True Christianity: Demanding Yet Valuable
There are quotes going around, attributed to various people, related to never settling for less than you deserve, never settling for less than what you want, and other similar statements.
These are very general statements which are impossible to evaluate right apart from the context in which they are said.
Of course, you shouldn’t settle for $1 an hour if the market value of your labor definitely is much more. In many aspects of life though we are not great judges of what we deserve. We may very well rob ourselves of a great bargain if we think we deserve a lot better than we really do. And making what you think you deserve as the ultimate thing to pursue is a sure way to end up angry at God and angry at a lot of people too.
And similarly, never settling for less than what you want is a sure way to transgress the boundaries of both God and man. We are often not even good judges about what we should even want. From a financial point of view, it is common for stocks to rise greatly and for stocks to fall greatly. Time often proves that what was commonly wanted one day was not wise to want; and what seemed nearly worthless at one point was actually something which would have been wise to seek after. People are often so set on what they want though that they harm themselves trying to get it. And if they manage to get it, they often find it wasn’t worth the price they paid to have it. And that is not to mention how it is surely possible to be so zeroed in on what you want that you blind yourself to an opportunity which is even better.
The evident truths just spoken of deal with why we should wholeheartedly pursue the God of the Bible and do everything He says with gratitude and with a confident hope. I will explain.
The Bible says in Proverbs 14:9: “Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favor.”
I think that most people when they hear that verse, whether they would admit to being such a mocker or not, they think of especially bold and impudent sinners. There are indeed those like people like the people of Sodom, whom the Bible describes as “wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.” (Genesis 13:13b) Yet anyone who doesn’t esteem all of God’s verdicts and judgments in the Bible about sin, and anyone who doesn’t fear God so as to utterly depart from sin, can justly be termed a mocker of sin.
With that in mind, God didn’t just work through thousands of years of human history to prepare mankind for His Christ because He wanted to give us a heartwarming story. God knows what fallen man deserves; and He knows what fallen man ultimately needs to be delivered from His just, righteous condemnation. If man could just devise his own way to work his way into God’s favor, or devise his own way to turn God’s wrath away through his own sacrifice, or if he could just do what he thought God ought to accept, then God was really wasting His time teaching the lessons which He taught in the Bible, particularly about how blood must be shed for the remission of sins; and how offerings made to God must be without spot and without blemish.
God arranged His Holy Scriptures, and really even all of human history, to center around Jesus Christ’s coming to give His life as a ransom on the cross to redeem man to God from his sins. Even the secular world now measures time according to when Jesus was born (maybe the date isn’t precise, but it is surely very close; and it is the intention or thought which counts).
Christ died for you because you need a redeemer. There must be an offering made for you to atone for your sins. You cannot provide that yourself nor produce anything which is adequate to negate the need for that. Denying this is mocking at sin, as it is kicking against God’s verdict stating the condemnation which He taught in His Word that you deserve; and striving against your only hope of obtaining God’s mercy on Judgment Day. And to not come to Jesus Christ and bow before Him as your rightful King and Lord, in hope of partaking of the remedy and deliverance from sin which He has provided for you, is to mock at sin. He has died to purchase your redemption and calls for you to come to Him, cooperating with Him so you can be rescued from your sins and obtain His grace unto eternal life. If you did not need that, He would not have died for you.
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:14-21: “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit (i.e. know), that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us (i.e. an acceptable sin offering), who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness (i.e. the justification or divine approval) of God in him.”
The following passages then were written to those who were already faithful Christians, yet they contain lessons which everyone needs to know, which we will analyze after we read them.
1 Peter 1:10-21: “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.”
Colossians 1:13-29: “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”
Note the key lessons which are directly stated or implied strongly in the proceeding passages:
-The cosmic centrality of Christ’s suffering and following glory.
The indescribable magnitude of what Christ did and of what His salvation entails (of a magnitude and depth of wisdom which the angels desire to look into).
The duty of man to esteem Christ’s deity and His preeminence as a prerequisite to believing in Him.
The need to obey Him as a sovereign Ruler who we owe allegiance to and who has purchased us by His redeeming blood (what a price!)
There is no redemption and eternal life in Him apart from that.
The inherently inevitable and eternal consequences regarding whether we obtain an interest in Christ or not.
Our certainty of standing before Him on Judgment Day to give an account before Him for our lives.
This is all only logical considering the eternal character of Christ; and in light of how He was ordained before the world to suffer and die to redeem to God those who would cooperate with His goal/purpose in obedience to Him.
One problem with much evangelism is that it implies, or often directly says, that coming to Christ is a one-time transaction. You do it, it’s done, now you’re saved (supposedly). It is a horrible, misleading deception which often makes people two-fold the children of hell. After they’ve gone through the alleged transaction, they’ve got to be freed from the delusion they’ve come under as a result of it in order to really come to Christ and get on the actual road to salvation. People didn’t come to Jesus in the Gospels for a one-time transaction- at least not in a way that was acceptable to Him. What He accepted was when they came to bow to Him as Lord and be His disciple. Believing in Him in a way that saves means submitting to do what He says, following His instructions, learning His ways, etc. That was how the Apostles preached Jesus Christ- He is the way, the truth, and the life.
