Are you a loser? Have you lost your purity? Have you lost your self-respect? Have you lost your purpose in life? You are totally empty on the inside aren’t you? You live from day to day with no hope of ever being anything but the sinner you are now. Your life is lived totally for yourself. There is no one you won’t hurt to feed that burning lust to satisfy yourself.
When is the last time you thought of God? He is a joke, right?
Maybe you have aborted your baby or talked your partner into killing her unborn child. Maybe you are a porn addict. Maybe you love to play video games where you go on a killing spree and love to see the blood spew as you kill the people on the screen. And the problem is, you can’t quit. You are trapped.
There have been times when you decided to do better. You have moments when your conscience bothers you and you decide that you are going to change. But it never works does it? It will never be different for you. You will end up dead and in Hell soon and there is NOTHING you can do to change that. There is no hope for you. All you have to look forward to is more of the same kind of misery you have brought on yourself and everyone around you.
You’ve even thought about suicide but deep down you know that is not the answer. If there is a God, if there is a life after this life then suicide would only lock you into a hell worse than the one you are living in now. It wouldn’t end it all. It would just put you in a place of torment that never ends (Matthew 13:41-42 “…and they shall gather… all things that offend and them which do iniquity and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”)
You can’t suicide out of Hell!
There is absolutely nothing you can do to change your situation.
If you have read this far, there is one slim hope for you. That hope is only found in God’s pure mercy. Don’t doubt it. He doesn’t have to have mercy on you. He would be perfectly just and good if He put you in Hell today. It is what you deserve. But He has shown mercy to others.
Here is why God can rightfully show mercy to sinners.
God at His very core is love. But, God at His very core is also holy. God loves sinners like you but He knows that He must also judge their sins. If God does not judge your sin He would not be holy! So God made a way that your sin could be judged without Him punishing you personally. He sent His perfect Son to this earth. Jesus lived without sin. He totally pleased God. Then God delivered up His perfect Son to die on a cross. Why would God do that? Because, He was making a way for you to be forgiven and changed. When Jesus Christ died on the cross it wasn’t just the Jews and the Romans who killed Him. It was God! The Bible says in Isaiah 53:10-11 “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him. He hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin…He shall of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied. … for He shall bear their iniquities.”
When Jesus died, God took all the sins of all the people who would ever believe on Him, and He put them on Jesus’s account. It was just as if Jesus had sinned those sins Himself.
For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin;. . . .( 2 Cor. 5:21)
“(Isaiah 53:5) But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: The chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with his stripes we are healed. . . The Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all. (verse 6).”
God laid on Jesus our sins and punished Him for them all. God remained holy. He did not give up His righteousness to save sinners. He punished our sins in Jesus, who did not deserve to be punished. Having punished our sins in Jesus, God can now show mercy to those who don’t deserve it. That is you and me.
Then God raised His Son Jesus from the dead and made Him Lord of everything.
God commands sinners to turn from their sins and come to Him, based wholly the sacrifice of Jesus.
Turn from your sins. Quit making excuses for you sins. Quit trying to say you are good person and turn from yourself and all your own ways.
(Isaiah 55:1-3) “Ho everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come …Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread: and your labor for that which satisfieth not? …Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear and your soul shall live; I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.”
Are you convinced that if you died today you would face God’s awful wrath? Do you want God to have mercy on you and change you and give you a new life? Then you must confess your sins to Him. You must throw yourself on His mercy, hiding nothing , and trust Him to accept and love you freely because of what Jesus has done.
I can say all of these things to you because I too was once lost, like you. I was selfish, immoral and full of sin. I was a loser. But God had mercy on me. He is a God of mercy. Jesus Christ is called The Friend of Sinners. He will have mercy on you and save you.
Here is what to do. Cry out to God that He would have mercy on your soul. Ask Jesus to be YOUR Lord and Savior. Plead with God to give you a new heart. See the filthiness of your own sins and ask God to forgive you because of what Jesus did on the cross. Ask God to change your desires so that you want to live for Him.
