IV. Knowing Jesus
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
“……..I never knew you, Depart from me, ye that work iniquity……”
Matthew 7: 23
1 Corinthians 2:2
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
One of the first questions you must ask yourself is do you really know the Lord as He is or do you know Him as many teachers and preachers have presented Him to you? If God would have me share anything of Him, He would first let it become my scriptural experience, for if all I can share with you are my opinions and my interpretation of His word, I might as well be a banging gong–I must know and experience Him to effectively share Him, and you must too. We must have personal witness to the inspiration of Scripture–it must become our living reality; It is this experience of Him that is the sheer evidence of faith; the faith that He gives me becomes mine through the experience He gives when I do what He tells me to do–Abraham went out not knowing where he was going, but he went with nothing but God’s word and God as his guide; it is this experience that moves faith from the head to the heart, and there it must rule and reign in order for obedience to become reality and experience ; thus my life then proves my faith, because I come to know Him through the grace to obey Him; and I come to know Him for myself–it is no longer what man has taught, but it is what the Spirit of God reveals to me about Jesus, that sustains my hunger and thirst; I hunger and thirst not for His presence or His gifts, but for Him. What I walk and what I teach must become one, for I must be the same before men as before God. My faith rules my experience–faith is never based upon experience, faith is based on Jesus and Him only, but faith will spring from the experience and walk He gives. I need to know Jesus to effectively share Him with you, for I must share what I know to be true, not only because I have read it, but because, by grace, I have lived it. My sin has been revealed to me, as has the Sacrifice for that sin; I choose to obey, confess and repent and move on to seek His face– the one consuming goal of my life; and by grace, Jesus imparts faith to me and the simplicity of living the gospel becomes His gift to me.
Faith is not me mustering enough of what I perceive to be belief, so that God will do what I want Him to; Faith is knowing, accepting, and trusting that the revealed will of God is the very best answer for any situation or person, though it may seem totally contrary; People are consistently inquiring as to how they can increase their faith; Ask and it shall be given you, for everyone that asks, receives (Mt.7: 8); Ask if you dare–”Lord, increase my faith” (Lk. 17: 5); The faith to move mountains comes through much tribulation, for if there is no mountain, there is no need for faith; It must needs be if I am by grace, to reach the point where the faith of Jesus becomes my own. Its when we know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, and are made conformable unto His death, that we begin to perceive His faith–the life thus lived in the flesh then starts to live by the faith of the Son of God. This is the crucified life, hidden with Jesus in our Father. It is this dead life that lives unto God, that truly walks out salvation with fear and trembling, and walks into life eternal, and experiences the nearness of its Redemption. I am graced by my God to know and obey my Master, and I move from the natural to the spiritual, from the temporal to the eternal, from death to life. It is here I must reside.
We must remember— faith’s testimony is, how it came about; Lord increase our faith–that request will most surely see God put you in a circumstance where faith is needed; faith, like all the other virtues is the fruit of my intimacy with Jesus; He gives the faith to start me on the way to life eternal, then provides life in a way that brings about growth in that faith, service to God, and thus, glory to God. My Father is working my Savior in me, and I must work Him out proportionally–I must seize Jesus, for the heart of my affection is the will of God and His glory, to be done through my beloved Master. My sanctification here proves to be my death, that the life of Jesus might pour forth out of my corpse as I move among the people, doing the will of God at the Master’s direction. The Son of God must be the walk of the sons of God; It’s that simple. The wise and the prudent will add complication of theology and doctrine to it, but the hallmark of true revelation is that babes can digest it– O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Matt 11:2; not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, or noble are called (1 Cor. 1: 26).
Are we full of knowledge about Him, but unaware that His desire is to resurrect in us by His Spirit? (Gal.2: 20). We can take all we have learned about Jesus, all that the Bible says about Him, all that preachers and teachers have shown us, and, we can cut it all away; if we do this, and the Person of Jesus remains, then we are coming to know Him. But if we take away the word and the teaching, and we become lost because of its absence, we have not yet entered where God would have us enter.
39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
We must not search the scriptures endlessly that we may pride ourselves on scriptural knowledge—the head can be jammed with the word of God, and the heart still remain empty—it is possible to be scripturally affluent, and still miss the Person of Jesus. We are to diligently search God’s word for sure, but if we stop there, we will miss the Person who towers above the word.
There is much theory, much doctrine and much opinion, but the only question our Father would have for us, is “have you left all to follow Jesus?” Are you letting God have His own way with you through Jesus? Is your thought life consumed with Jesus? Are you following where He leads, learning one on one lessons from Him because you love Him enough to take time to spend with Him? To the man or woman who totally gives themselves to Jesus, every bit of faith, every belief needed, will come at exactly the right time. In order to have our Father’s doctrine, we must have the Person of Jesus be real to us. We cannot know Jesus, as He would be to us as individuals, by putting any faith in theory about Him. It is not faith in the atonement that saves us—it is faith in the Person of Jesus—the living Jesus—that brings us to an experiential knowledge of Him, making the scriptures about Him, our experience and reality. In short, it is not faith in all Jesus has done, it is faith in He who has done it all. And faith in Him, is the experiential knowledge of Him—this is eternal life—to Know Him.
It is the living Jesus that bids us to drop our nets and follow Him—there is no debate here, just obedience. It is leaving the trust in men, money, doctrines, opinions, and all else that can sway your life, into a conscious summoning of Him and an awareness of Him, every second. Having left all, all that is left is obedience to Him. Period. This is true freedom, for all that is of concern to you, is Jesus. This is where you are graced into obeying—“take no thought for your life”– what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? Matt 6: 25,27; this is the beginning of loving the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, body and soul.
The reason that so many who believe about Jesus rather than in Him get the comfort they do is that, touching the hem of His garment, they cannot help believing a little in the live man inside the garment. The hem of His garment is near the ground, where multitudes are treading in much confusion. We must awake and arise from the dead of our theology, that says learn as much as we can about Him, and then try to act like Him—try to imitate Him—“what would Jesus do/” becomes the motto of those who reside at the hem of His garment.
To do His commands at His command, is to enter into intimacy with Him—saving faith is obedience, and obedience is saving faith. Obedience to Him spawns trust in Him, and brings forth the provision needed to complete your mission. This obedience is not perfection, but it is a heart of total effort for Him.
*OUR NUMBER ONE DUTY: MINISTRY TO JESUS
One thing is needful
38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Verse 39: Martha had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
She worshipped Him, and heard his word. It seems, our Lord Jesus, as soon as He came into Martha’s house, even before entertainment was made for Him, addressed himself to His great work of preaching the gospel. He presently took the chair with a serious tone, for Mary sat to hear Him, which shows us her submission to Him as He was teaching her. Mary, having heard Jesus preach and teach, was obviously greatly drawn to Him—she sat at His feet and loved on Him and listened to Him.
She sat to hear, which denotes a close attention. Notice here that this is a decision on her part—she is choosing to sit at the feet of Jesus and receive all that He delivered. She sat at his feet by choice—we must make the e same choice; Our sitting at Jesus’ feet, when we hear his word, signifies a readiness to receive Him and what He has to say; it is a submission and entire resignation of ourselves to His indwelling and His guidance that we might fulfill the will of our Father. We sit at His feet daily and get filled with Him, and it is out of this relationship with Him that we are able to minister Him to others. Martha, meanwhile, characterizes many Christians—running about, worrying about what might get done and what might not, but never worry whether or not enough time is being spent at the feet of Jesus. Martha was too concerned about many things that really weren’t essential to getting the will of God done; she was not concerned about sitting at the feet of Jesus, but about all the domestic chores that had to be done—that was the reason why she was not where Mary was—sitting at Jesus’ feet, to love on Him and hear his word.
The fact that she was wanting to do the best to serve her guests is not the issue; the fact is, that she was just distracted from the Person of Jesus by it. She was worried about much serving when she should have been with her sister, sitting at Jesus’ feet to love on Him and hear his word. Even church service can be a distraction from our spending time alone with Jesus. The complaint which Martha made to Jesus against her sister Mary, for not assisting her, upon this occasion, in the business of the house (v. 40): “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister, who is concerned as well as I in having things done well, has left me to serve alone? This complaint of Martha’s may be considered as a discovery of her worldliness: it was the language of her zeal for activity.
Notice also, that those who carry out much church activity, are sometimes critical of those whom they perceive as not doing enough. Martha, being angry with her sister, appealed to Jesus, and would have him say that she did well to be angry. The cares, which he cast upon us, we may cheerfully cast upon him, but not those which we foolishly draw upon ourselves.
See here Martha trying to discourage Mary’s devotion to Jesus. It is no strange thing for those that love the Lord to meet with hindrances and discouragements from those that may love Him, but are too busy for Him.;
The reproof which Jesus gave to Martha for her inordinate care, (v. 41). She appealed to Him, and he gives judgment against her: “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things, whereas but one thing is needful, and Mary has chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her.”
He scolded her, though he was at this time her guest. She felt that she needed to do all that she perceived needed to be done, yet he publicly reprimanded her for it. As many as Jesus loves he rebukes and chastens. Even those that are dear to Jesus, if any thing be amiss in them, shall be sure to hear of it.
When he reproved her, he called her by her name, Martha; for reproofs are then most likely to do good when they are particular, applied to particular persons and cases. He repeated her name— “Martha, Martha”; He speaks as one in earnest, and deeply concerned for her welfare. Those that are entangled in the cares of this life are not easily disentangled. To them we must call again and again, and we must be careful that as disciples, we not get tangled in the world ourselves. That which he reproved her for was her being careful and troubled about many things. He was not pleased that she should think to please him a big feed and other niceties; there is a certain amount of flesh and sensuality in those things. That which aggravated Martha was the one thing that is needful—sitting at the feet of Jesus. There is need but of one thing—the Master says it Himself, and Mary had chosen to do that one thing which was to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him and love on Him. The one thing needful is certainly meant of that which Mary made her choice—sitting at Jesus’ feet, to hear his word. She was troubled about many things, when she should have applied herself to one; godliness unites the heart, which the world had divided. The many things she was troubled about were needless, while the one thing she neglected—sitting at the feet of Jesus—was needful. Martha’s care and work were good in their proper season and place; but now she had something else to do, which was unspeakably more needful, and therefore should be done first; She expected Jesus to have blamed Mary for not doing as she did, but he blamed her for not doing as Mary did; The day will come when Martha will wish she had set where Mary did.
