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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Shaping The Heart by R. L. Dabney

“The preacher is a herald; his work is heralding the King’s message. . . . Now the herald does not invent his message; he merely transmits and explains it. It is not his to criticize its wisdom or fitness; this belongs to his sovereign alone. On the one hand, . . . he is an intelligent medium of communication with the king’s enemies; he has brains as well as a tongue; and he is expected so to deliver and explain his master’s mind, that the other party shall receive not only the mechanical sounds, but the true meaning of the message. On the other hand, it wholly transcends his office to presume to correct the tenor of the propositions he conveys, by either additions or change. These are the words of God’s commission to an ancient preacher: ‘Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.’

“The preacher’s task may be correctly explained as that of (instrumentally) forming the image of Christ upon the souls of men. The plastic substance is the human heart. The die which is provided for the workman is the revealed Word; and the impression to be formed is the divine image of knowledge and true holiness. God, who made the soul, and therefore knows it, made the die. He obviously knew best how to shape it, in order to produce the imprint he desired. Now the workman’s business is not to criticize, recarve, or erase anything in the die which was committed to him; but simply to press it down faithfully upon the substance to be impressed, observing the conditions of the work assigned him in his instructions. In this view, how plain is it, that preaching should be simply representative of Bible truths, and in Bible proportions! The preacher’s business is to take what is given him in the Scriptures, as it is given to him, and to endeavor to imprint it on the souls of men. All else is God’s work. The die is just such, so large, so sharp, so hard, and has just such an “image and superscription” on it, as God would have. Thus He judged, in giving it to us. With this, ‘the man of God is perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.’ (2 Tim 3:17) This is enough for us.”

R.L. Dabney, Evangelical Eloquence: A Course of Lectures on Preaching (Banner of Truth, 1999), p. 36-37.

Greg Laurie Speaks Out

“One of the candidates who professes to be a Christian running for the presidency recently said in a speech, ‘There are a lot of Jewish people who are just as moral, or even more moral than I am. There are a lot of Muslims who are decent, good, kind people. I don’t think they are any less children of God.’

“Now, that sounds very inclusive and kind, but I have to tell you it goes against the very core of the essential Gospel message. Yes, it is certainly true that people of faiths other than Christianity – or even no faith at all – can be ‘decent, good and kind.’ But the simple fact is, a man or woman does not come into a relationship with God by being ‘kind and good,’ but rather by admitting that he or she is a sinner who needs forgiveness from God.

“This is why Jesus died on the cross. He was paying the price for our sins, because as the Bible says, ‘All have turned away from God; all have gone wrong. No one does good, not even one’ (Romans 3:12, NLT).

“That verse isn’t saying there are no ‘good’ people, but rather that no one is ‘good enough’ to please God on his or her own. Jesus took care of that for us, dying in our place, paying the full penalty for our sins.” (The Emergent Church: A Dangerous Counterfeit)

Read the entire article. . . .

The Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of Man?

In the movie, The Kingdom of Heaven (historical fiction with a PC bias), Balian of Ibelin asks his father, Godfrey: “What could a king ask of a man like me?” To which Godfrey of Ibelin replies: “A better world than has ever been seen. A kingdom of conscience. A kingdom of heaven.” Unfortunately, instead of finding the kingdom of heaven on this journey, Balian finds only the kingdom of man.

One thing that the New Testament makes perfectly clear is that Jesus Christ was absolutely concerned about the kingdom of heaven. Jesus declared, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 3:2) “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20) “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19) “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3) Jesus’ message was uncompromising even to the point of His crucifixion.

Perhaps the kingdom of heaven seems to be less important today because the kingdom of man has so much influence over the church. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote correctly in his Letter from Birmingham Jail that, “So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and often even vocal sanction of things as they are.” Jesus warned, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)

The kingdom of man is seductive. It promises to take care of you materially while taking everything that is important from you. The kingdom of man has a party line and a self-appointed intelligentsia to think for you. Conformity to the power of the moment drives its stupefying existence. Darkness guides its way. But the kingdom of heaven is no temporary man-made utopia; it endures; it is eternal, because it is established by God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10) The kingdom of heaven does not exist by government decree or because of your effort and mine. It exists because God reigns. “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.'” (Revelation 11:15)

Therefore, to which kingdom will you render service; the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of man? “. . . As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua, 24:15)

Bill Would Ban Human-Animal Hybrids

LifeSiteNews.com reports that a Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act, H.R. 5910, has been presented in Congress. This bill would ban the creation of part-human, part-animal hybrid beings. British scientists are developing a hybrid technique which has created part-human, part-animal hybrid embryos in the UK.