He is the only mediator between God and man- hence He is the way to God. To follow Him you must submit to understand and follow His truth. And then in that context, the way God has prescribed to be justified before Him, there is eternal life.
The preciousness of eternal life implies eternal condemnation for those who die in their sins. To deny God’s righteousness in eternally condemning sinners to the fire of hell is to make a mock at sin. To not esteem eternal life which God offers in His Son, according to the terms He has laid out in His Word, is to make a mock of sin, since not esteeming eternal life from God leaves one in their sins. And to stay in your sins then before God, especially when He has provided a remedy to escape this condemnation is foolishness, unreasonable, and mad. God Himself has testified, even through His very own Son in His incarnation, the horror of spending eternity in one’s sins.
Luke 12:4-5: “And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.”
Mark 9:42-48: “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”
And we also read in God’s Word from Romans 2:4-11: “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God.”
With these things in mind, what does man deserve before God? Wrath and condemnation. Don’t focus on what you deserve, except that if you don’t avail yourself of the true grace of God in Jesus Christ to lay hold of His salvation which you do not deserve, then it will especially not be well for you! That is the verdict of God which He has given us in His Word. That did not originate with some tyrannical king or professing religious leader trying to scare people and control people.
Is it not worth it to pursue, obey, and walk in the truth of God’s Word with eternity in mind? The eternal implications of our relationship to Christ’s Gospel and the truth of His Word are evident. Do you think that the glitter of the world, the esteem of whatever segments of the world you value, the pleasures, comforts, securities, etc of life, and the general ways and inclinations of your heart are better to pursue? There is a bigger event going on. Will you lose in that because you want these other things? What shall it profit one if they gain the whole world and lose their own soul? There is something better to want and pursue with all your heart. To forfeit such frivolous things, things you can afford to lose, to obtain that which is obviously better and which you can’t afford to miss out on, is evidently wise and right.
Maybe you know your religion is incompatible with the Biblical Gospel and the narrow way of true Christianity. Is counting loss what you thought you attained in the past, or bearing others thinking ill of you, too great a price to obtain the things you need more than anything else? It is a choice which will affect you ages from now. You think that you are too late to be a faithful Christian at this point in your life; or you think that for some other reason God’s grace in Christ could never be for you. What better thing to do than to heed the invitation of God’s grace now and bear the discomfort of the changes you will have to make? It would surely be worth it, considering the hope before you on one hand; and the despair and agony before you on the other.
Luke 14:15-27: “And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper. And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”
The demand of Christ’s Gospel, to count all things a loss in relation to answering its call, gives a hope of things much more valuable and advantageous than whatever we’d have to lose and have to suffer to obtain them. What better could anyone do with their life than to cooperate with the rescue they need, from the One who is perfect in power and wisdom, which is intended to bring them to the greatest treasure which anyone could ever possess? What better function could anything have than to cooperate with the repair of its maker and be used according to the maker’s instruction manual? I’ve said in a previous video that “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21b) is a terrifying statement. And it is indeed to man in his attachment to his flesh (i.e. carnal ways); and it is a great demand indeed in terms of difficulty according to how we measure that from our earthly perspective. And yet at the same time nothing could be more reasonable, better, and profitable for one to do!
Romans 11:33-36 and Romans 12:1-2: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
In relation, the Bible also says in Proverbs 3:5-15: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine. My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding (the implication here is that wisdom from God comes in the context of heeding the proceeding verses). For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.”
What is the opinion of others, losing face before others, separation from this person or group, missing out on momentary related to sinning, missing out on opportunities to obtain money (not compatible with obeying Christ’s Gospel), or having your plans for life altered in light of the eternal consequences of your decisions to follow God’s truth? What is disdain, disappointment, pain, frustration, confusion, etc on earth when being lost eternally is the price paid to avoid suffering such things for righteousness and truth’s sake? That is too great a price!
The following is said by a man wholeheartedly pursuing the truth of God to others who were faithful (he hoped anyways) in doing the same.
2 Corinthians 4:14-18: “Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
The same man (the Apostle Paul) also testified the following near the end of his life.
2 Timothy 4:7-8: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
Many think they can be Christians without fighting the good fight, without running their course to the end, and without keeping the faith. Man has always found ways to not only blatantly reject and scorn the grace of God, but also to counterfeit it, cheapen it, and make the actual terms of God’s Covenant seem unreasonable and overly harsh. Yet the many counterfeits of something, when known to exist and wisely considered, only prove and emphasize the tremendous value of the authentic and genuine thing which the counterfeits masquerade as. This is ultimately only more evidence that God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him through Jesus Christ according to His Word; and that failing to do so, and to continue to do so, is to oppose yourself and choose eternal condemnation, even though a way to escape this was made for you.
Proverbs 16:6: “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.”
1 Timothy 6:13-16 (spoken personally to Timothy, but it surely applies to everyone in regards to obeying Christ’s Gospel and being obedient to the Word of God): “I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.”
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