As stated many times, our number one priority is ministry to the Lord; If we are to know Him, we must spend time with Him. If we are to know Him intimately, we must lose our lives to spend our lives with Him. Grace must bring us to a place of serious hungering and thirsting to go into a deeper relationship with the Master. It is the Lord who births this hungering and thirsting, so if you’ve got it, know that it is God working in your soul, that Jesus might resurrect in your mortal flesh and become your all in all. It is by His Spirit that our Savior reveals our Father, and it is by His Spirit that our Father reveals our Savior…….. and we know that life eternal is to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He sent (Jn. 17: 3), and hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whosoever keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected Hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also to walk, even as he walked (1 Jn. 2: 3-6). The Master’s earthly walk is always our barometer; hereby we know that we know Him and we know that grace is abounding on us and Jesus is resurrecting in us–for we are able to obey His commandments, thus He becomes our salvation (Heb. 5: 9).
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.
What Jesus has done for me must now move and operate through me; If my decision for Jesus does not exact moral and ethical change in me, I have not seized grace unto life eternal; and if I suffer not sacrifice and temporal loss as a result of my commitment and obedience to Him, I must check the pulse of my faith; I must not accept Him as Savior today, and make Him my Lord tomorrow–if I have done so, I must repent; if all I do is not determined by Him, I must reassess; If I feel comfortable and at home in the world, I must seek Him for grace to reexamine my perspective. All that He is, I die daily to accept as mine, from His sorrow to His sacrifice, His cause to His cross.
Many believe many things will get them through the most important Gate. Ask some who profess to be disciples and they will tell you that they were saved at some revival meeting years ago, and they will stand on that, though they have lived for the devil all the years since; many will profess infant baptism as their ticket, with very little sign of the Master in their lives since. Many will claim church service and their name in the church register as being synonymous with the Lamb’s Book of Life. Many believe their honest morality will get them off the hook on judgment day. But as Jesus says in our opening Scripture, life eternal is to know Him–as Savior and Lord–and to know the only true God–our Creator and Father, and to know them is to obey them. Obedience to God is grace without measure–it is the sure sign that the Seal of our salvation is working the resurrection of the Master in us.
We will not debate eternal security nor the elements of salvation but rather examine the word of God; for it is facing up to and apprehending by grace, the Truth of that word, that is our greatest security; true grace and mercy seize the word of God for what it truly means, not what convenience and a misperception of grace would have it mean; we must not be left as the rich young ruler–trying to convince our intellect that we have done enough to inherit eternal life, even though our hearts are holding our possessions; we must not be held hostage by a heart divided–Jesus is either our All in All or He is an unknown. To walk away in disobedience to the hard commands of Jesus will bring on the subtlety of hell rejoicing; To substitute presumption for grace that was purchased at history’s Heaviest Price, is utter deception and an offense to the Cross, and the Blood that stains it. To paraphrase the Master’s commands so that they fit the western civilization lifestyle and philosophy is to put us under the penalty for disobedience to those commands. Many with much, step right over Lazarus lying at the gate, to get more, scarcely aware of his existence.
That Jesus desires mercy rather than sacrifice is His clear word. That the road of mercy and grace is narrow and afflicted is also well attested by the word of the Master. Eternal life is a matter of the heart, and obedience to the Lord is the nourishment that keeps salvation’s heart beating–it is obedience that puts the eternal in Life for all those who profess belief.
In many instances today, the devil has taken the hard things of the gospel and substituted his cheap grace; He is believed as a matter of convenience, for to deny the flesh and the intellect is the straightest gate known to man, for it thwarts pride and what man believes he is and all that he has; and it is here that satan is most deceptive; this has happened to the point where many argue that Jesus’ hard words on eternal life are legalistic and actually thwart grace; the devil teaches we can have whatever we want, as long as we keep our heart detached from it; and, we can do whatever we want as long as we make regular confession; but the Master demands not only confession, but repentance, and literal inward and outward detachment from all that is contrary to Him–he who cannot forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple (Lk. 14: 33). Only one who has had much and lost it, can relate the incredible liberty of poverty. You can always tell when satan is preaching Jesus for he preaches Jesus and the gospel of His salvation, as being of no cost to his hearers.
I pursue nothing but Jesus–detachment, self denial, and all the other virtues will manifest in my life proportionate to my death and the resurrection of the Master in me; and that death comes about only as I pursue Jesus with heart, mind, body and soul, not by my fleshy, egotistical attempts at self-denial and service. Find me a person who says his heart is not attached to his possessions and his own glory, and I’ll show you a person who is struggling with the truth. If you don’t believe it, bid the person to sell all he has and then give the proceeds to the poor., so that he has no certain dwelling place nor place to lay his head.
If we are to go forth and make disciples of all nations, we better first let the water out of our gospel here, and teach it in its truth, its simplicity, and its purity and power. Let us be mindful of the fact that it has always been the way of man to reason himself away from true, whole-hearted sacrifice and obedience to God. And let us not forget that disobedience without repentance is eternally fatal, for to live in disobedience renders saving faith impossible. Many will descend into the lake with their presumption in tow.
As we undertake a careful examination of the words of the Master, it is between you and He just what He means and how great a price, the Pearl. Does the road to your crown truly run through your cross?
How Difficult the Way
We not only struggle against the Life, the Life struggles against us, trying to push its way through our lustful flesh; That which Jesus poured out for us, we must now pour out for Him–obedience unto death, lives laid down unto the will of God; His inner nature must manifest through our outer life–we look for the manifestation of the Master in our mortal flesh–death works in us, so that His Life can work through us in the service of His Body which is the church (2Cor. 4: 12). The joy of our lives, our reason for living, must be our God–His Triune Person; we must see Him at every turn and in every thought we own–this is a life hid with Jesus in our Father; We must yield that the Body may find its home in the heart of God.
Anything we have of His, consists in His Being–far and above what we are, it lives and moves in Him; In the trembling fear of walking out life eternal, Grace brings absolute surrender, its fruit being a Faith that is not even aware of its own existence, a Goodness that is God only and has no willful consciousness, and an abhoration of evil that is its very make-up and Nature; its soul sustenance is the three Persons of its God and their will and good pleasure.
It is Jesus who shows us how to lay hold of life eternal. It is with Him that we find where we stand in relation to what is required of us that we might inherit heaven. It is here that the truth must stand starkly alone–we must face ourselves for what we are, and be brutally honest with ourselves as to where we are when it comes to our walk with the Lord. For I say unto you, among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. Luke 7:28
*’Enter ye in at the strait gate.’
13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
strait–.4728 stenos (sten-os’); narrow from obstacles standing close about.
narrow–2346 thlibo-1) to press (as grapes), to press hard upon;2) a compressed way, narrow straitened, contracted 3) metaphorically, to trouble, to afflict, to distress
One can readily see that by the original Greek words, that the road and the gait Jesus is talking about is the way of suffering and affliction—many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all (Psalm 19: 34); In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. Jn. 16: 33
Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. Acts 14:22
Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding; Our Father calls us to this gate; This is God desiring a response to His drawing us to Jesus; If you are seeking this gate, know your search is of God and you shall surely find this gate if you seek it with your whole heart; God initiates the draw to Jesus, it is up to us to follow; Such determination requires consistent ruling against the heart; The heart covets the comforts of the flesh; Such a heart is divided and cannot stand; The heart knows the right way here, but covets the broad way, for the narrow gate is a great offense to the comfort of the western civilization gospel which has befriended and deceived the heart; The world, flesh, and devil are not to be allies as they are in the gospel of comfort that is preached today. These three enemies have so invaded the church for the sake of not offending anybody, that most cannot now discern the real from the counterfeit.
Luke 13: 24 tells us to “strive” to enter in at this gate, the striving indicating a fair amount of resistance—the world, the flesh (ourselves), and the devil. You would think that resistance would come from the world, flesh and satan; and it does, but only to those who take a stand against those three and against their own lives. This word strive is rendered as ‘contentions with adversaries’. Sounds like there might be a little more to life eternal than just accepting Jesus as Savior then living for one’s self and his religion. There are requirements to keep your footing on this road….but rejoice, all that is required by the Lord is given by Him. On this road you swear not at all, neither by heaven nor by earth; you resist not evil, you surrender your cheek and your cloak; you give freely not expecting return; you love your enemies and you pray for those who persecute you, that you may prove your salvation; Growing into the completeness of your Master will be your lifestyle, and to reach that completeness you might sell all that you have that you may give to the poor. You will travel this road with the yoke of Another upon you; you must feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit the sick and the prisoner; You will forgive all evil and you will bear the evil you forgive; satan will try to kill you–both through honor and dishonor; the poor, the maimed, the blind and the lame will feast at your table that you may have treasure in heaven; the power to walk this road will be in your plow, and your crop will scarcely be tangible for you labor not for perishable meat, but for the invisible meat which endures unto everlasting life, which Jesus shall give you, for you are Sealed by your Father. You will live by dying, gain by losing, rejoice by weeping…….
As you walk this road you will find a roaring lion at nearly every turn; But you shall overcome, for Jesus has overcome; satan will taunt you through heathen and brethren, and he will entice you to ride the “rights of your inheritance” right into hell. He is the author of confusion and presumption in the walk of the disciple, pulling men hard to the easy road and a liberal gospel. We shall know of the striving to enter the straight gate when the heart makes its end, full love and knowledge of the Person of Jesus Christ, and is willing to sacrifice all to achieve that End—for it is then that we discover we truly do not wrestle against flesh and blood although flesh and blood will wrestle against us; If you have thus put on Jesus, you are clothed in the full armor of God, but there will be much hardship you must endure as a good soldier.
The Lord is calling many into this journey in the current wave of restoration and renewal; but the heart in many is left wanting because the moral change that reflects and proves the Person of the Master is come in the flesh, is not evident in many, despite many spending much time on the church floor.
For many, spending time on the floor in the current renewal serves only to boost the religious ego; the fruit of an encounter with the living God should most certainly leave one in a humbled and weakened state, wanting more of the Person of the Lord. Instead, many come up from the rug having somehow become experts in theology, doctrine, and other religious exercises that profit nothing and do nothing but bring vanity to worship, and schisms to the Body; The transaction required for salvation in many instances has not taken place. The simplicity of the straight gate is exchanged for doctrines of devils and the commandments of men, both of which lead to destruction; Most of the so-called prophets of the day spend more time berating pastors and competing with each other than they do waiting on and submitting to God, bringing His pure word in the humility that is Jesus. Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated by such men and women or you will find yourself on the broad road, for the motive of such is the honor of men which always ends in unbelief and subsequent death. As it always has, God’s revelation awaits babes and not the wise and prudent.
Luke also states– ‘for many will seek to enter but shall not be able’–many will have been duped into thinking they have a right to this gate, or to the door mentioned in Luke 13:25–where Jesus will say “I know you not–depart from me ye workers of iniquity” (V25 & 27); we must remember that life eternal is to know Him and we know that we know Him if we keep His commandments; this is why many will be shut out of the kingdom of heaven–they know His commandments but don’t walk with Jesus so they can, by His grace, keep them–they refuse the grace of obedience; many church workers will be among those shut out; it must needs be, for the Scripture cannot lie and it says many will claim working for the Lord casting out demons and prophesying, and even sitting at His table but they will be denied entrance; where are you in relation to this proclamation by the Master? These passages will lift presumption’s grip on all who are truly His.