Pro-life and public health advocates point out that there has been an increase in infections emerging from animal populations that threaten human health. Human-animal hybrids could increase the risk for transmission of both human and animal diseases. Genetically modified hybrids could also have a devastating effect on the natural environments of native animal populations. Michael Crichton’s fictional novel, Next, portrays many of the moral, ethical, and legal problems that such experimentation creates. You may also have seen the movie version of The Island of Doctor Moreau, which also presents some of the ethical conflicts of developing human-animal hybrid beings.

Appalachian State University’s Coach Jerry Moore

Jerry Moore, head football coach at Appalachian State in the mountains of North Carolina, has won the National Championship for the last 3 years in a row in their Division.

However, the most important thing in his life is not football.

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO SEE VIDEO.

Are You Clinging To Garlic & Onions? By Charles H. Spurgeon

There are some who stumble at Christ because of his holiness. He is too strict for them; they would like to be Christians, but they cannot renounce their sensual pleasures; they would like to be washed in his blood, but they desire still to roll in the mire of sin.

Willing enough the mass of men would be to receive Christ, if, after receiving him, they might continue in their drunkenness, their wantonness, and self-indulgence. But Christ lays the axe at the root of the tree; he tells them that these things must be given up, for “because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience”, and “without holiness no man can see the Lord”.

Human nature kicks at this.

“What! May I not enjoy one darling lust? May I not indulge myself at least now and then in these things? Must I altogether forsake my old habits and my old ways? Must I be made a new creature in Christ Jesus?”

These are terms too hard, conditions too severe, and so the human heart goes back to the flesh pots of Egypt, and clings to the garlic and the onions of the old estate of bondage, and will not be set free even though a greater than Moses lifts up the rod to part the sea, and promises to give to them a Canaan flowing with milk and honey.

Evangelism by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” (Romans 6:17-18 )

“You can not skate lightly over and around sin in evangelism, and say to people ‘do not bother about repentance now. Come to Christ first, you can repent afterwards.’ No! The doctrine of sin is a vital part of this ‘form of doctrine’ [mentioned in Romans 6:17] that produces the amazing result. We all have to see ourselves under condemnation, bound for hell, hopeless and helpless in sin and under the wrath of god. We have to see the foul, terrible nature of such a condition, its slavery to sin and Satan, and the terrible end to which it inevitably leads. That is part of the message. . . .

“This is all a part of evangelism. Evangelism does not consist in telling stories and playing on people’s emotions, and then pressing them to a decision at the end without any true knowledge on their part of what they are doing. No, but it is the outlining of this ‘form of doctrine’, this message, this truth. Then you go on to tell them that from this complete hopelessness and helplessness and despair God has provided a way of escape: ‘Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood’. That is the message, that is the ‘form of doctrine that has been delivered’. That is the immediate agency that produces this great change.”

Why Are There Atheists?

“In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are,    ‘There is no God.'” (Psalm10:4)

What drives an otherwise intelligent person to become an atheist? Having been an atheist for many years earlier in my life, please allow me to share some personal observations with you on this topic. The American Heritage Dictionary defines “atheism” as “Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.” What is this willing “disbelief” driven by? The desire to be personally in control and accountable to no one is a powerful motivation for suppressing the truth about God in your life and the lives of others. (Romans 1:18 ) We prefer to establish our own standards of righteousness.

The sin of atheism is all bound up in the wickedness of pride. We see our lives from the perspective of wishing to be the center of all things. If I am to be the center of my universe, then I cannot tolerate the existence of a god who looks down on me. Pride sees only its own reflection in the mirror and that is enough. A man who is so self-infatuated certainly cannot abide a deity to whom he is accountable. William E. Henley spoke of such a person when he penned the words, “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.”

Thus, pride drives men to “suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:18-21) Atheism requires a cycle of continuous ongoing self-assurance. The sin of pride provides the impetus required to deny the existence of god.

Therefore, atheism is the result of the sin of pride and must, itself, inspire further sin. Atheism is not a morally neutral position. Once you have denied God, you have denied the moral foundation of the rights and dignity of man. Alexander Solzhenitsyn writes: “If I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: ‘Men had forgotten God; that is why all this has happened.'”

Proverbs 16:18 warns us “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Is it really better to rule in hell than to serve in heaven? Atheism demands that the prideful answer be, “Yes!” Such a viewpoint, however, has very unhappy consequences in this world and the next. The throne of atheism must one day be abandoned before the mortifying judgment of the one omnipotent God. Divine justice will demand that, “The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.” (Isaiah 2:11)

Do Your Friends Know About Jesus?