Believe God when he says,
“A new heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. …and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will also save you from all your uncleanesses (Ezekiel 36:26-29).”
Do you believe God? Will you throw yourself on the mercy of God right now and accept His forgiveness?
Acts 13:38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man (Christ Jesus) is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. The Bible says, “Behold, now is the accepted time: behold now is the day of salvation (2Cor. 6:2). Come to God now through Jesus Christ. Turn from yourself. Turn to God. Come to Him right now.
God works holiness in His people. It is the very holiness of Christ Himself, exotic to us, but working in us none the less. Spirituality does not have degrees. One Christian is not more spiritual than the next. A person is either in the flesh or he is in the spirit (Romans 8:9). He is either saved or lost. The manifestation and experience of spirituality is always to some extent immature in this life. It never reaches its potential here. There are certain conditions of our being that affect our spiritual maturity for good or ill.
1. We are born with bodies that are not yet redeemed. Even after the New Birth our bodies still have the pre-installed settings that dispose us to tuning in to the here and now. That means that there is a built in reaction to the world around us much like the training built into a premiere athlete. His muscles are trained to react in a certain way when certain circumstances prevail. Just so, but much more deeply, our minds are trained to respond to the impulses of a body that is born to live in the flesh.
2. Worldly thoughts, secular mindsets, godless world views, false religions and humanistic philosophies surround our thinking processes. The very way we are trained to think (or not) fashions an ungodly tendency of reflection. We in the West, are being trained to reason in ways that are not based in reason.
3. Satanic powers are loose in the world that amplify and validate this worldly thinking. They are always present to tempt us to sin and to lead our thinking astray. They validate the false, emphasize the unimportant, amplify the sensual and degrade holiness. Their whole purpose is to defeat God’s purpose (but they can’t win).
4. The ability to control our thinking and meditate on things infinitely larger than ourselves has largely been lost. Just to sit quietly and think on God is a skill foreign to even our Christian culture. It is much easier to dwell on things below you than to think on things infinitely higher than you.
In spite of all of this the Lord leads His children on to Christlikeness. It is His relentless purpose and He is ruthless in pursuing it. He is going to make His children like Jesus in their inner man. God is fashioning a temple out of each of us. From it and through it he is determined that His glory shall shine. To be made like Christ is to be made like God for Christ is the very image of God, and to reflect the image of God was the original purpose of humanity in the first place.
For some it takes tragic loss and extreme privation for the old ways to be seen and forsaken. For others it may be years of chronic pain or mental anguish. Still others are made transparent temples of God’s grace and character through merciless persecution. Even for the few to which Christlikeness seems to come easy when you look beneath the surface, you find hidden crosses doing their chiseling work.
All of this is done to lift our minds and our hearts to something higher, better, more noble than the things of this sin cursed world. They are to lift us away from ourselves up to God and to make us know that God has a purpose. They call us away to contemplate the work of God for us and the work of God in us. They make us gaze at an object of worship that loses us in wonder and awe. And by doing that God works holiness in His people.
2Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Romans 8: 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Philippians 4: 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Almighty God became a Man and through the deepest humility, and as the eternal Sacrifice for sin, brought to Himself highest glory. Contrary to popular opinion God has called us to walk the same road He walked in Jesus Christ.
“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
24. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it (Luke 9:22-24)
We are to pick up our cross daily and follow close behind Him. We must watch how He carried His cross. We must learn the deep humility it takes to stay the course to Calvary. We must count the cost and then pay it.
See how Christ walked in this world? See with what dignity he bore the cross of bigoted hatred, the cross of persecution, the cross of mis-understanding, the cross of our sin?
Listen to Him again: “Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him (John 8:28-29).”
“I do always those things that please Him.” The Bible says: “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him. . . (Isaiah 53:10).
And it pleases the Lord to bruise us!
“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:22).”
