Sunday, March 24, 2019

7 Hard Truths Christians Need To Hear (Part 2) #JesusFollowers

The teachings of Jesus seem almost quaint and old fashioned to some ministers. (When was the last time his command to “Do unto others” was taught from a pulpit, not to mention “When you do Good Works!?)

They are rarely preached, and aren’t emphasized as much as later teachers’ words. Why is that? Jesus, after all, is our Master, and if we believe he is our Master, ought his teachings be the CORE and the center of our Faith in God, Who sent Jesus out to preach? 

Let’s continue to examine some hard truths that Christians seem to need to hear again:

4) Praising Jesus' name without obeying his teachings means you don't actually love him  

This Sunday, in churches around the world, the name of Jesus will be chanted and evoked as if it was a magic spell. While there is nothing wrong with thanking God for choosing Jesus as our perfect moral example in all things, and praising God Himself for our existence and the existence of this beautiful creation, if we raise our hands in PRAISE OF JESUS while in Church, we must then become the very HANDS OF JESUS when we leave the Church building. And in fact, Jesus himself clearly states that simply chanting, "Lord, Lord" but refusing to follow his teachings is not acceptable (Matt. 7:21) 

We must instead obey God, and Jesus calls us to put his teachings into practice, lest we build our houses of faith on the shifting sands of mere words, empty praise or a false assurance in our own eternal salvation. (Matt. 7:24)

His clear teachings, which call on us to perform Good Works, to seek heavenly treasures rather than earthly ones, to pray and act righteously without doing so just to be seen by others, to actively serve others, especially the poor, to turn the other cheek, to love and pray for enemies, and to go the extra mile in all that we do, HAVE NEVER BEEN CHANGED. Nor can we explain them away or minimize their importance, or allow others to do so. 

5) Righteousness and Sinfulness CANNOT be inherited.  

Jesus tells us that there is no substitute for DOING righteousness. Righteousness is always stated by Jesus as something we must DO, just as it was in all the other books of the Hebrew Bible. It cannot be inherited from another, even Jesus. Our own acts must be our own, and our own righteousness is required from us. God, through the Prophet Isaiah, tells us (1:16) "Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good." 

Ezekiel (18:20-21) says: “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die." We alone are responsible for our own sins and good deeds. 

Jesus says we are judged not by our words, not by our intentions (and certainly not by another's) but by our own ACTS and DEEDS, and them alone. God expects us to obey his moral commands, as Jesus repeated consistently.

He said that no one else would be charged with our disobedience, and no other would be responsible for our actions except ourselves. The life that Jesus calls on us to pursue in his Gospel is a life of works, action, radical love and service to others.

6) Salvation isn't "faith alone," nor our "works alone" but it's God alone who judges our worthiness for salvation.  

For centuries, clever men have enjoyed taking the words of Jesus and ripping out a phrase here and there, and proclaiming that ONLY belief in Jesus is necessary for eternal salvation. Of course, this does the words of Jesus and his Gospel a grave injustice, because it is not what he taught. In truth, belief - in Jesus' plan of repentance and righteousness, not just belief "in" him - is only a first step in our Faith, and Jesus always portrays it as such. 

Simply professing belief, without accompanying that belief with active Good Works, is worthless. (James 2:19) Jesus, in the only time he was asked explicitly how one achieves eternal life, answered, "You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'" (Mark 10:17-19) That is the Gospel message of Jesus - obedience to God's moral Law. 

But it must be said, we cannot do WORKS ALONE without Faith, because our Faith is based on the teachings and example of Jesus.

Without a faith in Jesus grounded in following his teachings, carrying his cross and holding his message in our hearts daily, we have no idea what "works" to do, nor how to do them.

Since Jesus pleased God with all he did (John 14:12) we ought to hold his example before us at all times. We must strive to enter the "narrow door" of Salvation (Luke 13:24) humbly allowing GOD ALONE to be our ONLY judge of worthiness. 

7) If we claim to follow Jesus, we give up the right to be selfish and life for ourselves.  

Jesus taught that being selfish was wrong, and to serve others - even before ourselves - is our mission here in this life. Going the extra mile, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, comforting the sick, are all simple, clear teachings of our Master. 

We are called to be servants of others, and that we will be rewarded with Heaven - closeness to God forever - if we obey God's will for our lives, which was purely exemplified by Jesus' life. 

The best way to show that we are followers of Jesus is by showing love towards, and serving, others. Jesus says we must deny our SELVES, taking up our crosses daily, and love one another, just as he loved us. (Luke 9:23; John 15:12) If we call Jesus our friend and Master, we will do all that he asks us to do. 

He calls us to love and care for others without reservation, selflessly, and in all purity.

Let's go do that!

No comments:

Post a Comment