We all want heaven. If offered to us we’d likely accept it. In fact, many of us believe this offer has been made in some way or another and that we will in fact find our way there some day.
But what if, hypothetically, I gave you 2 choices...
"If anyone comes to me (Jesus) and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
What/ Who do you love and live for? Has there been a time when you put everything last in order to make Christ first? He says you might look salty for a while but you are good for nothing to Him if He isn’t everything to you. My dear dear dear friends don’t be fooled by a partial love for God! The world in one hand and Christ in another won’t bring you to glory. He is a jealous God. Christ laid down His life and you must do the same before He gives you a new one. Test yourself friend. Have you paid the cost? Is His Spirit in you? Are you salty according to the Bible? Will you be in heaven or will you be throne away? Heaven is an offer. Come.
THE GREATEST GIFT
“For, the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God Is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord”
-Romans 6: 23
(1) “THE WAGES”
-A wage is what you earn for what you do.
-If you work a job you might earn money.
-If you drive too fast you earn a speeding ticket.
-It’s what you deserve for your actions…
(2) “OF SIN”
-Sin is all the wrong things you do.
-Sin is not doing the good you know you should.
〉”For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3: 23
-Sin isn’t only bad because of the people it hurts, it’s bad because of the holy God it offends.
-Holiness isn’t just perfection, it’s unlike anything we could imagine. To bring our sin into His presence would cause unimaginable fear. (Isaiah 6: 1-7) (Exodus 33: 17-23, 29-35) (2 Samuel 6: 1-7) (Revelation 5: 11-14)
〉“Against You (Lord), You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You may be justified in Your words and blameless in Your judgment.” Psalms 51:4
(3) “IS DEATH”
-The physical result of our sin is a physical death.
-We have corrupted our bodies and world with sickness and disease by rebelling in sinful desires instead of trusting in God’s beautiful design for His creation.
-The spiritual result of sin is spiritual death (hell).
-God’s righteous judgment against a life of sin and perpetual rebellion to Him is hell.
〉“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.” Rom. 2:4-5
(So, what we earn for sin is hell)...
-Aren’t you glad there’s a “but”!
(5) “THE FREE GIFT OF GOD”
-Our holy God, good to enact justice on the sinner, is also full of mercy and grace. He provided a gift.
-Opposite of the wage we’ve earned, the gift is not earned or deserved, it is given by God.
-The gift is free but it was bought at the highest price. (His Son’s life)
-The gift is free but it‘s received at the highest cost. (Surrendering our life)
(6) “IS ETERNAL LIFE”
-Eternal life is for everyone: The righteous (redeemed) to heaven and the wicked (unredeemed) to hell.
〉“Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed His name. “They shall be mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves Him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.” Malachi 3: 16-18
-If you don’t long for the presence of the Lord now you would hate it in heaven.
-If you don’t love the presence of the Lord now, He won’t bring you into it for all eternity.
-God’s Holy Spirit can give you that desire... so there is still hope.
(7) “THROUGH CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD”
-Jesus Christ, both Son of God and Lord of all, creator of the universe and God in the flesh came to earth to live a perfect life, die, and raised to life again 3 days later.
-He satisfied the wrath of God the Father against sin.
-Jesus justified those whose sins He paid for as they are credited with His righteousness through faith in Him.
〉“...without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Hebrews 9: 22b
〉“He himself (Jesus) bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2: 24
〉“In Him (Jesus) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses (sins), according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us.” Ephesians 1: 7
〉 “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” 2 Corinthians 5:15
〉“ For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1: 18
(So, how do we receive the gift of life through Jesus?)...
〉 “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Romans 10:9-10
〉“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. I (Jesus) have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in Me may not remain in darkness.” John 12: 25 & 46
〉”For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Romans 8: 13-14
〉“Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” James 1: 21
〉“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus,” Acts 3: 19-20
〉"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.“ John 3: 16
(So, what is our response to this gift?)...
*** Turn from a love of self and a trusting in the things of this world to a love and trust in Christ alone. Repent: ask God for forgiveness and turn from all sin for which Christ died. Surrender your whole life completely to Jesus in words, actions, and the truth of your heart. He is worthy and your new life will never be the same, eternally secure, in the hands of the One who created you, loves you, redeemed you, and holds you forever. ***
You could be a rich white man addicted to alcohol and food. You could be a poor black man addicted to drugs and women. You could be a middle class Asian woman addicted to prescription pills and ‘likes’ on social media. You could be a teenage kid addicted to perfect grades and perfect hair. You could be a newlywed wife who longs only for her husband and nothing else. You could be a dad who’s cell phone might as well be glued to his hands and eyes. Addictions are idols. And often addictions are disguised as good things. We see the homeless druggie so differently than the rich Wall Street banker who’s nearly abandoned everything and everyone for money, career success, and notoriety. But they are exactly the same. They’ve created an idol where God should be. God’s first commandment is, “You must have no other gods before Me.” ...and that’s exactly what idols are, they’re gods.
