Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Eternal Consequences

All scripture references, unless otherwise noted, are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
The Apostle Paul said in 1st Timothy 1:15  "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." This is the crux of the gospel message, "...that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners..." The Bible says in Romans 3:10  "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one..." Paul goes on in the next eight verses to describe the state on mankind. We all fit in there somewhere, some worse than others. Then in Romans 3:19 the apostle concludes his description with, "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." Everyone, whether Jew or Gentile is guilty of sin before God. It makes no difference if a person's deeds are good or bad. None of us can live good enough to be saved!

It is interesting that the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 5:20,  "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." Then in Paul's testimony found in   Philippians 3:4-6 he said, "Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless." This is how I understand his statement, he lived righteously according to the Law of Moses, you couldn't put a finger on his life. He was blameless. But he recognized that his righteousness was totally insufficient to save himself.

So Paul concluded in Philippians 3:7-11, "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." He recognized what the Lord Jesus meant in Matthew 5:20, that having the righteousness even of a Pharisee was not enough to enter the kingdom of heaven. He needed a righteousness that exceeded his own. He needed the righteousness "...which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith..."

I am also reminded of the Apostle Peter's vision on the housetop in the city of Joppa.  Peter was shown a vision of the sheet let down by the four corners in which were all manner of clean and unclean animals and creeping things. Peter heard the Lord Jesus say, "Arise, Peter; slay and eat." Peter's response was, "... Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth." The Lord gently rebuked Peter by saying, "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common." Wait a second, you mean Peter had always been an observant Jew? Yes! But God had always had an eternal purpose. The Bible says in 1st Peter 1:18-21, "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;  But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God." God's eternal purpose was and is, "Christ in you, the hope of glory..." (See Colossians 1:27)

Decisions have consequences. Apostle Paul said in 1st Corinthians 6:19-20,  "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." Did you give your heart to God? Did you accept what Christ did for you at Calvary? We in the so-called free world probably don't fully comprehend the term, "ye are not your own." Do you honestly think that you can call the shots in your life if you don't belong to yourself? Consider again what Peter said in 1st Peter 1:18:19, "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;  But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot..." And Paul reiterated in 1st Corinthians 7:23, "Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men."

I want to go to heaven someday don't you? But what will it be like? Oh I know the song entitled, "Jesus Will Be What Makes It Heaven For Me," by Lanny Wolfe, and other songs like it. But what will heaven really be like? The Bible says in 1st Corinthians 2:9, "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." No doubt the Apostle was remembering the words of Isaiah 64:4 when he wrote those words. I am reminded of the song we used to sing,
     Won't it be wonderful there, 
     having no burdens to bear,
     Joyously singing with heart bells all ringing,
     Oh won't it be wonderful there!
Some have visions of mansions, some of cabins, and yet we will not know the glory of heaven till we get there. 

Decisions do have consequences. Some may think that only if I live a certain way will I be assured of heaven. But you can't live good enough to make heaven your home. Others may think that it doesn't make any difference how I live, Jesus paid for my ticket of admission to glory-land. So how should we live or does it really not make any difference? I believe we should live as close to God as is possible while never trusting in our right living. Paul was a Pharisee who as "touching the righteousness which is in the law, (was) blameless." But he did not count himself to have made it. He said in Philippians 3:13-14, "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." How you live does make a difference but how you live will not get you to heaven. 

The Apostle Paul said in Romans 8:24-25,  "For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." There is a verse if scripture found in Jeremiah 17:7 that says, "Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is." The Lord Jesus is my only hope. By God's grace I will trust in Him no matter what may come my way. (See 1st Timothy 1:1) My wife Shirley and I attended church service in Prescott Valley Sunday. The young man that preached told of his grandfather's passing. The doctor had given him morphine to relieve his suffering as he passed from this life. The doctor told the children that he would no longer communicate with them.  As the children and grandchildren were gathered around the drug induced comatose man, they put a Christian program on the TV,  he suddenly raised his hand and said Hallelujah. He was asked if he saw a couple of his loved ones who had preceded him in death. He said no. The children then asked him what did he see? His response was "angels, I see angels. Pay the price, it's worth it. Keep living for God." Then he passed on. My friend, it will be worth it to stay true to the Lord Jesus. The Apostle Paul said in 1st Corinthians 15:19,  "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." There is nothing this world has to offer that will ever compare to the glory of heaven.

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