is in the Bible for a reason:

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:  Which were born, not of blood (I’m a Christian because my parents are Christians), nor of the will of the flesh (I think I’ll get saved today), nor of the will of man (I want you to be saved today), but of God. (Only His Holy Spirit calls us to salvation)

What can wash away my sin?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

What can make me whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

Oh, precious it the flow

That makes me white as snow.

No other fount I know—

Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.

I use an old song visual that unfolds into a cross for this song. It’s been taped together a hundred times, but its message needs to be told! What wonderful Good News.

Are you washed by the Blood of the Lamb?

Simple Salvation

7c184c6b470382e2316ea5f848b94cc1The prayer of salvation is as simple as the words ‘I do’ spoken on your wedding day. Those two simple words are spoken in response to the reciting of the traditional wedding vows:

“I, ___, take you, ___, for my lawful wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.”

Simple, right? I remember witnessing a Christian wedding where the bride’s eyes flared when her husband of just a few minutes smashed the wedding cake in her face, and rightly so! Barbaric tradition! The old sayings, “Actions speak louder than words,” or “Easier said than done” can be applied to both the wedding vows and the prayer of salvation.

The prayer of salvation only comes after a person has understood their need for a Savior. The realization, that sin is in the heart and will keep us from heaven, is coupled with the other understanding: hell is real, and we cry out to our Savior for help and deliverance. If the decision is made flippantly or without understanding, when the going gets tough we quit. We are ridiculed for standing for right—going to church regularly, tithing, getting scripturally baptized, leaving a non-biblical church—and we forsake our words because they were just that: merely words.

It’s no wonder that God uses the marriage relationship as a prototype of His relationship with His church. Marriage is filled with blessings and trials, joys and sorrows, victories and defeats; and all this has to happen while being intrinsically involved with another person!  You both carry the ball to the finish line—together!

Jesus says,

“I, Jesus, take you, dear child  for my lawful child/bride, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, and death is only the beginning!”

Can we make the same vow?

 “I, ___, take you, Jesus, for my lawful Lord/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, knowing that death will only bring us face to face!”

Do I work to keep my marriage working? ABSOLUTELY YES!! Do I work to keep my salvation? ABSOLUTELY NO! I work for Jesus because of all He’s done for me!

This Christmas, take another look at your walk and talk. Does it reflect what is in your heart? If the answer is “yes,” then you have your assurance of salvation! In the Old Testament tabernacle, the Shekinah glory hovered over the Holy of Holies, showing God’s presence. Now, we are the tabernacle or temple of God. The Shine on the inside WILL come out!

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:12-14

 

WARNING! Frost or hurricane!

Sunday morning, as I was checking our weather, I noticed the little red warning triangle. Strange? What could be coming our way? I had seen the sign while checking the weather at Myrtle Beach, obviously listing warnings about hurricane Matthew. But I live in Pennsylvania? Our warning was for a frost tomorrow morning, cautioning gardeners that tender plants may need some attention or they will die.

It seemed odd to me that a category 4 hurricane received the same symbol as a frost warning, and that thought, coupled with the morning’s reading from Oswald Chambers, triggered this post:

We preach to men as if they were conscious of being dying sinners, but they are not. They are having a good time, and all our talk about the need to be born again is from a domain they know nothing about; because some men try to drown unhappiness in worldly pleasures it does not follow all are like that. There is nothing attractive about the Gospel to the natural man; the only man who finds the Gospel attractive is the man who is convicted of sin.

Apart from a knowledge of Jesus Christ, and apart from being crumpled up by conviction of sin, men have a disposition which keeps them perfectly happy and peaceful. Conviction of sin is produced by the incoming of the Holy Spirit because conscience is promptly made to look at God’s demands. (YouVersion)

Sunday morning, I will be substitute taught the Teen Sunday School class, and we looked at our church’s doctrinal statement.  Now doesn’t that sound exciting!! It is! Look at what it says about salvation:

We believe that owing to this universal depravity and death in sin, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless born again (John 3:5-7) and that no degree of reformation, however great; no attainment in morality, however high, no culture, however attractive; no humanitarian and philanthropic schemes and societies, however useful, no baptism or other ordinances, however administered, can help the sinner to take even one step toward heaven; (Gal. 5:1-5; Phil. 3:4-9) but a new nature imparted from above, a new life implanted by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5-7) through the Word, (James 1:18; I Peter 1:23) is absolutely essential to salvation and only those thus saved are children of God.(SVBC)

I admit that it’s not easy reading, but look at what it says:

Salvation is by grace alone:

  • No degree of reformation, however great;
  • no attainment in morality, however high,
  • no culture, however attractive;
  • no humanitarian and philanthropic schemes and societies, however useful,
  • no baptism or other ordinances, however administered,

can help the sinner to take even one step toward heaven.