It is impossible to imagine the tragic depth of sorrow and terror of those who will come to the gates of heaven in great anticipation, only to be denied entrance to the kingdom.
Jesus Himself is the Strait Gate for no one can come to the Father but by Him–he who has the Son has this gate, for He is the only Way to Life; The straight gate is a life of sacrifice, much contrary to the flesh, and obviously commands strict obedience; Its narrowness suggests that it will not be easy for many to pass through; so strive against your fleshy self to do so– let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him travel the narrow road and return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55: 7).
Here Jesus has started a short discourse on the two fates that are open to all men.
Mt. 7, Vs 13b–for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:’
This is literally goats being led to the slaughter; see the deception as those traveling this road find much comfort in lots of company–”it must be the right way, everybody seems to be taking it;” We know that the wickedness of man is great and that every imagination of his heart is only evil continually. Jesus inquires of us–”how can you even believe, you that seek the honor of men instead of the honor of God?” (Jn. 5:44). Many teach much to procure the honor of men, even compromising Jesus when they deem it necessary; the road to honor among men is paved with hell’s bricks, and it is a wide road and many there be that go there-in—-the great and roaring enticer, motivating without being heard, visible everywhere but yet unnoticed, as he leads the march into hell– for how can you believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that comes from God only? Destruction is promised by the Master Himself, yet He goes unheeded. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Many fear they will “lose their lives” for the narrowness of the way of this road–this is one of the great purposes of this road–to cause you to lose your life that you may find it; many spend their whole earthly existence trying to “find themselves”–their lives–on the broad road. Many have bought into the teaching that the Atonement of Jesus wiped out the tribulation of the straight gate and the affliction that is the narrow road; and if there is pain, misery, and self-sacrifice, “we must have missed our turn, or the ever famous–”there’s a door open somewhere” if a disciple is suffering, or, “I perceive there is free masonry in your family history, and Calvary was powerful, but not powerful enough to make that old thing pass away, make you a new creature, and cut you from that old bloodline.” Doors may be open somewhere and there is free masonry in the background of many, but it is the confession of my own sin to God that brings His forgiveness and cleanses me from all unrighteousness, including my great granddaddy’s mason membership–for I became a new creature in Jesus–the old bloodline was cut away by He who wields the double-edged sword from His mouth; Renunciation never cleansed, delivered or saved anybody and never will. It is not merely renouncing but a turning from sin–Godly repentance, a Godly confession of sin, and an eternal cleaving to the Sacrifice for that sin, that delivers, cleanses and saves–that is the simplicity of the Gospel; All of us will die in unconfessed and unrenounced sin–there are multitudes of sins committed by us all that never get confessed and there are multitudes of sins we all commit that we aren’t even aware of; Many popular books on Christian bookstore and seminary shelves contain any number of steps you want to freedom; by putting the ordinances of the law in a place of authority for deliverance from bondage, they are putting God’s people back under the law–all for the author’s notoriety and gain. Many of these books will burn on that day. And how can the authors even believe, for it is the honor of men and their money they seek: There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (Proverbs 14: 12)-–this way is adhering to the doctrine of the commandments of men and of devils who boast themselves in their mischief as they add to and take away from the gospel for notoriety, honor, and gain; For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through their own lust; While they promise liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption, for of whom a man is overcome, of the same he is brought into bondage (2 Pet. 2: 18-19). They follow after the law of righteousness and cannot attain, because they seek righteousness not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law—if we renounce enough we will eventually be clean and the enemy will not touch us. They, like the unbelieving Jews, stumble at the stumbling stone, believing not the completeness of the Work of Jesus, even though many men have declared it unto them; Each man shall be responsible for his own sin–Godly confession and subsequent repentance guarantees God’s forgiveness and God’s cleansing from all unrighteousness; What Jesus has cleansed, we must not call unclean or common, nor lead it through steps of the law in hopes of making it cleaner. It is the Blood of Jesus that breaks the bloodlines of sinful generations, making possible the blessed simplicity of simple heart confession of sin, repentance of that sin, consequent forgiveness and total cleansing of the heart and life, at the hand of the Sacrifice for them. We don’t fulfill every regimen of the law by applying Jesus to every jot and tittle–He applied Himself—totally–and Life eternal, by grace, seizes and walks in the simplicity of faith in the Blood of Jesus…..not the complexity of the law, for it is Jesus who has fulfilled the law and it is Jesus who continues to fulfill the law through us; Don’t be deceived– lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in the Lord Jesus. (2 Cor. 11: 3).
*DOES JESUS REALLY MEAN WHAT HE SAYS?
Satan has convinced many in the church that Jesus, in all His suffering glory, could not have possibly been then, nor can possibly be now, a Savior and Lord who would hold the heart of man accountable; In all our compromising of the Gospel, we put ourselves back under the law, because we have been hindered that we should not obey the truth. A little leaven leavens the whole lump; If Jesus says to us– “sell all you have and give the money to the poor”, we immediately vow to separate our hearts from our possessions, and find a Christian charity to whom we might give a little above our tithe–after all He never means what He says–we must get someone to give us a word as to what He means; this attitude is way too prevalent in the church today, and it will end in death for many.
The deception lies in the grace we have concocted–Jesus doesn’t really mean what He says–He always speaks in grace-full offshoots of literalism– so don’t take Him literally, for all is justified under grace, iniquity included. In the interest of what is perceived as ‘pastoral care,’ sin is patted on the head and tolerated; A man came to me for ministry telling me God was awakening him every morning and telling him to go free the Lord’s people; a sister with whom we were both acquainted, related to me how this man was overpowering her and taking advantage of her sexually; Others around the man thought the Lord truly was asking the man to go free his people–one alleged prophet even trying to convince me . What then? when he was through abusing the woman he was to become a man of God, moving with Jesus to free His people? If the Lord was indeed waking the man up every morning the only thing he was saying to him was “repent or perish.” Much of what goes on consists of–”Lord, Lord, sure I continued willingly in my sin, but I willingly and consistently went through the ritual of confession.” The answer shall surely come: “Unless you repent, you shall likewise perish (Lk. 13: 3-5), or the dreadful: “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Lk. 13: 27)
Jesus’ discourse with his disciples
60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?
71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.
We see here the impact of Jesus’ teachings and His commands; Some are offended and others edified by it; some driven from Him and others brought nearer to Him. To some it was a savor of death unto death; not only to the Jews, who were professed enemies to Him and his doctrine, but even to many of His professing disciples, such as were disciples at large, who were his frequent hearers, and followed him in public. That’s the way it was then, that is the way it is now—many profess Jesus and follow Him publicly, but it is a lip service deal, and when strict obedience is required by Him, they split, saying it can’t be God because its too hard. We have here in these scriptures, the answer to such people. 1. Their murmurings at the doctrine they heard (v. 60): This is a hard saying, who can hear it?
Eat my flesh and drink my Blood—this is what offended them–when they found it a hard saying, if they had asked Jesus to explain it to them, He would have opened it, and their understandings too; for the meek will he teach his way. But, like so many today who want a comfortable God, they were not willing to have Jesus explain His word to them—they move first in presumption—“this is not God,” and then right into disobedience—they walk no more with Him, “Who can hear it?,” they say, just as many who leave the church today, when Jesus gets too difficult for them; they believe they can leave in disobedience, and still be obedient to Him.
Jesus well enough knew their murmurings, v. 61. They thought He could not perceive, but He takes notice not only of the bold and open defiance to Him by daring sinners, but also to carnal professors of His name in the church. And what is disobedience, but carnality?
He knew it in himself, not by any information given Him, but by his own omniscience as God. He knew it not as the prophets, by God’s revelation made to Him (that which the prophets desired to know was sometimes hid from them, as (2 Kin. 4:27)), but by His all-knowing nature as God. He is that essential Word that discerns the thoughts of the heart, (Heb. 4:12-13). Thoughts are words to Jesus; we should therefore take heed not only what we say and do, but what we think.
“Doth this offend you?” Is this a stumbling-block to you?” See how people by their own unwillingness to believe and obey, create offences to themselves: they take offence where there is none given, and even make it where there is nothing to make it of. If you are unwilling to be understood, you ought to be neglected—refusing Jesus at His word, will bring His resistance to your rebellion.
He gives them a hint of his ascension into heaven, as that which would give an irresistible evidence of the truth of his doctrine (v. 62): What and if you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? And what then? If I should tell you of that, surely it would much more offend you. If this be so hard a saying that you cannot hear it, how will you digest it when I tell you of my returning to heaven, whence I came down? Those who stumble at their perceived smaller difficulties of the commands of Jesus, should consider how they will obey when He asks them to do the terribly difficult. When the mysteries of God are opened on that day, we shall see that there was no reason to be offended at anything Jesus said, or commanded us to do.
Jesus then gives them a general key, teaching them that His parables are to be understood spiritually, and not carnally. It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing, v. 63. The word and ordinances of God, if His Spirit works with us and in us, are as food to us; if not, they are as food to a dead man. Even the flesh of Jesus, the Sacrifice for sin, will avail us nothing unless the blessed Spirit quicken our souls, and enforce the powerful influences of his death upon us, till we by his grace are planted together in the likeness of that death. Secondly, The doctrine of eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His Blood, if it be understood literally, profits nothing, but rather leads us into mistakes and prejudices; but the spiritual sense or meaning of it quickens the soul—“The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
To eat the flesh of Jesus, is a hard saying, but to believe that He died for me, to derive from that, doctrine strength and faith to approach God, is the quickening power of His Spirit. The reason why men dislike Jesus sayings is because they shatter the gratification of the flesh men are seeking. The flesh profits nothing— those that are in the flesh (so some understand it), that are under the power of a carnal mind, profit not by Jesus’ teachings and commands, because the carnal mind is at enmity with God, there-by deadening the spirit of such a mind. but the Spirit quickeneth— those that have the Spirit—are graced with a heart for Jesus given by His Spirit—they are willing to learn of Him and obey through what they learn, no matter how narrow the road. People who find fault with the commands and teachings of Jesus, will sooner or later, find that the fault lies in themselves; it is only to sensual minds that spiritual things are senseless.
Jesus then shows His knowledge of their true hearts—false hearts for Him–even though they called themselves His disciples, v. 64, 65. Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? (Isa. 53:1). They did not believe his report: “There are some of you who said you would leave all to follow me who yet believe not;” and this was the reason why the word preached did not profit them, because it was not mixed with faith, (Heb. 4:2). They did not believe Him to be the Messiah, or else they would have submitted to the doctrine He preaches. Many today who believe Jesus is the Messiah, pull the same trick; They call Him Savior all the time, but make Him Lord only when the road is broad, the traveling easy. And if some preacher tells them that is not what the word says, and that they need to obey the word, they come up with a multitude of arguments in order to fashion the word of God to fit their lust and their agenda. Such is the pure form of hypocrisy. The profession of hypocrites, before it discovers itself to the world, is naked and open before the eyes of Jesus. He knew from the beginning who they were of the multitudes that followed Him that believed unto obedience, and who should betray Him; Those who desert Jesus when His teaching and commands get too hard, is a certain proof of their constant hypocrisy, and that from the beginning they were really not with Him. The church is steeped with such individuals, but the day of discovery is coming.
