Isaiah 55:6-9 ESV
“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
You know what? Whether Old Covenant or New Covenant, the way of salvation from sin and eternal life with God is through faith in God, for Jesus Christ is God (the second person of our triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), which is by way of us forsaking our sins (our wicked ways) and by us turning to the Lord, which involves us walking in his ways and in his truth. Then and now God sees faith as obedience and disobedience as unbelief.
[1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10]
The Big difference between then and now is that then the people were required to obey all sorts of liturgical, ceremonial, sacrificial and purification laws and rites. And now our salvation is by way of the cross of Jesus Christ. For Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us on that cross that we might become the righteousness of God in him. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co 5:15,21).
Jesus died for us on that cross and was resurrected from the dead that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He shed his blood for us on that cross to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so that we would now honor God with our bodies. And by faith in Jesus Christ our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin but to God.
[1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; Rom 6:1-23; Lu 9:23-26; Eph 4:17-24]
Matthew 7:21-23 ESV
“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.’”
And this is critical that we get what this says here. Not everyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ, or who claims that he is Lord of his life, or even who does good works in his name will inherit eternal life with God. It doesn’t matter what prayer you prayed or what confession you made or whether or not you were physically baptized with water. Only those who do the will of God, who obey him, will enter the kingdom of heaven.
Now, this is taught all throughout the Old and the New Testaments. Obedience to God has always been required by God for salvation. But obedience is not just going through the motions of religion or doing “good deeds” or following a set of rules, although there are rules (instructions, commands) we still have to follow under the New Covenant. Obedience is full surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord and it is following him in his ways.
So, when you hear people say that all you have to do is pray a prayer or acknowledge who Jesus is and what he did, or that all you have to do is just accept his love and grace and forgiveness of sins, for they call that faith, and that now you are saved from your sins, done deal, and that now heaven is guaranteed you, no matter what you do from now on, don’t believe them. Faith is obedience, it is repentance, and it is submission to Christ as Lord.
For, if after you make a profession of Christ as your Savior and Lord, nothing changes, but you go on living as you did before, still addicted to sin, still living in sexual immorality, still doing what your sinful heart desires, as a matter of practice, please know what the Scriptures teach about that. They teach that you will not inherit the kingdom of God, but you will perish in your sins because you refused to die with Christ to sin and to obey him.
[Lu 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 1:28-32; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:3-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:26-31; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Jn 15:1-11; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15; Matt 7:21-23]
Job 23:10-11 NIV
“He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside.”
When we are committed to following Jesus Christ with our lives wholeheartedly, and to not compromise our faith or our morals, but to walk with him daily in obedience to his ways he has for us to go, Satan is going to come after us, and he is going to attack us, and he is going to attempt to tempt us to falter and to fail. And he is going to attempt to allure us with an altered and cheapened half-truth gospel created in the minds of humans.
So, we need to test everything that we hear coming from the mouths of everyone, really, for liars, manipulators, and twisters of truth abound everywhere. We need to be so cautious in just putting “likes” on tweets and on Facebook posts and memes just because they have elements of truth in them and they sound good. Many of these memes, in particular, are manipulative and they take truth and they twist it. So be discerning.
Since we live in a “fast food” society where people are used to getting everything quickly (or most everything), and where on social media people are used to doing a quick read and then either “liking” what is said or then moving on to the next thing, it is so easy to end up liking and accepting things that are not really truth, even if they have the appearance of truth. And many people just rely on preachers to tell them the truth. That’s bad.
We have to be in the Scriptures daily, reading them in context prayerfully. And we must be seekers of truth and righteousness and not be people who go for what is quick and easy. For what is quick and easy may land you in hell one day. For the Scriptures teach that the Christian life is hard, and it is the narrow way that few find, and it is a life of suffering. And if we choose the way of holiness, we will be persecuted. But it is the ONLY way to God.
An Original Work / June 19, 2013
Based off Acts 20-22, 26; Mt. 28:18-20; Ac. 1:8
Why are you weeping and breaking my heart?
I’m fully ready to suffer for Christ.
If I must die for the sake of His name,
I am convinced it will not be in vain.
Glory to God and to His Son Jesus,
Who has redeemed us; bought with His blood.
May I speak to you? Jesus came to me;
Asked of me, “Why do you persecute me?”
He said, “Now get up and stand on your feet.
Go, and you’ll be told all I have for you.
I have appointed you as a servant,
And as a witness; you have been sent.”
“Go into the world and preach the gospel.
Open the blind eyes. They will receive sight.
Turn them from darkness to the light of Christ;
From power of the evil one to God,
So they may receive forgiveness of sins,
And a place among those who’re in heav’n.”