Many people call themselves a Christian. For many different reason they believe they are and even they who have “accepted?” Jesus as their personal Savior are sure that they are going to Heaven, even though the life they live does not show it. In Matthew 7: 21 – 23 Jesus says the following:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
Now why would Jesus say this if everyone who calls Him “Lord” is saved? Is it because many people believe that because they have answered an alter call of some kind and have “accepted” Jesus as their personal Savior, and go on with their life believing that they have been forgiven and that God loves them just as they are? In most cases, Yes! The Apostle Peter knew this and in his letter (2 Peter 1: 5 – 11) the Apostle wrote the following:
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Peter reminds those, who say they have obtained like faith, that if you are a follower of Jesus then these characteristic should be apart of their lives. If not, they are blind and unfruitful in their knowledge of the Lord Jesus. They may not be true followers at all. For this reason Peter reminds them about this and tells them that they should make sure that the calling they say they have received is because of God’s election of them and not because of some action they took to receive salvation; to make sure that their works and actions will show their faith and that they have been cleansed from their sins. What Peter reminds these followers basically is the same thing that Jesus preached to they who were following Him while He was on the earth. Just because someone has “accepted” Jesus as their personal Savior does not necessarily prove that they are true-born again, called by God, followers of the Lord Jesus. In fact they really are not Christians, elected of God, but workers of lawlessness blinded by their unfruitful works and not realizing that their religiosity is just for show; much like what the Pharisees of the time were doing. They were relying on their works and not on what Jesus has done for them. How about you? Maybe you should take a look at your life, your works, the fruits of your salvation and to check to make sure that your life does show your call and election is sure and real. It would be a terrible thing to hear after death the words of Jesus, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” Now is the time to find out the truth of your salvation. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The Bible is the number one best-selling book of all time. It is also on the list of the least read books, and there is reason for that.
Anyone can take the Bible and read it for the literary and poetic aspect. Many will also take it and read it for the varied stories and historical information that it has. Then there are those who will try to read it for spiritual guidance and in the end get nothing from it. Interestingly, the reason they cannot do so is because they are not true-born again Christians. Even the Bible will state that non-Christians will not understand its spirituality.
In 1st Corinthians 2: 14 we read the following:
“But the natural man perceives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
Now I know that the Holy Spirit can take any verse and cause anyone, even non-Christians, to understand the spirituality of any verse but why would He? For if that person is not a child of God the spiritual information would basically be of no use to them as they would not truly understand what it is that God is saying.
Also, Jesus made references to this same thing. In John 8: 42 – 47 Jesus, in talking to the Jews while teaching in the Temple, said the following:
42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”
Jesus tells them from where He came and they just could not understand what He was saying. He even asks them why is it that they do not understand what He is saying. Then right away He explains that it is because they are not able to listen to Him. Not only that but He also plainly says that the reason that they cannot hear and understand what He is teaching is because they “do not” belong to God. Only they who belongs to God will hear what He is saying and they also will understand what He is saying.
Again, the unsaved or “natural” man, the one who is not “born again” of God, will not be able to understand what the Spirit of God is saying because it needs to be spiritually understood and that is something that they simply cannot do.
Then, in John 10: 24 – 30 Jesus is asked a question and He gives a simple answer to what they ask:
24 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. 26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”
The Jews asked Him if He was the Christ and the answer that Jesus gives is simple – Yes. He said, “I told you, and you do not believe” Then He goes on and tells them “why” they do not believe. It is because they do not belong to Him. They are not true-born again followers of Christ and they do not have the ability to believe in the spiritual aspects of what Jesus is teaching. He is the Messiah but only they who belong to Him not only will “hear” His voice, what He says, but will also “follow” Him where ever He goes. He gives them eternal life and He will never lose any of those who follow Him.
You see, it takes someone who is “born-again” of the Spirit of God to be able to understand the teachings of the Spirit of God. The non-Christians, that is “natural” man cannot hear God’s word in a spiritual sense and he cannot understand the spiritual aspects of God’s word, and he will not receive nor obey the spiritual things of God because he does not belong to the family of God.
So, you can read the Bible for its poetry and literary characteristics and anyone can read the Bible for its historical details, but only they who are true “born-again” followers of Jesus can read and understand the Bible for the spiritual guidance that God gives through His written word.
How about you? Do you understand the spiritual side of the Bible? If not then the possibility that you may not be a true “born-again” follower of Jesus exists. It may be that you are not one of His sheep and that you cannot hear nor understand what He says to those who belong to Him.
If that is the case then your only recourse is to throw yourself on the mercy of God and cry out for forgiveness and for the ability to believe in and confess that Jesus is the only Lord and Savior of your soul, and that Jesus is the Christ Who can save your soul from suffering eternity in Hell.