Paul obeyed the Lord and followed in His footsteps. He gave his own life up in order to exalt Christ. Peter and James and all of those others we admire so greatly did the same. Even John, who is said to have lived into old age, suffered indignity and imprisonment and personal loss to follow Christ. Why do we think it should be any different for us? Why do we think we can glorify Him without the humiliation; without the cross?
Granted, as followers of the risen Lamb we live in resurrection power even now, but we taste His glory only to the extent we bear His shame.
Our Lord said: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world(John 16:33).”
The Bible says: “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; . . . (Philippians 1:29).”
So, when the devil comes to accuse, when failure stalks you like a wolf, when religionists despise you, when the false prosperity preachers seem to flourish all around you, and even when true brothers mis-understand you, remember, there is coming a day when our Trailblazer, our Lord and Master, the one who put us on this Calvary way, will make all things plain. He will say to His own. “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord (Matthew 25:23).”
Cults are multiplying in Western culture. Due to post modern thinking the cradle of the Enlightenment has legitimatized every bizarre doctrine and practice that has ever occurred to mankind. Our culture only denounces strange beliefs and cultic activities if they prove to be detrimental to societal good. That attitude has produced a greenhouse effect in which the cults have flourished.
Even Christians stand in jeopardy of becoming involved in cult like activity. This usually stems from the sincere desire to obey God’s word without having a mature understanding of what the word teaches. It also is usually connected to a strong personality who either elicits deep affection or unexplainable fear in those that follow him.
With those thoughts in mind I offer the following.
You might be in a cult if the leader injects himself between you and Christ and demands that you relate to Christ only through him/her.
You might be in a cult if you are led to believe that everybody outside your little circle is suspect…either lost or deluded. They are the enemy.
You might be in a cult if, when the leader is present, you became distraught because you are afraid you might not measure up to his demands or please him.
You might be in a cult if the leader bases his actions and leadership on “God told me” rather than on a faithful and consistent exposition of Scripture, line upon line and precept upon precept.
A cultish leader always has a “second in command” who never questions his leadership and who influences other leaders to backup the main leader at all times. It is this structure that keeps the regular people in line.
A cultish leader may use the Bible to authenticate his views but he will not allow anyone to question his interpretations. Many times his interpretations fall apart under close scrutiny.
It seems to me that cults form and evolve. I doubt if anyone says to himself, “Hey, I think I will start a cult today!” But there is a certain personality type that can’t seem to resist the lure of power over others. Every evangelical cult has enough truth to cover up the falsehoods, and their leaders become very adept at using the truth to do that very thing. The sad thing is that the leader himself is deceived. Satan so blinds his heart that he actually believes that if the people will only follow him mindlessly that he can do them good.
Somewhere the leader crosses the line so that his will, thoughts, and desires trump the Bible. The worse thing that could happen would be for the people themselves to have a relationship with Christ that has nothing to do with him but is a result of their own discoveries in the word of God.
Over time, the leader gathers followers around himself who have followers of their own, and through those ‘friends’, power is gained over their followers. BTW…If you ever leave the cult, you are no longer a ‘friend’ but the ‘enemy.’ At the very least all references to you will be banned. It’s just as if you never existed. There is a reason for that. If the one who left is ever publicly referenced one of the more thoughtful followers might start asking questions and questions are anathema to groups like this.
You might be in a cult if the things I have said make you uncomfortable. Why do they make you feel so? No matter what anyone…anyone …tells you, you will stand before God for yourself. Only One qualifies to stand between you and God’s righteous judgement. Only One has the right to direct your life and command total obedience. Christ paid for that right on Calvary’s cross.
Christ! Seek Him in His word and look at everything in light of that word. One of the most dangerous things you can do is to farm out your spiritual life to someone else. Don’t do it. Ask God to open His word to your own heart, and then follow Him no matter what the costs.