The reason why they did not believe his report was because the arm of the Lord was not revealed to them (v. 65): “Therefore said I unto you that no man can come to me, except it be given unto him of my Father,” referring to v. 44. There He had said that none could come to Him, except the Father draw him; here He says, “except it be given him of my Father”, which shows that God draws souls by giving them grace and strength, and a heart to come to Jesus, without which, no man can come. Obedience to Jesus is a gift of our Father, and He will sustain that gift if we don’t murmur when the road gets too hard. Many who fill the pews profess Jesus, but desert Him as not being Him, when He commands them the narrow and the straight.
We then see their final apostasy from Jesus–From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him, v. 66. When we admit into our minds the hard thoughts of the word and commands of Jesus, and entertain disobedience because of their difficulty, we then enter into temptation of suspecting God, and looking back; and, he who looks back because of the hardness of the Way, will eventually, go back. We see here the backsliding of these disciples. Many of them went back to their houses, and families, and business, which they had left to follow Him; went back—to their people, their lives, their ways, and to themselves, the love of which is the root of most disobedience to Jesus. The apostasy of Jesus’ disciples from Him, though really a strange thing, yet has been such a common thing that we need not be surprised at it. Here were many that went back. It is often so; when some backslide many backslide with them; the disease is contagious, for the miserable disobedient flesh always has and always will attract company.
We notice the occasion of the backsliding; ‘From that time,’ from the time that Christ preached this comfortable doctrine, that He is the bread of life, and that those who by faith feed upon Him shall live by Him (which, one would think, should have engaged them to cleave more closely to him)– from that time they withdrew. The corrupt and wicked heart of man often makes that an occasion of offence which should be a matter of the greatest comfort. Jesus foresaw that they would take offence at what He said, and yet He said it. That which is the undoubted word and truth of Jesus must be faithfully delivered, whoever may be offended at it. Men’s lives must be captivated to God’s word, and not God’s word accommodated to men’s lives. This is the place where many false prophets have crept in unawares—they conform the word of God to comfort the flesh—the very thing it is designed to destroy. The fruit of this is always what it is in our current text: men walk no more with Jesus, though they claim they do. People rebel against pastors and church leadership, leaving a church because they are offended when the firmness of the word of God is brought forth. Such people will find pastors giving the truth about them on that day: Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. Heb 13:17. Most who leave, say they can serve Jesus somewhere else without such stringent command of obedience to Him. They can’t. For though they change churches, the word of Jesus doesn’t change, and all such people are really looking for, is what the departing disciples in our text are looking for: a Jesus and a gospel that is easy and comfortable, and of no price. In their search, they fall away– It is hard for those who have been once enlightened, and have tasted the good word of God, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, (Heb. 6:4-6).
Though many of the disciples left Jesus because of the hardness of His teaching (Vs 66), many, including the twelve, stayed. Notice the question which He put to the twelve (v. 67): “Will you also go away?” Notice that He said nothing to those who left Him and went back. If the unbelieving depart, let them depart; it was no great loss of those whom He never really had; lightly come, lightly go; but he takes this occasion to speak to the twelve, to confirm them, and by trying their steadfastness– “Will you also go away?” He is saying the same to the multitudes contemplating the difficulty of the disciple’s walk today; “it is at your choice whether you will walk in obedience to me or not; if you will forsake me, now is the time, when so many are doing so: it is an hour of temptation; if you will go back, go now.” Jesus will not attempt to keep someone with Him against their will. Here, Jesus challenges the twelve by not telling them they need to stay, but asking them if they will go. Choose this day and every day whom you will serve. The closer we have been to Jesus and the longer we have been with Him, the more we have been used by Him, the greater will be our sin if we desert him.
The believing reply which Peter, in the name of the rest, made to this question, v. 68, 69. “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” Those who leave Jesus would do well to consider Who they are leaving and to whom they will go, and whether they can expect to find rest and peace any where but in Him. Thou hast the words of eternal life. Jesus having the words of eternal life is the same with His having power to give eternal life to as many as were given Him, (Jn 17:2). He had in the foregoing discourse assured eternal life to His followers—“whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my Blood, hath eternal life and I will raise Him up at the last day (Vs 54); these disciples resolved to focus on Jesus, and in doing so, were able to receive the uncompromising firmness of His teaching; as many do today, the others focused instead upon the hardness of His sayings, and in doing so, were deceived into leaving Him. When we stay totally focused on Jesus, who is our faith, we rise up to a full assurance that He is who He says He is, and that His teachings are to be taken up and fully digested by the soul; We are sure. We have known it by experience; this is eternal knowledge that leads to eternal life, for it leads to our knowing Him, and life eternal is to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent Jn. 17: 3).
We see by Jesus’ reply, that Judas would be symbolic of multitudes down through the centuries who would turn away from Jesus— Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? (v. 70-71). God knows those that are His; And though many times, we do not, by their fruit we shall know them (Mt. 7: 20). Hypocrites and betrayers of Jesus are no better than devils, and in fact will prove to be of the devil on that Day.. Judas not only had a devil, but he was a devil, as Jesus says here. He is a devil, a devil incarnate, a fallen apostle, as the devil a fallen angel. He is Satan, an adversary, an enemy to Jesus. He is Abaddon, and Apollyon, a son of perdition. He was of his father the devil, and did the devil’s business, as did Cain, (1 Jn. 3:12). Those whose bodies were possessed by the devil are usually not called devils (demoniacs, but not devils); but Judas, into whose heart Satan entered, and filled it, is called a devil.
Many that are seeming saints are real devils. Judas cast out devils, and appeared an enemy to the devil’s kingdom, and yet was himself a devil all the while. Notice that Jesus calls him a devil now, long before he visibly carried out the devil’s business by betraying Jesus. There are those who are chosen by Jesus to His service who will eventually prove false to him: I have chosen you to the apostleship, for it is expressly said that Judas was not chosen to eternal life (Jn 13:18), that the scripture might be fulfilled. The same can be said about many in the church of Jesus today—they are apostates and will prove to be so that the scripture about them will be fulfilled: Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 1 Tim 4:1-2.
Addendum: John 6:60-61
60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
Many people at this time believed Jesus was the Messiah, and were following Him as He went from village to village; He had just finished His discourse on eating His flesh and drinking His Blood, when these ‘disciples’ decided this saying was the clincher—it coupled with all else He teaches, was just too hard to except—the original language for the word hard here is ‘harsh.’ Ring a bell? It is the crucifixion of the Messiah that makes Him a stumbling block to the Jews; it is the crucified life required by the Messiah, that makes Him a stumbling block to professed disciples. Who can hear Him—they asked? Who can bear what He teaches, for it crucifies lust, passion, and pleasure of our lives; It is an offense to the flesh, and many are very ready to claim Jesus—apart from His cross and teachings. It is much easier to claim learning and never come to a knowledge of the truth, for the Truth is a Person, and He is an offense to all who want a comfortable Gospel; those who think what He teaches and requires is too hard, will make it easy—they will water it down so they can have their lusts and eternal life too. “Jesus doesn’t really mean what he says,” is not spoken in the church, it is just lived. We will find out momentarily, that He really does mean what He says, and that there are demands and commands for walking out salvation. The devil has deceived multitudes into thinking Jesus’ sayings and commands are too hard, or in many cases, too easy. The tragedy is that these people cannot realize that the blessing and liberty they are so desperately seeking, comes on the narrow road in absolute obedience and submission to Jesus, and will come no other way.
6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 1 Pet 2:6-8
“Jesus paid it all so we could all rise up and play” is a very prevalent attitude in the church of the western hemisphere; lip-service confession stands alone against judgment day; repentance is as scarce as turning the other cheek. Jesus did pay it all– all that God required of Him; but there is a price to be paid by the disciple, and the disciple must seek the Lord as he counts the cost; the disciple is not above His Master; and the cost is no more than His Master required of Himself—life itself, consecrated for the will of God. For the warning is that God will judge us, everyone according to His ways; we must repent and turn ourselves from our transgressions, so our iniquity will not be our ruin.
We must cast away from us all our transgressions, whereby we have transgressed; and by grace, receive new hearts and a new Spirit: for life eternal is in our hands–why must we will ourselves to die? We know our Father has no pleasure in eternal death, so let us turn ourselves, and live. Repentance must be a perpetual thing, let us bring forth therefore fruits meet for Godly repentance and sorrow, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Jesus is the door, so let us enter in by Him unto life eternal, and go out and find pasture.
Mt 7:14– ‘Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.’ How many truly ponder the paths of their feet that their ways might be established? Jesus bids us to not turn the right hand nor to the left, and to remove our feet from evil. Why don’t we ask the Lord for the old paths that we might walk in the good way and find rest unto our souls? The word of God promises our affliction–the word narrow in our Scripture here means ‘afflicted’ in the original language. Why are we so moved by affliction when we know we are appointed unto it? Many are called to this road, but few are chosen to walk it. Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, but a remnant shall be saved. This road is the walk of death and few go this way in contrast to the many who choose the broad easy way, which shall end in true spiritual death; the narrow and afflicted road is where we are buried with Him in baptism, raised from the dead by the glory of our Father–this road is where we walk in newness of life, where we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, it is the Highway of Holiness, dotted with the splinters of an old rugged Cross; sin is not served on this road, for to be dead with Him is to live in liberty, freed from sin; We walk this road with Jesus, for if we be dead with Him, we believe that we shall also walk with Him; This road to the gate of heaven is paved with His commandments, mortared by unyielding obedience to Him; it is the highway of holiness and the redeemed shall walk there; the unclean shall not pass over it for they have chosen the broad road and unless they repent they shall perish.
He that finds this road shall lose his life—this is nothing more than a life of total sacrifice; it is also nothing less; this sacrifice of temporal life is necessary for apprehending the eternal; The whole disposition is again, that of the Lord Jesus who gave up His life in heaven and found His life in heaven because of His sacrifice; while our sacrifices are not worthy to be mentioned in the same breath with His, it is the principle and attitude of sacrifice Jesus is expounding on here; satan tempted Jesus with glory in the temporal life; he tempts us to the same end, and because Jesus triumphed and lost His life, we can too–remember, to die is gain–to lose this temporal life is gain–the death of the flesh is gain; The Master never tries to fool anyone–His way is hardship–it is the loss of temporal gain, comfort and glory; discipleship is extreme and demanding, a war that will shatter the flesh and produce affliction and spawn persecution; to be united with Jesus most times will divide you from men; but we must not fear any of those things which we shall suffer: even though satan may be allowed to cast some of us into prison, that we may be tried; there will be much tribulation but if we are faithful unto death, Jesus shall give us a crown of life. Jesus lives by dying and we as His disciples are not above our Master; We must not compromise His word; it is a hard word for those seeking temporal comfort and life; For they are trying to get more by keeping more and giving less, endeavor of which the Scriptures know nothing. They try to find the abundant life by seeking abundance; Jesus says the way to the abundant life is to forsake abundance; they cling ferociously to their lives, He demands total sacrifice of life and we must cleave to Him.
