Luke 12:49-53 ESV
“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
Why Jesus Came
Jesus Christ, both the Son of God and God the Son, left his throne in heaven, humbled himself, came to this earth, was conceived of the Holy Spirit within the womb of a young woman named Mary, and he was born as a baby. And, he lived here on this earth as both fully God and fully man.
He came to this earth to die for us on a cross to redeem us (to buy us back) for God so that we would now be God’s possession, and so our lives would now be for his honor, glory and praise. For, he didn’t die on that cross merely to forgive us our sins, but he died to put sin to death in our lives and to empower us to live righteously in his power, strength, and wisdom.
And, this is what he is talking about here. He was still on the earth, his time had not yet come for him to be crucified on a cross for our sins, but he was looking ahead to when that would take place, and to what would be the result of his death and resurrection in the lives of those who put their faith and their trust in him for their salvation from sin.
For, the very purpose of him going to the cross for us was that we would be crucified with him in death to sin, and that we might be resurrected with him to newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. For, he died that we might die to sin and live to his righteousness (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Lu. 9:23-26; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Eph. 4:17-24).
And, the message of what he did for us on that cross is called the gospel of Jesus Christ or the gospel of our salvation from sin. It is the message both of what he did and of the impact of what he did for us on that cross, not only in the life of the believer in Jesus, but of the impact that his gospel message would have on the unsaved (unbelieving) world.
For the believer in Jesus Christ, who by faith trusts in him as Lord and Savior of his life, it means not only that our sins are forgiven us, but that we are delivered from our slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin so that we can now, empowered of the Spirit of God, walk in holiness and righteousness as humble and obedient bond-slaves (servants) of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Impact on Everyone
For those who believe in Jesus, the message of the gospel, of the cross of Christ, is glorious! Yet, for those who reject the message of the cross of Christ, it is an offense to them, for it confronts them in their sin and it calls them to repentance and to obedient faith in our Lord, and to submission to Christ as Lord over their lives. And, it warns of divine judgment.
So, those who do not want to give up ownership or control over their own lives, and who do not want to submit to Christ, nor leave their lives of sin behind them, nor walk in obedience to the Lord in holiness and righteousness, they stand opposed to the truth of the gospel of Christ. And, thus they also oppose the Lord’s servants and messengers who are bringing forth the message of the gospel to the people of the world.
And, this is what is meant by Jesus’ words when he said he came to cast fire on the earth, and what he meant when he said that he did not come to bring peace on earth, but he came to bring division. And, we need to let that sink into our thinking, for there is much talk these days about how we, as the people of the world, need to all unite and to reject everything that divides.
If we, as believers in Jesus Christ, unite with the world, and cast off everything which divides us as the people of the world, which is where all this stuff that is going on in the world is headed, then we have to deny our Lord, and we have to reject his gospel of salvation.
So, we can’t unite with the world in order to bring peace to the earth, for Jesus didn’t come to bring peace to the world, except for the kind of peace that the Father gives which is peace with God through God-given faith in Jesus Christ. And, the path to that peace is not compromise with the world, but it is to stand opposed to the world and to stand on the word of truth.
The Opposition to Christ
So, this is where we are right now in all of this. In America, at least, there is a “worker of iniquity” among us, which is not a single person, but which is a false faith, a false doctrine, and a false gospel which stands opposed to the true gospel of our salvation.
And, this “worker of iniquity,” which is enormous in size, and which is the predominant opposition to the truth right now, is of Satan, and it is extremely evil, but it masquerades itself as a “servant of righteousness.”
And, the vast majority of those who call themselves believers in Jesus, at least here in America, are following this predominant opponent to Christ, to his gospel, and to his servants and witnesses who are sharing his gospel. And, many of them are not even aware that they are believing lies.
So, what is this major and predominant opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ? It is that we can make a confession of Christ as Savior of our lives, be forgiven and saved of our sins, and we can have eternal life with God guaranteed, but that how we live our lives on this earth will not impact our eternal security.
Some people go to the extreme with this teaching by declaring openly that we don’t have to repent of our sins, that we don’t have to submit to Christ as Lord, and that we don’t have to obey the commands of God. But it isn’t just this extreme opposition that is opposing the true gospel.
If our faith teaches us that how we live on this earth has no impact whatsoever on where we spend eternity, then that is a false faith. It is not biblical faith. Biblical faith in Jesus Christ teaches that we must WALK according to the Spirit and NOT according to the flesh if we want to be assured of eternal life with God (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Lu. 9:23-26).
So, if you believe that obedience to the Lord is optional, or that your sin no longer matters to God, or that you won’t be judged by what you do on this earth, then think again. The Word of God is firm on this issue. We will be judged by our deeds (Rom. 2:6-8; Gal. 6:7-8; 2 Co. 5:10).
So, know the truth, and obey the truth, and submit your life to Jesus Christ today, and follow him wherever he leads you from this day forward and forevermore.
O Could I Speak the Matchless Worth
Author: Samuel Medley (1789)
O could I speak the matchless worth,
O could I sound the glories forth
Which in my Savior shine,
I’d soar, and touch the heav’nly strings,
and vie with Gabriel while he sings
in notes almost divine,
in notes almost divine.
I’d sing the precious blood he spilt,
my ransom from the dreadful guilt
of sin, and wrath divine:
I’d sing his glorious righteousness,
in which all perfect, heav’nly dress
my soul shall ever shine,
my soul shall ever shine.
I’d sing the characters he bears,
and all the forms of love he wears,
exalted on his throne:
in loftiest songs of sweetest praise,
I would to everlasting days
make all his glories known,
make all his glories known.
Well, the delightful day will come
when my dear Lord will bring me home,
and I shall see his face;
then with my Savior, Brother, Friend,
a blest eternity I’ll spend,
triumphant in his grace,
triumphant in his grace.
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