“What Must I do to Inherit Eternal Life?”

  And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”  When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Matthew 19:16-22)

Why does the rich young man fall short of Jesus’ standards? Is it his wealth alone? No. In fact, what Jesus teaches us by this encounter is the practical meaning of justification and repentance.
 
Justification. The rich young man is evidently quite pleased with himself.  His intention to justify himself is loaded into a single phrase: ‘good deed.’ The rich young man uses this phrase to make evident that salvation is the result of good deeds. Since he has a whole list of his good deeds, he fully expects Jesus to praise him and confirm him as a child of God.  After all, he has kept these commandments.So when he asks Jesus for a  checklist of salvation, he is confident he will pass the Ten Commandments test: Not a murderer, not a thief, not a liar, not disrespectful, etc. 

However, Jesus knows the young man better than he knows himself. He knows the young man’s heart. At the onset, Jesus  chastises the young man by calling into question his use of the word ‘good.’  Jesus takes control and claims the exclusive right to justify man. When Jesus says “There is only one who is good,” He is referring to the Father. No man can do enough good deeds to earn the title ‘good.’ Salvation only comes from above, as a free gift of the father.
 
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.” (James 1:17) 
 
We are justified, deemed right in the sight of God, only by His grace.
 
“and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24)

 
If salvation then is a free gift, how can we expect to be justified, to be set right in the eyes of God? Jesus tells us in his message to the young man. Jesus calls out the young man on his two unconfessed sins: idolatry and pride. He is guilty of idolatry. Jesus knows that the young man has placed an idol above his Father in heaven, his Creator, i.e. his wealth. He is also guilty of pride, because the young man seeks to justify himself by declaring that his good deeds have earned him a place in God’s book of life!

 But Jesus in his love and desire to save sinners, tells the young man how to be saved. The answer, to give up all he has and follow him, is a call to repentance.


“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30)

The young man must repent by acknowledging his unconfessed sins, and by turning away from his sins of pride and idolatry. How? By taking action and eliminating the source of his twin sins: his riches. What Jesus prescribes is the cure for his unsaved state, but it is not without a medicine bitter to those in love with the world. When Jesus calls the young man (or any of us) to follow him, he is  sending the subtle message that the narrow way that Jesus blazes for each of us will not be easy.
 
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.(Matthew 16:24)

 The young man is not prepared for the narrow way, cannot face up to his sins, is unwilling to repent. His self-procalimed faith and righteousness are insincere and, without the proof of his repentance, false.
 
What can each of us learn about repentance from the rich young man’s encounter?
 
1. Repentance means that we know that God desires us to acknowledge our sinful nature.

Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts” (Psalm 51) 
 
2. Repentance requires a deep examination of ourselves, to allow God to reveal the inner truth of our wretched lives in sin.
 
“and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.”(Psalm 51)
 
3. Repentance means confession of our sins before God
 
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:19)
 
4. Repentance means a turning away from our sins
 
“Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”(John 8:11)
 
5. Repentance means that we will produce good works as evidence of our new life in Christ

 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.(Luke 3:8)

 Let us then be mindful that repentance goes hand in hand with belief. Repentance is more than an intellectual exercise; it is a change of heart, and a change of life. The rich young man learned that our eternal life rests on our belief in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and on our true and complete repentance. 

  “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”(Mark 1:15)

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Published in: on August 26, 2009 at 9:37 am  Comments (1)  

On God’s Team: What Comes With the Uniform?

By the grace of God, I am on His team. I have been elected, chosen, and called  by God before all ages to come to know and accept the Truth: that Jesus Christ , the Word, became flesh, suffered and died for our sins, was buried and rose again on the third day, ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father, and will come again to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom shall have no end.

God has justified me, declared me one of His children, and handed me my uniform. I’ve made the team. God’s team. In my unworthy, indeed, wretched, state, how can I accept this uniform of which I am not worthy, and which I did not earn? What comes along with the uniform and with team membership?

Like a football team, God’s team offers rewards and makes demands. In this post I will highlight  the biggest benefits of being elected to join God’s team. The benefits that accrue to us by our election to God’s team go beyond our eternal salvation and extend to this life as well.

