Bible Lesson 153

“Living like Christ in a world that lives like Satan”. Matthew 5:38-48

“Life is a hard fight, a struggle, a wrestling with the principle of evil, hand to hand, foot to foot. Every inch of the way is disputed. The night is given us to take breath, to pray, to drink deep at the fountain of power. The day, to use the strength which has been given us, to go forth to work with it till the evening”.
Florence Nightingale

This question has been predominate with mankind, since Genesis chapter one and verse one. It has been asked by kings and peons alike, and never really answered in most cases. What is life, why am I here, what is my purpose, and where did I come from. Who am I, has also been the refrain of children and men alike, as people begin to consider life and it’s purposes.

Life is not hard to understand and accept, unless you do not want to know the answer; because if we really understand our lives and see how fortunate we are to have been born, we are bound to follow life, as it has been experienced from day one of creation. Our subject today is not hard to deal with except, it requires us to search for our answers in the book that was given to us, by the source of all life. Our search will take us for the most part on a trip through God’s Word, the Bible, as we find our answers clearly outlined by the Creator.

What ever we want to think about life, either good or bad, we must deal with the giver of life. To even ask the question we must be alive and conscious with certain abilities, so what we know from past history is that life has a beginning, a duration, and a purpose. Life also has an end and there is a reward at the end of life. What we have to understand is that life is what it is, and we discern some of the answers by examining our own lives. For instance, I know for a fact that I was born on September the twenty-first, nineteen thirty-one.

I know that I had a mother and a father; and a brother and two sisters, all younger than myself. Since I was born during the depression of the thirties, I know for a fact that life is not always a party; but even the bad times are good. I found out early that there were things we should not do and things that we must do. I found also that if we do the things we should not do that we were part of the problem and not part of the solution.

As I grew, I came to discover that there is a Creator God who works His eternal plan out in the lives of everyone of us. For those who believe and place their faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and His substitution on the cross for those who would obey Him. God works to bring them into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). God has promised a universal judgment to bring those who do not have believing and obeying faith, to judgment for their lives.

There are eternal rewards that will be administered upon that judgment. For those who were called by God, justified, sanctified and reborn in salvation, the reward is, heaven for eternity; but for those who neglected that great salvation, the reward is hell and torment for eternity.
Our Grandfather Adam, was the first man to experience life, as we know it on the earth, and we know that; because God gave Him life by first forming him as a man, from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and Adam became a living being. (Genesis 2:7). Adam, before God breathed life into him, was like we all are at our birth, since the fall in the Garden of Eden. He was formed like a man, but He had nothing yet, that could and would relate to God on a Spiritual level.

After God breathed life into Adam, Adam became a spiritual being, capable of knowing God and communing with God; but because He disobeyed God and fell into sin, God separated himself, spiritually and physically, from His creature. Adam was our progenitor, and because he sinned, his sin passed down to all of us, so we are born now, with Adam’s nature of rebellion, and we are dead in trespass and sin just as Adam was, before God breathed life into him. Adam, after God formed Him from the dust of the ground, was incomplete, dead in a sense, since he did not come up to the status that God created him to be. Adam in his state was dead, incomplete, not worthy of God’s association, until God breathed the breath of life into him. I would ask, that you keep that in mind as we progress through this lesson, since it perfectly describes our condition without God.

We look like we are alive, but unless and until God takes us back and, breathes Spiritual life into us, we are not acceptable to God. God speaks to us through the Apostle Paul and says, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sin.” Who was Paul writing those inspired words of God to? He was speaking to the same people that he called saints in Ephesians 1:1. They had been, just as you and I were, until God saved us; dead in trespasses and sin, unable to connect to the Righteous One. With that said, we can safely say that the source of all life, human, animal, plant, etc, is Jehovah God, the God that reveals Himself in His Word the Bible. Everyone who has read the New Testament knows that there is eternal life ahead for everyone that has ever been born. That means that though our physical body will die and go back to dust, we have an eternity of life as a Spiritual person in heaven with God.