After 40 + years of ministry I have observed this kind of thing over and over. What I have said comes from my heart and experience. If you are a part of a group like this just walk away. And if you can’t walk away physically because of family relationships (spousal/ mother/ father) then walk away in your heart, and pray constantly for those caught in the ‘group.’ There are still faithful Bible preachers and churches around that will encourage you in your personal walk with God. Don’t get marooned somewhere between the leaders and Christ. Go on to know the Lord and grow up in Christ yourself.
The Union Baptist Church of Marion, KY will be hosting a conference on prayer and revival Wednesday through Sunday, August 1-5. The services will begin each evening at 7. Sunday’s service will begin at 11 A.M.
Our facilities are located at 173 Levias Rd. Marion, KY. Brother Mack Tomlinson from Denton, TX will be speaking each service on the history of revivals. Our other speaker is a missionary. Because of the sensitive nature of his work I cannot post his name on the internet. He is a godly man and you will be blessed as he leads our thoughts on prayer.
For more information call 270-965-5899 or 270-740-3464.
Pray for the meeting and come if you can. Out of town guests are welcome to contact the Marion Inn at 270-965-5391.
Culture is mainstream. It matters not what culture it is, in its place and its time, it defines human existence. There are myriads of sub-cultures in every group but even the most deviant sub-culture in some way reflects the general culture of any people.
That being said, there are neutral things in every culture. Every culture tends toward the survival of it’s participants. Every culture eats food. Every culture drinks water. Every culture fights disease according to its knowledge. Every culture has a vague view of god, or gods or spiritual reality. These things are more or less neutral. But when these basic needs are adequately met human depravity asserts itself in ways that are downright demonic. Society has the leisure to ramble and ramble it will. Especially is this true when a culture becomes unbelievably wealthy.
Notice for instance the sexual mores of America. In 70 years time we have moved from a culture that respected sex as something that was enjoyed in a marriage covenant between a man and a woman, to a culture that exploits sex as the personal right of every human being. In our present culture sex is presented as an end in itself, to enjoy in any context personally preferred. Sex has become the one great symbol of self achievement and satisfaction.
In the 1940’s most women wore clothing that would be considered prudish today. Most men had a healthy respect for women as a whole and the demarcation between a “loose” woman and a virtuous woman was usually, at least initially, demonstrated by the modesty, or lack there of, the woman exhibited. 70 years later many young women do not know the meaning of the word modesty. Our culture has changed.
When I was a young man, homosexuality was considered by most in American culture as at least morally wrong. More thought that it was simply disgusting. No more. Now the “conservatives” celebrate their daughter’s same sex “marriage.” It has always amazed me how the conservatives of one generation are so strong on an issue and yet, under the banner of conservatism, the next generation moves completely left of their fathers and yet claim the same banner.
I say all of this to emphasize a point. God’s church has never been the servant of any culture, conservative or liberal. As soon as it binds itself with the chains of cultural relevance it ceases to be the church of Christ. The church of Jesus Christ was never intended to be culturally acceptable. Always and in every culture true Christianity has been on the fringe. The only time the church has been effective in its ministry is when it has worked from the fringe.
Our Lord’s own ministry was a rebuke to the religious culture he was born into. Paul the great missionary Apostle, enraged most every culture he entered because his message was so counter-cultural. The attempt of Satan to make Christianity the religion of the state was a master stroke that made Christianity Christendom. Suddenly the church was culturally acceptable and the world entered the dark ages.
The Great Awakening and the revival movements of later days moved the church away from cultural atrophy to vibrant life. The culture of heaven can never be the culture of this world. The culture that has its roots in the god of this world can never advance the culture of Christ.
When Whitefield and the Wesleys moved out of the church buildings to preach in the fields, it was considered uncouth and below the dignity of normal Christian practice. And yet it set the stage for the abolition of slavery in the UK and it brought a nation to Christ. A hundred years later the cultural offense of the Salvation Army was to take the message of Christ out of gold gilded buildings to the street corners of the world.