I had countless gods. Of course I’d never call them that because I’d always believed in Jesus, aways trusted Him as savior for my sins, but I never gave Him Lordship over my life... And if I had died I’d hear the same thing Jesus said in Matthew 7:23. That many people will expect to get into heaven but He will say to them, “I never knew you. Depart from me you workers of lawlessness.” It’s true that I felt guilty for bad things I did but it was usually because it hurt me or people I loved (which really, ultimately, came back to hurting me). I wasn’t grieving over the pain I caused Christ when I sinned. I’d turn to Him for help and escape as relief. But I wasn’t submitting my life to Him, I was asking him to add on to mine. The Lord wasn’t my God, He was one of my gods. It wasn’t until my salvation that I layed down my love of this world and began to really love the sacrifice of self in exchange for the gain of Christ. Now, He who began this work in me at salvation has continued it and will complete it. He is alive in me and will not bring false witness to His name. So, I can surly trust I am in good hands, the hands of my redeemer.
I pray for you: Turn from your sins. Throw away your idols. Christ is sufficient and all together worthy.
Salvation happens when God turns our heart of stone into a heart of flesh. His Spirit changes our desires, freeing us from the bondage of sin and enslaving us to the bondage of righteousness. We repent of our sin and turn to Christ in faith as we begin to hate the sin we once enjoyed and long after the things of God which we once neglected. He will prove His work of justification by His work of sanctification through or new life as we confess and live out Christ as our Lord.
Should we be desiring salvation for the sake of our heavenly home?
Should we believe in Jesus for what He gives us or believe in Jesus for the sake of His worth?
We were walking over to to invite some neighbors to church and I asked my kids, “Why do you think we want to invite people to church?”
They responded with something like, “To tell them about Jesus.”
I began to ask, “Why do we want them to know about Jesus?”
I thought this teaching moment leading to “saving souls” and “getting people to heaven” would settle fine in my heart but it didn’t. In that moment I instantly changed my trajectory. Instead I said God was worthy. He was worthy of more praise and more glory and more people to call His own... People who see His holiness and bow in awe of His majesty. More people for Him not Him for more people.
Come, all, fall on your knees, He is to be glorified. Come all who hear the glorious gospel and join in the choir of angels. Don’t you see His majesty? Praise His holy name. I don’t only want heaven for the sinner; I want multitudes of praises added in the heavens for all eternity for our King.
Christians, let’s not merely be soul winners, let’s proclaim the gospel for His glory. He is worthy.
I grew up believing in Christ’s death on the cross for my sins. My parents weren’t Christians but they sent me to a school which inundated me with preaching from the Bible and I loved it. I prayed for salvation in second grade with my favorite teacher but I knew in my heart I had already believed for years. Every week of my life I pleaded with my mom and dad that they also would accept Him, believe in Him, and receive the free gift of eternal life in heaven instead of their inevitable eternity in hell. As an adult I went on to work in the very same Christian school which taught me about Jesus. A couple years later, at a new nanny job, I almost got fired for preaching to and praying with the kids in my care. I went on a short-term mission trip to Sierra Leone to dig a well and share the gospel. I started a ministry to ladies having abortions. Faithfully week after week I showed up to guide these women and their family’s to Christ centered help in hopes that they might receive Christ as their savior. I knew Jesus was the only way to heaven and I knew He would forgive anything... All because I believed He was constantly forgiving me.
You see I was steeped in sin. I needed sin just to get through the day. My eternity was saved through Christ (so I thought) but my life was upheld through sin. The preacher told us if we claim Christ how could we not have read the very book which we based our life on? “Good idea,” I thought, and I read the Bible cover to cover. The preacher would emphasize church attendance... “Good idea,” I thought, and I faithfully showed up. The preacher would give a challenge to pray more. “Good idea,” I thought, and I prayed and prayed until I soon forgot to. “Read this or that devotional every morning,” the preacher would say and so I did until I got too busy. I wanted to live for Christ because I believed He had the best for me and yet I was unwilling to give up my idols for Him.
I lived a lie... A lie I didn’t know I was living. It was all trash. Every moment I believed in God I idolized the world. I never put God first. Everything was me, me, me. I needed my horrendous sins because I was empty. I never saw Gods law as freedom, it was the unattainable drudgery beneath my feet which I had to trample over in order to get to my true gods, my sin. It was a thorn in my side. It was a reminder of all that I wasn’t able to be because sin was my true god. What a discrace I was as I reveled in myself while proclaiming Christ as my savior. All that work I was so proud of was done in rebellion to God. It was the propping up of a dead person. Dead in sin. A dead and lifeless rebel.
