Sunday, April 24, 2005
More thoughts on Growth
John 3:13. No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man. 14. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15. That everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. 16. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
How often we quote out of memory John 3: 16.... It is a great verse.... Yet, do we really catch what is being said here? Starting at verse 13: 13. No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man. Do you realize NO ONE has ever been into Heaven.... Except Jesus.... That is why in Hebrews Chapter 4 it says:
14. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. 16. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Since Jesus has entered Heaven, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
When we profess our faith, God can begin His work.
I see it that when we are face to face with our sin, or our true self, the fact we need God, we must make a choice. consciously or not, to trust in Jesus or our own works. Vs. John 3: 13, reminds us that even though God gave the Law, the perfect way to please God,no one entered Heaven.
As one begins to grow as I stated in another blog posting, the most important thing is growth this ensures our salvation. When we grow we enter first in to the conversion area. We are moving from unbelief to belief. I believe that we are not fully saved unless we move from this step. I think many are seen as professing Christians, even attend church for years, yet, never fully believe.
1 John 2:19. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
They walked and talked and seemed to be saved. One of us, but never were.
They never were fully converted. Many denominations teach an instant salvation. I believe that can happen, but I see many who are taught that who do not ever grow. And though I will not judge a person.. I believe many are deceived to think they "said a prayer", "raised their hand", "went forward", even "received the gift of tongues" even "got baptized" (spiritually or by water)yet, never grow beyond that, may fall under the judgment of being goats and not lambs. (Matthew 25:32)
A side note here, I am not against any of these things, in fact I have received the gift of tongues. I confess I do not use it probably as often as I should.
The point of conversion can be in an instant or years... I believe this is were one begins to recognize one's free will needs to be given to God, in exchange for His will. One then lives the life of Christ, or abides in Christ and is now dead to self or one's free will. I fully recognize this is contrary to much teaching out there...
but I see it clearly in scripture. We die to self, or are dead to self, and our new life is Christ's eternal life lived through us. We are dead, buried, then resurrected spiritually to new life, later this will be a physical resurrection at the return of Christ Jesus. The struggle is not accepting this and being double minded. Once we accept this we are sealed and can have eternal security.
I will cover vs. 14 in another post. Suffice it to say, the poisonous snakes that were sent to kill (representing sin) once lifted up and looked at, became the Hebrew's salvation (they were healed). This deserves a whole teaching in and of itself. The Hebrews were healed and saved from death by those who believed God and let the snake bite them, then looked toward the snake on a pole to save them so the same as the two Adams, Adam, and Jesus. One fell and One redeemed. That is why the conversion step is so important. If one sits on the fence and does not fully commit and believe, one may be facing eternity on their own. Yet, to believe is to receive eternal life!
Vs.16. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Imagine the love for us we are so unworthy, yet, because of God's love He deems us worthy, for believing in His Son! By believing we will not perish, but have eternal life. Jesus, gave us the Heavens! He opened the door for He is the door. We can go boldly into the Throne Room of God!
Another side note: I am not saying we have to have all our ducks in a row. Jesus meets us where we are. He responds to our faith. I think one can be saved, yet not believe in the trinity, virgin birth, or if Jonah was literally a person or a metaphor. God judges the heart, not our knowledge. God is patient, He will teach us by His Spirit what is Truth, if one is a seeker of Truth. Ask, Seek, Knock, and the Door will be open up to you Jesus is that Door!
Vs.17. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
I am not in the habit of watching this program, I am not even really sure what it is called. I think is is called "Blind Date". One day I saw the previews and there was a Christian who was on it. I had to watch. Usually this show is full of provocative situations, I do not recommend this show at all. This Christian named Mark, went on a date and throughout the date, preached and witnessed to the woman. All well, yet, as he did his words were so judgmental. He told her, a divorced, working mother of two boys; that she was failure in her life and she was going to hell.
Though I agreed with his one statement towards the end of the show I disagreed with his attitude and approach. He said, Without Jesus, everyone is going to hell. Of course this woman was not happy with him, the saddest things was after he said all this to her, he stood up and kissed her forhead and walked out! He literally cast stones, with his words, then, kissed her off. I was not sure if I should laugh or cry!
Jesus did not come into the world to condemn it but , to save it, yet so many Christians are so quick to cast stones with our words. I have even heard of a local church in Billings who asked an unwed mother to leave, because she had sinned! This is no joke.
Jesus will come back and He will Judge so make sure you are growing!
Vs.18. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
Again, believe. For all of us without Christ stand already condemned.
Believing is not static it is an ongoing thing. We grow in our belief.
So, in closing..the challenge for all of us that profess belief is
2 Cor 10:13. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even to you. 14. We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. 15. Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand, 16. so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in another man's territory. 17. But, "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." 18. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.