The walk of life eternal is a relatively lonely walk–its hard to carry your cross in a crowd; If you have found the narrow road but are having trouble negotiating it, it is your cross that is blocking your way—You must pick it up, carry it, and make your daily advance. Your cross is heavy, its very name insinuating an extremely agonizing death— but this is death that passes unto Life; the wide road offers no cross save at its end, where it agonizingly slays unto eternal condemnation.
Lord Jesus, I want you. Period. I love your presence and your gifts, but, I want you. And I shall pursue you until I have you in your Fullness. I seek your heart, not your hand. I desire to be chained by the Shackles of my freedom.
Mt 7: 14b–”Few there be that find it”–in contrast to the many who take the broad road to destruction; This statement, straight from the mouth of the Master, ought to strike fear in the heart of every would-be believer; this road must be “found”–there is asking, seeking, and knocking with this road; the other road is broad and easily seen because there are so many on it; presumption passes for grace on this road.
These are some of the strongest words the Master gives us; and He doesn’t greatly elaborate on them to soothe us; There is no gray area here, and if you have been deceived into thinking there is, you must reconsider. Why is it that so few fear He who can cast both body and soul into hell? A major reason is that they have bought into the cheap grace idea, believing all it takes are a few tears, baptism, and a one time confession and maybe a few times on the church floor, to successfully navigate the narrow road. They perform the rituals of religion and live for the enemy. They labor in vain. They will find the door shut.
We must, like the twelve, become part of the message, walking epistles as it were. The unity of the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation is that we pick up our cross and follow Jesus into the will and work of our Father, even unto death, to be raised as the Master was raised, by the glorious Power of our Father that we might worship and praise Him in the beauty of His holiness forever.
If we are to know Him, and know Him temporally unto the eternal, all must be forsaken–there must not be constant battle for the heart, for the heart has but one throne. The scribes will object; not because they lack knowledge, but because their pride negates scriptural experience. Jesus triumphed over death by submitting to it; How can we possibly believe we are above Him?
*Beware of false prophets, scribes, dogs, and the leaven of the Pharisees
Mt. 7: 15-20
’Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.’
*Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy (Lk. 12: 1);
*Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts; (Mk. 12: 38-39)
*Beware of dogs (unclean people), beware of evil workers, beware of the concision (circumcision, unnecessary mutilation under grace). (Phil. 3: 2)
*Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Jesus (Col. 2: 8).
Seeing you know these things before, beware lest you also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. Beware of false teachers, for they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand; they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter. We know that which bears thorns and briers is rejected, and in the end, shall be burned. But we are persuaded better things of those who love the Lord and His coming and the things that accompany eternal life where-in they walk; We must always remember that God is not unrighteous to forget your works and labors of love done in Jesus, which you have shown toward his name.
We must by grace, persist, and show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:; and be not slothful but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Jesus many times uses the word sheep—sacrificial animals– to describe His own children–here He tells us that the false prophets or teachers will come as His own–Iscariot came in sheep’s clothing; We don’t judge, but we must recognize goats and wolves when we see them parading around as sheep; We test the spirits and we discern by grace; The true prophet will lead to the narrow way of holiness; Beware of those who preach to you the gait is not strait, nor the road narrow that leads to Life. Study the Scriptures of the Old and you will find false prophets everywhere saying peace when there is no peace; These prophets came to the children of Israel in sheep’s clothing, just as they do today. We praise God that the elect, by grace, shall not deceived.
But many in the body are; True sheep hear the voice of the Master and know His voice; false sheep claim to bring the voice of the Master, and every comfort of the flesh with it; you’ll know the true from the counterfeit by the fruits–the counterfeit will entice the flesh into lust, sin, then death; it will rob without conscience and most times without notice, until its too late; many have crept in unawares, desiring to spy out our liberty and bring us into bondage; Presumptuous they are, self willed, seeking gratification at the expense of our faithfulness to the Lord, frustrating grace with the doctrines of men and devils, teaching that old things do not really pass away and all things do not become new in Jesus; their meat is their vomit; We must beware of wells that have not water, which bid us come and drink; and we must beseech the Lord Jesus for discernment, for the fruit of many is extremely deceiving. Here in is our intimacy with Jesus our shield. As the Day approaches, we must lose our lives at His feet.
Beware of false prophets
Those who preach the health and wealth gospel are among these false prophets. When was the last time you heard “glorying in your infirmities” preached? Power is desired, but paying the price for it is left wanting. Those who tell you that you are not prospering because you lack quality faith or are not performing adequately the rules of grace, are also among the false prophets.
Those who tell you that you will prosper more financially if you give more to the church, are also among the false; Is the very God who tells you that the love of money is the root of all evil, going to motivate you to give by promising to heap financial reward on you if you but give your finances to Him? Think about it. That God prospers people financially is not the issue, for all is His and He does at His discretion; but to preach monetary rewards as the motive for Godly giving is wrong. The blessing God gives in any endeavor that He directs, will pull us from the world, not give us means to gain better access to it. We must stop using portfolios to gauge godliness; We give to God because we’re obedient and we love Him and we know it pleases Him; the reward of our giving is to get more experience, knowledge and revelation of Jesus–giving financially shows we trust God as our Provision, and it is designed thus to benefit us spiritually; for an increase in material wealth will increase the comforts of the flesh, and will profit nothing in the end. The Blessing that rains from the windows of heaven is Jesus Himself, and there has not yet been a man born that can hold Him.
Many have prayed for an increase in wealth under the guise of spreading the gospel; but the gospel is spread mainly by trusting and faithful disciples, giving out of their need–sacrificial giving is foundational to the gospel we preach; God honors sacrificial giving with an increase in the things of His Spirit which shall profit us immeasurably, eternally and temporally, severing our ties to the world more cleanly and permanently, giving us Life more abundantly that we may pour the life of the Master into others.
The poor widow gave more than anyone else because she, of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living; you research it and then ask the Lord if she became rich for doing so; was wealth her motive? Jesus gave her the faith to give all she had, planting in her heart not that she would reap financial reward, but that God could be trusted to supply all her needs, even in her poverty. She gave with the faith of Jesus, and with her eyes on Him, she gave all she had.
We give out of our need to prove our trust in and love for God, not that we may receive one hundred fold in return. Where is the faith and trust in such giving? It is not in the Person of God but in His money, and those who marry God for His money are going to be greatly disappointed.
How many people do you know who are tithing and still having financial problems? We have ministered to many. Do you really believe that if the windows of heaven open, wealth will rain down to such an extent that you won’t be able to hold it? Again–Jesus is our motive for all we do that will not go up in smoke on that day, for all we do must be done by the Spirit of God and the office of the Spirit of God is continuing revelation of the Son of God. And when we give, we do it for the same reason we do everything—we are seeking first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness—namely Jesus our Righteousness, and that is all we are seeking.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven (Mt. 7: 21). Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy–Lk 12: 1– goats as well as wolves can come in sheep’s clothing–Jesus now moves to include laity as well as leadership of the church:
Jesus here speaks of those who use His name to make a name for themselves, seeking the honor of men instead of the honor that comes from God They profess that they know God; but in works and in lifestyle, they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate, glorifying themselves. They have lived in the flesh to the lusts of men, instead of to the will of God. For whosoever shall do the will of our Father which is in heaven, the same is the kin of Jesus.
That day is coming–the day of judgment– the day that the lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted. The Lord knows the folly of the false prophets who cause His people to error; some commit adultery and walk in lies, strengthening the hands of evildoers–all without repentance; On that day, they will be fed with wormwood, and will drink the water of gall: for from such prophets is profaneness gone forth into all the land. Jesus will give them the most dreaded of all news–”I never knew you”– I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine, but I know you not; My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, The Lord knows them that are his. And, let every one that names the name of Jesus depart from iniquity. Those who don’t will be commanded to depart from the Master on that day.
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling–carry it out until you pass from death unto life; His power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that has called us to glory and virtue; we have exceeding great and precious promises that make us partakers of the divine nature, and allow us to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust; Here again, some of the strongest words in Scripture. Jesus here asserts Himself as judge–notice though, that it is disobedience to the will of God that invokes this Judicial Power; the spirit that works in the sons of disobedience is the spirit that does not know Jesus, it only knows about Him. It is the spirit that will depart into everlasting fire, pulling the sons of disobedience in after it. If all this does not move you to obedience there is probably not much that will. Luke puts it this way: When once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. (13:25,26-27)–It is our Master that shuts a door no man can open–again the vivid depth of agony and travail when presumption attempts to open this particular door and is denied.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven–if we do not the will of the Father, we cannot call the Son ‘Lord.’ ‘Lord, Lord’ –the phrase conjures much in the mind—-mocking expression denoting false love? Iscariot kissed Jesus, just before the guards seized the Master; Lord, Lord—a sinking exclamation, realizing suddenly repentance has come too late? perhaps, but at any rate, the response to the inquiry is the issue here not the address. We notice that performing all kinds of religious duty and making public profession, does not make up for not performing the will of God at the direction of the indwelling Jesus. The heart that seeks its own and the honor of men by abusing Scripture and command, is a heart that is waxed gross; it is a heart that has made the ears dull of hearing, and has closed the eyes; lest at anytime Jesus should heal and convert the heart unto salvation. Those walking in eternal life therefore, must remain steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as we know that our labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1Cor. 15: 58.
Even the good we perceive needs to be done or even good we have done, is not good at all if done contrary to the will of God. It is possible for a man to preach and work, and to save many, while at the same time lose eternal life Himself. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?- why call me Lord, Lord and do not the things which I say?(Lk. 6: 46) Notice here, the three of the greatest services Jesus rendered to man in His ministry are claimed by the false prophets as being done by them in His name–in His name mentioned three times—an insinuation of intimacy with the triune God, which is the very thing Jesus disputes and says they don’t have–”I never knew you”–never. One of the great tragedies here is that these people continued in their false work–nobody stopped them or held them accountable; many in the Body were deceived by them and most probably feared to stop them—many may have even tried; Balaam and Saul prophesied; Satan entered Iscariot, who had many times himself cast out devils in the name of the Lord; The hands of our minds must not belie the hands of our hearts, and we must not use the name of Jesus to make a name for ourselves; Notice the claim is “in the name of Jesus”–see the power of the name, but it is a double-edged power—it delivers in the name of Jesus, but it condemns the deliverer (the minister) in the name of Jesus; here, it opens the door for ministry, but at the same time slays the alleged minister; notice Jesus does not chide them for using His name, but repudiates their insinuation that they had communion and union with Him; note again, the spirit that works in the sons of disobedience can perform miracles in the name of Jesus.
