And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore, I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8: 23-24 NKJV).
Jesus, speaking to the Jews tells them that if they do not believe that He is the Messiah, they will die in their sins. He later told His Jewish Apostles to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16: 15-16). What are we missing here? Jesus tells the Jews that if they don’t believe they will die in their sins and then tells His disciples that whoever (Jews and Gentiles) does not believe will be condemned. Sound pretty clear to me, yet we increasingly hear that there are other ways to gain salvation.
Jesus’ words sound pretty exclusionary to me!
Yes, exclusionary! We serve a God who is inclusive in that He sent His only begotten Son to die so that ALL who BELIEVE will have eternal life. Yet, He is exclusionary in that only those who BELIEVE can enter into eternity. That, however, is not good enough for many of us. No, we want God to just save everyone regardless of their beliefs, actions, and complete denial of Jesus and the purpose of His sacrifice. After all, if He is such a good God He wouldn’t send anyone to burn in hell forever; says the sinner with his thoughts bent on doing what is evil!
Why do we tiptoe around these hard sayings and why do we cater to the world and especially those who deny Christ and His gospel? What is the great commission of the church? Is it not the very command He gave His disciples; to preach the gospel? He did not say for us to sweeten it with our own blend of sugary message. Paul wrote in Romans 10: 14-17:
“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
-“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!”
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God-.
What type of faith will the evangelized have if we continue to water down the gospel and speak niceties? Oh, maybe they have held fast to the part about bringing good tidings of good things. Then again, isn’t that just what gospel means; good news? The trouble is we too often equate good with perfect – a life without trouble, trials, and temptation – but these things are natural for a christian to endure. Have we come to think otherwise and is this why christians are afraid to tell this to others? If we as christians are afraid to face what the bible warns will be a common factor in this life, how can we then teach and prepare others to do the same. If we can’t preach as we ought to, how can we teach salvation through Christ alone?
It is time to take ourselves out of the equation and just preach the gospel; even if it sounds exclusionary! After all, God said “Be holy, for I am Holy“. In other words, be set apart for His perfect purposes.
Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; for the day of the LORD is coming, for it is at hand; “Now, therefore,” says the LORD, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm (Joel 2:1, 12-13 NKJV)
Last night in my dream, I saw a great tornado sweep across South Carolina, on the main highway leading to Hilton Head Island. It swept across the highway taking with it cars, trucks, and people. It destroyed buildings and uprooted trees. The results were devastating as it just came suddenly out of nowhere. No one had time to prepare, evacuate, or escape. I began to make my way back home and as I did there were some Asian women seeking shelter and running around in fear or what just happened. It seemed strange to me that these Asian women were there and I wondered where they came from. I then came upon a very tall building. Inside the building there was a politician seeking to gain access to a specific room but behind the dark window were agents manipulating the circumstances. He was told to stay where he was until someone came out to see him, so he went and joined a party that was taking place in another part of the building. Suddenly, there was an explosion of some sort and the building began to collapse. People began to jump into the water that was behind the building but as they attempted to swim away huge pieces of concrete would fall on them and crush them. It was a horrifying scene but there was no indication it was an act of terrorism. Instead, it all seems to be the hand of God creating a tumult upon a sinful people.
I have seen wars on American soil and engagements abroad by American troops. I often wake up wondering how much of this are residuals from my deployments and how much are visions of things to come. While I am still praying for better discernment of my dreams, I believe that we are nearing a time of national turmoil. We have seen an increased level of earthquake activity, strange weather patterns, increased storm and hurricane intensity, flooding, massive bird, fish, and animal die offs, and other tragedies that have been quickly reduced to scientific anomalies. I say not so fast! Let’s take a step back and look carefully into all of this. Yes, science has brought forth much understanding of the world we live in but before there was science the word of God revealed to us these things would occur. So while science may be able to explain how a storm develops and global communication can aid in tracing the developments of wars to a root cause, they don’t acknowledge the One who truly foretells all things; nor do they credit the fallen one for the evils of this world.
Yet, we who are in Christ do not despair. We have read the book and know the end of it all. Christians must stand boldly and proclaim what we know to be true. We must hold fast the promises of God and spread the good news to those who are not yet saved. The Lord tells us to turn to Him with all our hearts, He promises forgiveness of sins and mercy. There is no sin that the blood of Christ hasn’t purified if we are willing to turn to him and repent.
Instead of demonizing and belittling those we disagree with, pray for them. Instead of gossiping about your neighbor, share the gospel with them. Do you not love your neighbor? Who is your neighbor? If your actions require you to ask Jesus to close His eyes you are sinning against Him.
Time is short and we must be blameless in the sight of the world and before our God. A skeptical world seeks to point out our blemishes but we must be holy to our God. We must examine ourselves daily and go out with pure hearts and minds to pray and share the gospel; without exemption!
If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 4:11).
You may have heard the saying, “today is the first day of the rest of your life”! so how will you spend it. Will you be worrying about yesterday’s crisis or tomorrow’s unknown? Will you dwell on your tasks for today and the demands of tonight? Is the rest of your life one of salvation or damnation?
Take a moment to breathe; close your eyes and think of the purest love you’ve ever felt. Now open them and realize that there is One Whose love is purer still and it is that love that makes it possible to breathe in the moment.
If to give life is possible, what then is impossible? If you suffer in the moment hope in eternity. If you cry in the here and now, smile in the promise of tomorrow. Make the first day of the rest of your life as one without the limits of this age. Live in the spirit and the natural will loosen its grip on you.
Hope in Christ and all else will fade!