Monday, May 4, 2015

“The scariest verse in all of scripture.”

 When God created Adam and Eve He gave them all the advantage for which they could hope. They were flawless. No physical, mental, genetic, circumstantial, or any other flaw one could bring to mind. So perfect, in fact, that they did not even know of error. It was in this condition that they failed. The best mankind has ever had to offer, and they made a mess of everything. God declared that not only actions condemn us, but our blood condemns us as well. Passed down from father to child, blood guiltiness would forever hang over the whole human race because of Adam. The price for sin and blood guiltiness is the spilling of blood and death. But we are not just flesh and blood we are also spirit, and sin was so abhorrent to God that He made a place where those souls tainted by sin (all of us included) would be forever purged by unquenchable flame and forgotten forever - a second death. 

God humbled Himself and took on human flesh. Jesus (God in human flesh) had to be born of a virgin to be spared the blood guilt from a human father. He, although tempted to the fullest degree, never sinned. Being without sin or guilt of any kind He paid the price of sin and guilt. In doing so He created an infinite payment. The price of sin is infinite, but Christ’s payment is also infinite. He offers access to His infinite account, and to receive is to be declared righteous as Jesus is righteous. To collect one must only believe that He was who He claimed to be (God), who He claimed we are (sinners), believe in His infinite payment for our sins (the cross), and believe in His power over death (the resurrection). To believe is to be forgiven of all sins, both blood guiltiness and sins we commit, and sealed for all eternity and to spend that eternity with God in perfect bliss. It is a free gift, no work required, because Jesus completed the work. He will resurrect us as He was resurrected and sustain us forever - a newness of perfect life.

That is Christianity in as few words as I can explain it. The perfect conclusion would be John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  We are far too prone to stop there. That is not where the gospel ends, at the promise of eternal life. In what John MacArthur calls, “The scariest verse in all of scripture” Jesus has this to say: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in haven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’” Matthew 7:21 – 23 NASB

If these words from our Lord do not shake you to your core, you don’t get what He is saying here. This statement comes at the end of the Sermon on the Mount. It’s a long section of scripture and contains many famous verses. This sermon starts back in chapter 5 with what has become known as the “beatitudes.” The Jews of Jesus’ time believed that God gave earthly blessing to those who He loved, and to the strong. A “God helps those who help themselves” kind of idea. Jesus turns that idea on its head. He said the poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who are gentle, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who are merciful, pure, peacemakers, and persecuted for standing up for the truth are the blessed ones.

He then tells believers they are to be the light of the earth, shining Gods truth in a dark and lie-filled world. We then are treated to a very long list of how to live like a Christian, where even our very thoughts are called into account. He teaches us to give to the poor, how to pray, not to lust for money, to do good deeds for the praise of God and not man, to trust God and not worry, and many other details. He ends this long list of “this is what the Christian life looks like” with the warning, “Do these things or I will turn you away at the end.”  

You might have noticed a seemingly very large contradiction. I said earlier that the gift of forgiveness was free, that Jesus Christ had accomplished all the work already. Now I am telling you to do good works or He will turn you away. Well there we go, the bible has a giant contradiction and we can stop believing, “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.” Not so much…

What Jesus is saying, what the New Testament book of James says, what Paul and Peter wrote, is that this is what you will do if your faith is genuine. Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us to, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith.” You see calling Jesus “Lord” is not enough “.. the demons also believe, and shudder.” (James 2:19) Your faith must be genuine, and the test of genuine faith is perseverance through persecution (Romans 5:3-5 and 1 Peter 1:6-7), and obedience. These things don’t save you, Jesus saves. These things give you assurance that your faith is real. So be real and hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant” do otherwise and you have no assurance, and you may hear the words, “I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.”

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