Ephesians 2:8-9 - For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Heavenly Father, open hearts and minds to receive and understand these words. Remove all pride and take blinders off that the message may be received graciously. You were a gentle Man, Jesus, with hard words. Penetrate hard, stubborn and rebellious hearts and minds. In Your name I pray, Jesus. Amen.
There is a misconception that IF we know with our minds that there is a God and that Jesus is His Son and that we only acknowledge Him in this way, we are Christians. I was among those with this understanding. No one was going to tell me that I needed more than that belief. I had gone to church as a child and young adult but it was not doing much for me. Besides, I knew who Jesus was and what He did for me; what more did I need?
Yes, this is a repeat of past blogs on this subject. I'm hoping each time I write it a new thought will make it's way through my fingers and more importantly, into hearts and minds.
The idea that if we know there is a God and know who Jesus is and that's all we need hinders His true intent. We are not true Christians until we have made a heart attitude change toward Him. Sound like a narrow view? It is.
Jesus said Himself that the gate is small and the road narrow that leads to life...and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:14) Look at that statement and where it comes from...first book of the New Testament, seventh chapter...mighty close to the beginning. It didn't take long to show us what is required, did it? We need to shed the misconceptions and listen to His words more clearly.
He also said that there will be those who think they are followers of Christ. "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21) There could be, and very will be, even members of the clergy who will think they've done a great work for God only to be turned away. If that can happen to them, what about us? Gives one pause...
The Bible is filled with "if" statements regarding who we truly are in Christ and who He actually calls His children. "If" may be a small word but one whose meaning is powerful. It means the difference between the small gate and narrow road which few find and the wide gate and wide road that lead to destruction. It means the difference between being saved or not, going to heaven or not. I'm not making this up.
Jesus is not a game. He is not just a passing thought. He is to be our Source, our life, our rock...and our salvation. None other. Knowing and following Jesus...you do or you don't. "If" scriptures give us a glimpse of all His promises. Here are a few:
"If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed." John 8:31
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. John 15:7
"...but [if you] drink of the water that I shall give [you] will never thirst. But the water that I shall give [you] will become in [you] a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."
If you love Me, [you will] keep My commandments. John 14:15
If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. John 13:17
If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. 2Timothy 2:12
For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:13
For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord. 1Thessalonians 3:8
And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 1Peter 3:13
There are always provisions in the scriptures. God's promises are for those who are obedient to Him. We will never be perfect, I might add. He doesn't expect that. He does expect a good, heartfelt try! And He knows the motivations of our hearts. The provisions are in these "if" statements. If we seek Him, He will... If we obey Him, He will... If we confess Him, He will... Not always easy "then" statements. Like a father sometimes has to exhibit tough love on a child, so does our Heavenly Father. It's because He loves us and wants none to perish. But it's all about our choice. Either we believe, follow, trust, obey, seek or we can choose not to.
It's not about religion or denomination. It's about a relationship with Jesus Christ. Again, we will never be perfect, but if we confess our sins...and this is an immediate confession...to the Father, right now wherever we are...He is faithful to forgive. Confession is mandatory.
We cannot say we are saved if we have not done what the Bible says is mandatory. Those things are to confess Jesus as Lord and Savior of our life, receive Him as our only means of salvation, turn from our old lifestyles because the old man has gone and the new has emerged, and then seek Him daily through prayer, song, dancing (like David did), and all you do.
One last "if" statement:
Romans 10:9-10 - If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.