Jesus, at the close of the Sermon on the Mount, speaks some of the most frightening words in all of Scripture. He draws a clean distinction between those who are saved and those who are deceived in thinking they are saved.
He begins by explaining the narrow way to life and the broad way that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13-14). And many, He says, go the way of destruction.
He then tells us we will know those who are deceived by the lack of fruit in their lives. Spiritual fruit is the only evidence, according to Jesus, of true salvation (Matt. 7:15-20).
Finally Jesus tells us many will be deceived on the Day of Judgment and be cast from the Lord’s presence. Why? Because they “practiced lawlessness” (Matt. 7:21-23).
Incredibly sobering words. Want to hear more? Then keep listening.
The following is a study on True Salvation.
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“It may be that the Deity can forgive sins, but I do not see how.” – Plato
In Romans 8 we have what is commonly known as the golden chain of salvation. It goes from eternity past (foreknew, predestined) to eternity future (glorification) and includes the point in between where we become aware of our salvation (justification). Romans 8:29-30 reads:
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
This golden chain also speaks of the three tenses of our salvation: past, present and future. In essence, “I was saved, I am being saved, and I will be saved” all accurately and Scripturally describe salvation, or the phrase “you are saved” found in 1 Corinthians 15:2. Let me explain.
Justification – Free from the Penalty of Sin
In the past, God saved us from the condemnation of sin, or the penalty of sin. He did this on the cross and it is appropriated to us at the moment of our conversion— when we believe, in faith, the words of God regarding the Gospel and our faith was “accounted (or, reckoned, imputed) to him (and us) for righteousness” (Rom. 4:22). This is called justification. It’s defined as a legal act whereby God views our sins as forgiven in Christ and then views Christ’s righteousness as now belonging to, or imputed to, us. It is the point in the golden chain when God “declares us to be righteous” in His sight (Rom. 5:9; Gal. 3:24).
Justification separates us from the penalty of sin and it is the time when we first become aware, personally and experientially, of our salvation. We know something has changed in us, some sort of “new birth” has taken place (John 3:3), our old man has died and the new man is now alive and we are now dead to sin but alive to Christ (Rom. 6:11). For us, this is where our salvation begins. This is when we say, “I have been saved”— it is the time when my sins were forgiven by the blood of Christ. This is the past tense of our salvation.
Sanctification – Free from the Power of Sin
The present, active tense of our salvation is called sanctification. It’s in this phase or tense when we are separated from the power of sin that previously ruled over our lives and we are in the process of being conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). It’s the “I am being saved” aspect of our salvation. It’s when we desire to walk like Him (1 John 2:6), to think like Him (1 Cor. 2:16), and to live like Him (Gal. 2:20). It’s the maturing process of our salvation when we learn, often gradually and by trial and error, to put off the old man in practice and continually put on the new man and grow in our likeness to our Lord (Eph. 4:22-24).
Sanctification can be defined as a separation unto God, and is the same Greek word, hagios, as holiness. So we are separated unto God in holiness, to reflect His nature and to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:13-16). It has an eternal component to it whereby we are eternally and positionally separated unto God, once and for all, by the blood of Jesus Christ at salvation (1 Cor. 1:30). But it also involves the practical, day by day, experience of separation unto God by obedience to the Word of God and faithfulness to the commands of Christ while we wait for the Lord’s return. In essence, through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit the Believer, through trials and hardships, temptations and testings, or the everyday ups and downs of life, is transformed into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29) and free from the power of sin. Thus sanctification is the present, on-going, real-time, current aspect of salvation for the Believer.
Glorification – Free from the Presence of Sin
In the future, in the “I will be saved” phase of salvation, the Believer will be forever freed from the presence of sin. Forever freed. This final removal of the presence of sin in the lives of all Believers is called glorification and will take place at the Lord’s coming when His glory and honor and praise and majesty and holiness— literally all His wonderful characteristics and attributes, will be realized in each Believer (Rom. 5:7).
According to Philippians 3:20-21, our true citizenship is in heaven with our Lord and when He returns He will “transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
How do We Live in the Past, Present and Future?
So how are we to live knowing our salvation as revealed in the past, present and future? How are we to spend our days serving our King knowing what glory awaits us with the Lord? Consider and reflect on the words of John, the Apostle Jesus loved (John 13:23), as he answers this very question:
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1 John 3:2-3).
We are to purify ourselves, just as Christ is pure. We are to be holy, just as Christ is holy (1 Peter 1:16). We are to walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh (Gal. 5:16) as we take every thought captive in obedience to Him (2 Cor. 10:5). We are, in other words, “once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8). And how do we do that? By striving to discover what is acceptable to the Lord (Eph. 5:10) and what the will of the Lord is (Eph. 5:17)— and then obediently following, without looking back (Luke 9:62).
