Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

AND THEY KNOW

Part 4

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is

 that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father,

 and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” – John 14:21

      If you’re reading this, you’re obviously “still here.” The question is, for what purpose? We all have our lifestyles, involvements, responsibilities, challenges, ideas, plans and so forth, but what is the Lord’s purpose for our lives? It’s been my observation and experience through the years that the main focus for most people is to pursue, find and secure “happiness” at any cost. People in their younger years, when they think they “know it all,” pursue personal “happiness” with gusto. (And I was one of them.) In such a state, it’s easy for an ungrounded Christian to overlook Scriptural warnings and admonitions, while falling back on the mantra “God loves you.” It’s natural to assume if God loves you, then He surely must want you to be happy. The strong faith of our Christian forefathers and mothers along with their examples and dedicated obedience to God and His Word have long ago been forsaken, and relegated to the dust bins of church history.

       For others around the world who suffer under totalitarianism and poverty, their daily struggle isn’t about being “happy,” but is instead a serious preoccupation with merely trying to survive. Then, on the other end of the spectrum, are the satanic, globalist “elites” and super rich who have “set their nest on high” and whose evil goal and agenda is to control and destroy the rest of us. In the midst of it all this there are those self-sacrificing souls, both saved and unsaved, who consider it their duty and highest calling to give their lives fighting for their country and for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Such men and women are willing to fight for their family and country, as well as for the children of the world. Except for the satanists, of course, many people who name the name of Christ can be found in any of the above-mentioned groups.  

      God has us here to fulfill His will and plan for our lives which may, or may not include abundant financial blessings. However, because of the failure of compromising churches that have disobeyed Jesus and failed to make disciples of Christ, multitudes of deluded “Christ professing” church-goers are no different than the world in their love for money, incessant pursuit of “things” and “fun, fun, fun.” It doesn’t take a lot of discernment to know who they are because their testimony is non-existent, or weak at best; their conversations always center on themselves—how they feel, what they get excited about, where their main interests are, and what they want—rather than on the things of God. In other words, their hearts belong to the world, and not to Christ. Such souls are as salt that has lost its savor, and lamps that give no light. Jesus warned, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” Matthew 7:21. The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:19, Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (Moral deviation.)

      Even though, as Christians we are as yet imperfect human beings in this world who all “have our moments” of frustration, irritation, challenges and problems which can cloud our attitudes, the key is, if Jesus is truly Lord of our lives, we don’t keep “riding that horse” as a matter of course, but instead maintain our walk under His yoke while guarding our hearts against any covetousness, yearning, longing or overwhelming attractions towards what this present world has to offer. After all, we are here as Ambassadors for Christ who have the authority in the mighty name of Jesus to resist Satan’s temptations, quoting Jesus who said, “Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve” Luke 4:8.   

      Outright disobedience (planned rebellion), no matter how small or insignificant it may be in one’s mind, should never come down to breaking the moral Law (such as stealing, adultery, covetousness, etc.). Furthermore, and much to its shame, the visible church of today is guilty of committing sins of omission which are a sign of selfishness, complacency, and indifference (lack of love). And the world knows it and is quick to point out hypocrisy when they see it.

       If we love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and others as ourselves, then walking in obedience becomes natural. It is not what we do, it is what we are, and this is the state in which God can meet us and begin to build godly character in us which is witnessed by the world so that “they know” we belong to the Lord. After all, we are here to bring glory to the Father, not to ourselves. This can only take place as we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and obey Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

      What does it mean to be a “living sacrifice”? Oswald Chambers put it this way: “’Genesis 22:9 Abraham built an altar…; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar…’ This event is a picture of the mistake we make in thinking that the ultimate God wants of us is the sacrifice of death. What God wants is the sacrifice through death which enables us to do what Jesus did, that is, sacrifice our lives. Not— ‘Lord, I am ready to go with You…to death’ (Luke 22:33). But— ‘I am willing to be identified with Your death so that I may sacrifice my life to God.’ We seem to think that God wants us to give up things! God purified Abraham from this error, and the same process is at work in our lives. God never tells us to give up things just for the sake of giving them up, but He tells us to give them up for the sake of the only thing worth having, namely, life with Himself. It is a matter of loosening the bands that hold back our lives. Those bands are loosened immediately by identification with the death of Jesus. Then we enter into a relationship with God whereby we may sacrifice our lives to Him. It is of no value to God to give Him your life for death. He wants you to be a ‘living sacrifice’— to let Him have all your strengths that have been saved and sanctified through Jesus (Romans 12:1). This is what is acceptable to God.”