I only bring up the ‘good’ works I performed to show how lost and useless I truly was. Everything I did, I did for myself and the selfish desire to save from hell those who I put before God... And no one ever rebuked me! No one ever told me that if I had been born again the fruit of the God who lives inside would never allow this disgrace. If I am an image bearer of God himself, a temple of the Holy Spirit, and a new creature He wouldn’t dare bring this shame to His glory. No one ever told me that to live is to die. To be born again I must lay down my very self for the most unworthy privilege of gaining Christ.
I thought I was saved. I thought I loved God. I wanted the world to know, “Christ is the only way to heaven!” “He loves you!” I proclaimed. “Accept salvation!” I’d plead. All the while He was never enough for me. God had a place in my heart along side all the idols of my world. He shared me with the things and people that I truly needed and used to get through my days. But Christ didn’t want a place in my heart, He wanted me to give up my heart in order that He might give me a new one. Christ was not my ruler. He was never sufficient for me. I longed after the world, I needed it to make me feel whole... a mere place holder for God. I had no idea that I lived a lie. I thought I could try harder and live better with His help in me but I never had His help. I was empty, separated from the Father, relentlessly adding to the shame and pain Jesus bore on the cross with my outlandish sins. I used God for heaven and used the things of this world for my life. I was dead and had no idea that a Holy God doesn’t share. I struggled day after day, year after year to live up to my calling as a perceived child of God all the while certain of my salvation; All the while dead in my sins. I believed Christ died for my sake yet I was unwilling to die to my sins for His sake. I took the part of the gospel that told me, “Christ did all the work and now you’re free,” but I neglected the part of the gospel which required my very life. I didn’t know.
I didn’t know until He came and asked of me my life...
I had spent another year in total rebellion to God. I was exhausted. I was praying and He came. I felt Christ tell me to lay down my sin and walk in obedience to Him. I said, “I can’t. I need........” But Christ spoke so clearly to my heart saying, “I am sufficient for you.” He brought to my mind the moment before he was taken away to die. He was praying and asked His disciples, His friends, to stay awake, to stay alert, and to pray for His sake. But each time He came back, Christ found them asleep. Three times He pleaded for their faithfulness but three times He found them asleep, all just moments before He willingly laid down His life for them. Christ reminded me that just as His Heavenly Father was sufficient for Him, so He is sufficient for me in my hardest struggle. Nothing is a more firm hand to hold than that of Christ Himself. As Christ had His Father when all else failed in some of His darkest moments, so also I had to lay down my hope in the things of this world and put my life in the hands of Christ alone. I’ve never regretted turning from my sin and resting in Him as Lord.
He convicted my heart with truth found in His word, and how very grateful I am that He did. There’s nothing in this world we need if we have Christ, and nothing in this world to desire if God has given us a new heart. And so I laid it all down for the blessed privilege of picking Him up. The truth I now know is that all my sins, my copping idols, were trash in comparison to the joyful treasure of being filled with the Holy Spirit. The difference then and now is the Holy Spirit. Every desire in my flesh is selfish sin leading to death but every desire of the Holy Spirit is righteousness leading to life for His own glory. Before I would seek Him and try to desire what He calls us to do. Now, I couldn’t escape His desires for holiness if I tried. It’s all His supernatural work in me. Through Christ I have what this world can never offer (and I’ve searched). It’s a peace that passes understanding... It’s enduring this world, with joy, for the reward set before me... It’s an eager expectation that one day I will rid myself of this flesh which would dare inflict pain on Christ and shame on my Holy Holy Holy LORD. My hope is complete. I rest secure in the outcome of my repentance and faith through Christ Jesus, who has called me out of darkness and into His light. I am a new creature now and I can’t get enough of Him. He who is finally alive in me draws me to Himself. Nothing is work anymore. To know Him more and more is my very water, food, and breath. I, in myself, am a faithless failure but He in me is life abundant. This is freedom...to know my purpose (the daily, joy-filled, glorification of our Lord) and to have already attained the goal of my faith (my undeserved home in heaven as I praise Him forever).
Holy God you are more than sufficient. All blessing and honor and glory to my Father, my Savior, my King.
“When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Oh my soul, what a burden I am.
And God, why do you long for me?
What a disgrace I will be to heaven.
What shame I carry to your name.
Release this weight of sin from your goodness.
Take your badge of grace off this wretched image.
How disgusted I am to bring dishonor to glory.
Though, as I long to rid your world of my iniquity,
You will nonetheless bring this waist to freedom.
Let me go.
I deserve what I should have payed the price for.
Take your honor and your glory and throw me to the fire.