The second of my three “life-long” friends died recently in a freak accident in his home. He had just turned 59. Of the three, he had been my closest friend through much of my youth. We were in the same public schools in grades 1-12 and even attended the same university at one time. His home was just a short bicycle ride from mine and we shared many good times together. As life and jobs often separate people, such was the fate of our friendship. He chose the military as his profession and was very successful, rising to the rank of Colonel. I chose education and became a principal. We both left our hometown. He and his family lived in different states and over the years our contact with each other became much less frequent. My last telephone conversation with him was about two months before the tragedy of his death. The second of three men I would have trusted with my life was gone.

Standing at his graveside, engulfed by many fond emotional memories, I could not help but ponder that here was a veteran of the Vietnam War who had passed through that time of trial and danger only to die at the early age of 59 in an accident at home. Truly, a “man does not know his time.” (Ecclesiastes 9:12) Thus, the Psalmist prayed “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (90:12)

Death inevitably comes, but still surprises us all. Paul writes, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22) There is hope even in the grave. “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29)

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the proof of God’s love toward us just as Jesus’ death on the cross is the proof of God’s hatred of sin. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) The resurrection of Jesus Christ means that the Christian life shall conquer the grave. Remove the resurrection of Jesus and all Christianity falls. But Christ did rise and will keep his promises to perfect our faith and raise our bodies to eternal glory.

Charles H. Spurgeon declares, “The resurrection is a fact better attested than any event recorded in any history, whether ancient or modern.” Lucifer may have danced on the tomb of our Savior in his joy, but that joy was soon overthrown by the power of Christ’s resurrection glory. This is the glory of our hope as Christians. We, who are Christians, shall one day experience first hand the delight and joy of the presence of God and the opportunity to renew old friendships in the Kingdom of Heaven. Have you told your friends about Jesus?

How Do You Avoid Being Burned?

Often people today think of “temptation” as the desire to have just one more piece of chocolate or maybe the inability to resist a delicious looking dessert. Temptation has been trivialized in our society to refer to impetuously wishing to do something which you think of as naughty but not serious. The Bible refers to temptation very seriously because it views temptation as the desire to oppose the moral law of God in act or attitude.

One more piece of chocolate pie may be a problem for you but does it really compare to the consequences of rebelling against God? Richard Sibbes makes an important point when he writes, “Satan gives Adam an apple, and takes away Paradise. Therefore in all temptations let us consider not what he offers, but what we shall lose.” Temptation offers the illusion of happiness but its consequences yield only everlasting torment.

Yet, all are tempted. Do not be discouraged when this happens, pray that God would hold on to you so that you do not yield and fall. Jesus told his disciples, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) Once temptation is yielded to, it grows in power. What makes this so difficult for many of us is that we truly don’t want to discourage temptation completely. We deceive ourselves into believing we are in control. We think we can toy with sin as a cat does a mouse; only too late do we realize that temptation is really the cat.

Paul writes, No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) If you honestly and firmly determine to do your best to avoid temptation and pray with all your heart for God’s deliverance, He is faithful to provide you with the means to stand against Satan’s clever devices.

If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit of God is living within you to guide and to help you resist the temptation to sin. However, if you are a Christian who often neglects church attendance, reading the Scriptures, and prayer – your resistance will be weak when the trial of temptation comes upon you. Don’t rush to put your hand into the fire and then pray not to be burned, but pray, rather, to have the wisdom to understand fire and keep your hand out of it.

Who Is Educating Our Children?

“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.” (Deuteronomy 11:18-21, ESV)

It has been said, “Those who control the access to the minds of children will set the agenda for the future of the nation and the future of the western world.” (James Dobson) This is why so many groups are always trying to get their programs implemented in the public schools. Most of these programs are, unfortunately, not academic but are, instead, attempts by secular progressive groups to modify cultural norms.

It was H. L. Mencken who pointed out the error of believing “that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence, and so make them fit to discharge the duties of citizenship in an enlightened and independent manner. Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all. It is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else.”

It is truly a wonder when a public school student graduates with anything but the most politically correct thoughts about issues in history, economics, religion, and literature. Most think the Middle Ages were a time of darkness and superstition. They believe that the Church was a hindrance to the development of Western Civilization. They have been duped into believing that authors prior to the mid twentieth century made no significant contributions to literature. They think the Industrial Revolution oppressed the lower classes. They have been told that third world poverty is the fault of the west. They have been taught that Capitalism impoverishes workers. The student, in this case – however, is not responsible for his lack of real knowledge. His teachers never told him about the scholarship that contradicts the substanceless clichés and platitudes he was being taught. For the most part the teachers’ generation had been denied access to the benefits of this scholarship as well. Secular progressive education has four enemies. They are history, the economic theory and practice of capitalism, western literature, and religion – specifically Christianity.

