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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

He's Saviour - but is He Lord?!

Some of the most chilling words in the whole of the Bible are to be found in Matthew's account of the Gospel, in what is usually referred to as "The Sermon on the Mount", in 7:21-23 - "Not every one who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he 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 evildoers.'"

They are words, I believe, that speak powerfully to the present generation of "western Christians".  So many have been deceived by a "Come to Jesus and all of your sins will be forgiven; all of your problems will be solved; and you can look forward to eternity in His Presence."

That, I have to say, is what Paul would call "... another gospel ..." (see Gal.1:6-9).  You see, while it is true that Jesus forgives sin - He paid the price for all of my sin, and yours, on the cross at Calvary; while it is true that those who are truly His will spend eternity in His Presence; (it is definitely not true that all problems will be solved - indeed, for many their problems only begin when they become His disciples!) - it is also true that He demands repentance, and obedience!

It wasn't just John, the Baptiser, who preached "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt 3:2); The same words are used by Jesus at the beginning of His own public ministry: "From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt 4:17).  Yet I seldom hear a message of repentance being proclaimed from pulpit or platform.  Repentance - the deliberate, conscious, turning my back on the things that make me just like those whose only reference to Jesus is when they use His Name as an expletive, or swear-word - is not easy.  Much more simple to just repeat "the sinner's prayer" - and go on living my life as if nothing had changed!  Oh, I may be baptised; I may fulfil a function in my local fellowship/congregation/assembly; I may even be a preacher, teacher, or evangelist.  But if I have not repented; if I am not making a conscious effort to effect change in my life; then I am not a disciple of Jesus!

Now, some may accuse me of preaching a message of salvation by works!  Absolutely not.  "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God - not because of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph 2:8-9; emphasis added).  Salvation is all of grace (check out my e-book on the subject: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B009EG6TJW ).  However, Paul continues: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Eph 2:10).  It's not an 'either-or'; it's a 'both-and'!

That leads me to obedience. Immediately after we read those words of Jesus with which I commenced this post, we read these further words of Jesus: "Every one then who hears these words of Mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of Mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it." (Matt 7:24-27).

Notice that the wise man is the one who "... does ..." the words of Jesus - in other words, the one who is obedient!  "If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.  He who does not love Me will not obey My teaching. These words you hear are not My own; they belong to the Father Who sent Me." (John 14:23-24; NIV).

Of course, all of this is impossible for mortal men and women (and children!).  This is why we need a second birth.  Our natural, physical, birth is not sufficient.  We need a supernatural, spiritual, birth.  So Jesus tells the very religious Nicodemus, who: "... came to Jesus by night and said to Him, '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.' Jesus answered him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew (literally, "from above"), he cannot see the kingdom of God.'" (John 3:2-3).

Have you experienced that new birth?  Have you repented of your sins, and your sinfulness?  Are you obedient to His commands - whatever the cost?  You may acknowledge Him as Saviour - but is He truly Lord?    Oh, you may "stick out like a sore thumb" - but that's what the disciple of Jesus us supposed to do.  We are called to be "holy" - and that means separated to His service.  May each of us be those of whom He will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your Master." (Matt.25:21).

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