Why Some Are Lost


The most heart-breaking day any of us will ever experience is Judgment Day. Why? It’s because of the separation that will occur.

Members of my family, if they continue to live as they have and die in that condition, will suffer as lost persons. That makes me sad, but I’m not about to turn myself away from the truth in order to disguise what is going to happen. Some people, however, do that. They are so unwilling to face the truth about their lost relatives and friends, they refuse to tell them the truth. If they continue to live as lost persons, they will be lost eternally. That’s not my judgment. That judgment belongs to God.

A friend of mine decided to commit adultery and mistreat his wife. My friend was divorced from his wife, but never really repented of that sin nor did he ask his wife to forgive him. He became a member of the church where we used to live and acted as if he had repented but did nothing to ask his wife’s forgiveness. He died recently and although he was a very positive influence on the members of that church, he never really did what he needed to do.

God has a very specific means of saving people. He gave Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven and that apostle opened the doors by saying, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized,” (Acts 2:38). Repentance is just as much a part of turning the key to salvation as baptism is.

My friend had every opportunity to repent, ask for his former wife’s forgiveness, but he never did. She’s been waiting to hear his confession of guilt, but she never has.

One either repents and obeys the gospel and is saved, or one does not and is lost. This statement is just as true as a person turns the key to unlock a door, or he stands outside. Sadly, there are people just like my friend who are going to be left standing outside the kingdom and lost, though they may think they are saved. Letting someone think that is cruel, isn’t it?

Yes, there are sins that we would confess and for which we would ask forgiveness but, for some reason, cannot. We can only right those wrongs as far as we are able. God knows that. But, to walk away from the things we have done in the past without at least trying to do what is right isn’t repentance.

I’m also sorry for the family my friend left behind. They think my friend is saved and they will spend eternity together. But, if one refuses to repent and turn from sin — that means making a clean break with sin and taking action to rid self of it by truly repenting — one has not really turned the key to heaven.

We sing a song in church entitled, “One Way to the Gate.” The song’s chorus says, “There is just one way to the pearly gate, to the crown of life and the friends who wait. Tis the old Cross road or the way called ‘straight,’ there is just one way to the pearly gate.”

No other way will do. That’s why there will be sadness on the day of judgment.

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Questions?


 

I’m surprised by some of the questions I get. Basic Bible knowledge should be acquired by everyone who is baptized into Christ. Yet, many people don’t understand the basics of Christianity. It is still the case, even after the writer of Hebrews wrote about the same kind of problem that, “though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food,” (Hebrews 5:12 NKJV).

See, the main reason for Bible study should be that we love God and want to learn more about him. Unfortunately, many people think of Bible study is a subject more complicated and less interesting than putting together a bicycle. So, they put off serious Bible study or they don’t attend at all.

This is bad because a person who doesn’t study the Bible is weakening spiritually each day, and the devil is waiting for the optimum time to spring a trap to catch that person in a temptation. Once caught, we are almost helpless to resist, but getting caught was our fault because we refused to spend the effort and time to study God’s word.

So, I get questions many of which the answers themselves are perplexing to those who have never studied or put off studying the Bible.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about answering questions. I love to have discussions with people who have questions. It’s just that I’d really prefer to see people who profess a love of God to have a greater dedication to learning what they can be studying the Bible at home each day, attending Bible study and studying with others.

I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

Obey them that have the rule


The Lord Christ determined to send his people help for the days ahead. Many decisions would have to come. Decisions about various functions of the church would be discussed.

The Lord decided on requiring churches to appoint elders, or bishops, to attend to matters of expedience. Matters of faith were derived from the Lord and his apostles. Matters of expedience, or how to determine the best course of action to meet the revealed will of God, would be decided by elders.

Matters of faith are settled from God’s word (Colossians 3:16-17). Matters of opinion are settled by elders who have the oversight of the local congregation (Acts 20:28). 

This means elders have authority in those matters of expedience and their word is law (Hebrews 13:17). Those who decide to flaunt the rule of the elders must give account of their actions to God on the day of Judgment (Romans 14:11-12).

What are some of the rules elders can make? They may determine the assembling times that will occur and how many of those the church will have. There is the assembling on the first day of the week, but they also may decide to schedule Bible studies or other such necessary classes as they see fit. They do this because they want to strengthen the church and deliver it to Christ without stain (2 Peter 3:14).

Members who absent themselves from these determined assemblings are in direct violation of Hebrews 13:17 which says, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”

There are those who deny the elders have any authority, but they purposely forget the very thing children of God must do is submit. God’s children submit to him, to his Son, to elders, and to each other (Colossians 3:18-25). Why would the inspired text of Hebrews 13:17 require obedience to those “who have the rule over you” if we are not required to obey them?

Thankful for Kindness


“…that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus,” (Ephesians 2:7 NKJV).

One of the many lessons Job learned when God put him on trial was that God doesn’t owe anyone anything.

Job thought God owed him a chance to make his case known (Job 13:18; 23:4). Job’s reasoning was that since he had been righteous and lived his life in accordance with God’s will, God at least owed him the chance to prove he was righteous and didn’t deserve the treatment he received.

Job was wrong.

Yet many people think God owes them. There are those who think God owes them salvation because they were somehow individually predestined to receive it. God chose the saved through the call of the gospel and obedience to the truth, (2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2).

Some think that because they only profess belief in God and Christ, that eternal life is owed to them regardless of the need to turn from sin and be immersed in water for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Instead, these folks think God owes them salvation because they believed.