This blackened stain should have no place as your witteness.
No place should I have to retreat when life finally ends.
Take back what I should never have owned;
Give your gift to those who will do you justice.
Look away and never back.
How could I be yours?
Forgive me not and cast me down to where I deserve.
Be glorified oh my God.
Oh God, I am your abomination.
I want nothing to do with your disgrace.
Leave me and be holy.
Be faithful to all yet faithless to me.
I could never deserve You.
Help me, dear God.
That I would receive your mercy’s.
That I would dwell in the cross.
That I would live in redemption.
That I would rest in your blood.
That your reconciliation would be my strength.
That I might not hide from my Father...
But be seen and free.
Balancing sin in our lives is exhausting... I know this exhaustion well. It says, “A little bit of God and a little bit of me,” as our days get fuller and fuller. So we seek relief. Relief in self. Relief in idols. Relief in sin. And we sink deeper, deeper, deeper. The world tells us things completely contrary to God. It builds you up as you sit alone behind a screen. It says you deserve more, you should have more, and you are more. Soon, in our attempt at freedom from work, rules, and oppositional people we become bound even more than we were, busier than ever before, and totally unhappy. We become slaves to sin again. Longing for a single moment of relief with any idol we can momentarily fill ourselves up with.
God wants you to have a full life of pleasure, enjoyment, and peace in things that provide you rest not escape, freedom not enslavement. When your happiness comes from escaping God it will only leave you as empty inside as it has left God longing for your affections. There is total fulfillment in Gods creation for the sake of His glory. There is only self-fulfilling pain and harm when we escape His love. Delight yourself in everything for God’s good. Anything not being done for God is self-destruction and a sin against Christ our Lord who gave ALL for us. Obedience is freedom. Freedom from the traps and destruction of trying to figure out how to make it through this world using its idols. We are free to joyfully revel in Gods glorious creation. Free to enjoy the pleasures of this world to the fullest extent of their truest design.
And now, to believers, may we never forget the grace painfully, humbly, and loving poured out on us while others still live in their sin with no relief or freedom in heaven to come. The life of righteousness demands complete heart obedience. This doesn’t come with the expectancy of perfection, however, as believers we now live totally indebted to Christ by His death in place of ours. Fitting sin into our new righteousness is in conflict with our very selves. We are a new creation and a temple of the Holy Spirit... a gift which should cause us to fall on our face in reverent gratitude every time we think of it. We are truly without excuse to live a moment of selfishness when we’ve been saved from hell for all of eternity by our Lord who payed the humiliating and painful price for us. Not a moment of excuse do we deserve yet an eternity of forgiveness, love, and freedom He continues to lavish on us.
“When our worlds are falling apart and we look around us at the strongest creatures that are, we know that we can not put our trust in them. If that is all we had we would be a miserable lot. But we have One, Who has us, Who is nothing like everything we know. “
-The Holiness of God sermon
“Do I live in the world as carelessly as others do, and yet make a profession of being a follower of Jesus? If so, I expose religion to ridicule and lead men to speak evil of the holy name by which I am called. Surely if I act thus inconsistently, I am a Judas (Luke 22: 48), and it were better for me that I “had never been born”(Mark 14: 21). Dare I hope that I am clear in this matter? Then, O Lord, keep me so. O Lord, make me sincere and true. Preserve me from every false way. Never let me betray my Saviour. I do love you, Jesus, and though I often grieve you, yet I desire to abide faithful even unto death.”
-Morning and Evening devotional
“Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”
2 Timothy 2:20-22
“You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”
“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
1 Corinthians 15:54-58
“Do not be deceived: "Bad company ruins good morals." Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.”
1 Corinthians 15:33-34
“...My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. "There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.”
1 Samuel 2:1-2
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”
“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, "Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him."”
This is Abby. She was born on Sunday but I met her for the first time many months ago. She was much smaller, in her momma’s tummy, and I couldn't see her yet but she was right next to me. I loved her then and I love her now. Her mom and dad loved her too and are so grateful to have her here today. For a moment they thought that life without Abby would be better than life with her...That is the day I met her, Aug 17, 2016, but they know now, as I believe we all know, that God created little Abby as a unique, independent little person. He had perfect plans for her despite her beginnings and she deserved the chance to live out her purpose in this life. She was born on January 15, 2017, a Sunday, the Lords day. Her parents named her Abby which means, "The Fathers Joy". I can't help but believe that our Heavenly Father orchestrated this all in His perfect way. The love of our Father for His children is more than I could ever grasp. It's the same love He has for you. He created us not only because we bring Him joy but because we are His joy as we find ours in Him. Oh how I pray that EVERYONE would know the love you're Father in heaven has for you. The same love He has for beautiful little Abby.