“And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Words that are more sobering than these are not to be found…..Anywhere. This time it will not be “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” It will be “Father condemn them for they know what they do.” Let all who name the name of Jesus, depart from iniquity (2 Tim. 2: 19); Lip service only, is eternally fatal. The Lord knows them that are His.
“Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 18:3;
The “converted” here is not so much soul salvation as it is evidence of it; it is accepting grace to open one’s eye to see, ears to hear, and heart to understand that they be healed by the Master unto salvation; It is turning from sin and unbelief to repentance and faith; Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter there-in. Though we be men in understanding, we must be children in disposition toward God. The proof that conversion has taken place is that the born again one now has the disposition of a child toward God. This is why we must continually pursue the manifestation of the Lord Jesus in our mortal flesh–this is what He is saying here–”unless you are transformed into my image–humble as a child when it comes to obeying my Father’s will, you cannot enter.”
These words are said to the disciples and it would seem that Jesus is implying a growth, again pointing to genuine conversion, evidence of the manifestation of Jesus in them that would eventually bring them to a position of child-like humility and trust in God, which would then be evidence of salvation. Most view maturity as growth in virtue and wisdom which it is; but proof of salvation is the Disposition of the virtuous and the wise–the presence and Person of Jesus manifesting in the flesh and life of the disciple. The Lord is saying that there is obvious change that must take place. I must by grace, receive the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as my experience– in short, I must be taught what it means to posses life eternal and to walk in it now. In this, there can be no presumption or assumption, I must know that I know, for to walk the broad road and expect the crown of the narrow will lead to the much dreaded “depart from me, I never knew you”. It is the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness–Jesus–I seek, and when I find Him I will come to love Righteousness, for Jesus is my Righteousness; and I will find the grace to become as a child; obedience to the will of God will become my meat; and though I shall be an unprofitable servant owing to the price Jesus paid for my profit as His servant, my hunger shall be filled, my thirst quenched, for grace shall have taught me how to obey His commandments and it is in this that I shall come to know Him, and in this I will rejoice for I will come to experience life eternal, for life eternal is knowing the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.
I must not mistake this–Jesus is not standing at the judgment seat of man awaiting my decision on whether or not to follow Him. Many think that all one has to do is accept Jesus as Savior and they are off the hook on judgment day–and many go through the motions believing just that–they accept Him as Savior and fail to make Him Lord–How chilling is “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Many are led to accept Jesus, with no born-again experience undertaken, no life change effected. This is eternally fatal.
“……. Believe– (pisteuo- used in the New Testament of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of soul; to trust in Jesus or God as able to aid either in obtaining or in doing something: saving faith) on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Acts 16:31–the thrust of this verse is that a person comes to the belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior, the Lord; the individual accepts Him as such, trusting in His Blood to save him, and in doing so, makes Jesus Lord of his life, as well as Savior. In this there is great moral and intellectual, as well as spiritual change. To merely believe is folly–fatal folly at that–ask the trembling demons. Life eternal is more than mere intellectual assent to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. True Life embraces the Master as it’s All in All. In this, Jesus rises above all that is life to the disciple–He has no rival; All that the life now holds is determined by the Lord of that life. Merely believing on Jesus is but the first step–there is intimacy and union to follow–this must needs be for the will of our Father to be accomplished. It is accepting His cross as our own and with His help, picking up that cross and claiming it as our own.
One of the reasons the issues of Life are to many, confusing, is that they try to read and understand the Bible as they do their favorite novel. And in so doing, the things of the cross become folly and confusion to the carnal mind. The Bible must be read in Spirit and in Truth to be fruitful, for the flesh will profit nothing from it. And it is the flesh that tries to make life eternal a matter of ease and convenience, conforming it to temporal life; life eternal comes hard, with fear, trembling, and taxation on the flesh as well as the spirit. If this saying sounds harsh to you, stop right here and honestly examine your thought life in light of Jesus’ teaching on the heart. Make no mistake, by grace we are saved through faith that the Lord gives; there are no works involved in starting the salvation process, but unless works–the will and purpose of God done through Jesus Christ–become the process and end of salvation, the faith we think is saving us, is a dead counterfeit that is not from God and will not save–the cross is a double-edged sword and its work is deadly, and I must submit to that work to avoid being hewn down by it and cast into the fire; Jesus offers the faith and I must put the impetus on myself to accept it and get into and stay in the mode of making Jesus Savior and Lord, by grace. We must never lose sight of the fact that salvation is the working out of the will of God in a life; Walking with Him, letting Him will and work as He chooses–this is evidence of obedience unto life eternal. The flesh might believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world, but it is spirit only, that can embrace Him as Lord. Saving faith is a gift and is humbly received in response of the soul to a crucified and risen Savior, and that response is perpetually penitent and all embracing, its fruit being life service unto the will of God through He who loves us and washed us from our sins in His own Blood (Rev. 1: 5).
Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen. 2 Peter 3: 17-18.
Knowing and obeying Jesus-essential to knowing and doing the Will of God
The sons and daughters of God are they who are led by the Spirit of God (Rms 8: 14). We would do well to digest this as we work into life eternal, which is finding and doing the will of God. The spiritual man does not initiate his work apart from the direction of Jesus. It has been said many times but it cannot be said enough–God must initiate everything. The Scriptural example from Genesis to Revelation is that it is God who first calls, and it is God who sends. This problem of running ahead of the cloud as it were, is especially prevalent during this time of renewal. Great moves of God spark great dreams of power in His people, and with these dreams, these people “move out in faith” as they put it, only to find no power and much disappointment. Another problem is that waiting on God can become excruciating, and when we can wait no more, we move out, void of His direction. We must acknowledge God before every battle, every undertaking, whether large or small, and He shall then direct our paths.
For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him. Isa 64:4.
Abraham had direction from no one but God; Joshua inspires us with his tremendous victories at the leading of the Lord; The apostles were able to give the church a foundation that will last until God ends time–How? By obedience to the Master at the direction of the Spirit of God. To most, God moves extremely slow, and is very thorough, never, seemingly in a hurry. Waiting on God will always test our trust in Him, and we shall reap His will in due season if we faint not: I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. Ps 32:8-9
There is also much ado about “missing God’ or being too ignorant to know when He is working and what He is doing. We must by faith come to some measure of understanding the love of God, and that His love and direction will lend itself to the least learned if the motive is His glory and the glory of Jesus, the eye must be single on Him and the heart must be His.
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
Walking in and working out God’s will and purpose for your life and ministry, is the perpetual fruit of life eternal. Knowing Him unto salvation is the fruit of seeking Him with all your heart. Many believe the will of God is hard to find, and in many cases, the Lord does make it difficult to ascertain. In a lot of these cases, we just cannot stop leaning on our own understanding. God does not always reveal His lofty thoughts and ways to us, for if He did, what would be the need for faith?
Many times after much prayer we expect convenience and ease, but the Lord chooses a much more difficult path, making us surprised by the fiery trial we are in. We then suspect Him, and question His logic and find it extremely hard to give thanks in all things, and end up learning the same lessons over and over again. Faith takes all matters to God and accepts His sovereign decision on those matters. It may get easier or it may get excruciatingly painful, but though He slay me yet will I trust in Him (Job 13: 15). Many believe pain and trial prove they have missed God when just the opposite is true, for it is through much tribulation that we enter the Kingdom of Heaven–Golgatha did not erase the suffering that is discipleship–it opened to the door to more of it. Forasmuch then as Jesus suffered for us in the flesh, we must arm ourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that has suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin. That we no longer should live the rest of our time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but unto the will of God(1 Pet 4: 1-2).. It will always be a matter of heart with God–if Jesus has your heart, God will see to it that His will is worked out in your life: If you buy into the no trial, health-wealth gospel many are spreading, the Scripture guarantees your disappointment. Many of God’s greatest ministers have accomplished God’s greatest glory while undergoing tremendous physical and emotional trial and suffering. Indeed, the Greatest Single Act of all history proves the whole counsel of God; Jesus is our example, and thorough examination of His earthly walk and ministry we see that He never preaches a lack of trial and tribulation, nor does He guarantee health and wealth to those who are His. Expect trials, and endure the hardness of them like a good soldier. Our Father’s aim is to transform us into the likeness of our Savior–to resurrect Jesus in our mortal flesh–we need to digest the fact that the Scripture guarantees that this process shall not be painless; God promises to chasten and scourge every son He receives (Heb. 12: 6). Again, thoroughly examine the earthly walk and ministry of Jesus, and keep His life as your constant barometer. After all, it is His life that is the goal of your transformation. God may decide to bestow wealth and a long happy life on you. He may not. You must be content in either state, for the most important thing in the life of the disciple of Jesus, is the will and glory of the Lord:
Grace must render surrender to the will of God a both complete and absolute resolution of the heart. This is where there can be much tribulation, because God can ask us to do things that can be extremely painful, even though we know them to be His will. There are many things that are contrary to our flesh that God demands our obedience in. Like our walk with God, the working of our will into His is a process–it takes time. We must beseech Him to make us willing. As we immerse ourselves in the Person of Jesus and His word, let us continually ask for grace to completely surrender our wills. As we do, we will find Him working our inward life to where it is constantly immersed in Jesus, who alone is capable of gracing us into doing the will of our Father. This process works us into the continual abiding that is required for our prayers to be according to His will, that they be answered according to His will (Jn. 15: 1-7).
Extreme crisis proves the extreme case here, as the greatest temptation is to take matters into our own hands–it is then that we must again beseech God to help us wait. When all about us are screaming “do something’ or “something has to be done’–it is at this time that we must be intimate enough with the Lord that we can wait on Him and not move till He bids us do so, for these extreme crisis points usually come just before God is ready to move–the sea didn’t open until the Israelites were right up to it. Let us not offer sacrifice (As did Saul) because we fear the Lord is not going to act. Remember–Only God can identify which is the true hour of need. When we do not know what God wants us to do, we must stand until we do know. When circumstances push us into action, we are assured God’s direction if we but acknowledge Him on the path we are going to take. Many, many disciples down through the ages have had to move out without knowing where they were going-it is there we exercise our faith by acknowledging Him in the way we will take (Prov. 3: 5-6), trusting Him to direct our paths. The Lord very seldom, if at all, will open His whole scheme of plans to us.