Now our duty while here on the earth is to find and claim that eternal life and the only way we can do that is to renounce our sinfulness, turn to follow and obey God through His Son Jesus Christ, and live in obedience to His Word, the Bible. The Bible shows us the way to eternal life, and Jesus Christ taught this while He walked with us on this earth when He said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death unto life”. (John 5:24).

Those words were spoken by Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the One and Only Son of God, God in the flesh, who walked with us for a time here on the earth before He volunteered to be the sacrifice for those who would, believe and obey, all that He has commanded. When Jesus said that those who ‘hear His word and believe in Him who sent Me,’ He meant believe in the Biblical sense of the world believe. So what does the Bible mean when it says believe? It means to know for certain, to the degree that we obey what we know. The Greek Word for believe comes from the word ‘Pistis’, and it means belief, faith, obedience, agreement, to be persuaded of, trust, and yield; so, we must believe in God to the point that we are persuaded that He is worthy of our trust, and we yield ourselves, and commit ourselves, without hesitation or reservation, to Him and obey Him. Then and only then does anyone have the blessed eternal life that will be spent in heaven, worshiping and serving God. Now this would be a good time to warn some who like to believe that they can refuse to surrender to God here on the earth; that they will have no opportunity to gain heaven if they do not serve God and obey Him on this earth.

Our only opportunity to gain heaven and escape hell, is while we live here on the earth, so we must use this time to prove ourselves worthy of heaven. Before we leave that, let me remind you that you will never gain eternal life by accident, or by not deciding about it, for to do nothing is to decide not to do it. Gaining eternal life carries with it the unrelenting desire to know the author of life, and the person who gains it will be, he who knocks, seeks, and asks.

We asked the question earlier about ‘What is Life”, and we will ask God to answer that for us as we seek His answers in His inerrant Word, the Bible. First let’s look at the epistle of James chapter 4 and verse 14, and we find the half brother of Jesus asking that very question, “What is your life”. life is simple yet complicated, and we have to go with the givens of the Bible. First, we know that we are born, of the flesh, and the Bible tells us that, that birth brings us to the place that we either are born again, or are eternally condemned. (John 3:6). That scripture holds out the event of another birth, referred to as the New Birth, or being born again (of the Spirit). Just as God formed man from the dust of the earth, and made him a creature, God also breathed the breath of life into him making him Spiritually alive, so we are creatures at birth and require the work of God in order to gain eternal life. When do we begin to live eternally, is it at the time of our salvation or when we die? Well, according to the Word of God, we begin our eternal life at the moment of our salvation. (John 12:25; 1st John 5:11-13; John 10:27-30). This was not something that was determined at the cross. The cross was what it took for God to be just in extending His Grace and Mercy toward any of us. The Bible speaks of God’s eternal plan to elect and save a people to be given to Christ. (Ephesians 1:1-11; Ephesians 3:8-13; John 17:1-26).

In God’s eternal plan, the Cross was predestined, the Bible and all of the law had been predestined, and your salvation, if you are ever to be saved, was predestined. God did not institute a ‘crap-shoot’ or establish any potentials which we as mere creatures could complete and be saved. The beauty of God’s plan is that God did not put a mark on those who would be saved or those who would be passed by. The proof now is in the pudding, and only as we see people confess, repent, be baptized, and live a godly life, can we know whether they are saved or not. The truth is that God knows and no one else knows, or can know except by observation. Even observation can be kind of hard, unless you live closely with the person you are observing. As Jesus Christ, the Savior, the Lamb of God, who hung on the cross and died for the sins of those who would obey, said in His High Priestly prayer, “Sanctify them by Your truth, Your word is truth.” John 17:17. That means we must believe and obey all that we know that God has commanded. We are sanctified by God’s truth, and that truth is contained and stated only in the Bible. Sanctified means ‘set apart’ for God’s use. Now, are you sanctified?

