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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LOST!

On Monday, my husband and I spend part of the morning looking for a wallet. It had been left on the trunk of a car, along with a Bible. The Bible was found—sadly in several pieces, but the wallet is still missing. I took a rake with me on my hunt to sift through the high weeds, knowing that at any moment, we would find it! We didn’t. So sad!

It was quite a diligent effort, but no matter how hard we tried to find the wallet, we couldn’t find it. I couldn’t help thinking about the parallels between my effort to find the wallet and my effort to reach the lost. How hard do I seek after souls that have not found the Savior—souls who are still lost in sin and on the path to eternal destruction?

My effort  was so diligent because I knew the hassle that would be involved in stopping the credit cards, getting another driver’s license, etc. Plus, it’s a pet peeve of mine: I hate lost things! Nothing drives me crazier than a puzzle with a missing piece! Maybe I was also driven by pride: I wanted to be the hero—the one to find the missing wallet! I’m sure love was also a driving force—my heart for the one who lost it.

What drives us to seek lost souls? Or perhaps the better question is, why don’t we have more of a burden for the lost? What can stir our hearts to have the compassion of a soul-winner? Well, if I use the list of my motivations to seek the wallet, perhaps there are some parallels.

  1. Inconvenience was the first motivator. That doesn’t really have a place in the soul-winner’s heart. If anything, soul-winning IS the inconvenience. It takes time out of my busy schedule and pulls my thoughts away from all of life’s distractions.  Having a heart for souls isn’t a “worked up emotion” that is tacked on to the end of a busy day;  it is a heart passion placed within the very fiber of a believer by God.
  2. Pride certainly doesn’t have a place in the soulwinner’s heart either, although there is no greater joy than to lead someone to Christ!  The joy of finding the wallet pales in comparison to leading someone out of the darkness and penalty of sin and into the glorious light of forgiveness!
  3. The missing piece. “Every person on the face of this earth will face eternity, either in heaven or hell.”  That’s the statement I made to my Bible students last night. What a sobering reality.  It doesn’t matter if a person doesn’t believe in heaven or hell, or if they are falsely believing in something other than the truth of God’s Word, the Bible: There is no escape for any of us. Does it stir your heart to know that a loved one will be missing in heaven? If we truly could see heaven and realize the loss which we will feel because of missing unsaved loved ones, that would drive us to speak the truth in love to those we love. And if we would get just a tiny glimpse of hell…”where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48), it would not only give us a heart for the lost–it would drive us crazy! Hell is mentioned fifty-four times in the Bible; fifteen are direct quotes from Jesus.  Some Bible scholars dance around the issue by saying that the word hell is at times translated to mean the grave; but after looking up the definitions of the different Hebrew and Greek original words, I don’t see much difference:
  • sheh-ole’: Hades or the world of the dead (as if a subterranean retreat), including its accessories and inmates:–grave, hell, pit.
  • gheh’-en-nah: valley of (the son of) Hinnom; ge-henna (or Ge-Hinnom), a valley of Jerusalem, used (figuratively) as a name for the place (or state) of everlasting punishment:–hell.
  • hades: the place (state) of departed souls:–grave, hell.
  • tartaroo: (the deepest abyss of Hades); to incarcerate in eternal torment:–cast down to hell.

Just reading those definitions and looking through each Bible verse containing the word hell was a sobering exercise for me.  It certainly sharpened my focus on the urgency of getting God’s message of redemption out!

4. Love–the greatest of all motivators!  Our love for others is certainly the most effective driving force for being a     witness.  Oh, to have the love which Christ displays on every page of His precious Word!

Since I first wrote this article, the wallet has been returned!  Someone must have found it, and the postman returned it to its rightful owner.  The lost is now found! Oh, the joy.  There are still plenty of honest people in this world, but even as I write that, I wonder: Was that honest person also a true believer?  How much better to find the truth about eternity than a lost wallet!

Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle,
and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying,
Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 
Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
Luke 9:8-10

P

 

 

 

 

Shocking Reality

FireBIGAs I observe the times in which we live, I sense almost a dread at the shocking reality of Christian beliefs.  Our times are filled with Christianity, in all shapes and sizes.  Some churches which would place themselves under the umbrella of Christianity deny that Jesus is even God’s Son.  To me, that is a shocking reality; while others pick and choose which teachings of Christ they will embrace and trash the others as archaic or irrelevant.  That is also a shocking reality.

However, the most shocking reality is the beliefs that people embrace about salvation.  There are those who feel that they will safely arrive into heaven’s domain because they belong to a certain church, or have completed a course, or have practiced a religious activity.  And then there are the myriads of humanity which have been “born-again,” and that also comes in all shapes and sizes!

Salvation: What does it mean to be saved, born-again, converted?  Of all the doctrines of the Bible, it is understandable that Satan would work the hardest at distorting this one!  What a price we pay for not embracing the whole truth about salvation!  What do I mean by that?  Read on…

Let’s say that you live in a community that has a wonderful community group, which does a lot of wonderful things.  They are very organized, not just a loosely banded group, and they require members to fill out an application.  You have attended some of their meetings, have even joined in with some of their activities, but you haven’t filled out the application.  Are you a member?  No.  When it would come time for any votes to be taken or any major decisions made, you would not be included.  Why?  Because you did not fill out the application.

You may really believe in their cause.  You may like them.  They may accept your presence happily and wish that you would join “officially.”  They may even give you the application and urge you to join; but for whatever the reason, you just didn’t do it.

