Friday, February 21, 2014

Putting Off the Inevitible - The God Choice

Everyday we are faced with a plethora of choices. What will I wear? Where will I eat? What will I do today? Should I cut grass or clean the garage? The list is endless. So many choices--So little time. Decision making can be stressful; it's one reason we put so many decisions off for another day. The high priority choices, those that have a direct affect on us, our family, our job, or our lifestyle we seek to make asap. But others not so quickly. If you're like me, you can put off a decision till the day of decision has passed and now I must face the penalty.That just happened with my driver's license renewal--three weeks late!! Ugh!! But fortunately the most important decision I have ever had to make was done over 30 years ago when I made the decision to commit my life into the hands of God. Jesus is my Savior and Lord, the ever present guide for my life. It's what I call the "God Choice."

Why do so many put the "God Choice" off so long?
In my ministry and life I have come to see some of these reasons. Below are just ten of them.
  1. I have plenty of time
  2. I do not believe I need to
  3. My life is good enough
  4. There are too many religions
  5. God would never send anyone to Hell
  6. I was Baptized when I was a baby.
  7. I am not ready
  8. What will my friends think
  9. It's outdated
  10. It's not a priority to me
Do we have plenty of time?
Do you have plenty of time to win a baseball game? Do you have plenty of time to file your taxes? How about getting to work? No, we never have plenty of time. We only have an allotted time. God has preappointed that time, (see Acts 17:26).

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
(James 4:13-17)


Is the decision to choose Christ only for a select few?
The Bible never ever indicates it is. It is for all people of all races and ethnicity's.
...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23)

He who rejects Me (Jesus), and does not receive My words, has that which judges him— the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. (John 12:48)

And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13)

Is our life really good enough to God? Are we that judge? If so, by what standard do we use?
Any standard we make up ourselves or one that is derived from the culture has only the authority of ourselves or other sinful human beings behind it. To God, that is not good enough. We do not make up our own check list for entering heaven. For example, Job was a man of many trials. Because of them, Job had spoken openly about his misfortune, but in doing so, used his own wisdom and understanding. God replied to this one day in the following way, "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy? "Or who shut in the sea with doors, When it burst forth and issued from the womb; (Job 38:4-8)

God will respond to us in the same way if we come to Him with our own set of requirements to get into His heaven. Are you assured in your heart you are greater than He?

For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. (1 Corinthians 4:4)

Every one of them has turned aside; They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one. (Psalms 53:3)

By what standard should truth in religion be judged?
If religion to you means devoting to a set of beliefs then by what measuring stick do you judge the beliefs? Most all religion has a book or philosophy of writings behind it. But only one can truly say it is written 100% by the Spirit of God. Only one proclaims life from the dead with validation backing it? Only one proclaims its God becoming like man in order to make a way to represent man for eternity. That one is Christianity. Jesus claimed to be God. Jesus as God in the flesh came to identify with man. Jesus as God in the flesh died and arose from the dead proving eternal life is through Him and Him alone. He alone, had the authority, to overrule the laws of nature. He is currently alive and has ascended to the throne of God. He is personally involved in the lives of believers at all times evr living to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25).

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

And He (Jesus) commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He (Jesus) who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins." (Acts 10:42-43)

God, Judgment, and Hell
This month the Olympics have been all over the television and news. But only three in each event win a prize. All others go home empty handed and soon to be forgotten. Hell is a reality that cannot be escaped. For every good intention there is an equally bad one. For every good decision there is a bad one. For every truth there is an opposite lie. How then can we be so contradictory as to believe there is a Heaven but no Hell? A reward but no judgment?

But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who "WILL RENDER TO EACH ONE ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS": eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. (Romans 2:5-11)

"I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!
(Luke 12:4-5)

Will infant baptism save me?
Hundreds on millions of people around the globe are relying on a baptism they were unaware of at the time it was performed to save them from hell. Whether it is the official teaching of their church or a misunderstanding of it, it is nonetheless a reality. Can this save us? What does the Bible say?

The Bible clearly teaches that belief in Christ is a condition for salvation (Sins forgiven and Heaven received as a result of faith in Christ). A child is innocent up to the age of inquiry or reason.