Christ was not crucified in a golden temple with a crown of pearls on His head, but near a garbage dump with the stench of death heavy in the air. He wasn’t surrounded by angelic babies but He hung between two murdering thieves. His death was the ultimate betrayal and rejection of human culture without God. His resurrection was the first fruits of a new humanity in complete fellowship with God. But as far as this world is concerned He was on the fringe.
All the rage in religious circles these days is relevance. We must engage the culture from within or we will be rejected, and the Gospel will not be effective. I don’t think there has ever been a more destructive lie ever told than that one. The only way the culture will see Christ is when they see Him in a church that is on the fringe with Him. “Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach (Hebrews 13:13).”
I would encourage every person who reads this to forget cultural relevance. Seek heavenly relevance. The very essence of the meaning of the word holiness is “different.” Holiness is Christ likeness. I don’t believe you can be like Christ and be loved by the haters of God in this world. Quit trying. Fellow believers will recognize you and receive you. And if not here, someday…in a better world and a better culture than this one.
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” Galatians 1:6-7
Truth concerning salvation is of the highest importance . If you miss this, anything and everything else you might believe or do in the religious realm is pointless. The Galatians had been led away from the central truth of the Gospel. False teachers had come in who were teaching that a person had to keep the Jewish ceremonial law (as well as the moral law) to be saved. Paul could not have been more severe in his renunciation of this false Gospel. Listen to him rebuke those who would teach such heresy.
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” KJV Galatians 1:8-9
Damnation on all who preach any other gospel? That is a hard saying and yet that is the very indication of the importance Paul (and the Holy Spirit) put on the purity of the Gospel message. But believe it or not, a false gospel as malignant as any Paul faced is being spread among Evangelicals today. It uses biblical language. It boasts extravagant success. It is so close to the truth that its insidious false teaching is hardly noticeable. It is advocated in schools of higher learning and practiced by many of the highest profile Christian leaders in our generation. It has been accepted by multitudes as orthodox Christian teaching, which means that it is being taught, practiced and defended with a burning passion. Yet, with serpentine ferocity, this teaching has turned to bite the very ones who are defending it. I am talking about the doctrine of easy-believism.
Multitudes have made professions of faith in Christ by this method who show no evidence of genuine salvation. The number of those who fall away after professing Christ is phenomenally high. Though some may become involved in church activities, many who have professed Christ through this method never enter a church of any description. Others attend church only spasmodically.
As I write these words I am looking at the May 2, 2006 issue of the Western Recorder (the state news paper for Kentucky Southern Baptists). The lead article is entitled “Most people tell poll they don’t need church for spiritual growth.” Quoting George Barna the article states that “. . . fewer than 20 percent of American adults believe participation in a congregation is critical to spiritual growth. Barna goes on to say that 72 percent of Americans claim they personally have committed themselves to Jesus Christ, but less than 50 percent attend religious services regularly.
My question is, what would cause people to profess Christ and yet leave them with no desire to meet with their brethren? What would cause people to say with their lips that they love God but leave them living lives which show that they are fleshly minded and interested only in worldly things. What kind of evangelistic method is it that encourages people to pray the prayer and walk the aisle and calls them Christian, even though they live the exact same lifestyle they lived before their professed conversion? It is the method of easy-believism. It is a method that inadvertently changes the very essence of the Gospel message to a false gospel of human works.
The truth of the Gospel is changeless. Christ died and rose again so that sinners would be saved, and all who come to Him in repentant faith are blessed to partake of His atonement and forgiveness. Paul said it best. “Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief ” (1Tim.1:15). When Christ came into the world, he performed the external act that was demanded to reconcile us to God. There is little argument, among genuine Christians, about the fact that Christ became the sacrifice for our sins. The work of the cross was completely the work of God and specifically the work of Christ. But conversion also involves the supernatural work of God. Modern proponents of easy-believism have made it solely an accomplishment of man. In biblical Christianity, God takes the initiative even in conversion. God draws sinners to Himself. God grants repentance and God gives faith. Every true conversion experience is the result of God moving in wondrous grace. But when grace is replaced with human decisionism or a person’s salvation is based on a prayer prayed or on a person’s sincere desire to go to heaven when they die, the so-called salvation that is secured is nothing less than eternal deception.