It will be a Faith Experience
Many in this day of renewal find it hard when God withdraws the awareness of His presence. Make no mistake about it–God will make this deeper walk one of deeper faith, not one of better sight. Temptation always follows great blessing, and the faith received from the Master in the great blessing must be guarded, nurtured and kept, for in the day of spiritual winter, it is the only food that will sustain you. The Psalms many times tell of the blessings of the Lord’s presence and the agony when He removes it. It is then that the flesh and the enemy will rail at you. All this must needs be if we are to develop into overcomers through Jesus, for it is the faith that He imparts that overcomes. It is the spiritual dry times that give us opportunity to move in that faith and the wisdom God has instilled during the times of refreshing. It is in these dry times that we learn to seek the place of low estate, for we must descend if the humility of the Master should resurrect in us, for we must never forget, it is in our weakness that we are made more than conquerors. Many expect to grow into great men and women of faith not realizing that it is not a growing in fleshy strength, but a growing in fleshy weakness. When this fact is realized, many find it too hard to bear, and thus they depart.
God’s will for us is our growth in holiness and our sanctification, and evidence of growth in these things in the life of the disciple, is evidence of salvation. Understand that your salvation is the working and walking out of the will and purpose of God in your life. God has called us apart, and separated us to make us holy. Holiness and our sanctification in Jesus, is the purpose of our redemption–to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus, is above all, a transformation into holiness, and this transformation begins and is sustained into holiness by a life of worship, hearing, and filling, at His feet: We are positionally holy in Jesus, but God obviously desires more than that–He desires that the flesh be put off, and that the resurrection and the life of He who is our holiness take place in our mortal flesh, that Life might work in the body of the Lord, His church. When we develop a lifestyle at the feet of Jesus, the flesh falls off, and we see Him come alive in our crucified bodies. It is the Spirit of Holiness with which we are filled, and if there is no growth by grace of holiness in the life of the disciple, a prayerful look must be taken to see that the transaction that satisfies eternal justice has truly taken place. The Blood of Jesus has opened the highway called “…..the way of holiness…..the redeemed shall walk therein…” Isa. 35: 9-10. This holiness is the total of all the beautiful perfections of God, which begin their manifestations in our lives, when we seek the resurrection of the Master in us, for He is the Beauty of Holiness.
God Does Heal
14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
Our Father has endowed many with His Spirit of healing, some being more visible than others. God will do what He wants to do of course, but I know that if I am seeking Jesus, and I need healing, I am more likely to find it at a Benny Hinn crusade or healing service of someone on whom God has bestowed the gift of healing. God is not limited to anything, but He has ordained many with the gift of healing and when they pray for the sick, many of the sick get healed. But even the most visible healing ministries don’t see all the sick healed. I have been to many great crusades and have seen God heal many, many people; we have seen people healed in our own ministry. But we have also had our hearts broken seeing young children with their legs and arms crumpled due to disease, leaving some of these services in the same condition in which they came. Many go home rejoicing, but many go home weeping. Some attend many services before they are healed. Some attend many more services and die of their disease. It all prompts the question– why aren’t all healed? It is the prayer of faith that shall save the sick, and sometimes Jesus just does not give the faith; faith is not trying to muster enough belief to get God to do what we want Him to do, whether it be physical healing or anything else. There are many attempted answers for this but we sooner or later must move into the place where we can flatly state that it wasn’t God’s will that all were healed, and ask Jesus for enough faith to accept that fact, because God is probably not going to tell you or me why many were or were not healed.
ACCEPTING GOD’S WILL
A closer walk with the Lord…..Many want it, but fall short of it for many reasons. Chief among them is failure to count the cost of such a walk. Many have incorrectly assessed just what the true disciple’s walk is. The health-wealth people preach that perfect health and a life without need or want is the disciple’s right to claim because of the atonement. All it takes is for one that appears to be walking with God to get sick and die, or one to go broke, and right away there are charges of an “open door” somewhere in the person’s life. Wealthy godly people go broke; Disciples who walk so close to the Master you can feel Him on them, get sick and die, some of them at a very young age.
Jesus obviously walked closer to God than anyone who ever walked the earth. He must be our barometer. What was His earthly walk like? How was He treated? What impact did He have? Was he wealthy? Was He poor? Was He in good health? Did He waltz through life in the joy that so many people attempt to claim for themselves? Do we enter the Kingdom of Heaven through much tribulation, or is heaven just the glorious capper to a healthy wealthy life because of the atonement? A church prays for days, even months for the cancer stricken 32 year old mother of two young boys. She is the godly wife of a great evangelist, a true man of God who has great impact for the kingdom. She dies. Why? James tells us that the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and many claimed to have the faith to see the woman healed. It is here that many come to the realization that faith is not mustering enough belief that we may stand on promises and manipulate God into doing our will. Faith comes by hearing–when God speaks, Jesus imparts the faith to believe what He says, and what He says then comes to pass. It is the prayer of faith that saves the sick, but if the Master does not impart the faith, the sick go home to be with the Lord–is there any greater healing? Is our perspective on the work and purposes of God so temporal that we forget He is eternal? The great Andrew Murray had a situation where a close friend was dying and much prayer went up for him, but the friend died. Acquaintances of Murray say he was greatly shaken by the incident. There are many such instances and no doubt you know of one or two. If you don’t, live long enough, and you will.
What we are after is the will of God in any and all situations, whether it be in sickness or in health, in poverty or in wealth–it is the will of God that sustains our entire spiritual life. We want the perfect will of our Father, and we must resolve to let Jesus work this disposition in us. All that we regard as blessing is made possible because of the Master’s death and resurrection, and we praise you and thank you for all you have done Jesus, and for all that you are. As our Father works the transformation of our disposition to that of the living, indwelling Jesus, we shall see the desires of our heart becoming the same as His. It is then we are on the road to prayer answered in accordance with the will of our Father. Lord, increase our faith–enable us to accept thy will in each and every situation in our lives–for that is true faith is it not? Accepting the revealed will of God no matter what it holds in its cup, and then trusting and believing that it is the best that can be done in the situation.
I have worked with many people who were devastated because they stood on a number of God’s promises in relation to a given situation, and the Lord did not resolve the situation according to those promises. A woman who was believing for a middle aged family member to be healed of cancer comes to mind. This woman was on the verge of suicide because she said there were many churches in the U.S. and abroad praying for the healing of this family member, who was herself a great woman of God, active in the church most of her life. When God decided not to heal the victim, the woman was devastated. She had stood on thirty some promises of God for the healing, and was so convinced it was going to come to pass, that she tried to raise the victim from the dead in the funeral home. When God would not raise the victim, our woman friend became distraught enough to want to kill herself, and became extremely angry with God–anger that lasted for years.
We all know that circumstances can be extremely hard when God decides not to heal or deliver. We must pursue the Resurrection and the Life of Jesus in our mortal flesh, that we might be consumed with the will of God, and not the adapting of His word to our whims and wishes. This is one of the reasons that in these latter days, many will see their love wax cold; many are offended when their will is not done, as they lay claim to God’s promises walking after their own thoughts instead of His direction and will in any given situation. Again, faith is accepting the will of God in any matter, even though it may be diabolically opposed to our will and our prayers. Manipulating and misapplying Scripture to bring our will to pass will always bring great disappointment and confusion. We ask in faith believing that the will and purpose of God will be accomplished.
25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;
26 But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.
27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.
What Jesus is saying here is that God in His infinite love and wisdom decides who He will touch in any given temporal situation, and who He won’t: For He saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (Ex. 33: 19). If God grants physical healing, it is a temporal, visible thing that most likely will have eternal impact of some kind. We know however that if God does not grant healing, the situation then becomes an eternal thing– for the dying disciple, it becomes eternal healing and eternal glory, as he or she passes from this life to the next, not seeing death. And we are taught that our affliction here is light in the face of all eternity and works an eternal weight of glory, and the eternal is where our heart must always be. Looking and setting the heart upon things unseen is always a difficult job, for we see and know in part.This is where we must beseech the Master to increase our faith, that we might be able to accept the revealed will of God without His explanation for it. God sent Elijah to the Sidonian woman, and Namaan the Syrian did go to Elisha –the Israelites in their disobedience and thanklessness, were ignored. And while disobedience is one reason many would-be disciples are not blessed of God, many disciples who walk closely with Him seem to reap sorrow upon sorrow. And when they do, the Christian world wonders why the blessing was “missed.”
One major problem is that many people equate the word blessing with gain, whether it be physical or material. On the day of judgment, many will be surprised at the temporal calamity that results in eternal gain for many. In this life, our only guarantee is eternal life, if we be found in Jesus, and true blessing is defined as the will of God accomplished in the life of a sinner because of the Life, Death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The ability to rejoice in fiery trials comes when God’s will is accomplished by our Master through us. Temporal life can evolve into hell on earth for any given disciple–we need not look at the martyred disciples down through the ages to prove it, although such a look would humble us, and show us our lack of true spirituality; We need only look around us in our churches……many are bursting at the seams with godly, hurting people. Mercy is both the foundation and the fruit of confession and repentance, and reaches its height in the Master’s eternal healing of souls, not so much in the temporal, physical healing of the body.
Set Your Face
And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem… Luke 9:51.
The original language in this verse tells us that the time mentioned here is the time that Jesus should ascend into heaven–his suffering and death is overlooked here, showing us His eyes and heart were on the glory following His upcoming suffering and death, and they were not worthy of being compared to the glory He would enter into. There is a great lesson here for us, as to our disposition towards suffering and death. Jesus will work Himself into us in such a way that He will lead us through the process to get us to this place, where our heart is more set on the will of our Father and our eternal home, than anything temporal–including suffering and death. He set His face for Jerusalem–towards they who killed the prophets–towards they who would now kill more than a prophet. Jesus set His face toward the place He would die–He set His face to do the revealed will of God, He set His face to get a grip on His cup and His cross. This is the disposition God would have all of His children posses, and it is possible for all His children, for all are indwelt with Jesus Himself, the only one capable of this disposition. And if we are truly crucified with Him and He truly lives in us, then we have entered the process of forsaking all that we have that we might become true, biblical disciples.
*INTIMACY WITH JESUS
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Gal. 2: 20.
As you grow in your walk with the Lord, sooner or later you will come to the point where you will have to decide the extent you want to move into intimacy and union with Him; There will come a point when God will see just how serious you are about your commitment to Him. There will come a point when Gal. 2: 20–your crucifixion–will be opened to you; you will come to the knowledge that God has a cross with your name on it, and unless you resolve to pick it up and die on it daily, there will be no increase in your intimacy with the Master. Few really realize what it means to pick up one’s cross–it means many things to be sure, but one thing it does mean is a slow, steady, daily death of your flesh, your will and your life as you know it, and this death must happen, though it must not be pursued; there is but one pursuit and that is Jesus, and it is He who must work the death walk in you; we pursue nothing else for the pursuit of anything else indicates a divided heart–the place of wanting nothing comes when grace imparts a desire to want nothing but God. Even self-denial must not be pursued for it falls under the doctrine of works, leading to pride in itself–I may find myself keeping score on the number of times I deny myself so that others may be blessed; in other words, my focus becomes my abstinence, not the will of God and the needs of others; self denial, like any other virtue, must flow from the resurrected Jesus within me, and He must get the praise and glory for it.