Folks, God doesn’t owe any of us anything. He created us, he loved us, he gave his son for us. God has done enough. We should be thankful for his kindness to us. He didn’t have to send his son, but he did. He didn’t have to give us a plan of salvation, but he did.

In which dispensation did God ever rule out obedience as a condition of salvation? He never ever did. The Gentiles were told to obey (Romans 1). The Jews were told to obey (Exodus 15:26). Christians are also told to obey (Galatians 3:1).

God paid the price of sin for each one of us. What makes people think God owes them?

If we think God has changed, then we don’t realize how unchangeable God is (Hebrews 13:8). God doesn’t owe anyone anything.

Define love


Once upon a time I was in love (or at least I thought I was) with a college girl. She asked me to define love.

Of course, I didn’t really know what to say. So, I launched into a country boy’s rendition of Shakespeare: “How do I love thee? Let me count them ways.”

That wasn’t good enough.

“Why do you love me?” she asked. Still searching for the right words, I realized I didn’t know.

Someone once said, “Love is better described than defined.” Perhaps, but when I define love now I look at Christ hanging on the cross. There, love is described and defined. The apostle Paul wrote, “But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8 NET).

Paul discussed Christian love, or the love we are supposed to have for our brothers and sisters in Christ. He wrote love must exist without pretense (Romans 12:9). In early Greece, actors wore masks during a play to portray a character. Even now some people wear masks. They mask their disagreement, their disdain, their grumbling. They would like for others not to know the true character, but the false one they portray.

Christian love means abhorring evil and clinging to good. The word, “abhor” in Romans 12:9b is from a word in the original New Testament that means “hating and turning away from.”  We should hate evil so much we immediately and completely turn away from it. Instead, we should glue ourselves to good.

Paul also discussed how we are to love one another in Christ. We should be “kindly affectionate,” the New King James Version says. This translates one word, “φιλόστοργος” (philostorgos) which means to love like family.

To love each other as a family member indicates a love almost all of us can understand. Many of the problems people have with others in the church can be traced to this distinct shortcoming: we don’t love one another as we love family. Yet, God’s people are our family, our eternal family.

These descriptions of love, if followed in spirit and letter, will solve many problems. Love without pretense is the cure for hypocrisy in the church. Genuine love doesn’t need to be defined in words as it most certainly needs to be defined by action.

Have I given a profound definition of love here? Not really. I’ve only pointed to what the inspired apostle described, which is pretty good. I can stand on that.

 

 

Get out of that comfort zone!


J.R.R. Tolkien’s book “Lord of the Rings” describes the life of Frodo, a hobbit of the Shire, and how he found in his possession the ring of the enemy. For many months, Frodo took a journey to destroy the ring in the fires of Mt. Doom.

It seemed he hated every step of the journey. He hated sleeping on the ground. He hated walking long distances. He hated waking up with nothing to eat. Still, he pressed on to Mordor and the mountain.

Frodo had been taken from his home, his habits, and his routine. He was uncomfortable and longed to be back home.

Frodo is a mythical creature, but we can see something of ourselves in him. Frodo had a routine he enjoyed. Most of us have routines, too.

We get up at the same time, we eat three meals every day. We go to work and come home at the same time (well, almost). We do the same things with our children.

Most people are like prisoners in jail. They awake every day at the same time. They work and return to their cell. Their lives are regimented deeply in routine.

Frodo was in a comfort zone. So are many people. We depend on our routine to ground us, and that’s exactly what it does. Getting out of our comfort zones is so difficult it’s almost impossible.

We’re fat, we’re out of shape physically, we’re sick because we’ve carried on the same routine every day for 40 years.

Going to church is little different. People go because that’s what they do on Sunday. They pray little memorized prayers, they refuse to speak to anyone else about their need for salvation, they give the same amount every Sunday, they sing the same songs. Their religion is routine.

Here’s a suggestion. Instead of going along with the routine in church do something different that will show your love for God. Pour your heart out to him in prayer. Read the words you’re singing and let their meanings penetrate to your soul. Carry a Bible (gasp) and read it along with the sermon. Start thinking and meaning your religion.

Get out of that comfort zone and worship God for a change!

Driving the good away


Your iniquities have turned these things away, And your sins have withheld good from you,” (Jeremiah 5:25 NKJV).

Sin has consequences many do not understand or even notice. One of those consequences is that a person who lives long enough in the prison of sin will — at some point — drive all the good away.

The context of the passage bears this out. Judah had become so enslaved to sin that it had driven almost all the good from its life. They possessed a rebellious and stubborn heart because they chose idolatry to gain the money they thought they could have (Jeremiah 5:23, 30-31).

Judah did not realize its sin had hardened its heart and pushed it to resent and disobey God. God told them what happened, but they rejected what he said through Jeremiah. The extent of their sin is seen in how they regarded God’s prophet by dropping him in a pit and leaving him to die.

There are many whose bondage to sin causes them to drive good away from them. God is kind and gives his gifts to all people. Jesus said God causes his rain to fall on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45). But, Jeremiah told his people they had become willingly ignorant of God’s blessings giving them the early and latter rain (Jeremiah 5:24).

There is a great evil in our land that deceives many into thinking that chasing money and possessions will deliver blessings and desired power. One would think that for all the teachings of Christ and the apostles on covetousness, that members of God’s family would not pursue such to the exclusion of the Almighty. But, these days, many have.

Why? Because “your iniquities have turned these things away and your sins have withheld good from you.”