 The best (and in fact, the one indispensable ) gift that we can ever have is: salvation. It is a free gift of God, emananting not from our works or our “deserving” nature, but from God Himself.

 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” (James 1:17)

 Here are my top six benefits of being on God’s team:

1.  Our reservation for Hell is cancelled! 

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)

And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:46)

 2. Heaven is a guaranteed resting place for us.

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.    ( 2 Corinthians 5:1)

3. We are assured that our sins are forgiven.

 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.  (Hebrews 10:12)

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” (Hebrews 10:17)

“…who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases.” (Psalm 103:3)

 “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1)

4. We receive the Spirit of God (Holy Spirit) in us, with its gifts and promises of things to come

Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. (1 John 3:24)  

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. “(1 Corinthians 12:4-11)

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  ( John 16:13)

5. We are empowered to receive the Word of God  

Whoever is of God hears the words of God (John 8:47)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)

 

6. We enter into Christian fellowship with the rest of God’s team.

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:9)

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

Therefore, brothers and sisters, let us rejoice in the Good News. Let us be filled with hope, hope in eternal life, granted to us by the grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  He offers us salvation, accomplished by His blood on the cross, because He chooses to be our Saviour. He is also our Lord, and chooses to reign over us. Ponder this then: since we know our Saviour, and what it takes to be saved– to have faith in Jesus Christ, to repent and  turn away from sin, to acknowledge our regeneration, our new life in Christ,  and to strive to become every day increasingly sanctified by living in Christ and for Christ, then what must we do to be worthy servants of Jesus Christ, our Lord? For Jesus is both Saviour and Lord. Once saved, how must we serve? (For my thoughts, see future blog posts).

Published in: on August 17, 2009 at 9:46 am  Comments (2)  

The Hard Truth: There Is But One Truth

In our postmodern world, the new acknowledged universal philosophy declares that truth is a relative concept. Each individual can determine what is true for himself. What is true for one, may not be true for another. Therefore our ethos has become: tolerance for everyone’s unique truth. There is, however, one truth that is unacceptable to the general public: Christian truth. Counter to the “anything goes” world, Christianity proclaims that there is but one truth, and that Truth is Jesus Christ. 

 

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

 Christian Truth refuses to grant to individuals the power to determine what is true. For the Truth is what God, not man,  proclaims it to be. Truth is inerrantly revealed to us through the Word. Truth was made  incarnate in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ . Truth abides in us in the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit. By this Truth, God’s Truth, we stand apart from the world. The world hates us.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. ” (John 15:18)

Each of us is called out, chosen by God, to glorify, worship and serve Him, and by doing so we are set apart from the world. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:19).

Why would the world want to hate us? Aren’ t we all God’s children? Can’t we just love one another and accept each other for what we are? Aren’t tolerance and acceptance the Christian moral code? Isn’t Jesus awaiting us on His throne ready to show us all the door to eternal salvation? Aren’t we all going to heaven?

God in his lovingkindness…

“wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”(1 Timothy 2:4)

 But not all will be saved. This is a hard message, but we are steadfast in our belief that our God is perfect, and perfectly just, and we rest on the Truth of His Word:

The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. (Psalm 9:7)

And whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake off the dust of your feet. Truly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city. (Mt. 10:14, 15)

God has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:31)

 It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27)

 If we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. (Hebrews 10:26, 27)

By this message, this Truth, that all men are not  equal in the eyes of God, the world calls us intolerant, bigoted, extremist, even un-Christian!  We need to be strong in proclaiming the Truth, as incorrect as it is in today’s world, to acknowledge that there is but one Truth in the Gospel of Christ Jesus, one source of inerrant, infallible wisdom, contained in the Word, the Bible. The hard truth is that many of our neighbors are outside the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, since “they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” (2 Thessalonians 2:10).

A false Gospel is preached today. It places man at the center of the universe and molds God to man’s image. God becomes a life coach, a provider of things, an enabler of worldly success, a rewarder of ambition. This false Gospel misleads and deceives many. This false gospel ignores sin, skips over salvation, and has no need for a saviour.

This false gospel is heresy:

We are not chosen to live in Christ for the glory of this world, but for the glory of the coming Kingdom.
We are not chosen to live in Christ to gain popularity.
We are not chosen to live in Christ as part of a self-help program.
We are not chosen to live in Christ to earn earthly rewards.

