Wednesday, December 23, 2015, 5:28 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Should I Not Preach Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 7:13-14, 21-27 (NASB). Wide and Narrow (vv. 13-14) “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Something that is narrow is restricted and limited, i.e. “confined within bounds” (M-W Dictionary). Something that is broad is wide-ranging and all-inclusive. Many people get the idea that the way (path) of gospel of Jesus Christ for salvation from sin includes everything and everyone, as though it is a free-for-all, i.e. as though it is lacking in rules, is out-of-control, without restriction, is disorderly, and does not require much respect for God’s authority at all. They teach that saying certain words, or a mere acknowledgment of what Jesus Christ did for us in dying for our sins, or an emotional response to the gospel is enough to secure one’s salvation and eternal life with God regardless of what they do from that point forward. What they are offering people, basically, is a get-out-of-jail-free card, i.e. an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when they die regardless of lifestyle or commitment to Christ or submission to the cross of Christ. They teach that God does not require repentance (turning away from sin) or obedience (walking in his righteousness), and that once they are “saved,” he is pleased with them no matter what they do, and that they can never lose their salvation, even if they reject Christ later. Yet, that is not what scripture teaches. Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25). Paul taught the same message when he said that Jesus died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk (conduct our lives) not according to our sinful flesh, but who walk (live our lives) according to the Spirit of God. If we walk according to our flesh, he said, we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (Ro. 8:1-14). When we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we die (are crucified) with Christ to sin, we are set free from slavery to sin, and we are now free to become slaves (servants) of righteousness - what is right in God’s eyes (See: Ro. 6). Scripture also teaches that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24), and that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us (2 Co. 5:15). God’s grace is NOT a free license to continue in sin without guilt or without remorse. His grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). Jesus said that his sheep (his followers) know his voice, they listen to him, and they follow (obey) him, and it is these who cannot be snatched out of his hands (Jn. 10:27-30). Paul’s commission in preaching the gospel of salvation was to open eyes that were blind, to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (purified) by faith in Jesus Christ (Ac. 26:16-18). As well, if we claim to have fellowship with God, but we continue to walk (conduct our lives) after the flesh (in darkness), then we are liars (1 Jn. 1:6). Not Everyone (vv. 21-23) “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” This passage alone blows out of the water the notion that someone can say certain words, or make a mere confession or profession of Christ as Savior, or have an intellectual assent to his death and resurrection, and be saved for eternity. For one, scripture teaches that it is he who is believing (present tense) in Christ who has the hope of eternal life (Jn. 3:16), not he who once believed in him, so we must continue in our faith if we want to have eternal life with God (Col 1:21-23). It also teaches that we are saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved when Christ returns, when our salvation will be complete. We are being made holy by God, and we are being conformed into Christ’s likeness. And, it teaches us that if we continue in his Word, if we continue in his kindness to us, if we hold firmly to the Word, if we endure, and if we hold on to our hope to the end, then we are saved and have the assurance of eternal life with God (See: John 8:31-32; Romans 11:17-24; I Co 15:2; II Tim 2:10-13; Hebrews 3:6, 14-15; 2 Pet. 1:5-11; I John 2:24-25). Our salvation is not merely an escape from hell and the promise of heaven when we die. When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we die to sin and we now live to righteousness, not in absolute sinless perfection (See: 1 Jn. 2:1), but in the power of the Spirit within us. Our lifestyle is no longer one of living for our sinful flesh, but it is a life committed to Christ, his word, his ways and his will for our lives. We don’t go into our relationship with Christ thinking we are just getting out of having to spend eternity in hell, or that we can now die in peace knowing that we get to spend eternity without pain and suffering. Coming to Christ means a heart surrendered to him, repenting of sin, and choosing to, in the power of the Spirit within us, to walk in Christ’s righteousness (Eph. 4:17-24). When we sin, we confess our sins to God, we turn from them, and we continue in our walks of faith (Ro. 8:13). God IS going to tell people one day that they can’t enter his heaven because they didn’t do his will. He is going to tell them that he never knew them. Take this seriously! It is real! Wise and Foolish (vv. 24-27) “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes. James said that we must prove ourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude ourselves (Jas. 1:22). Jesus said that if anyone keeps (obeys) his word, he will never see death (Jn. 8:51). He said if we love him, we will keep his word, and if anyone does NOT keep his word, he does not love God (Jn. 14:23-24). John said that the way in which we know if we have come to know Christ/God, is by keeping his commandments. He said that whoever claims to know God, but does not keep his commandments, is a liar (1 Jn. 2:3-6). Again, I believe this is speaking of lifestyle and not sinless perfection, based upon other scriptures throughout the New Testament, yet lack of perfection is never to be used as an excuse for continued willful sin against God. God knows our hearts, and he knows which ones of us are truly his, i.e. who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. We may be able to fool humans, but we can’t fool God. He knows what we do behind closed doors. He is not interested in our religious activities or rituals, or what we are willing to do or not do for him, based upon our own will, not his. He is not pleased with us no matter what we do. He is not delighted in us and he does not smile on us when we willfully do what we know is against his Word and his commands, and when we refuse to repent. He is not ok with just religious service while we ignore him and his word unless it fits with our lifestyles. Because of what Jesus Christ did for us in dying for our sins so we could go free, we are to present our lives to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is our reasonable and acceptable worship of him. Along with this, we are not to be conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but we are to be transformed of the Spirit of God in heart and mind away from sin and in turning to live for God, and to walking in his righteousness (Ro. 12:1-2). One day God is going to judge us for what we did with Jesus Christ and with his offer of salvation to us. There will be judgment in the sense of hardship, tragedy, etc., at which time people will still have a chance to accept or reject Christ. At this time there will be a clear divide between those who have just played Christian and those who are genuinely saved. I believe prophecy of scripture teaches that a remnant of the church will be revived at this time, and that many will flood to faith in Jesus Christ (in the book of Isaiah, for one). Yet, none of us is guaranteed we will even live until this time, or that we will be one of the survivors of such a judgment. So, don’t count on being able to hold out until then. And, then there is the judgment when the books are opened and when we are judged as to whether or not we truly know Christ or not, and at this time many are going to hear from God, “I never knew you, depart from me.” So, don’t put your faith in what some preacher is telling you, or in the Pope, for not everyone is going to heaven, and not everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ is genuinely saved. Look up these scriptures I have noted, and prayerfully seek God/Jesus and his truth, and submit yourselves to the cross of Christ, and walk in the Spirit, and no longer live your life to fulfill the passions of your flesh. You will be glad you did, not just for your life after death, but for the time you have yet remaining while we still live on this earth. Scripture says that many are called, but few are chosen. When you hear God’s voice, obey him. Turn from your sin, and walk in his ways. Should I Not Preach Jesus An Original Work / July 4, 2013 Based off 1 Corinthians 9:16-10:13 Woe to me should I not preach Jesus. I’m compelled to preach the full gospel. I make myself a slave to ev’ryone To win their hearts to Christ. All this I do for my Lord Jesus, And for the sake of His Name; Do it for the sake of His gospel, So that I, its blessings gain. Scripture notates the sins of others; Written down for us as examples To keep us from setting our hearts On evil as did those of old. Do not worship other gods of man; Do not give your hearts to them; Not partake in immorality. Do not test your Lord and King. So, be careful if you think you are Standing firm in your faith in Jesus. God has given his word to warn us, So through faith we will not fall. No temptation has o’ertaken you Except what is commonplace. God is faithful to not let you be Tempted past what you can bear. He gives the way of escape.