The Good News
The good news is elegant. By grace, God makes righteous the ungodly. God gives us his own unchanging nature so we wonít fall again. God gives us the earth as our inheritance. And God comes to live with us. It all happens at baptism and our first communion.
God asks us to love him and love others, because when we love him we will spend time with him and he can show us the truth, and when we love others, we manifest to everyone we are his children.
You are born an infant. You are perfect but you are young. Kids can and will mess up because they are still children. You can still do what is wrong because you didnít know it was wrong. The one who is blind has no sin. That is why the Father instructs and corrects us; the Father teaches us what is right. We listen and obey our Father and grow up. We grow to maturity by being a disciple. Time with God is the variable, not how many years we have been a Christian. We learn the truth line upon line, precept upon precept, every conversation with God building on the one before. When we are mature, we look like Jesus. Jesus lives without sin forever. We do too.
Why has the church collectively, and us individually, not seen this good news before now?
I donít know. I have some thoughts as to why, but not one answer. I know Jesus said this is when we would see it, when the gospel had been preached to all nations. I know something obvious can remain hidden until God decides it is the right time for us to see and understand it. Consider this passage:
Mark 9:31 Jesus taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. 9:32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.
If the disciples couldnít see in advance the resurrection when Jesus told them it would occur, are you surprised the church didnít see everlasting life until it arrived? The gospel has been preached to all the nations so now Jesus comes. Now we see Jesus giving us everlasting life. Thatís one possible answer. God held our eyes from seeing Jesus giving us life until it was the right time.
Thereís another possible answer. It has to do with what is easy and what is hard. Believing the lie Ė we will die and go to heaven and then good things will happen Ė is easier. Everyone believes the lie. Your neighbor believes the lie. Your family believes the lie. Your pastor believes the lie. Your church believes and teaches the lie. You have to buck everyone to believe the truth. It is easier to believe the lie. And maybe, just maybe, you sort of prefer the lie over the truth.
Consider immortality. The actual reality of immortality. The price of immortality is to cease from sin. You can only be immortal if you are righteous. God is righteous and immortal. When Adam stopped being righteous, he stopped being immortal.
You have to be righteous forever. You canít tell a lie, murmur, complain, or think an evil thought about another. You have to love everyone and share your stuff and be kind, all the time. You have to be righteous and live perfect, every hour of today, and all of tomorrow, and all of the day after that Ė forever. You canít take a break from it, from being righteousness. You have to always do what is right.
Most people donít want to be that good. They want to be good most of the time, but occasionally, I just need a break from being good, from loving everyone all the time. I am tired of being the only one who does what is right. I want to be in a bad mood and be annoyed and tell a lie about what Iím doing tonight and go party with old friends who are having such a good time. I am tired of loving everyone, all the time. I am tired of being good, all the time.
The price of immortality is that you have to be righteous all the time.
Immortality doesnít sound like much fun.
With what Iíve just written, I am showing you your heart.
Deep down, the desire of your heart may be that you prefer to believe the lie. You donít want to be righteous today. You want to be righteous Ö later. You want to be immortal and righteous and with Jesus Ö tomorrow. Not today. Not yet. Part of us loves the lie, the carefree thought that we can love Jesus and continue to struggle with sin, have some fun, but repent and come back. There is a day in the future when we are in heaven when we will be fully righteous and then we will be perfect. But it isnít today. We can live our lives doing our best and all will be okay with God because Jesus has saved us. It sounds wonderful. But that is the lie. Satan knows how to make a lie sound good. Satan makes the lie sound better and more desirable than the truth. And satan uses that lie to kill us.
What does God desire? Godly offspring. Righteous kids. Right now righteous kids, not someday in the future. Jesus died to make that happen.
Do you want to be righteous? Actually righteous and immortal? Or in your heart do you really want to still be an occasional sinner? In your heart do you really want to be immortal only if you can still occasionally sin? Ponder that a moment. In your heart do you really want to be immortal only if you can still occasionally sin? Or are you ready to let sin go completely?
What is in your heart? God sees your heart very clearly. No one can hide their heart from God.
You actually have to want to be immortal. You have to want to be righteous. We are good at seeking first the kingdom of God. We forget God told us to seek first his kingdom and his righteous. We canít have his kingdom if we donít also have his righteousness.
All of scripture points to this conclusion: Sinners die. The righteous live.
Jesus says the one you should fear is not man, but God. God is the one who can send you to hell. Hell will destroy your soul and your body Ė all that makes you, you. You as a person will be destroyed in unquenchable fire.
