Whenever there is a death in a family, the first thing folks will say, “Well, they are in a better place, now.” I struggle with that. Yes, I realize that it is an attempt to comfort the family and friends. But does it? If you are Bible believer, can we say things like that so flippantly? Well, if there was no evidence of a “re-birth” in their life, or if they had never publically or even privately, committed themselves in this life to the Messiah, they would not be in a better place.
I apologize if this upsets you, but we must face the reality of what the Scriptures tell us. When you die, there are only two options for where you go: heaven or hell. The Bible also makes it abundantly clear that you can determine where you go. I hope this doesn’t offend you, but it is the foundational understanding of our faith. But, as Matt Walsh recently wrote: “If you find it easy to be a Christian, you probably aren’t one . . . is our faith a fashion statement? Something we drape over ourselves for our sake, entirely artificial?” If this is true for you, then you need to make some serious decisions. And the sooner, the better.
Each of us must be willing to humble ourselves and turn to Yahweh and seek His Redemption. We must put our complete trust in Him. But just remember, we are not pursuing a religion, but rather, a relationship. Many say they read the Bible and pray from time to time, but they are confusing religion and rules with an authentic relationship with Christ.
When asked, many will say they believed in Jesus, but have never actually repented and put their trust in Him. Many believe they are a Christian because of the belief that being a “good person” is all it takes. This belief is a major distinction between religion and a relationship. Religion focuses on what we do, but a relationship with Christ focuses solely on what He has done. We are declared righteous before God when we put our trust in Christ, not in our so-called good works.
Tell me, is your life bringing you any assurance, purpose, and peace? Or, is it bringing discouragement, disappointment, and despair? Why do many leave our church services no different than when they arrived? That should not be so.
Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24a). Charles Spurgeon adds, “We cannot follow two things. If Christ be one of them, we cannot follow another.” Change in our lives will only occur when there is a strong conviction of sin and genuine repentance.
I don’t mean to discourage any of you, but rather, to encourage you. Our Creator has provided the way out of our dilemmas. All you have to do is receive His gift of Redemption. There is nothing more you have to do. It is a gift, just receive it.
Yes, we cannot ignore our God’s judgment and what will keep us from heaven, and rightly so, because “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). But that isn’t the whole story. There is also God’s goodness, love, mercy, and grace.
There is no way I can describe my love for Jesus. I wish all of us could experience such emotion and confidence. He has healed my brokenness, my insecurities, my deceptions and loneliness and restored my life, and He can do the same for you. I am not special. I have no natural talents, or outstanding value all of my own, but He found something of value and my heart is devoted to Him. I believe there is a deep longing inside all of us that cannot be satisfied until we recognize our need for a Savior and turn to Him. It is pride that will hold us back.
This morning, if you don’t feel your relationship with Christ is genuine, or if you have never repented and trusted in Him as your Lord and Savior, now is the time to take that step and fully commit. Paul presented the key in his letter to the church in Rome:
If you declare that Yeshua is Lord, and believe that God brought him back to life, you will be saved (Romans 10:9)
That is it. You don’t have to cut your hair a special way; you don’t have to grow a beard and trim it a particular style; you don’t even have to wear a shirt and tie. It is nothing extra you have to do.
This was seen in the story of a man who came to see Jesus. He scoffed his feet, paused, stared and the floor and said, “Um Master, we realize that you are a teacher who has come from God. Obviously, no one could show the signs that you show unless God were with him.”
Jesus looked at him and said, “Believe me, a man cannot even see the kingdom of God without being born again.”
The man was confused and said, “Huh? How in the world can a man who is getting old possibly be born? How can he go back into his mother’s womb and be born a second time?”
Jesus calmly explained, “I assure you, that unless a man is born from water and from spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Flesh gives birth to flesh and spirit gives birth to spirit: you must not be surprised that I told you that all of you must be born again. The wind blows where it likes, you can hear the sound of it but you have no idea where it comes from and where it goes. Nor can you tell how a man is born by the wind of the Spirit.”
Nicodemus [the man who was questing Jesus] was confused and asked, “How on earth can things like this happen?”
“Nic, you are a teacher of Israel and you do not recognize such things? I assure you that we are talking about something we really know and we are witnessing to something we have actually observed, yet men like you will not accept our evidence. Yet if I have spoken to you about things which happen on this earth and you will not believe me, what chance is there that you will believe me if I tell you about what happens in Heaven?
“No one has ever been up to Heaven except the Son of Man who came down from Heaven. The Son of Man must be lifted above the heads of men — as Moses lifted up that serpent in the desert—so that any man who believes in him may have eternal life. For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him shall not be lost, but should have eternal life. You must understand that God has not sent his Son into the world to pass sentence upon it, but to save it — through him.
“Any man who believes in him is not judged at all. It is the one who will not believe who stands already condemned because he will not believe in the character of God’s only Son. This is the judgment — that light has entered the world and men have preferred darkness to light because their deeds are evil. Anybody who does wrong hates the light and keeps away from it, for fear his deeds may be exposed. But anybody who is living by the truth will come to the light to make it plain that all he has done has been done through God.” (John 3:1-21.)
Oh, man! Give Jesus the opportunity to work in your life and He will bring peace into your life. Throw aside your pride and arrogance and call on Him! Paul advised:
“Leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead, go straight for the goal — your reward is the honor of being called by God in Christ” (Philippians 3:13-14).
Through Christ, you become a brand-new person. If you truly grab hold of this truth, it will motivate and encourage you beyond measure. Though the road ahead may be uncertain at times, the solid ground beneath will never shift.
Come on and join the family, it will be the greatest decision you have ever made!
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I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.