Only God, by His grace, can give you the faith as His gift with which to confess that Jesus is Lord and to believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead. If you will but just do this then you can be assured that you will be saved from facing God’s wrath, and that you will spend eternity in the loving hands of God Who forgives sins upon those who ask.
Why would you not do this now? In 2nd Corinthians 6: 2 we read:
For He (God) says:
“In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
In the Gospel of John, chapter 3, Jesus is talking with a Pharisee named Nicodemus. At some point Nicodemus says, ““Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Right away Jesus by-passes the statement and tells Nicodemus the following:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
So, right away Jesus tells Nicodemus that he needs to be born again if he even expects to see God’s Kingdom. This comes as a surprise to the Pharisee and he, right away, asks how can this be; thinking that being born again is a physical act. Jesus follows with this:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
The answer by Jesus is even more telling. Unless one is born again not only will he not see the kingdom of God but, he will also not even enter the kingdom of God. Think about that. If “you” are not born again you will never go to Heaven. It is that simple. This work of being “born again” is all of God. You cannot earn it, you cannot buy it, you cannot even demand it. Jesus makes this clear in His follow-up statement to Nicodemus:
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit is the one who washes you and cleans you up, makes you new and puts within you a desire for repentance towards God and for belief and submission to Jesus. Just like it is explained, first in Ezekiel 36: 25 – 27:
25 Then will I pour clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: yea, from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you.
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your body, and I will give you a heart of flesh.
27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them.
Second, from Romans 10: 8 – 10:
“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
God puts within you a new heart, after cleansing you with His Spirit and with the Word of God, and with this new heart, a willing heart, you will be able to confess that Jesus is Lord (that is submission) and you will believe that He has been raised from the dead (that is trusting Jesus as the Savior) and this action is the outward sign of an inner conversion as a sign of you being “born again” by the work of the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of God.
How about you? Have you ever made this confession of Jesus as Lord with the belief of His being raised from the dead? If you have you have the evidence of assurance of the Holy Spirits’ working in your life and of being “born again”, having been washed cleaned and given a new heart to know, obey and love God.
If you have never done so, if you have never confessed Jesus as Lord then, not only will you never see the kingdom of God, but you will never enter into the kingdom of God. All you will have to which you can look forward is as follows in John 3: 18 & John 3: 36:
18. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
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.”
These two verses should scare anyone who has never bowed before Jesus in submission to His Lordship, and it should cause anyone to call out to God to come and work in him the miracle of salvation by the work of the Holy Spirit, and to wash him clean from all of his sins and to give him a new heart in the act of being “born again”.
The Kingdom of God or the pangs of hell. These are the only two results for any of us. If you are not born again, why would you want anything else? Will you not make that confession that Jesus is Lord? Remember the words of Jesus…
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see nor enter the kingdom of God.”
If You Are Not Born Again….. now you know…..
As I write this it is Father’s Day. It is a day to honor Dads everywhere. The importance of a Father can be found no where better than in the Bible, and no one can be a better example of a child calling on His Father than Jesus.
On the day that Jesus was betrayed by one of His closest friends, and during the night before He was crucified, knowing what was about to befall Him Jesus talked to His Father. In Mark 14 we read:
32 Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. 34 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.”
35 He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36 And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”
In the midst of great turmoil Jesus went to the one person who He knew was the only one He could call upon and depend on for doing what was right. Even though He knew what He had to do He still cried out, “Abba, Father”. Jesus wanted His Father. He needed Him and His Father was the only one who could take away from Him what He was about to face. Yet, in the midst of all of this He knew that doing the Father’s will, and not His own, was the best course of action for Him to take. He set aside His own will to do the will of His Father and, in doing so, He did the right thing in providing forgiveness for those who would be saved from having to pay the penalty for their own sins.
In the family, the Father, or a Father figure, is still the one person that a child should, at any age, be able to count on to go to when there are troubles or problems of any kind and be helped in making the right decision; even when that decision is not the one that they want to do. We, too, can call “Abby, Father”, not only to our Earthly Father but also to our Heavenly Father to help us in time of need, knowing that if we belong to Him He will guide us in to making the decision that will be the best one for us and one that will bring glory to our Father.
When we honor our Earthly Father in doing his will, if he is teaching us Christian principles, we often find that what he has taught us is, and was, the right thing to do. How much more, then, can we expect to be guided by our Heavenly Father to do the same? When we come to realize that our Heavenly Father, the same One to Whom Jesus called “Abba”, guided Him perfectly to make the right decision, we can be assured that His will for us is just as great and is just as perfect as it was in guiding Jesus.
