“Sheep & Goats” February 10

 

Sheep & Goats: Which one are you? - Sheep and goats: our churches are full of both. On the outside they often look the same, but one day, the “Heart-Knower” will separate the two. The sheep to everlasting glory. The goats to everlasting punishment. We will all live forever—somewhere! Do you know for certain where you will spend eternity?Sheep and goats: our churches are full of both. On the outside they often look the same, but one day, the “Heart-Knower” will separate the two. The sheep to everlasting glory. The goats to everlasting punishment.

We will all live forever—somewhere! Do you know for certain where you will spend eternity? And what about other people you know? Are there some who profess to be Christians, yet whose lives haven’t changed?

 

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 31 & 32
Psalm 21.1-7
Proverbs 7.24-27
Matthew 25.31-46

 

Sheep & Goats

 

Matthew 25.31-46

The “Heart-Knower” Will Separate the Two

 

32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:

Sheep and goats: our churches are full of both. On the outside they often look the same, but Jesus said they’re not.

Last month when we read through the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matt. 5, 6 & 7), we talked about 7.21-23:

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Notice in verse 22, “Many will say …” Yet, these people were doing “Christian” things. They were sitting in our pews, part of our small groups, serving in ministry … but Jesus will say, “I never knew you …”

How is it possible that people can sit in churches week after week, attend Bible studies, even serve in ministry and not know God? How would we know if that’s us? And, if we want to truly love and serve others, are there red flags that we should look for in their lives?

Lest you think, I’m talking about becoming overly focused on what others are doing or doing it in a harsh or unloving way, please hear me out. But, too often, we’ve been taught that we are never to judge others based on Matthew 7.1. Certainly, we have to be careful. We can’t know anyone else’s heart. We barely know our own (Jer. 17.9).

But in Luke 6 Jesus also said:

43 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

You can’t read the gospels and Jesus’ interactions with the Scribes and Pharisees without realizing this “good fruit” isn’t so much outward or religious acts in themselves. The good fruit talked about here must come from a changed heart.

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things (Matt. 12.35).

A person with a changed heart will sometimes fall short. As Christians we sin, sometimes in grievous ways. But, as genuine believers, we should be convicted when confronted with the truth about sin (1 Jn. 3.9-10).  As new creations in Christ, we should have a desire for God’s Word and to live in ways that are pleasing to Him (2 Cor. 5.9). And there will be fruit, in varying degrees, but a changed heart produces changed desires and a changed life.

 

The Dilemma

 

So, we have a dilemma. First, is it even loving to look at the fruit in someone else’s life? Some would say, “no.” And, if we can’t know someone else’s heart, what would we judge when looking for “good fruit”?

Let me address the question of whether or not it’s loving.  Continue reading

“Do you think you are saved?” December 7

 

Do you think you're saved? - “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” (Matthew 7.21-23, NLT). Strong words! What did Jesus mean? How can we know that we won't hear those terrible words, "I never knew you"?

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” (Matthew 7.21-23, NLT).

Strong words! What did Jesus mean? How can we know that we won’t hear those terrible words, “I never knew you”?

 

Today’s Readings:
Hosea 5 & 6
Psalm 139.1-6
Proverbs 29.19
1 John 5.1-21

 

Do you think you are saved?

 

1 John 5.1-21:

Assurance of Salvation

 

praise worship

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (v. 13).

God used the Apostle John to write the gospel of John so that, “… you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jn. 20.31). Then in 1 John He inspired him to write so that believers might have assurance of their salvation.

He wants us to be confident that we have eternal life! But eternal life is not just a reality when we die, we can have eternal life now, because eternal life is in a person—the person of Jesus Christ!

“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (v. 11).

If you are “in Christ” and He is “in you,” you have eternal life.

 

Believe you are saved?

 

Do you believe you are saved? On what do you base that belief?

Have you placed all your faith and trust in Christ and Christ alone? Or do you believe that your salvation rests on something you do? Do you understand that you could do nothing to save yourself (not baptism, not sacraments, not being good enough)?

“…while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5.8).

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 (Eph. 2.8-9).

We’re saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

But in Matthew 7 Jesus warned us that there will be many people who think they’re saved, but aren’t:

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” (Matthew 7.21-23, NLT).

Was Jesus contradicting other passages that say we’re saved by grace through faith? No, the “doing the will of my Father” is grace-powered and love-driven obedience. It’s the kind of obedience that flows from genuine heart change. It’s the fruit of our salvation.

But He was driving home the point that “good works,” even religious looking good works can’t save us. Only knowing Him personally, having an intimate relationship with Him by acknowledging that we’re sinners who can do nothing to save ourselves and by putting our faith and trust in what He did for us on the cross can save us.  Continue reading