      Like noxious weeds, deadly heretical teachings have subtly crept into the mainstream Christian churches through the centuries—unscriptural teachings whose bitter fruits are in full bloom today. Such teachings and “traditions of men” are based on man’s faulty conclusions, uninspired ideas, self-serving opinions, gross ignorance of Scripture and how to “rightly divide” it. Could this be the end days’ “falling away?” The apostate and Laodicean church? After all, what passes for “houses of worship” all over the land is basically social clubs where physical food is more exciting than our risen Lord, more to be desired than the presence of the Holy Spirit, and more satisfying than seeing souls saved.

      It is no secret that the sleepy churches have become musty tombs where people are dulled down with mind-numbing repetitious reminders such as, for example, “repent” merely means to “change your mind” so therefore, obedience isn’t necessary to be saved. Others are hammering out Calvin’s heretical teaching that we are the “elect” and therefore we are “predestinated” to be saved, so no matter how a person lives, they’re “saved.” Some insist that, even though they may call Jesus “Lord,” obedience isn’t necessary because that is considered to be unnecessary “works.” And to top it all off are the theories that either the church will take over the world before the return of Christ, or that the church will be removed from global tribulation in the end days; therefore, a careful study of Scriptural prophecies, or the necessity of spiritual preparation to overcome through obedience, is unnecessary, so just “pay your tithe” (another false teaching for the church) and go back to sleep. These are all reminders of what Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye” Mark 7:13.

      Paul warned the Philippian church “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” Philippians 2:12. And, consider what the Apostle John wrote, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” 1 John 5:3. The Apostle Peter, too, concerning the Christian’s duty to obey said, “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” 1 Peter 1:14-16. 1 Samuel 15:22 tell us, “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” [Underlining added.]

      Let us not neglect the Lord’s admonition through James: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:17-26.) And may I say this: churches without works and obedience are dead churches! No wonder the Bible says “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God” 1 Peter 4:17?

      Concerning obedience, A. W. Tozer said,“The truth is that faith and obedience are two sides of the same coin and are always found together in the Scriptures. As well try to pry apart the two sides of a half-dollar as to separate obedience from faith. The two sides, while they remain together and are taken as one, represent good sound currency and constitute legal tender everywhere in the United States. Separate them and they are valueless. Insistence upon honoring but one side of the faith-obedience coin has wrought frightful harm in religious circles. Faith has been made everything and obedience nothing. The result among religious persons is moral weakness, spiritual blindness and a slow but constant drift away from New Testament Christianity.

      “Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.  Our Lord made it very plain that spiritual truth cannot be understood until the heart has made a full committal to it. “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own” (John 7:17). The willing and the doing (or at least the willingness to do) come before the knowing. Truth is a strict master and demands obedience before it will unveil its riches to the seeking soul.

      “For those who want chapter and verse here are a few, and there are plenty more: Matthew 7:21; John 14:21; First John 2:4, 3:24, 5:2; First Peter 1:2; James 2:14-26; Romans 1:5; and Acts 5:32. To sum it up, saving faith is impossible without willing obedience. To try to have one without the other is to be not a Christian, but a student of Christianity merely. Genuine faith generates obedience to the one in whom our faith rests.”

      Thus, the bottom line is if a man or woman is truly born again of the Spirit of God, converted to righteousness, and firmly established upon the Rock of our salvation, then that man or woman will walk in obedience and be blessed, for Revelation 22:14 says, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” I don’t know about you, but I long with all my heart to obtain this blessed right to the tree of life, to be able to enter in through those heavenly gates to the city of God.

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The Goal of Gentle Shepherd Ministries is to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and to make disciples in compliance with the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19).

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