A family without a Father, or a Father figure, is not one that God has designed for us to be in. Realizing that there are times when a Father is not present, a Father figure should be readily available for children to call upon for guidance. If Jesus needed to call upon God the Father, calling Him “Abba”, how is it that we feel that we do not need the same for us to call upon our Earthly Father or even our Heavenly Father for guidance as well?
Before we can call upon God the Father we must first become a member of his family. The Apostle Paul knew this when he wrote in Romans 8: 15 the following:
15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
When we call upon God to forgive us for our sins, realizing that our sinfulness has condemned us already to spend eternity in Hell, and to believe in Jesus as the one who died for sins and proclaim Him Lord, and believe that God the Father raised Him from the dead, it is because we have been born again into the family of God; being adopted as such and because of us receiving the Holy Spirit at the time of our rebirth, we can than call upon God the Father and, as Jesus did, call Him “Abba”, as He is now our new Father. Jesus said that no one can come to the Father except by Him (Jesus).
Every child should be guided by a Father or a Father figure, as every child and adult should be guided by God the Father. By knowing and doing His will we can understand that no matter what it is that He may want us to do we can do so with the knowledge and courage that what we are doing is the right decision to make. And, if we falter, become scared or disillusioned, we know that there is one upon Whom we can call for help. All we have to do is to just look up and cry out, “Abba, Father”!
If you were to ask the average Christian, “what is it about you that says you are a Christian?” most would probably talk about how they go to Church, attend Sunday School, give to missions, etc., but does this really define them as being a Christian?
I used to be that kind of Christian and I was OK with talking about how I did all of these Christianly activities. It was rare that I would talk about my relationship with Jesus or about my faith in what He did for me, and when I did it was a quick, almost embarrassingly, mention of Him. You know why I never said more about Him, if at all? Because I really had ” no ” relationship with Jesus. You see it never dawned on me that being a Christian was all about Jesus and not about me being a Christian.
It took awhile for it to become clear that being a Christian is not about my good works but about my relationship with Jesus. I even began to wonder about whether or not I even had a relationship with Jesus. You know what I discovered? I never really did have a relationship with Jesus; at least not a close one. Maybe you don’t either.
You see for someone to define me as being a Christian should not come from what I say that I do, but about what, or whom it is, that is the reason for me being a Christian in the first place. It is all about the Person upon which I base my faith and why.
My relationship with Jesus, and my faith in Him, should come through by what I say about Him and not what I say about me. The closer I get to Jesus, the stronger my faith in Him becomes and the more I am willing to talk about Him, and my life should be a living witness to His work in my life. In fact, my life should be that just by listening to what I say about Him, and the things that I do in His name, should give evidence to anyone who meets me that it would be easy for them to believe that I am a Christian.
In short, my faith in Jesus and the relationship that I have with Him should be such that it would openly define me as a Christian without me saying that I am. The closer one gets to Jesus the more they are willing to talk about Him.
In Luke 9:29 we read the following quote by Jesus:
For whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his glory, and in the glory of the Father, and of the holy Angels.
How about you? Do people define you as being a Christian just by hearing about your relationship with Jesus, and the faith that you have in Him? Or, like me, you need to see that maybe you don’t even have a relationship with Jesus at all. Think of this – the strength of your faith in Him will determine how close of a relationship you have with Him. The closer your relationship the stronger your faith. So here is a quick and easy way of determining how close of a relationship you have with Jesus.
Think of the faith that you now have in Him, can the actions of your faith, in your relationship with Jesus, define you as being a Christian or are you just a Christian in name only?
It may be that you have no relationship with Jesus. If that is the answer then maybe you are not a Christian at all. It is better to find that out now and not later, after death, when it will be too late.
If you will just confess that Jesus is Lord of your life, and believe that God raised Him from the dead, is defining proof that you have been saved and are on the way of establishing a relationship with Jesus. If, however, you balk at that thought, if you feel embarrassed at the thought of publicly proclaiming that Jesus is your Lord, also is defining proof that you have no relationship with Jesus, and it may be that you are not saved at all.
Only God can show this to you and only God can open your heart to receive the truth. May this Easter season be one of raising you to new life in Jesus, just as He was raised from the dead to give life to all who have life in Him, and in experiencing the kind of loving relationship, resulting in strong faith, that only God can provide.
May your relationship with Jesus be such that others who will see you will say, “You are a Christian aren’t you.”
We have heard it time and again that God loves everybody, but does He do so literally or figuratively? How the Bible explains it is what we should believe to be the truth.
Basically, the idea that God loves everyone comes from what we read in John 3:16, which says:
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.