Much of the preaching that we hear today glosses over the truth that God is sovereignly active in the salvation of sinners. Many times it is not in the body of the message but the application of the message that causes the problem. After proclaiming that God is the One who does the saving, immediately the sinner is instructed to do something physical to be saved. He is told that if he will only repeat a canned prayer then he will be saved and everything will be alright. Many times the sermon itself proclaims the necessity of God to work in conversion but in the end the sinner himself is left in charge. If you think I am wrong listen to the invitations given at the end of evangelistic television and radio programs. At the conclusion of the program the evangelist will usually come back and tell those who are listening to pray with him. Then he will pray a prayer confessing sin and affirming faith in Christ. Usually he will conclude the program with a word of encouragement to those who prayed the prayer and were sincere. They are told that if they prayed that prayer and meant it, then they were, without a doubt, saved. Finally, they are admonished to write to the evangelist and report their conversion. The same method is seen in most evangelistic crusades and at the end of Christian music concerts.
Several years ago I attended a local crusade. The evangelist did a good job of presenting Christ. He was no doubt sincere in his desire to see sinners saved. During the course of the sermon he related his own conversion experience. He said that he nearly went to hell over a 4 year old profession of faith. He had prayed the pray at that young age and yet he was truly converted later in life. The thing that astonished me was that at the end of the service he called all those who would, to come down to the front and there he led them in the same kind of prayer that he said had nearly sent him to hell. It is true that those who prayed the prayer with him were sent to individual counselors but as I listened to them counsel all I heard were counselors continuing to lead the people to repeat a prayer and then give the people the assurance that they were now children of God. Repentance was not prominent in the presentation. An explanation of the fact that one was personally offensive to God was not mentioned. Rather the emphasis was on how much God loved the sinner and how God was obligated to save the sinner if he would only pray and ask Him to. All that was needed was for the sinner to pray the prayer of faith. This may seem fine in the modern evangelistic atmosphere but it represents a subtle shift from the way the Gospel has been presented in days gone by
My purpose in writing is to expose this man-centered gospel. I am not against counseling or praying with sinners, but I believe easy-believism is, humanly speaking, the one major hindrance to real revival and is a huge stumbling block in the genuine salvation of multitudes of souls. Because of this insidious method millions are deceived into believing that they are Christians who do not show any of the life changing effects of the Gospel. I believe most of them have been deceived. I pray God will help us get back to the method of Whitefield and Spurgeon. We can trust God who begins a good work in a person to carry it on to completion.
I live in an area where there are many people who try to make sanctification their justification. They think and teach that your separation from the world is what makes you right with God. The idea is that if you can resist modern conveniences and live life in a very hard way, you are shunning the world and living for God. Under this view, it is hoped that, on judgment day, God will be merciful and will add just the right amount of the righteousness of Jesus to your earnings so that you can be admitted to eternal bliss. There is never any real assurance of salvation in this life and to think that there is, and especially that one has it, is the height of arrogance.
I have heard that same view in varying degrees even among those who profess to believe in grace. These people are not so concerned with modern conveniences but the perseverance of the saints is so presented that it becomes the effective reason why God allows sinners into heaven. Saints persevere in holiness and faith, however they themselves may define those terms, so that they will go to heaven someday. This is simply a more refined view of the one stated previously. When all is said and done salvation depends on performance.
The fact is, God declares as righteous, ungodly people when they come to the end of their own resources and rely wholly upon Him to save them out of His grace (Rom. 4:5; Rom. 4:16; Rom. 5:1-2; Rom. 5:6-8; Rom. 5:9-10). Of course we understand that this grace of God is based on the gracious work of Christ on the cross as a substitute for sinners. Yet it is grace through faith that brings one into a righteous relationship with God and that proposition is totally devoid of works.