Are you set apart for the purpose of God and are you doing what He has commanded you? In the final analysis Truth is identified by the lifestyle of God’s children. We cannot simply run the word truth up the flagpole and see who salutes it. We have to have ground rules and the Bible provides those ground rules. First it tells us about God, and we find God, in Genesis 1:1, as the creator of all things. Our Creator is a God of Grace, and Mercy, Love and long-suffering and we must demonstrate as many of the attributes of God as He will allow. First He speaks to us through the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:1 and tells us to be followers, or imitators of God. That my friends is a big order but it is easy for the true Christian who truly believes the truth and that is that this new creature, in Christ, is able to do that (Ephesians 2:10; 2nd Corinthians 5:17; Philippians 4:13). What does the Christian do to imitate God? Well, first they will be gracious, and loving and helpful, and compassionate, because God is all of that. Understand me now, I am not saying that we can ever come up to God in that, but we can certainly manifest some degree of all of those attributes if we truly follow God.

We have been taught or led in some way to disbelieve the clear truths of the Word of God; because the Word says that we were called to be saints (Romans 1:7) and we have preferred the title of sinner. Was God a sinner? We dare not believe even a hint of that, but if you are aware of what church members all over the globe are professing, it is, that they are sinners. What a sad commentary on the visible church or the institution that is supposed to represent the true church. You may ask, what the true church is, and the answer is that it consists of those who have been called, justified, sanctified, born again and faithful to Christ, people. Those and those alone, are members of the true church, most of those who have joined denominational or non-denominational groups, have failed to meet the standards for Christian. Now, I’m sure that some who read that will be offended, and will want to cast these truths away, but that just illustrates how people have been led astray. I can do nothing and have done nothing except tell you the truth about what God does in Salvation and you are offended by it, but that is God’s Word and if you are saved anyway other than by God, then you are unsaved and under the wrath of God.

It is not easy to live the way Christians live; because, they have given up the world and it’s phony ways and now live like Christ. For that reason, they appear hateful to sinners, and appear like something is wrong with people who do not know Christ and live like Him. That is exactly the reason God has truly saved a few, and left the others to their own devices. Now, feel free to gross, snort, grumble, curse, and blow smoke out of your ears, but it won’t change one jot or tittle of God’s Word. You may even desire to miss hell, but you are so entangled with Satan and the world, that you just cannot let it go. That means that you simply want some fire insurance and God isn’t in that business. When you finally realize that you are sick, and your disease is sin, and you are sick of sin, and you realize that your life up to this point, has been misspent: and you are ready to die to all of that and submit to God’s truths, then and only then do you have any chance of being truly saved. God hates sin, and unless we hate sin also, we would not be happy in heaven and would ask for a transfer to hell on the first day.

My question is this?.how in the world did we ever allow the visible church to become so unbiblical, so unholy, so sinful? The truth goes two ways, first Satan managed to corrupt the pulpits, and they corrupted the pews. Now, in our society it seems sinful to mention sin, at least in anyway that would paint a face on it, and accuse anyone in the congregation of being guilty. Most churches in our day have become so secularly oriented that we have substituted a sort of ethics and personal morality for true Christianity. We do not do what we do because of our love and allegiance to God; but rather we are pretenders, and we pretend that we are worshiping God as we worship our own ideas of what we think God ought to approve of and accept as worship. We have set our goals as doing something, anything, that we think God will see as our worthiness to gain His salvation. What we have forgotten is that God requires nothing from us in salvation. God saves those that He saves by Grace through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Of course once we have been saved by Grace, there is much required of us; however nothing except that which God has predestined, and empowered us to accomplish. If we stop and think about it, we are for the most part, Pharisees, and we believe that if we clean the outside of the cup that God won’t look inside, but God see all things and He is aware that we are hypocrites, and God rejects that kind of worship. We as ministers are guilty of taking the easy road or the low road to teach our congregations about the Glory of God, versus the utter depravity of sin. We like to have four points and a poem that will keep sin at a distance (objective) so we preach about the sin of people that were little known in the Bible, and we never focus the beam of our preaching on those who sit in the congregation. It has been said by another preacher that we tend to water down our sermon truths, so that we will not run off anyone in the congregation, but in so doing we run the Holy Spirit away from our church with half-truths and outright lies.