Amen and amen.
Come Lord Jesus.
The following is the Gospel, the good news, the euangélion in the Greek, that we are blessed to preach to all the nations. Are you faithful in proclaiming the wonderful Gospel of God to others?
And, if not, why?
In accordance with the Father’s good pleasure, the eternal Son, who is equal with the Father and is the exact representation of His nature, willingly left the glory of heaven, was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin, and was born the God-man: Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 2:23; Heb. 1:3; Phil. 2:6-7; Luke 1:35).
As a man, He walked on this earth in perfect obedience to the law of God (Heb. 4:15).
In the fullness of time, men rejected and crucified Him. On the cross, He bore man’s sin, suffered God’s wrath, and died in man’s place (1 Pet. 2:24, 3:18; Isa. 53:10).
On the third day, God raised Him from the dead. This resurrection is the divine declaration that the Father has accepted His Son’s death as a sacrifice for sin. Jesus paid the penalty for man’s disobedience, satisfied the demands of justice, and appeased the wrath of God (Luke 24:6; Rom. 1:4, 4:25).
Forty days after the resurrection, the Son of God ascended into the heavens, sat down at the right hand of the Father, and was given glory, honor, and dominion over all (Heb. 1:3; Matt. 28:18; Dan. 7:13-14).
There, in the presence of God, He represents His people and makes requests to God on their behalf (Luke 24:51; Phil. 2:9-11; Heb. 1:3, 7:25).
All who acknowledge their sinful, helpless state and throw themselves upon Christ, God will fully pardon, declare righteous, and reconcile unto Himself (Mark 1:15; Rom. 10:9; Phil. 3:3). This is the gospel of God and of Jesus Christ, His Son.
Wait no longer. Go to those whom God has placed in your life and share with them the Gospel of God and of Jesus Christ. Nothing else matters.
From The Gospel’s Power and Message by Paul Washer.
The first of the two most important questions asked of Jesus is: Who are You? (John 7:12)
This question can be asked of Him as long as He is with the crowd, as long as He’s at arms length to each of us. But when He invades our world, everything changes.
Now we are faced with the second most important question asked of Jesus: Can we believe what You say? Are Your words true? And what exactly are You saying to us? (John 7:16-18).
Or, to summarize CS Lewis’ statement in Mere Christianity:
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Want to know more? Then keep listening.
The following is a study on John 7:15-24.
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Sometimes I get a bit depressed when I look at my extended family and see their unbelief. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if they haven’t been exposed to the truth or know the truth, because they have. They just simply don’t believe.
We pray and witness to them and they either reject the message of Christ outright or they claim to believe something that they made up in their head, on the spot, that fits with their own world view but has nothing to do with the Bible or the Gospel or, well… much of anything. And days turn into weeks and weeks into years and nothing seems to change.
But today, while I was preparing for our Tuesday night Bible study, I was struck by the fact that Jesus was somewhat in the same situation with His own family. He had four brothers, actually half-brothers, and at least two sisters, maybe more (Mark 6:3). These were the natural children of Mary and Joseph that were born after their journey to Bethlehem. His sisters are not named in the Scriptures but His brothers are. Jesus’ half-brothers were: James, Joses, Simon, and Judas, or Jude (Matt. 13:55).
Try to imagine what it must have been like to have Jesus as an older brother. He never sinned, never lost His temper, never disobeyed His parents and never made less than perfect grades in school. He was perfect in a way that would tend to make you jealous at best and angry at worst. In fact, the Psalms tell us that Jesus did not have the kind of relationship with His siblings that He probably wanted. He was, to quote our phrase, so “heavenly minded that He was of no earthly good.” Psalm 69:8-9 states:
I have become a stranger to my brothers, and an alien to my mother’s children; (why) because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.
Not a happy home for the Lord.
So after 30 years of obscurity Jesus embarked on His ministry defined by signs and wonders and healings and revolutionary teachings (John 6:2). John the Baptist declares Him to be the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He easily feeds 5,000 men, plus their wives and children, with a boy’s sack lunch (John 6:4-13) and has to fight to keep the crowds from declaring Him King (John 6:15). Multitudes of thrill-seekers constantly follow and press all around Him and the religious establishment continually searched for ways to destroy Him out of jealousy or hatred (John 7:1). Everyone had an opinion about Jesus and He was the trending topic on their social media for years on end. Not too bad for the brother of James, Joses, Simon and Judas.
Near the close of His ministry, only six months before He was to be betrayed and crucified, Jesus’ brothers wanted Him to go with them to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus declined. His brothers said, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world” (John 7:3-4).
Note the “if” in their statement:
If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.
Or If You can really do the things the people say You can, prove it to us.
Or if this is not all a sham or some slick sleight of hand.