Salvation:  Is it just believing in God?  If so, then according to a recent poll 74% of Americans are saved.  If you believe that, I have a great deal on some land in Florida I’d like to sell you!  🙂

Is it asking Jesus to be your Savior?  I would think that most of you would say, yes.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10: 13

The above scenario about the community group creates the problem concerning someone who purposely did not fill out the application.  The spiritual equivalent: someone purposefully no asking Jesus to be their Savior.  Why wouldn’t you do that?  Maybe you just never got around to it.  Maybe you don’t think it’s necessary.  Maybe you know the commitment it will involve and you’re not ready to commit.  Maybe you don’t believe in that sort of thing. Maybe you think your way or your churches way is good enough. Whatever the excuse, just know that there are consequences for not making that commitment – a big one called hell.

Is it possible to ask Him to be your Savior and still not go to heaven?  Yes – it’s not the words, it’s the heart.  Is it possible to really, really mean it and not go to heaven?  Yes – if you really, really mean it because you just don’t want to go to hell, but you will not admit your sin and forsake it – be saved from it, in Jesus name.  How could someone be saved from sin if they don’t want to let go of their sinful life and seek holiness?

“But I believe that God will accept me just the way I am.  That’s just your interpretation of the Bible.”   Another shocking reality: God loves each of us more than we could ever understand.  His love is completely unconditional – I can’t do anything to make Him love me more or less.  In fact, He loves us SO MUCH that He willingly sent His Son to die in our place – He, God the Father, placed every one of our sins on God, the Son – His ONLY Son!  Wow!  That’s beyond my comprehension!  And then someone will say that God would accept a person because they are good, even though they refuse to bow the knee and ask forgiveness – asking Jesus to save them?  The shocking reality is that many people think that way.  How do I know, because I see lives that talk the talk but they don’t walk the walk.  There’s no sense of “God” in their lives except when they are in church, IF they even go to church.

Am I talking about sinless perfection?  No, just a heart for God, the rest will follow!  We, as born-again believers, all have a walk to walk.  God knows what it is that He wants us to do to glorify His name.  What a wonderful thought!

If the Holy Spirit is urging you to make a decision for Christ, don’t continue to ignore Him!

Revelation 22:7 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Complete in Thee! no work of mine
May take, dear Lord, the place of Thine;
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And I am now complete in Thee.

Yea, justified! O blessed thought!
And sanctified! Salvation wrought!
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And glorified, I too, shall be!

Complete in Thee—no more shall sin,
Thy grace hath conquered, reign within;
Thy voice shall bid the tempter flee,
And I shall stand complete in Thee.

Complete in Thee—each want supplied,
And no good thing to me denied;
Since Thou my portion, Lord, wilt be,
I ask no more, complete in Thee.

Dear Savior! when before Thy bar
All tribes and tongues assembled are,
Among Thy chosen will I be,
At Thy right hand—complete in Thee.

 Aaron Robarts Wolfe (1821-1902),James Martin Gray, chorus (1851-1935)

If you have never made that commitment to Jesus Christ, and you don’t quite understand what salvation is, maybe it would help to read “What is Salvation” at the top.

Satan’s Biggest Lie

ID-100127433Actually, he’s not very original – he’s been using the same lie ever since the beginning of what we call time: “Yea, hath God said…”  (Gen 3:1)  That statement comes in all different shapes and sizes but always boils down to the same lie: Did God really say that?

Does the human race really have to worry about what Satan says?  Well, considering that he’s the most powerful force that we will ever encounter, except for Almighty God, I would say, “Yes!”

So, what lie does he whisper into your ear?  The most deadly lies are the ones that, if we believe them, will condemn our souls to hell for all eternity.  They look something like this:

  1. There is no God. This one doesn’t really work for the average thinking person.  Most generally, people have no trouble accepting that there is a greater power out there than the human mind.
  2. A loving God wouldn’t sent someone to hell.  Now this lie catches more people.  Actually, God does not send anyone to hell.  You or I choose to go there by rejecting the truth – the truth that cost God the Father his Son’s life!
  3. That’s just a Baptist belief.  I swallowed this one for a while … until I read the Bible!  It’s all in there folks: salvation, hell, born-again, sinner… the list is endless and they’re all Bible terms.
  4. I believe my ‘good’ will outweigh my ‘bad.’ Let’s think about this one for a moment.  If I could get to heaven by being good enough, then why did Jesus have to die on the cross?  Can you imagine the insult such a statement is to the Father, who SACRIFICED His ONLY Son to pay man’s penalty for sin, for a human being to say, “No thanks, I’m working my way to heaven?”

I’ve come to realize that the biggest reason that people refuse to listen to the Gospel is this: if they accept what someone is telling them: that they are a sinner (which most thinking people have no problem accepting), that sin keeps us out of God’s perfect heaven, and that only by accepting Jesus’ sacrifice will I get to heaven; it will require a decision.  It is much easier to ignore the truth than to deal with it!

I said earlier that the greatest force which we will encounter in this life other than Almighty God is Satan – there is one other powerful force: our own will.  It is the only thing more powerful than the Creator of the Universe.  We have the free will to choose salvation or reject it.  Wow! God gave man that free will, and then Satan sowed pride into the heart of man!  Our stubborn pride couples with our free will to make a deadly combination which keeps more people out of heaven than any lie Satan could ever fabricate.

Would you submit to God?  Would you pray to the God of the Universe and accept His free gift of salvation; or will you believe another of Satan’s lies: I’m alright. A simple prayer given with a broken and contrite heart is the greatest action we could ever choose to make:

Dear Father,

I know I’m a sinner.  I know that I deserve hell for the punishment of my sins.  Please, take away my sins; come into my heart and save me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Psalm 34:18

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Romans 10:9.10.13

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