Having said that, there are many, many who claim forgiveness of sins and a title to heaven who live lifestyles of wickedness. They seem to believe that God doesn’t care about their sin. Their favorite verses are “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” (Mat. 7:1) and the last half of Romans 6:14 where the Bible says “…for ye are not under law, but under grace.” These folks believe that grace is a free ticket into heaven period. It doesn’t change them in any way. It doesn’t make them love holiness and hate sin. It doesn’t have an inward principle that curtails sin. They are free to be bound to their most wretched lusts without even the desire to be made free.
This view too is a twisted doctrine. It makes grace the enabler of sin. I believe the correct view is the biblical view. God’s grace involves a two-fold work. When someone is justified though faith in Christ, that means that God declares him righteousness and his sins will never be remembered against him as far as his standing before God is concerned. But the twin action of regeneration also takes place in the person so that a new kind of life is implanted in him. It is called the new man who after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (Eph. 4:24). This new man hates sin. He loves righteousness and holiness and he grows in both of those attributes. Those who say that grace makes them free from sin’s consequences have forgotten (or maybe never knew) that the same God who said that we were not under law but under grace said, “Marvel not that I say unto you, ye must be born again (John 3:7).
In justification, God acts as a Judge who, on the basis of Christ’s blood, declares believers righteous before Him.
In sanctification, God acts as a Father who chastens His children “…that we might be partakers of His holiness (Heb. 12:10). And if God is not working Christ in us daily, then there is the absolute assurance that He has not justified us before Him.
You can try to be justified by your supposed sanctification but it never works. You can claim to be justified without God’s work of sanctification in your life but it is a hollow claim. Justification and Sanctification are siamese twins. You can’t separate them and expect either one to be alive without the other…. but you must keep them in the correct order. God justifies first and and He sanctifies second, all that come to Him through Jesus Christ.
In 1991 I was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease. The doctors said that my kidneys would fail but I couldn’t accept that. I asked for prayer and even had the elders of out church anoint me with oil and pray over me. I know, some of you will call me charismatic but I was desperate.“It” didn’t work.
I prayed continually and asked God to heal me but no healing came. Then there came a certain day. I was standing in my study and God spoke. Not to my ear and not so that anyone else could hear, but to my heart. He spoke through 2 Corinthians 12:8-9. It is Paul’s account of his prayer for relief from his thorn in the flesh. “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. …” When I read that I heard deep in my heart the Lord say, “My grace is sufficient for you as well. I will give you grace for whatever you have to go through.”
After a period of time on dialysis my wife gave me a kidney. That was nearly 20 years ago and God’s grace was sufficient then and it is sufficient now.
The basic prayer of the Christian is the glory of God. We want our God to receive the glory that this world denies Him. He deserves glory. When God denies specific prayers, in my case for healing, then we must assume that He has something in mind that will bring Him more glory. In Paul’s case, and in mine, it was an experience of grace so that the strength of God could be seen in our weaknesses.
It is so often that way. We pray and do not get the answer we want and then we feel forsaken or dispirited. The enemy comes to accuse our God to us and to tell us that He doesn’t care. He does care! He cares enough to give grace so that He will receive glory from us…which is our basic prayer anyway. And He cares enough that He demonstrates His strength through broken and weak men.
In our Western culture we are too quick to take the culture’s view. We look at young, healthy, men in the ministry who have it all together. If they are ever sick, no one knows. If they ever misspeak it is never recorded. They are the epitomes of success and strength. Many preachers, those battling sickness, getting older or just plain plain in their presentations get discouraged. Don’t be. It might be that your situation is designed to do what you really want anyway; To bring God glory and for Him to show His strength in you and through you. Leave the scoring of success up to the Lord and know, it is God’s grace that is sufficient, not your strength. And it is God’s glory that is at stake, not the immediate answer to your prayer. Trust Him. His grace IS sufficient for you and more.