“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” (1 Corinthians 15:19).

Many sincere and good people, our friends and neighbors, are being led astray or deceive themselves, by confusing the message of the Gospel with the selfish message of those false teachers like Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Jesse Duplantis, Benny Hinn and the other prosperity preachers and authors, who seek to make man, not God, the center of our attention. We must pray for those being misled and proclaim the Truth to all those lost in these false churches because their very souls are at stake:

“But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.”(Romans 2:8)

We are not chosen to live in Christ only to turn around, smile at our neighbors, and reject Him by accepting the false gods and the false religions and the pagan practices of this world. There is but one Truth and that Truth is not through Buddah, or Mohammed, or science, or reason, but through Jesus Christ.

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).

“…whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:17)

In witnessing to the world, our unwavering faith must be tempered with the love that God shows us:

“We love, because He first loved us.
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. ” (1 John 4:19-21)

 We must be steadfast, and true to the Word. Jesus Christ is our Lord, who counsels love and obedience:

“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.”
(2 John 1:6)

Jesus Christ is our Saviour, who promises our salvation if we remain in the Truth:

“…the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 1:9).

I pray that your local church, like mine , Cornerstone Baptist (see link to the right), holds to a statement of faith that reflects  a commitment to live by and uphold the Word of God, the Truth of the Gospel, the Truth of the Cross, and our faith in God’s promises:

“Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!”(Romans 5:9).

Let us join together, as the living body of Christ, His Church, to live in Christ, to be regenerated and to continually grow in Christ, and to share the Truth, the Gospel, with those around us.

Let us pray that we heed Paul’s exhortation to the church at Corinth:

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13)

 

Published in: on August 13, 2009 at 8:20 am  Comments (3)  

Welcome! About Will of God’s Blog

“I want to welcome to our church two new members, called to join us by the will of God..” 

Will- -of- -God.

“Will of God.”

My name is Will. And so, by human happenstance, I heard my new God-given name: Will of God. Very Biblical. Jacob became Israel. Saul became Paul. A new name for a new man. Amen.

At the time I found this humble beautiful church, or rather, God called me to offer myself to Him through His church, I was a new creation in Christ, having been drawn by the Father, into the loving merciful arms of His Son Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit to put away the old man, and become a new Adam. I was , without doubt, humbly, mercifully, miraculously chosen to be saved. I hadn’t asked; in fact, I didn’t know it was necessary. After all, I had been baptized as an infant
(and full triple immersion it was!) into an historical church that called itself the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” Wasn’t my membership card valid everywhere? Even Heaven? Let’s leave that for another time…

The point is…I’m starting a blog. Thanks for reading this far (anybody out there?). I was a cradle Orthodox (Big ‘O’) Christian, from Brooklyn, who somehow was led to Texas to get the message that God loves me and that He numbered me among the saved. Praise be to Jesus Christ forever and ever.

Saved? Me?
Worthy? Positively not!
Wretched? Absolutely !
Grateful? Eternally!

Here’s my blogosophy:

I blog to share the Gospel, the Good News, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).

I blog to declare that, for those foreordained, salvation is assured and cannot be lost. “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9)

It is accomplished through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and demands from us a response. Not works, for works cannot earn us any credit toward salvation, but a response from the heart to God’s grace. Salvation is far more than an altar call, or a recitation of mere words. Salvation requires faith and true repentance, a complete change of the heart, and a turning away from sin. “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’”(Luke 3:8)

I blog to affirm that our regeneration and sanctification are not of our own doing, but a gift of God, and represent not a closing event, but a new chapter in our lives. Our repentance is but the starting point for our lifelong process of sanctification. As Jesus prayed : “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” (John 17:18)

I blog to share and receive encouragement through the fruits that are brought forth by those who love and obey and seek to know God. “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:10)

I blog to open a forum for those who are misled by the false religions of our age, both those who worship false gods, and those who have twisted the Gospel and put man and self as the focus of our attention rather than the triune God of the Bible: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I blog to give glory, honor and worship that is due our Creator. I give thanks to God for allowing us the freedom to believe in Him openly, to proclaim our faith without fear of persecution. I ask His guidance, strength, and wisdom to adhere to His Word, to discern the truth, and to show love as He loves us. “… if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:11)