This did not begin yesterday or last week, it has been going on for many decades and when the truth is preached in many congregations today it sounds like a lie to those who hear it. We seem to want to tell people that salvation is by grace, but we say it in a way that allows them to think that God grace will be given at the expense of His holiness, or His justice. We have used the preached love of God to draw many church-members who are sometimes anchors to the congregation, since they do not understand (at least at the heart level) the scriptures. God’s love is like God’s Grace and God’s salvation, God’s alone. We have no authority to paint God’s love over sin and disobedience. We must come back to the point that really understand that salvation is free; but that it must be received in hands that are empty. A sinner has nothing, actually less than nothing that he can bring to God and in some way become worthy of salvation. I believe it was A.W. Pink that said, “No man will ever know the love of God, until He has dealt with God’s wrath against His sin.”

For those who like to think that they have been so ‘good’ that they were never under God’s wrath, we have to preach to convince them that they have always been sinners and under the wrath of God. We need to teach people the truth that says “Anything that is not of faith, is sin”. (Romans 14:23). That means that everyone is born with a rebellious nature and we live at war, so to speak, with God. We may never have openly declared war on God but our unsanctified minds made us terrorist as far as God was concerned, and we were all under God’s wrath, everything that we did was a sin, regardless of how good it may have looked to those around us. (Ephesians 2:1-10). We like to make it easy for people to profess Christ and join our congregations, and that presents a problem for us and them. Let’s look for a moment at how we go about preaching to congregations.

We love to tell them that Christ paid it all, and that there is nothing for us to do in order to be saved. Well, Christ did pay it all but there are things that must bring us full circle to God, and remember this is not something that we do to be saved. It is something that we do if we are being saved, or before salvation begins. Remember the parable of the prodigal son back there in Luke 15:11-24, about how the prodigal son asked for his inheritance and left home and spent all he had on riotous living. He then had no friends and so ended up in a hog pen, eating the husks of corn that had been fed to the pigs. What happened to him? The account tells us that he ‘came to himself’, owned his sin and ran back to his father and admitted his sin, and was received back into the fold. That has to happen or at least some version of that must happen before we are saved.

Before he filled his belly with the husk fed to the hogs and went to the very bottom of existence, when he had nothing but his father to save him, he realized his condition, repented of what he had done, and went and found his father where he had always been?there for him. A convert that has not come to the end of self, and tried everyway that he knew, to escape, had sunk to the bottom and had to look up, and cry out to God for help, has not really been saved. That does not cause our salvation but it puts us under the spout where the glory comes out, so to speak. I sometimes wonder how many days the old prodigal son lay with the hogs and was hungry and needed a friend, and a hand up, as we would say today. What about you have you ever realized that you were living in the hog pen, eating what only hogs would eat, alone and miserable? That is where repentance begins and we know that even repentance is from God, and God being Sovereign it only comes when He know the sinner is ready for it. God does not make any mistakes. Everything He does is perfect so God has to be in charge of all salvations.

If we as ministers of God’s Word would do what we are supposed to do, and that is, set a standard for Christian behavior, and preach the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, every time we mount the pulpit?and then back up and see if God is ready to work in any soul. If God begins a work we keep our hands and our noses out of and allow true repentance to take all the time God wants it to take. We have trouble with that because we are tied to a minute by minute schedule of service that allows no time for God to work. Let’s all agree that we need to find God again and then “Study to show ourselves approve of God a workman who needeth not to be afraid, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2nd Timothy 2:15).

Until next time,

may God bless and keep you

This is Bro. Bob