Thursday, 28 October 2021

THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY

How to gain an eternal inheritance by avoiding the mistakes made by the wayward wilderness wanderers. Lessons from Hebrews chapter 3.

When our life on earth ends where do we go? What is the secret of gaining eternal life? Many know that Jesus is the Way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).

But how many believers are aware of the fact that trusting Christ is merely the start of a journey on the road to heaven? It’s going to be an incredible journey where not all arrive safely.

Along the way in our earthly pilgrimage many trials, temptations, distractions and diversions await believers which may cause some to miss the intended destinationheaven and a share of Christ’s inheritance and rewards.

“Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36).

The above is a stern warning by Jesus not to get carried away by merry making and the pleasures of life or get caught up in the concerns and worries of life that we fail to prepare ourselves for His return.

The wandering of the rebellious Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years is highly instructive. For it highlights what we need to avoid if we desire to reach the Promised Land, a place of blessing and rest, which is a type of heaven.

In this regard, we need to turn to Hebrews chapter 3:12-15 which sheds light on the unbelief and sins of these wayward wilderness wanderers:

Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. Remember what it says:

“Today when you hear his voice,
    don’t harden your hearts
    as Israel did when they rebelled.”

 

The moment we harden our heartwhen we stop believing in God and live in sin, like the wayward wilderness wandererswe lose our inheritance in Christ (verse 12, 14). Hence the exhortation "do not harden your heart" is repeated in verses 8 and 15 of the same chapter.

If we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. For Christ says: If you continue to obey my teaching, you are truly my followers. He who endures till the end will be saved.

Obedience till the end is the key if we want a share in Christ’s inheritance - Heb.3:14, John 8:31, Matt. 24:13

You may wonder why I take the time to write this post. I feel many believers start well in their journey of faith but along the way they may fall away like the Israelites long agothe wayward wilderness wanderers. Only those who remain faithful till the end, namely Joshua and Caleb, were able to enter and take possession of the Promised Land.      

In conclusion, only believers who continue to study and obey the teachings of scriptures and whose faith in God remain as strong as when it first began will get to share in Christ’s inheritance.

POSTSCRIPT

Doesn’t John 10:27-29 teach that no one can pluck believers out of the Fathers hand?

Isn’t there eternal security for believers once and for all when they place their faith in Christ?

 27 My sheep listen to My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

(John 10:27-29)

Let’s examine the above passage more closely. People forget that this comforting promise found in verses 28 and 29 is preceded by verse 27 where Jesus sets out a condition: sheep (believers) must be obedient to the shepherd (Jesus) ie. know Him, listen to His voice and follow Him.

Thus the promise that God will hold on to believers’ hands (without letting them go) does not apply to backsliders, those who willfully choose to live in sin or depart from the faith (commit apostasy).

To make a claim of eternal security for all believers is too far fetched. The verse John 10:27 tells us God is faithful in keeping believers eternally secure only if they keep their side of the bargain ie. continue to be obedient and follow Him.

Being fixated on the promise of eternal security in John 10:28-29 without considering the preceding verse, John 10:27, is committing a grave error of interpretation.

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

THE BLESSEDNESS OF SPIRITUAL POVERTY

 What does Jesus really mean when He taught that it is blessed to be spiritually poor?

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

Indeed, great blessings belong to those who realise:

  • They are spiritually poor.
  • They need to change for the better.
  • They need God’s mercy and forgiveness.
  • They need to depend on Him for strength to change for the better.

In other words, they are willing to humble themselves before God.

This theme is further amplified in the Parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14):

Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

We would have thought that the former with his good deeds would be approved by God. But he was proud and self-righteous, treating the latter with contempt. It was the humble tax collector who found favour in God’s eyes. He realised he was spiritually poor—could not measure up to God’s standards of morality—and needed His mercy and forgiveness.

On the other hand, the spiritual state of the Pharisee above can be compared to the members of the church of Laodicea, who were lukewarm and did not realise they were spiritually bankrupt.

“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realising that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see” (Revelation 3:15-18).

Indeed, it is better and more blessed to acknowledge our spiritual poverty and seek God’s mercy than to think we is spiritually rich but, in God’s eyes, we are not.

Even Paul, the apostle, proclaimed: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all” (1 Timothy 1:15).

To reiterate, the way to blessedness is to humble ourselves before God and acknowledge our spiritual poverty. And unless the Holy Spirit through God’s word convicts us of our soul's corruption, we won't be changed from shame to glory & from glory to glory.


RELATED POST

SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS AND POVERTY

What truly matters is not how we see ourselves but what God thinks of us: “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realising that you are wretched, pitiable, POOR, BLIND, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

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