Example: In 1892, the United States was declared to be a “Christian nation” by the Supreme Court of the United States. It was formally declared in the case of Holy Trinity Church vs. United States, 143 U.S. 471. Did you know this? Were you taught this in your history, social studies, civics, or political science classes?

We have become a nation with amnesia. We have forgotten our roots and who we are. During the past fifty years, the history of the United States has been rewritten to exclude the historical Christian foundations of our nation. The classic works of literature produced in the west are being neglected because of the obvious moral influence of Christianity in much of what was written. This has happened because we, as Christians and parents, have failed to protect and pass on the great Christian heritage of the United States. We have neglected the public school curriculum while secular progressive humanists have made it their goal to overhaul it and use it to reengineer our culture. We have not told our children of the important role Christianity played in the establishment of our country. We have also failed to teach our children the Word of God because we are too preoccupied and dependent upon one hour of Sunday School a week to give our children a complete Christian education.

Biblical education was never intended to work that way. Notice the Scriptures above from the book of Deuteronomy: “You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.” God’s Word assigns parents to consistently teach their children His “words” in the everyday circumstances of the family.

There is, however, a prerequisite for parents before this can be done. “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.” If, as parents, we do not first commit ourselves to the study of God’s Word, how can we expect to teach our children and be the appropriate examples we should be? The only heritage worth leaving the next generation is a Christian heritage and you are your child’s primary teacher.

Our government’s education system has fallen into the hands of anti-Christians. The Church cannot give your child a Christian education in only one hour per week. As Christians and parents, we must accept the responsibility to see that our children do not forget God. We must also make sure they learn the true Christian history of our nation. Ultimately, parents must take full responsibility for seeing that their children receive a sound education.

Black Genocide

According to Dr. Alveda King, “Planned Parenthood is definitely a racist  organization – they have a racist agenda,” The niece of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., told Cybercast News Service that “Since 1970, there has been something like 50 million abortions. About 17 million of those have been blacks. It’s black genocide. They are killing our people and fooling us.”

Last year, The Advocate, a student publication of UCLA, called Planned Parenthood offices around the country offering to make donations specifically for the abortion of black babies. The Advocate then posted videos on YouTube with audio recordings of the calls on which Planned Parenthood officials agreed to accept race-targeted donations.

“There are more Planned Parenthood clinics in black neighborhoods, because there is an artificial demand, which was created by Planned Parenthood,” King said. “We were told by Planned Parenthood that abortion, which is actually murder, is therapeutic.”

Read the entire article at Cybercast News Service. . . .

The Word Of Life by Mark Dever

“What about the role of the preacher of God’s Word? If you are looking for a good church, this is the most important thing to consider. I don’t care how friendly you think the church members are. I don’t care how good you think the music is. . . . The congregation’s commitment to the centrality of the Word coming from . . . the preacher, the one specially gifted by God and called to that ministry, is the most important thing you can look for in a church. . . .

“Preachers are not called to preach what’s popular according to the polls. . . . People already know all that. What life does that bring? We’re not called to preach merely moral exhortations or history lessons or social commentaries. . . . We are called to preach the Word of God to the church of God and to everyone in His creation. This is how God brings life. Each person . . . is flawed and has faults and has sinned against God. And the terrible thing about our fallen natures is that we are greedy for ways to justify our sins against God. Every single one of us wants to know how we can defend ourselves from God’s charges. Therefore we are in desperate need to hear God’s Word brought honestly to us, so that we don’t just hear what we want to hear but rather what God has actually said.

“All of this is important . . . because God’s Holy Spirit creates His people by His Word.

“This is why Paul told Timothy to ‘form a committee.’ Right? Of course not! . . . ‘Take a survey’? No! . . . ‘Spend yourself in visiting’? No! . . . ‘Read a book’? No! Paul never told young Timothy to do any of those things.

“Paul told Timothy, straight and clear, to ‘Preach the Word.’ (2 Tim. 4:2) This is the great imperative. This is why the apostles earlier had determined that, even thought there were problems with the equitable distribution of financial aid in Jerusalem, the church would just have to find others to solve their problems, because, ‘We . . . will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the Word’ (Acts 6:4). Why this priority? Because this Word is ‘the word of life.’ (Phil. 2:16) That is the great task of the preacher: to ‘hold out the word of life’ to people who need it for their souls.” (Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever)

The Only True Delight! By Charles H. Spurgeon

“Nothing gives the believer so much joy as fellowship with Christ. The Christian has joy as other men have in the ‘common mercies’ of life. For him there are charms in music, excellence in painting, and beauty in sculpture; for him the hills have sermons of majesty, the rocks hymns of sublimity, and the valleys lessons of love. He can look upon all things with an eye as clear and joyous as another man’s; he can be glad both in God’s gifts and God’s works. He is not dead to the happiness of his home: around his hearth he finds happy relationships, without which life would be dreary indeed. His children fill his home with glee, his wife is his solace and delight, his friends are his comfort and refreshment. He accepts the comforts which soul and body can yield him according as God sees it wise to afford them unto him.