WARNING: Heaven cannot be earned. To put it simply, praising God cannot save your soul; giving an offering of finances or service cannot save your soul; a church cannot save your soul; successful business adventures in the name of Jesus Christ cannot save your soul; graduating from a Bible college cannot save your soul; being a pastor, missionary, deacon, Sunday school teacher, soul-winner cannot save your soul; tagging along with others that are saved cannot save your soul.

The same warning goes out to every human being, no matter how sinful or superior, rich or ragged, kind or caustic.  All need to trust Jesus, and Him alone!

Have you forsaken your sin and good deeds to trust Jesus for salvation?

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12,13

The Saddest Verse in the Bible or Who Goes to Hell?

ID-100170122 Matthew 7:23:

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

 This is not only the saddest verse in the Bible, but it is also the most frightening verse as well. As a point of reference, this chapter is part of what we call “The Sermon on the Mount.” Many had gathered there beside the sea to hear the Master, and Jesus talks about a lot of things: The Beatitudes, This Little Light of Mine, how to do relationships, how to worship, how to pray.  Chapter seven begins with “judge not” and includes the lesson on the mote and beam, and ends with the Wise Man Builds His House Upon a Rock, but sandwiched in between these two familiar passages  are these two verses:

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (22)

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.(23)

  • Who is saying this? Jesus
  • Where? By the Sea of Galilee
  • To Whom? His disciples and many of his followers AND TO US!
  • How did they react:

And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.(28,29)

I have to admit, when I first read this passage, I was shocked for two reasons: One, because the message was so strong, and two, I had never heard it before in my church, even though I was a regular attender and really paid attention. Think about it: have you ever heard your pastor preach on this verse?  Has he ever read it as part of the weekly New Testament reading? If the answer is “yes,” then you are blessed to be in a church that preaches the whole council of God; however, if the answer is “no,” you may ask yourself or your pastor why.

And here’s the real question: Who goes to hell? According to this verse, a person can be a pastor (prophesied refers to preaching the Word), an exorcist, or a person who does really amazing things in Jesus’ name! Jesus is not talking about a C&E Christian—someone who only comes to church on Christmas and Easter. He’s talking about a person who is really plugged in to “religion.”

Does that frighten you? Does it make you wonder about your own spiritual state?  It should, and that’s probably why Jesus said it.  He was talking to many really religious people.  They would make the average twenty-first-century church attender look like a heathen.  They knew how to “do God,” but something was missing.  When Jesus says, “I never knew you,” He’s not saying that He doesn’t know this person. He knows everyone and is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”2(Peter 3:9) He’s saying that this person is not His intimate friend. It’s someone who is busy about God but misses the whole relationship idea.

This is a real “heart-check” passage.  Don’t look to the other guy who seems to fit the bill, in your estimation: he’s all show and no heart.  He may indeed fall into this eternally fatal category.  But what about you? You say you’re a Christian, but is there any fruit to prove it?  You say things like, “I’m good, me and God, we have an understanding.” Yikes! Are you sure? I hope the understanding falls under God’s requirements, and indeed, He has requirements!

I suppose the real question can only be answered by you and God. Are you real? Is your love for Christ unfeigned, or is He just tacked on at the end of the day, like the idol worshipper who just wants to add Jesus to his god shelf.  Jesus won’t do that. You must tear down the god shelf (which, in our day can take the form of success, wealth, pride, sports, career, houses and lands… all those things that place such harsh demands all our time and attention!).  Only Jesus.  Jesus first. Jesus is All the World to Me…

Do you know Him?  Does He know you? If you have trusted Him as your Savior, your life will show it.  Others will know, you will know, and Jesus will know!  What a wonderful, peaceful place to be!

BUT, if this post causes you to question, perhaps it is God’s Holy Spirit knocking on your door. Get the answers you need. Salvation is available to all who will speak the truth in their heart. (You may need to check out What is Salvation?)

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