Sunday, July 24, 2011

Would you bet your life on it?

Maybe it is the “math guy” in me; but, I like flow charts. I love to look at things systematically and methodically; it seems to help me get my mind around things easier.  As I read 1John chapter 5 yesterday it reminded me of a flow chart.
“Box #1” of the flow chart: Satan influences the world

1John 5:19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.

Ephesians 2:1-2  And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2  in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,

John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
2Corinthains 11:13-14 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.

Acts 26:18  to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.'

Luke 13:16  So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?"
1Peter 5:8  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Lucifer was the most glorious of the angels God created and his pride and disobedience cost him his position among the holy angels of Heaven and he now seeks to deceive people from the Truth with the lusts of this world and false religion.  There is no other way to say this, but to say, “if the Gospel is still foolishness to you, he has accomplished his goal in your life.”

“Box #2” of the flow chart: We have fallen prey to Satan’s deceit in that we pursue the lusts of this world

Galatians 5:16-17 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do

Ephesians 2:3  among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Ephesians 4:22  to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,

2Timothy 2:22  So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

Titus 3:3  For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

1Peter 1:14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,

1Peter 2:11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

1John 2:15-16 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world--the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions--is not from the Father but is from the world.

Many of the verses above are speaking of pursuing our lusts of the flesh in past tense; that is because the writer is addressing those that have surrendered their life to Jesus Christ. For those that have NOT given their life to Christ these verses are describing your current condition of pursuing the desires of your flesh rather than the will of God, this condition leads to hell. That is the bad news; the Good News is found in “Box 3” of our flow chart.

“Box #3” of the flow chart: God sent His Son to be the Savior of the world

Even if Satan has had his way with you up to this point in your life, in that he has successfully deceived you from the Truth, it is not too late for you to be saved. If you have come to the conclusion that you are a wretched sinner, congratulations, that is right where God wants you.  In order for God to completely pour His Grace and Mercy upon you, you have to first realize you need it.  The Good News is that God loves you so much that He has been pursuing you from the beginning:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Matthew 10:40 "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.

John 4:34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.

John 6:38-40  For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39  This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40  And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

John 6:61-65  When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, "Does this offend you? 62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64  But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father."

Matthew 18:11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.

2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Mark 8:31-33 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, "Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."

Matthew 26:2  "You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified."

1John 4:10  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

1John 4:19 We love Him because He first loved us.

I remember hearing and reading things like, “Jesus loves you”…“Jesus died for you”….”Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world”…..”Jesus was crucified to save us”.  Those statements on the surface seemed “cozy” and without offense; as such, these statements didn’t move me to change my direction or my desire to seek the Truth. They didn’t have an effect because it was only part of the story. Until I heard “the rest of the story”, which is, without Christ you will spend eternity in hell, I never gave a thought to the fact that my sin would have consequence. The message of eternal hell is offensive; however, it also confusing if not accurately explained.  Jesus does love us, Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world, Jesus does want to save us; but we need to consider what Jesus wants to save us from. Jesus wants to save us from the Wrath of God (which is eternal) and our sin (one sin) is enough to rightly and justly condemn us forever.  God is not unreasonable in His need to punish sin, as a Good Judge He must punish sin; however, not only is He a Righteous Judge, He is also a loving Father.  A loving Father that sent His Son to redeem us from our sin.  We can overcome the punishment we rightly deserve, but there is only one Way:

“Box 4” of the flow chart: We overcome through faith in Jesus Christ

1John 5:5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

1John 5:4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith.

1John 5:4 seems like such a simple verse; however, it is important that we really get our mind around true faith.  Our culture has trivialized the word faith to a certain extent. We have, in a sense, dumbed it down.  For example, when the game is on the line “we have faith” that a certain person can get it done. If you are a Twins fan, you probably “have faith” that Joe Mauer is going to come through in the bottom of the ninth.  But let me ask you a question, would you bet your life on it? As another example: I have a friend of mine that has been on and off meth for over 10 years and in that time I have heard people say, “he is going to quit the drugs, I have faith in him.”  Again, would you bet your life on it?  You can see how the word faith has been watered down.  People will even say, “oh yes, I have faith” without an explanation of what (or who) they are putting their “faith” in. The kind of faith that overcomes the world is faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation because you are, literally, “betting” your eternal life on it.  This is not a flippant or casual kind of faith; yet that is exactly what we see in the attitudes of people in regard to what they are entrusting their eternal life to.  God never lies and He has assured us that when we repent and put our faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation we will be saved from His Wrath. We will be welcomed in to His Kingdom when we die. I have faith in His promise and I have complete trust in Him.

A logical question, and the most important question you may ever ask would be, “how can I be certain that I have put my complete faith in Jesus Christ?”

“Box 5” of the flow chart: Our faith is validated and shown to be authentic by our obedience to God’s commands and our love for the brethren

1John 5:1-3 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

1John 3:10  By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

Galatians 2:20  I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

John 14:21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."

1John 2:4 Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,

1John 1:6-7 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

2Corinthaians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

2Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

In short, we know we have put our complete faith in Jesus when He gives us a new heart with new desires. He changes us! We will no longer desire to live with habitual sin in our life, but will instead desire to live righteously. This does not mean we will be perfect, but through His strength we will have increased victory over sin. He will give us a foul taste for sin. Just as we will spit sour milk out of our mouth if we unknowingly drink it, we will have a foul taste for the things outside of God’s will that used to be appetizing to us.  This WILL HAPPEN!  If it does not happen, and you are not growing in faith, growing in righteousness and obedience, and you are not abiding in Him more and more; the evidence clearly shows that you are not born-again.  On the other hand, if these things are happening and you have more and more of a desire to humbly serve Him, you are Spirit led, born of the Spirit, born-again, and as we know from God’s Word, only those that are born-again will inherit eternal life.

“Box 6” of the flow chart: Only those that are born-again will enter Heaven, all others will be condemned

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

John 3:36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

Matthew 7:13-14 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

1Corintains 1:21-24  For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22  For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23  but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24  but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Romans 8:1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

Galatians 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

God concludes His Word repeating the same phrase twice in the last 7 verses” I am coming quickly”.  Jesus is coming back and if we are not in “right standing” with Him at His return (or our death; whichever happens first) it will be too late for us.  That is why the Word says, “today is the day of Salvation”.

Hebrews 3:15 As it is said, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."

Revelation 22:12  "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 21 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last." 14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. 16 "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star." 17 And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. 18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. 20 He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

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