In my first at bat in the world, I was a high school football coach. A big day for every athlete is the day you make the team and get your uniform. Here I stand, an athlete for Christ. God has saved me, put my name on His team roster, and handed me my uniform. I’m on His team!
Now the new creation begins. Like a good team player, I dedicate myself to growing in my role as God ordains, obeying His rules, learning from my teammates, helping them when I can. I will wear my uniform proudly. I ask God’s help in explaining my uniform to prospective team members. When it is cheered I will ask humility. When it is soiled I will ask God’s mercy and grace to make it spotless. When it is mocked I will ask God to give me patience and courage.

I open this blog and ask God’s blessing to bear fruit and bring glory and honor to Him, through the grace of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and in the communion of the Holy Spirit.

Published in: on August 12, 2009 at 1:00 pm  Comments (6)  

The Proper Posture of Corporate Prayer

As a new congregant, I stand amidst my loving, nurturing Bible-focused, reformed evangelical (old school non-emergent)church deep in the heart of Texas. The associate pastor welcomes the faithful and visitors to our worship gathering. He jubilantly proclaims that we are “perfectly okay” with whatever outward physical form of prayer, praise, worship, supplication makes one comfortable. If the Spirit of God moves you to “spin around in your chair, go ahead and spin for the Lord.” 

New to this whole evangelical scene, I ponder this exhortation. The pastor alludes to various  postures and actions of the church body in worship and prayer: hands raised aloft toward Heaven, hands clapping fervently, joyous head-bobbing, mouths proclaiming “amen” and “Thank you Jesus,” loud singing. Wow! Since I insist on taking a place in the very front of the church–actually the second row since my wife considers the front row too bold and exposed– I hardly see what my brothers and sisters are doing. I, being an old traditionalist church stick-in -the-mud, hardly do anything at all during worship. I slightly rock on my feet as the wonderful contemporary worship music plays, I rest my hands on the chair in front of me (my wife is right–we do need a barrier!) and tap my fingers lightly.  I pretend to sing, but my shockingly dissonant voice keeps me from overcommitting to the Lord in that area. During prayer and teaching, I often hold my wife’s hand. That’s the full extent of my worship gymnastics.

Now I’ve started to notice my brothers and sisters behind and to the side of me. It’s not quite the synchronous choreography I see on TV of those megachurch gospel choirs  , but they  are, in their own little ways, moving and shaking over there! Wide arm-swinging clapping, side-to-side dance steps reflecting the upbeat flow of the worship music. Arms are outstretched and calls to the Lord resound. What am I doing? Tapping my fingers and shifting my weight deliberatelyfrom right to left foot!

My conclusion:

1. I am missing something

2. I am a fuddy-duddy

3. I look like a church dork

4. I appear to not really be into the whole church thing

So my question is: what should I do? How can I loosen up? Do I need to? Am I compromising my worship by being so stiff? I grew up in Brooklyn, and I know well the Jewish Hasidism have a centuries-old traditon of dancing and joyously proclaiming their Talmudic faith. The men dancing arm in arm in great circles, beards flowing, mouths beaming smiles to heaven. They look joyous even dressed in the blandest 17th century black garb.

And me? Now I am surrounded by fellow saints who openly reflect the joy of their salvation. Am I actually at heart some ultraconservative puritan who disdains outward bursts of joy in God’s presence? Deep down do I believe  music and dancing are the devil’s tools? 

Like Martin Luther do I seek to constantly beat back the devil and therefore maintain a seriousness of purpose in worship?

Or do I merely fear that my own physical expression of joy will come up short in men’s eyes. Will a “white man’s overbite”  or other quirk emerge and reveal me for what I am–out of place, uncomfortable, an outsider? 

Should I be concerned about my prayer posture? What suggestions can you offer? How can I find my personal rhythm in God’s house? Or should I just forgot about all this and realize that I am just a Monk (TV Monk), probably neurotic and way too self-conscious for my own good??

Published in: on August 12, 2009 at 12:57 pm  Comments (6)