As earlier stated, I must not reason “what would Jesus do?” I must be intimate enough with Him to let Him ‘do’ through me–it is He who must respond, not my fleshy perception of what He might think or do in any given situation. In some situations it is obvious what Jesus would do or how He would respond. In many others it is not, and I dare not let my old man’s intellect get into the habit of trying to reason the Master’s response. The more intimate I become with Him the more I see His desired response through me. Don’t be fooled–growth in sanctification is not necessarily becoming mystical, pastoral and passive, although these may be from time to time, a part of it. Growth in sanctification is the daily apprehension of Jesus, being apprehended by Him, and witnessing the resurrection of Him in your mortal flesh–it is your awareness that He is daily increasing in you, and you are daily decreasing in Him (Jn 3: 30). The daily living, intimate experience of death walking with Jesus, is a wait on our Father–He must do the work by His Spirit, for your life is hid with Jesus in God, and our Father is continually transforming those who are willing, into the likeness of His Son; Just as Jesus sacrificed His flesh, so must the disciple sacrifice his or hers; It is through our conforming death that we see the Resurrection of Jesus in us–no death– no resurrection–its that simple. Jesus must live His life increasingly and without hindrance in you, working the will of our Father.
Paul would serve us as the Scripture’s chief example of seeing the life of Jesus lived through a man; Many seek to be called “apostle:” few realize the cost of bearing such an inscription. There is in Paul an intense and insatiable desire for the Lord Jesus–this would indicate a gift of the Holy Spirit in considerable measure. Paul became so consumed with and by Jesus that the very life of Jesus was continually manifesting in him. Evidence is the fruit of his ministry. Only Jesus could do the things Paul accomplished. If we let our Father transform us, we will come to intimately know Jesus and the power of his resurrection, as well as the fellowship of his sufferings; and we shall be made conformable unto his death. We will then by grace, seize grace, knowing we are forgiven and accepted, put a shoulder to the plow and not look back. Our sufferings must be the sufferings of Jesus, our labors, Jesus working through us, effecting God’s will in our ministry, effecting the death of flesh, that the manifestation of the life of Jesus in us would be real, bearing fruit; We as Paul, must experience the fact thatc Grace is the strength of our calling and ministry. Paul was put in a position where he had to depend on Grace to supply his every need; But he realized grace for what it is–unconditional love forever faithful in giving unconditional favor that the Lord be glorified—he did not merely believe this, he experienced it, and that’s why 2000 years later the church continues to thrive on his words–he was so open to the Lord that God wrote much of the New Testament through him.
Just as Jesus revealed our Father in His earthly walk, our Father works to reveal Jesus in us and through us now, as He did with the early church. Grace upon grace brings the obedience and love that can only come from the manifestation of Jesus; He came, and He died that we might have the liberty to choose Life–Him–and have Him more abundantly by His Spirit for He is the Spirit of Life. It is the weakness of His death and the power of His resurrection that our Father wills to work in us. All the theology in the world is but dung if Jesus does not resurrect in us. If we have faith beyond our salvation, let it be in the faithfulness of our Father to resurrect our Savior in our mortal flesh–let us look for Jesus always, everywhere, especially in our selves. This will allow our Father to develop the dependence on Him that is vital to the ministry of Jesus through us. Our liberty is our license and freedom to love and obey Him, and to cast all on Him, that our Father’s will be done in our lives and ministries, as it is in heaven. And our Father’s will is our being transformed into the likeness of His Son–it is not our flesh conforming to the likeness of what we perceive of Him in Scripture. We must spend much time at His feet for that is the one thing that is needed to let our Father work in us both to will and do of His good pleasure; for we know that it pleases God to reveal His Son in us, the hope of glory, that He would be mighty in us toward those who are without.
In order to enter fully into union with the Trinity, one must be able to witness to the truth and power of the Gospel–one has to experience it, not just read about it, to truly know it and impart it to others. We must come to the point where grace takes us from being Saul (OT) to being Paul in our experience with the Lord Jesus. We must not dwell on the magnitude of our sin and its former dominion over us, but we must be experientially aware of these things to fully know from where Jesus has brought us, and that He has become our dwelling place. God will give us a view of the grossness of our sin, and when we see it, it will motivate us to the walk of death to which we are called. This grossness of ourselves and our sin will always be with us as a reminder of the grace that is upon us—but it will not dominate us and we will not keep focused on it. God is no respecter of persons, and to offer Jesus to those without, we must be led to see ourselves for what we were when we accepted Him as Savior and Lord, and apart from Him what we still are and will always be this side of the grave. We must beseech our Father to give us revelation and heart knowledge of our state without Jesus and even the state of our flesh with Him; for when we know flesh as our own, we will despise it, we will loathe it, because we will know that God hates it. No matter how big the ministry or how powerful the giftings, we must never lose sight of the fact that we are unprofitable servants–saved sinners, and that grace is the only difference between us and our fellow man who has not yet seized it, for such were we aforetime. Our Father must work this Disposition in us, for it is He who will use it to keep us in the low estate of the contriteness and humility of the Master, needed to minister Him in power; if we consent to His working, we will find that we are on the road to that power in ministry. But even though we are ever mindful of our sinful state, again, we do not dwell on it–we dwell on and pursue nothing but Jesus.
As we stated earlier, care must be taken here to not excessively delve into one’s own corruption, for condemnation is the fruit of such over-delving and renders one useless because the enemy will confuse and convict on the magnitude of our sins. The Holy Spirit will convict enough to lead us into Godly sorrow, confession, and repentance, and He will always point us to the Sacrifice for those sins, and it is on Jesus we will then dwell, not our sins.
It is enough to confess our sins and repent out of Godly sorrow for them–the Holy Spirit will give us heart knowledge of our forgiveness and cleansing and He will work repentance into the heart that is His and move us on into ministry that Jesus might be glorified- Be leery of anyone who spends an inordinate amount of time on sin. Many old things have passed away in many new creatures, only to be dug up again by ministers and laity according to the doctrines they’ve devised by demonic influence and fleshy efforts to satisfy their intellects and egos, and sell their books. We have worked with many, many people who have been taken through so much of their sin and the sins of their generations, that their lives in Jesus have literally fallen apart. Why? Because satan has enticed a minister or lay-minister with the false notion that there is an endless amount of ground to cover before the Blood of Jesus becomes sufficient enough to cleanse and renew; intellectual flesh has been drawn away to satisfy its ego and negate the simplicity of the Gospel and the power of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Renunciation never cleansed anybody and no one has ever been forgiven by God because he or she renounced his or her sin. It is confession of sin–acknowledging that we are continual sinners in need of a continual cleansing by the Blood of Jesus, which continually flows from Calvary’s mountain; God is looking for the heart that walks and lives in this disposition; it is this simple: confess, repent, and put your shoulder to the plow; confess, repent, and keep your shoulder to the plow. If anyone then bids you to look back, bid them good-bye. If your salvation and your total cleansing and forgiveness depends on your confession of all your sin, and formal renunciation of all your evil ways, then you are dirty and bound for hell. There is no way anyone can confess all their sin–we all commit sins that we don’t even know about, and multitudes have died without confessing such sin. Many lead people through confession of generational sins that aren’t even there, telling them–”its better to be safe than sorry”–such doctrine of man greatly offends the total work of cross, and puts those who teach it and those who do it, dangerously close to being under the law and condemnation: In Jesus, either old things are passed away or they aren’t; either all things become new or they don’t; either the saved become new creatures or they don’t. It is the heart attitude toward Jesus that God honors or dishonors; it is going before Him on your face and telling Him you are a sinner and that you acknowledge all your sin, and that you repent from it. It is this confession that brings the Blood of Mercy pouring over you and cleansing you from all that is unrighteous. How powerful is His Blood? Is it powerful enough that it needs nothing added to it to cleanse and save? Those who have added their commandments and their doctrines to the totally complete work of Calvary, will some day answer to He who hung there. We would all do well to catch the Master’s teaching in relating the story of the Pharisee and the Publican:
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
The Pharisee lauded himself to God because of his religious, lawful exercises, just as many preachers and teachers do today; the Publican acknowledged himself a sinner, not worthy to lift his head before God, evidence that the Master was alive and well in him for the kind of contrition that God honors is impossible apart from Jesus, and apart from Jesus there is no justification. Again, if you acknowledge to the Lord that you are a sinner in need of continual cleansing from the Blood of Jesus, and you confess your sin at the direction of the Lord, repent of that sin, and are in a heart attitude of perpetual confession, repentance and cleansing, the Truth is in you, and you are free from your forefathers indeed. Our Father is interested in our hearts, and when heart confession of sin and godly sorrow for it is confessed and God’s gift of repentance and cleansing in Jesus is seized, that heart is honored by our Father, and its holder is justified. Playing excessive guessing games with generational sin and delving into our corruption to excess, serves only to sell worthless books, exalt false prophets and their doctrine, and, entertain and entice the enemy and offend the Cross. It is by grace that old things are passed away, and it is the Blood of Mercy and Grace that effects the new creature. Again How powerful is the Blood of Jesus to you? Powerful enough to blot out the handwriting of the ordinances that were against us?
According to your faith, be it unto you–Keep it simple–our Father is after a full resurrection of the Master in us, and thus is looking to work absolute surrender–where even the chief of sinners can become the mightiest of ministers because of grace that has worked an insatiable love for the Master and who He is and for what He has done. This grace works the weakness necessary for overcoming the evil one. The deeper you walk with God, the simpler your walk should get. Remember, that Jesus now dwells in you–He is there, and is the power of God in you, by His Spirit, for the Lord is the Spirit Don’t restrict the movement of Jesus in your life to your perception of Him or of that movement, for there is much we do not understand about Him; when you ask Him to come in and be the Lord and Savior of your life, He comes in His fullness, and in comprehending what we can of that, remember the disposition that animated Him to Calvary–He died to come into us in His fullness, that His sacrifice might be reflected in our lives. He thus moves into your soul and becomes the heart of your soul, even the soul of your soul. It is here that He gets hold of you, and by grace you abide and get hold of Him; And as this process is graced, shaped and nurtured by our Father, we move ever closer to total union with Him–we move into the awareness that we have become one Spirit with Him, this awareness then begins to reveal the glory of our Father in the face of our Savior, for the soul of our Father which is His Son, has filled us by His Spirit, and by His Spirit we now experience the reality that our Redeemer lives…….in us. And we look forward to that Day, when “Lord, Lord” shall become our sight.