The only way to avoid the lake of fire is to be in the Lambís book of life.
Those who are written in the Lambís book of life are the righteous.
What price would you pay to know the truth?
There is a way to separate what is truth from what is an error. Jesus says he has come to witness to the truth. Jesus will tell you what is right.
John 18:37 Pilate therefore said to him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou says that I am a king. To this end I was born, and for this cause I came into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice.
How are you going to proceed from here regarding the topics of righteousness and immortality?
Are you going to read the scriptures and have hours of conversation with God?
Are you going to gather more information about the topics from books and sermons and trust that the truth will filter to the top, and the errors will fall away, through the number of different voices you listen to?
Are you going to do both? Are you going to do neither?
What is stirring inside you and what are you considering to be your next steps, if any?
Jesus cautions, be careful what you hear.
Mark 4:24 And he said unto them, Take heed what you hear: with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. 4:25 For he that has, to him shall be given: and he that has not, from him shall be taken even that which he has.
Take heed what you hear. It means if you want to know the truth, only listen to the truth. Be careful what you hear, because you will be given more of the same kind. If you hear the truth, you will be given more truth. If you hear lies, you will be given more lies. If you hear both, you will get more of both in a jumble together.
Hearing amplifies. Hearing gives you more of the same thing. For example: You are hearing truth. So to make room for more truth, what you are not listening to gets taken away. You are not listening to lies, so lies get taken away. If you continue listening to only truth for a long enough time, there will be no lies left in you. When you are filled with the truth, you are filled with God, you are filled with light.
Satan is a liar. God is true. Satan is dark. God is light.
When you stop hearing truth and begin to hear lies, you begin to tip back the other direction. To make room for more lies, truth gets taken away. You become darker inside. What you need is to go in only one direction, toward God, by only listening to the truth.
When you are, figuratively, learning to tie your shoelaces, many Christians know the truth and can accurately teach you. We can all share the good news of repentance and baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We can all speak of Jesus being resurrected from the dead. That is the milk of scripture.
You donít get the same choice when it comes to the meat of the scriptures. Jesus becomes your only teacher. You must pay the price of being a disciple. You must spend sustained time listening only to Jesus.
Jesus warns us to beware of false prophets who come to us in sheepís clothing. He says we will know them by their fruit. They will look like good Christian teachers well versed in scripture. But if what they are teaching is producing unrighteousness, people are not ceasing to sin, if what they are teaching is producing death, people are dying, what they are teaching is a lie, not what is the truth. Jesus came to give you righteousness and life. Good teachers will produce good fruit.
Matthew 13:10 And the disciples came, and said to Jesus, Why do you speak to them in parables? 13:11 He answered and said to them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 13:12 For whosoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever has not, from him shall be taken away even that he has. 13:13 Therefore I speak to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
13:14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which said, By hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive: 13:15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
13:16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
Whose eyes can see and whose ears can hear? A discipleís.
In the dark ages before the printing press when only a few people had access to the copies of the scriptures and only a few people could read, there is at least a reason why people might not know the truth. The only reason someone today does not know the truth is a choice Ė they want something else instead.
Reading the word of God takes time. Asking Jesus questions about what he said takes time. Listening to his answers takes time. Are you willing to spend your time so you will be immortal and have unlimited time? What is the value of having life that never ends, of always having another day?
Matthew 7:13 Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in there at: 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it.
Immortality is freely given to those who want it. The cost is some time at the front end of your unlimited time. I wonder how many people will want it? I want it. God knows what you have decided, he knows what every one of us has decided. Jesus wants us to find life. Jesus tells us where to go to get it. Whoever seeks, finds. But Jesus says only a few find life. That means only a few ever seek it.
The unfolding plan of God
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Itís here. Itís time to awake to righteous and cease to sin.
The word of God judges the world, those who refuse to believe in Jesus die and return to dust.
The word of God judges the church. Jesus wars with those who teach false doctrines, who do not repent, who do not cease to sin. Jesus spews them out of his body, out of his kingdom.††
Those in his kingdom who obey Jesus live forever; are righteous, and remain on the earth.
The earth brings forth righteousness and praise.
Man goes extinct. The wicked are no more.
The old earth brought forth men who were liars, full of sin, who die and return to the dust. The new earth brings forth the sons of God who are righteous, full of the praise of God, who live forever.
Praise our God, all you his servants, and you that fear him, both small and great.
The end has come. Jesus has come.
BEING A DISCIPLE OF JESUS CHRIST