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:18)

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:36)


But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31)

And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." (Acts 16:31)

Even though there are verses which mention whole households being saved it is only a supposition to believe that infants were included, if any at all were in the household (see Acts 18:8; 1 Cor. 16:15). Nowhere in the Scripture do the Disciples, Jesus, or any Apostles baptize infants. So, the question is, do you really want to base your eternal life on what happened when you were a baby? Especially when you didn't make the decision?

Is there ever a time when we will be ready to receive eternal life?
A very close childhood friend of mine fell into a life of drug and alcohol use. One of the main goals of mine after I received Jesus into my life was to share Christ with him. On many occasions I did so with love and grace. On every occasion without hesitation he stated, "I do believe there is a God, but I am not ready to give my life to Him. I have too many things I want to do before that. So I ask, "Can we put God on our timetable? Should we try? A few years later, sadly to say, my friend was gunned down in a possible drug deal. He never ever made it to the time when he was ready.

What does the Bible say?
For he says, "In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2)
 

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, 'And they will all be taught by God.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— (John 6:44-45)

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts...
(Hebrews 3:7-8a)


For he says, "In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
(2 Corinthians 6:2)


The favorable time for salvation is not our time, it is God's time. Ever since Jesus died upon the cross and was resurrected to life, the "Day of Salvation" has been available. But alongside of this we must understand that the work of the Holy Spirit is also involved. His job is to convict us of our sin and our need to come to Christ for forgiveness. All of the lost know this conviction. They may not verbally admit to it but in their private contemplative time they know they need forgiveness of sin. If this describes you my best advice is do not suppress this calling from God. If you do, the day will come when you will experience the call no more (see Rom. 1:21-24, 26, 28, 1 John 5:16). Note in the passages that God finally gives those who reject Him continually up to their sin. John indirectly calls this rejection of Chrisr a sin that leads to death. When the Spirit no longer convicts there is no more a place to receive forgiveness (see John 6:44-45 above).

There is an example of this in the gospels, And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, "Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation." (Luke 19:41-44) Note, Jesus weeps over the city of His own people because they rejected Him. They were still living when the coming destruction was prophesied by Him. Their unbelief had caused the days of destruction that lay ahead.

Is your entry into the Father's heaven something a decision your friends can make for you?
Many people are so caught up in ego and peer pressure that it has become their idol. They will do anything to avoid disapproval or a frown in front of others. The importance of this to them can be seen in something Pastor Charles Swindol wrote about a woman who had committed suicide. She left a note but did not finish her thoughts. He states the note simple read, "They said, .." Although friendship is important there are decisions in life your friends cannot make for you. You alone must weigh in the balance whether a few years on this earth with a few friends you will most likely part ways with at some point is worth more than eternal life in heaven, whether they approve or not. At this point it is not about them, it's about you.

Job's friends harassed him because of His stance for God and his insistence that the turmoil he was going through was not because of a sinful lifestyle. They said, "What man is like Job, Who drinks scorn like water, ...?" (Job 34:7) Interestingly, they notice how he takes in their scorn but does not allow it to provoke him to agree with their evaluations of him. Job was a strong man, one of the strongest in the Bible. He knew that a relationship to God was more important than the opinion of a so-called friend. Believing in Jesus also means you will not be ashamed of your decisions despite others.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Is the gospel outdated?
Jesus didn't think so. Neither do I. His soon return will bear this out.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)

The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever." (Isaiah 40:8)

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. (Mark 13:31)

Because "ALL FLESH IS AS GRASS, AND ALL THE GLORY OF MAN AS THE FLOWER OF THE GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND ITS FLOWER FALLS AWAY, BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER." Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.
(1 Peter 1:24-25)


Priorities that count
No one would disagree that there are priorities in life. No one would disagree that it seems like there is plenty of time to make a decision for Christ. But that again, is only a supposition.

For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
(James 4:14b)


Since our days are fleeting and nobody has tomorrow in the bag, we must make sure our priorities are straight. Joshua was a Godly man with Godly priorities. He said before he died that choices need to be made. His parting words were this:

And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
(Joshua 24:15)


Solomon was known as the wisest person to ever live. During much of his life he lived aloof from God. But he realized it was wrong and that he wasted a lot of time he could have used in service to God.  He also had some final words for us:

The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd. And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:11-14)

We all have to make a God Choice. All of us, whether publicly or not when we die a choice has been made ether for Him or against Him.

My earnest prayer is that you will make the right choice. Jesus did not die in vain.

God Bless

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