every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the
kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which
is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have
we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out
devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye
that work iniquity."
many people actively engaged in Christian ministries —will
be rejected. This is a very sobering wake-up call for all who consider
themselves 'Christian'. But why will some be accepted and others
rejected? What is the Lord's acceptance criteria? What is
While the Bible is often regarded by Christians as the doctrinal basis governing the Christian life, very few Christians perceive its ulterior role as divine food in fueling spiritual transformation.
However, two main factors
challenge the Bible's effectiveness in the daily life of today's Christian.
The most obvious impact is how sincere and well-meaning Christians unfortunately develop their theological understanding indirectly through intermediaries such as, so-called clergy. But this is in direct opposition to New Testament teaching which urges each believer to acquire skillfulness and mastery concerning the Word of God. The result is, most Protestants, Orthodox and Catholics lack the necessary doctrinal proficiency regarding
what the Bible actually teaches. Consequently, they have no adequate safeguard against false prophets, false teaching or false teachers.
Secondly, rather than
personally eating the Word as Moses (Deut. 8:3)
and Christ (John 6:48-58) urged, today's worldly Christianity has not cultivated this practice of sowing the Seed (Word of God) deep within their heart.
Therefore their spiritual growth is stunted, and their spiritual transformation is often retarded or halted altogether. The New Testament refers to these immature Christians as babes whose only understanding of Christ is as the Savior. They never progress in service to Him as the Lord actively reigning over their lives.
Highest Priorities for the Believer
asked which was the greatest of all the commandments,
Jesus provided the following answer:
said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy
heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the
first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it,
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments
hang all the law and the prophets." Matthew 22:37-40.
- How do we
express our love to God? Jesus showed that our love is evident
as obedience to God. This means that by God's grace, we become
committed to serving righteousness. By submitting ourselves to
Christ's teachings, by His grace we are sanctified, and over
time transformed by the renewing of our mind.
shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed
of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation
of the world: For I was an hungered and ye gave me meat: I was
thirsty and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger and ye took me
in: Naked and ye clothed me: I was sick and ye visited me: I
was in prison and ye came unto me." Matt. 25:34-36
religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To
visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep
himself unspotted from the world." James 1:27
answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho
and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment and
wounded him and departed, leaving him half dead.
And by chance
there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him,
he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he
was at the place, came and looked on him and passed by on the
But a certain
Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw
him, he had compassion on him and went to him and bound up his
wounds, pouring in oil and wine and set him on his own beast
and brought him to an inn and took care of him.
And on the morrow
when he departed, he took out two pence and gave them to the
host and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou
spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
Which now of
these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell
among the thieves? And he said, He that showed mercy on him.
Then said Jesus unto him, Go and do thou likewise." Luke
In the Parable
of the Good Samaritan, Jesus provided a wonderful example of
the distinction between relationship vs. religion.
The good Samaritan
was motivated purely by love and showed his compassion towards
a stranger - his neighbor, instinctively. No analysis,
no weighing of risks and options. The good Samaritan acted from
an instinctive moral imperative: "What if it was I in
that situation?…how would I want to be treated?
But the two
religious professionals crossed the street - to avoid getting
This is yet
one more of the many comparisons that Jesus makes between relationship
with God -and religion.
our salvation and sanctification by the Word is intended to produce
a transformation in us that makes us love-oriented people…motivated
by love and primed for helping those in need by:
them when they are sick
them when they are in prison
the fatherless and widows in their affliction
- God is
Love —and He Loves People
- When we love
people it indirectly shows our love for God. In fact, this linkage
is so great that, as we perform community services for the needy,
it is as if we did them directly for the Lord.
"Then shall the King
say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the
For I was an hungered and
ye gave me meat: I was thirsty and ye gave me drink: I was a
stranger and ye took me in:
Naked and ye clothed me: I
was sick and ye visited me: I was in prison and ye came unto
Then shall the righteous answer
him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered and fed thee?
or thirsty and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger
and took thee in? or naked and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick,
or in prison and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer
and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have
done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done
it unto me.
