RSS

Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Narrow Door

A friend recently posted on FaceBook a 2002 video of Paul Washer passionately addressing a large crowd of youth, his message on Matthew 7:13-27. I listened to the entire hour and was challenged to dig into these verses myself (still not done — it’s quite a lot!). This passage is quite familiar to most Christians but I’m not sure many of us understand it very well. In fact there were some things here that were very eye-opening to me (and no doubt will continue to be, as I continue to dig deeper) and none more so than searching out what Jesus meant by those who practice lawlessness.

Here is the verse (23): “And then I [Jesus] will declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'” Now I always casually thought that this meant super-evil-wicked people. You know, Stalin-Holms-Dahmer-Hitler-types. Wow, was I wrong! The word “lawless” is the Greek word, anomia (an-om-EE-ah) and it simply means the disregard for God’s law (His written and living word). It is translated in other verses as “disobedience.” This does not mean we do not sin (1 John 1:7-10) however, a habitual practice of sin or disregard of His law, perpetual disobedience or love of the world and things in the world is termed, “lawlessness” and this state indicates lack of salvation (1 John 1:6, Matthew 13:23, Luke 13:27).

So I understand that this verse tells us there will be a time that many people who believe they are Christians will stand stunned before Christ thinking they had their fire insurance in order and will find out that their “Christiany” behaviors were but self-deception with devastating results. This is a call for all of us to evaluate our lives. (“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” 1 Cor. 13:5.)

I am not saying that a Christian can fall from grace and I believe verse 23 proves we cannot because Jesus says, “I never knew you,” not that He knew them at one point but they messed up so He wrote them off. No. We are saved by His grace alone, bought with a very great price. Nothing we do can earn it and nothing we do can undo it. What I do fear are a multitude of Americans who think they are Christians because they silently prayed a prayer once to ‘accept Christ as their personal savior’ (a phrase, incidentally, not found in the Bible or Christian history and was never even uttered until about 50 years ago). Then they went their merry way with no life change (“you will know them by their fruits”) or even a basic understanding of Christian living (“if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him”). What happened to “count the cost” — isn’t there a cost? Can I really silently say a prayer and raise my hand and that’s it? Is that entering through “the narrow door” (v13)?

If 75% of Americans are Christians, as Barna and Gallup polls indicate, then why is our society becoming more and more degraded and immoral? Why are we killing 3700 babies a day? We are nation of relativists. If the laws we are to obey (back to “lawlessness”) are summed up into two: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself,” (Matt. 22:37-40) then the persistent disregard of these is anomia, lawlessness.

Let’s get back to understanding what God’s word truly says and obeying it. Let’s reason with one another and encourage one another in the faith. Let’s confess our mistakes to one another and gently and humbly restore one another in love when we make mistakes. Let’s not be like the religious leaders in Jesus’s day who were like whitewashed tombs – nice on the outside and filled with dead and putrid things on the inside. “Let us turn away from evil and do good; let us seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:10-12).

Advertisements
 
4 Comments

Posted by on July 30, 2011 in Belief, God's Word, Obedience, Salvation

 

Tags: , , , ,

Consider the Poor: It’s Good for Your Health!

Blessed is he who considers the poor. (Psalm 41:1)

Matthew Henry’s commentary explains that the act of considering the poor involves cognizance of the wants and miseries of the poor and providing for their relief.  This implies being kind and considerate of the poor, sympathizing with them, having concern for them, and keeping up a good opinion of them and respect for them, notwithstanding their afflictions. [1]

The word, ‘consider’ or ‘to regard’ in Psalm 41:1 is the Hebrew word, sakal or sakhal. The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance describes this word as, “to have insight, wisdom, understanding; the potent capacity to understand and so to exercise skill in life; a state caused by proper training and teaching, enhanced by careful observation.”  The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the Old Testament explains that sakal is a verb meaning ‘to act with insight, to ponder, to understand, to act prudently, to act with devotion.’ It is notable that a verb and these definitions call for action not just thought! This word is used elsewhere in scripture to denote wisdom in terms of insight and comprehension (Jeremiah 9:24 and Psalm 94:8) and in Joshua 1:8 is used to refer to those who meditate on God’s word day and night being careful to everything in it will be prosperous and successful.

It is clear that the believer is called to do more than just give a passing glance at those who are less fortunate. But there is more to Psalm 41. Verses 1 through 4 read:

How blessed is he who considers the helpless;
The LORD will deliver him in a day of trouble.
The LORD will protect him and keep him alive,
And he shall be called blessed upon the earth;
And do not give him over to the desire of his enemies.
The LORD will sustain him upon his sickbed;
In his illness, You restore him to health.

Clearly, there is benefit to the one who observes, understands, and wisely acts on behalf of those in need!


[1] Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete), http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/psalms/41.html

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 25, 2011 in God's Word, Obedience, Priorities

 

Tags: , , , ,

Look!

Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

“Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?”

Jesus spoke those words in the twelfth chapter of Luke. Check this out: This little word is packed! It is the Greek word katanoeo and according to The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance, it means, “to pay attention, notice, observe, consider, contemplate; this word has a strong implication that the attention paid is intense, and the contemplation is broad and thorough, resulting in complete understanding.” Who knew so much meaning was behind one little word?

As we observe and gain a complete understanding of how God takes care of ravens and wildflowers and how much more is his care for His children, we can rest secure in His provision and have no fear in giving as He leads!


 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 19, 2011 in Assurance, Contentment, Creation

 

Tags: , , , , ,

How Are We Using Our Power?

Our Pastor showed a powerful video this morning during his message on God’s justice. This video seeks to answer the question, “How are we [Americans and American Christians] using our power?” And what IS power according to Jesus?

Here is the video. It’s well worth the 3:44 minute listen on this Independence Day weekend:

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=JE1F1NNU

If we don’t answer these questions correctly, we could find ourselves playing on the wrong side.

Have a safe and purposeful weekend!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 3, 2011 in Current Events, God's Word

 

Tags: , , , ,