Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Some Random Thoughts on Loving Christ

If we love Christ we will keep His commandments. So everyday we prove we love Him as we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome. It is true that we love Him because He first loved us. He has poured out His love within our hearts through His Holy Spirit and we are rooted and grounded in this love. His love does not reside in those who are not His. So if we are truly His we can not help but love Him and it is this love that compels us to no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died and rose again on our behalf.

We work out that which has been inwrought. We are working out while He is at work in us, and it is this work, this good work, that He has begun that He will complete. But in the middle of all of this is sin. The sin that is present in our members, waging war against the law of our mind. Sin, the great weapon of the enemy which has caused the death of all mankind, which seeks to master us. It is in the battle against sin that our love is proven. The issue is not do we still sin, because we do, but the issue is do we battle against sin, do we strive against sin, are we actively resisting sin. We are to watch and pray that we would not enter into temptation for the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

It is written that those who have been forgiven much love much. Does this mean that those who were more egregious and pervasive in their sin are the ones who love more? No, it means that it is those who see their sin for what it is and understand the depth of their depravity, who, therefore, understand the depth and the riches of the mercy and compassion of God, who then love Him more. This is something that happens as we work out our salvation and grow in Him. Let us, therefore, not think that we have arrived, but realize that we have not, and continue to press on toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Claiming Salvation

Matthew 7:21 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. 22 "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?' 23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you,' Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'

Look at what these people are claiming as their basis of right standing as they stand before the Lord on that day. It is not faith, but works, and not just any works, but sensational works; and not just any sensational works, but sensational works done in His name. The three works they claim are prophesying, casting out demons, and performing many miracles/works of power (Hmm, sounds like a certain persuasion today). What were these people trusting in for their salvation? They were trusting in their own sensational religious works and not in Christ. They were not doing the will of the Father and therefore were workers of iniquity/practicers of lawlessness. What then is the will of God that we are to do to assure us an entrance into the kingdom of heaven? It is that we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, on Him alone, on His person and His finished work for our salvation. There can be nothing more and there is nothing less.

The context that this sensational claim is made in is interesting because in vs 12-14 Christ says that the gate is wide and the way is broad that lead to destruction, but the gate is small and the way is narrow that lead to life, and few there be that find it. (My friend, Bill Lawless, has made the comment that both gates have the same sign, "This Way to Heaven" but only one takes you there.) In vs 15-20 Christ tells us to beware the false prophets who come to us in sheep's clothing, but that we will know them by their fruits (see also Hebrews 13:7). Then in vs 24-29 Christ says that it is the wise man who hears His words and acts on them, but the fool is the one who hears His word and does not act upon it (see James 1:22).

Christ is the narrow gate and the narrow way. Religion is the broad way, and the broad gate. Religion says chart your own course to God, choose what you want to believe, what you want to do, believe that there is something you can do to achieve right standing before God. False prophets tell you they know the way, so follow them. They even claim sensational works to back it up. However, they will always lead you away from Christ never to Him. We can know them by their fruits, the result of their conduct, and not be led astray by their sensational works and claims. It is the wise man who hears Christ say, " I am the way, the truth, and the life. Come to the Father through Me." and then follows Christ and Him alone. It is the fool who hears the same words, but decides to make his own way, chart his own course, and great is His fall.

So where are you today, my friend? What are you depending on for your entrance into the eternal kingdom of God? Is it your confession, your baptism, your prayer, your attendance, your tithing, something you have done or are doing now, or is it Christ Jesus and His finished work on the cross? Are you depending on yourself or on what God has done for you in Christ? Religion is what man can do to get to God. Christianity is what God has done to bring man to Himself. Where does your faith rest today, on yourself, or in the power of God in the cross of Christ? Think about it, weigh it carefully, consider it wisely because your eternal destiny hangs in the balance.