The first part is from where the idea comes that God loves everyone. Specifically from the word “world”, for God so loved the “world”. Does this mean that it is talking about everyone, every single being, who has or ever will live?
From Strong’s Concordance we read the following concerning the word “world” as used in John 3:16:
Probably from the base of G2865; orderly arrangement, that is, decoration; by implication the world (in a wide or narrow sense, including its inhabitants, literally or figuratively [morally]): – adorning, world.
We do see the word “inhabitants” so it could mean each individual, if that is something about which Jesus was talking. Remember, Jesus had been talking to a Pharisees named Nicodemus, who was a ruler of the Jews. the Pharisees and all of the Jewish people believed that God’s love, or God’s favor, was only for the descendants of Israel; the Israelites called the Jews.
During the conversation Jesus was talking about the need for being born again and that all who look to Him would be saved and have everlasting light. Nicodemus was only thinking that Jesus was talking about the Jewish people but Jesus had to remind him that this salvation, this eternal life, was for anyone regardless of their race, creed, religion or color. In other words, the offer of eternal life was for anyone, any inhabitant of the world, and Jesus was talking in a figurative way, not literally. Here’s why.
In John 12 we read the story of Jesus coming into Jerusalem riding on a donkey, what we call Palm Sunday. Many people were celebrating as Jesus was coming into town and the Pharisees saw what was happening. They knew about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead and that He was starting to gather a great following. Finally , in John 12:19 we read the following:
The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him!”
Again, the same word for “world” was used here. If the word “kosmos” in John 3:16 meant everyone, all individuals, then it should mean the same thing here, but it doesn’t. All it means here is the same as what it means in John 3:16, that it is talking about people of all kinds, that Jews and Gentiles alike, in general terms, were starting to follow Jesus. It did not mean that everyone was following Jesus because they were not, but many people of all kinds – who were in the world – were starting to become followers of Jesus
To support all of this, there are verses that talk about whom it is that Jesus does love. We’ll take a look a couple of them and you will be able to see that John 3:16 does not talk about individuals but people in general, that is Jews and Gentiles alike from all walks of like. Anyone can be born again and given eternal life and that it is these people who we will see are the ones whom God loves.
In John 13:1 we read the following:
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
In this verse we see that the word “world” is the same word used in John 3: 16, but what we see different is that this verse speaks specifically who it was that Jesus loved while in this world (kosmos). The verse says that Jesus had loved his own who were in the world (kosmos), not everyone, but only His own.
Now in John 14:21-24 we read the following as more supporting verses about who it is that Jesus will love:
21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?”
23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.
Do you see it? They who love Jesus and obey Him are the ones whom He will love and they are the only ones whom the Father will love, and they will make themselves known only to them. In addition, another follower asks Jesus why does He make Himself known only to them and not to the world? Again, the word “world” (kosmos) is the same word found in John 3:16. In fact this is so important that Jesus again says that “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him.”
Jesus is very specific in saying that the only ones whom He, and the Father, will love are they who love Them. And this means that anyone in the “world” (kosmos) no matter who they are, what their color, race, creed are, whether male, female, young, old or in between they are all given this offer.
Still not convinced? Let us look at one more verse. Actually what I would like for you to read is John 17. This is where Jesus gives His great high priestly prayer for all of His followers. Specifically, however, I would like for you to read the following from John 17:20 – 23:
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
Very clearly Jesus prays for all who will believe and follow Him, and what He asks is for the “world” (kosmos) in general to know that God the Father loves all who will follow Jesus just as the Father loves the Son. Basically what Jesus is asking is for all unbelievers to know that God loves all believers of Jesus – they who follow Him.
In all of these verses, and there are more, what is specific is that God loves anyone, no matter from where they come or who they are, who will follow Jesus and be born again into the family of God.
So, have we all mis-understood John 3:16? The answer is an absolute “yes”…
However, the one thing that you should know is this. Whether or not you believe what the Bible says or what some preacher says, this one thing is very clear. It is not the verse where Jesus says, “For God so loved the world (kosmos)” upon which that we should focus… No, what follows next is the most important thing that Jesus says in John 3:16.
that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
If you do not believe in Jesus, have bowed the knee to Him and proclaimed Him to be Lord, and believe that He was raised from the dead, it does not matter what you believe about who God loves, if “you” do not believe “you” will be among those who will perish and you will not have everlasting life.
You may know John 3:16 but do you know John 3:35 & 36:
35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. 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.”
My friend, believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved. Then, and only then, will you be able to truly say, according to the scriptures that we have seen and read, that you are among those whom Jesus and the Father loves. For God so loved “me”… Now that is nice, and that is only for the believer in Jesus. More importantly it is also scriptural…