Trust and Obey

It is interesting that the Bible clearly indicates that people who claim to be believers will unfortunately be cast from His presence into hell (Matthew 7:21-23). This raises a very important question about faith: how can a person of “faith” go to hell? Or, how can believers who serve the Lord still be condemned?

Some might argue the reason is because people ultimately will be judged according to their works. While it is true that works are a sign of genuine salvation, works cannot earn one a place in heaven. If that is true, then what is the answer?

The answer lies in Jesus’ response to those who claim to know Him, and who seek to offer their spiritual resume to Jesus. He responds by telling them, “I never knew you; depart from me you who practice lawlessness.”

Notice first, that when they face Jesus in judgment, they demonstrate that they, themselves do not know Jesus by virtue of the fact that they have to tell Jesus what they have been doing in His name. On the one hand that is an admission that they too do not know Jesus relationally. One only brings a Continue reading

The End of Liberty

When a people begin to uphold a lifestyle that is in opposition to God’s laws, then that people will come to a point where they will be forced to make an untenable decision. Today as a society we are now embracing homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle. We now have a sitting president who is in favor of promoting same sex marriage. However, because that lifestyle is in opposition to God’s revealed way of living, our society is experiencing conflict.

The conflict is a result of two worldviews colliding. At many turns today we are experiencing the tension as these two opposing lifestyles butt heads. Homosexuals have become emboldened to bully everyone into accepting their lifestyle as legitimate. When people express concern over that lifestyle, the gay community demonstrates that they will not tolerate anyone who disagrees with their lifestyle choice.

Unfortunately, many people today have acquiesced into giving them the liberty they desire. However, in making the decision to accept homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle that must be defended, society must necessarily close the door to lifestyles choices that do not harmonize with it.

For example, Vanderbilt University has recently made a decision that all civic groups who use university property, must allow anyone who so desires to be a part of their leadership. This decision was the result of a gay man being denied a leadership role to a religious organization. The net effect of the decision is that the religious organization will most likely become a thing of past for the university.

In choosing to defend the gay lifestyle, the university will lose the rich heritage that comes from people of faith. But the university will lose not only their participation in campus life; they will also lose the religious liberty that has so successfully defined us as a people.

When our religious liberty gives way to a conflicting lifestyle choice, freedom itself is in jeopardy. The society that accepts a lifestyle at the expense of its own history, and at the expense of God’s revelation, is a society doomed to failure. Today we are at an important crossroads. The wrong choice will not simply mark out a new horizon for our country, but will prove to be the end of liberty as we know it.

Clean Clothes

The Bible says that we are to “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col 3:10).

I remember falling into the mud as a boy. It was raining outside and as my friends and I were playing, we fell into the mud and every part of our clothes were soaked and dirty. When I came to the door, my mother just looked at me for a moment. As a smile formed on her face she told me to go to the garage where I could get clean before tramping all that mud into the house. While in the garage she made sure all the mud was off, wiped my face, and gave me clean clothes to wear. When I finally entered the house, all the mud was gone.

When we come to Jesus for salvation, He too smiles. But He first tells us to go to the cross. When we arrive there we are dirty beyond recognition. After we are forgiven Jesus begins to clean us. By the time we get to heaven, the mud is gone and we are wearing new cloths that will never again be stained by sin.

It is important to note that being forgiven and being cleaned are two different aspects of the Christian life. Being forgiven happens immediately after we come to the cross. Being cleaned is a lifelong process. Being forgiven is called receiving salvation, or being saved. Being cleaned of our sins is called sanctification.

You cannot be cleaned until you are forgiven; but once you are forgiven the Lord begins the process of cleaning you from all sins. The Lord wants us to be actively engaged in the cleaning process. He does the work, but just as my mother helped me dress when I was a boy, we have to pay attention and do as He says.

The Bible tells us to “Put on the new self.” That’s the same thing as saying, “Take the clean clothes the Lord is giving you and put them on!” The apostle tells us that we are to put them on by “being renewed in knowledge.” In other words, sanctification happens when we intentionally seek to obey God’s Word.

When we do obey, the Bible makes it clear that the cleaning process does not end with us wearing just any type of clean clothes. He says that we are renewed after the image of our creator. That’s a staggering thought! When we are cleaned from sin, and ushered into heaven, we are going to look like Jesus, our creator!

As a Christian I sometimes still feel like that little boy covered in mud looking into my mother’s face. And when I look into the face of Jesus, I am thankful that the Lord is willing to forgive me and go about the laborious task of cleaning me. He is a patient and loving God! I look forward to wearing my new clothes.

Meeting God

“Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3).

When I was in seminary, one of my favorite things to do was to go to Chapel. It was a special time for a few reasons.

First, there was great worship. But something I remember about the worship that stands out. It wasn’t great because of a style of music. We sang everything from the golden oldies to the newest contemporary music. Some songs I loved, some … not so much. But the worship was great because of the Spirit that was created by those attending the service. They showed up expecting to meet God, and they acted accordingly. When the congregation sang, they weren’t simply singing, they were telling God how much they loved Him and how great He is. As a result, the Spirit was there and we worshiped Him.

Second, there was always really good preaching, and I was always blessed by the message. But I think I was blessed because every time I entered the sanctuary I wanted to hear what the Lord had to say to me. The best thing about it was that I was never disappointed. I came with an ear to hear, and I left with a Word from God. It’s funny how God can use one message and speak to so many people and still meet them where they are.

Third, there was always a response to God’s Word. Never did a service go by without someone (usually many) responding publically to God’s message. The thing that was so moving was that because people were eager to hear and respond, God was faithful to move in the lives of everyone there. His Spirit would sweep through that sanctuary and I would always have an encounter with God. In fact, it seemed that the only way to avoid an encounter was to not be there. On the days (and they were few) that I could not be there, I always felt like I was missing out. And I was.

Every time I left that sanctuary I was both filled and satisfied. It’s interesting to note that I had many “needs” in those days. Although the messages were not related to any of my “felt needs,” God always filled me and met my needs. I suspect that was so because the purpose of worship is not me and my needs, but God and His glory.

Worship is ultimately about Him. When He is the focus, the subject and object of worship, then satisfaction, peace, joy, fulfillment, and love are the results in the hearts of the worshippers. When I made it my goal to make it all about Him, then He made it possible for me to be complete in Him.

God wants that for ever member of His church. But only you can condition your heart to meet Him. Only you can have the anticipation necessary. Only you can tell God how much you love Him and how great He is. Only you can have an ear to hear. Only you can choose to respond. Only you can choose to worship. When your spirit is prepared for and anticipating a meeting with God, then you will discover the joy of meeting God. Have you met Him lately?