“But he will tell you that in all these separately, yes, and in all of them added together, he does not find such substantial delight as he does in the person of his Lord Jesus. In our esteem, the ‘joys of earth’ are little better than husks for swine, compared with Jesus the heavenly manna. I would rather have one mouthful of Christ’s love, and a sip of his fellowship, than a whole world full of carnal delights.

“What is the chaff to the wheat? What is the sparkling paste to the true diamond? What is a dream to the glorious reality? What is time’s mirth in its best trim compared to our Lord Jesus in his most despised estate?

“No spring yields such sweet water as that well of God which was digged with the soldier’s spear! As for the house of feasting, the joy of harvest, the mirth of marriage, the sports of youth, the recreations of maturer age – they are all as the small dust of the balance compared with the joy of Immanuel our best beloved.

“As the Preacher said, so say we, ‘I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What is it?’ ‘Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.’ All earthly bliss is of the earth earthy, but the comforts of Christ’s presence are like himself heavenly.

“We can review our communion with Jesus, and find no regrets of emptiness therein; there are no dregs in this wine; no dead flies in this ointment. The joy of the Lord is solid and enduring.

“Vanity has not looked upon it, but discretion and prudence testify that it abides the test of years, and is in time and in eternity worthy to be called “the only true delight.”

How Do You Know That You Know?

“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'” (Matthew 7:21-23)

How do you know that you have been born again by the Spirit of God? Do you have assurance of your salvation? By this I mean do you have an internal sense, based on evidence in your life, that you have truly been born again and will persevere as a Christian until the end of your life? These are very important questions to ask yourself. Too often, people speak only of their salvation as a past tense experience while currently they are living in disobedience to God. They possess a false “easy assurance” of salvation because at one time in their lives they made “a profession of faith” and were baptized shortly afterwards. They accepted a watered-down understanding of eternal security and never, afterwards, seriously examined their lives for evidence of the fruit of the Spirit.

Easy assurance is a serious problem in our Christian culture. In Matthew, however, Jesus warns first century Christians not to take their salvation for granted. In the verses above, Jesus warns his followers that their righteousness must exceed the example of the scribes and Pharisees. The Pharisees were very concerned about keeping the Law. They possessed an outward righteousness that appeared as an exceedingly high standard. Nevertheless, it was a religious righteousness that focused on what others could see, not a heart righteousness that led to internal purity. The righteousness of the Pharisees was all for show and none of the Spirit. Jesus was saying that going through the motions of righteous works will not gain you admittance into the kingdom of heaven. There must also be an inward transformation that has taken place. Your righteous deeds may be a sign of inward transformation, but you should never take that for granted.

Matthew 7 even shows us that it is possible to do “mighty works” in the name of Jesus, and yet to be outside of His Will and not of His Spirit. Jesus calls these people “workers of lawlessness.” How is this possible?

They made a confession of faith, but it was false because their works were done for their own glory even though they used the name of Jesus. Evil desire was still the master on the throne of their hearts. They actually walked according to their own desires and only professed obedience to the Lord. They were deceived by believing that their confession of Christ as Lord was enough to merit entrance into the kingdom. However, they were unrepentant and their lives were ruled by carnality. They had no abiding internal desire to live a holy life to the glory of Jesus Christ by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

We must heed the warning of Jesus here. The secular psychology of this age has grown in influence over the modern church. We have developed an eagerness to assure the guilty of their salvation when there is no sign of true repentance – no true evidence of desire to live a holy life. Paul writes to the Corinthians, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.” (2 Corinthians 13:5) How can we call Him Savior, when we have no desire to obey Him and love Him as our Lord? A mere verbal acknowledgement does not equal saving faith. Again, Paul writes, “. . . work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. . . .” (Philippians 2:12) This is a serious issue that should not be regarded lightly. Our salvation is all of God and all of God’s Grace. It is a grace that enables us to love Jesus Christ so much that we are willing to act in His behalf by the way we live and by sharing the Gospel Truth with a lost and dying world. We must take care to persevere and watch over our lives accordingly. The inward change as we grow more in love with Christ and the outward fruit of this transformation will be our assurance.

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