Then shall he say also unto
them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting
fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
For I was an hungered and
ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty and ye gave me no drink:
Matt. 25:43 I was a stranger
and ye took me not in: naked and ye clothed me not: sick and
in prison and ye visited me not.
Then shall they also answer
him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst,
or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison and did not minister
Then shall he answer them,
saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one
of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
And these shall go away into
everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."
Love is our
we began listing all the things that we appreciate about God
and reasons why we loved Him on a sheet of paper, would it fill
half of a page? A full page? Would we have to write on the back?
Or, could we, like King David, fill an entire book with our adoration?
then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness."
is Not Enough...
call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am."
of the first truths that needs to be realized after salvation
is the duality of Christ's roles. God became a man - to save
us -but that Man, Jesus, is God. Consider the continual appeals
by Jesus in reminding the disciples of their duty to serve Him:
And why call ye
me, Lord, Lord and do not the things which I say? Luke
If ye love me, keep
my commandments. John 14:15
He that hath my
commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me:
and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father and I will
love him and will manifest myself to him. John 14:21
Jesus answered and
said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words:
and my Father will love him and we will come unto him and make
our abode with him. John 14:23
He that loveth me
not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear
is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. John 14:24
If ye keep my
commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept
my Father's commandments and abide in his love. John 15:10
Ye are my friends,
if ye do whatsoever I command you. John 15:14
of Heavenly kinship —Obedience
"Then one said
unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without,
desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him
that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And
he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples and said, Behold
my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will
of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother
and sister and mother." Matt. 12:47-50
"But what think
ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first and
said, Son, go work today in my vineyard.
and said, I will not: but afterward he repented and went. And
he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered
and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain
(two) did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first.
Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans
and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you."
It is clear
from these references that Christ's acceptance criteria is obedience.
Our obedience is evidence of how much we love God. Our love shows
how well we know Him. Our knowledge of Him shows how much effort
we have devoted to learn about Him. How effective our Bible study
is reflects the true condition of our heart.
And all this
is done through grace.
is one who is born-again and loves God and loves his neighbor.
The evidence is reflected in his/her obedience to God's Word.
To love and serve God properly, we first must get to know Him.
And to get to know Him, we must devote some quality time in studying
His Self-Revelation. To be taught by the Holy Spirit (1John 2:27),
we need to get a new heart from God.
- 1. Start
by petitioning the Lord for a good heart:
I will give them one heart and I will put a new spirit within
you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh and will
give them an heart of flesh:" Ezekiel 11:19
Lord to work within your heart to get the obstacles out of the
way, so you can serve Him better. The pure in heart see God.
a sincere effort to develop skillful competence in the Word of God.
them through thy truth: thy word is truth." John 17:17
There are a
lot of reasons why we need the Word. (The average Christian has
probably spent more time studying eighth-grade algebra than in
learning the basic teachings of Christ). Develop a schedule to
get the Word daily and systematically (Genesis to Revelation
- not skipping around). Use narrated *tapes, CDs or MP3s of the
Bible if you have to -but get some quality time in the Word every
day. (What's more important?)
or look for Alexander Scourby's narrations of the Bible online (eBay.com, Amazon.com, dealoz.com, etc.)
3. Get to
know the Lord - not just about Him. Knowing Christ as Savior is crucial,
but so is knowing Him as LORD. Make yourself available to the
Lord, in prayer and by faith. Let Him know that you really want
to know Him - not just utilize Him like some cosmic Problem Solver.
4. Ask the
Lord to let your love grow for Him. He will anoint your eyes so you can
begin to see His unlimited attributes in nature - and in people.
To know Him is truly - to love Him. And you will become more
forgiving, more gracious and more loving as you get to know Him
your heart from distractions. Allow that growing love to become your
conviction -to serve righteousness -and not the sinful impulses
of the flesh or pride. You will develop a sincere burden for
the unsaved and it will be nearly impossible for you to ignore
opportunities to help others.
A person such
as this…motivated entirely by God's LOVE, is the standard
that the Lord is leading us to. It is this type of obedient believer
that provides the excellent building material needed
for the Church, as we shall see in the next Section.