Or if You really are who You say You are.
Or if there is some reason for all this notoriety and popularity, or if… whatever.
Their doubt and unbelief is painted all over their statement to Jesus. It wasn’t about Him, it was about their doubts, their wanting more proof, more evidence, of Jesus being who they really knew He was. They just simply refused to believe.
Think about it, no people on the planet knew more about the sinless life of the Lord Jesus than those in His earthly family: James, Joseph, Simon and Judas. Yet, as John tells us, they did not believe (John 7:5). Why? Scripture is silent about their reasons. Maybe they, like the rest of the fickle masses that followed Him, wanted Jesus to be their political King, their man in the White House, their delegate before God. Or maybe His brothers wanted Jesus to jump through another couple of hoops for their entertainment, to prove Himself to them to their satisfaction, to call down fire like Elijah or part the sea like Moses or walk across their swimming pool. But whatever their motives were, Jesus would have no part of it. He was on His own divine timetable and would not bend to the agenda of His family or the crowd. Jesus would not be rushed.
I know you are wondering how this relates to my situation with my extended family. Simply this: Jesus had done all He could to show His brothers the truth about Who He was and yet they rejected Him and His message. They chose to walk in darkness, in committed, radical, unbelief. In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, they willingly chose the wide road that leads to destruction and damnation and forsook the narrow gate that leads to life (Matt. 7:13-14).
But they didn’t do this forever.
After Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven, the early church met in the upper room waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-6). After the Twelve are listed, less Judas of course, the Scripture states:
These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers (Acts 1:14).
Did you catch that? In addition to the hand picked Twelve (Luke 16:13-16), Mary and Jesus’ brothers were part of the formation of the early church. And it was these, James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas that also experienced the Acts 2 infilling of the Holy Spirit. They went from unbelief in John 7 to a committed follower by the time we enter into the pages of the Acts. In addition, they grew mightily in their faith in their half-brother, the Lord Jesus Christ.
James became the head of the church in Jerusalem and penned the book in the Bible that bears his name (James 1:1). And Judas, or Jude, also added His words to the cannon of New Testament scriptures (Jude 1:1).
Not too shabby for the sons of Mary and Joseph.
If Jesus can turn his unbelieving brothers into pillars of the early church… well, I guess He can do the same with my extended family. After all, He is God. And if He can save and redeem my family, then He can do the same for you and your family.
For me, I take great encouragement in that.
So I will continue to pray and witness and talk to them about the grace of God found only in Christ Jesus and trust that, in His time, He will bring those that belong to Him to Him. I will joyfully do my part and leave, and I mean really leave, the results up to Him.
After all, He is God.
Often we have the tendency to erect standards in the Christian life that we cannot ever obtain in the flesh or by sheer will and determination— and this inevitably leads to discouragement, frustration and despair. We do this because we see Jesus as the Anointed Rabbi, the Master Teacher, the Perfect Example and not the Lord who can complete in us exactly what He teaches. In other words, as He spoke the universe into existence and created something from nothing, He can also create in us what He is teaching us to be. He has promised, after all, to complete what He has begun in each of us (Philippians 1:6).
This is the profound thought that Oswald Chambers dissects in today’s My Utmost for His Highest devotion. And I would greatly encourage you to spend a year learning from the feet of Mr. Chambers as he expounds on the deeper things of God. It is time well spent.
Beware of placing Our Lord as a Teacher first. If Jesus Christ is a Teacher only, then all He can do is to tantalize me by erecting a standard I cannot attain. What is the use of presenting me with an ideal I cannot possibly come near? I am happier without knowing it. What is the good of telling me to be what I never can be— to be pure in heart, to do more than my duty, to be perfectly devoted to God? I must know Jesus Christ as Saviour before His teaching has any meaning for me other than that of an ideal which leads to despair. But when I am born again of the Spirit of God, I know that Jesus Christ did not come to teach only: He came to make me what He teaches I should be. The Redemption means that Jesus Christ can put into any man the disposition that ruled His own life, and all the standards God gives are based on that disposition.
The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount produces despair in the natural man— the very thing Jesus means it to do. As long as we have a self-righteous, conceited notion that we can carry out Our Lord’s teaching, God will allow us to go on until we break our ignorance over some obstacle, then we are willing to come to Him as paupers and receive from Him. “Blessed are the paupers in spirit,” that is the first principle in the kingdom of God. The bedrock in Jesus Christ’s kingdom is poverty, not possession; not decisions for Jesus Christ, but a sense of absolute futility— “I cannot begin to do it.” Then Jesus says— “Blessed are you.” That is the entrance, and it does take us a long while to believe we are poor! The knowledge of our own poverty brings us on to the moral frontier where Jesus Christ works.
Ouch. And ouch again.