Friday, February 28, 2014

The Disciples’ Prayer

Prayer is the disciple’s life connection to God.  It’s vital to our relationship with Him.  And yet it is widely overlooked, and its importance is underestimated.  If we understood how vital it is, we would pray more often and more earnestly, and not allow ourselves to be distracted by other things. 

When the disciples asked the Lord to teach them to pray, He taught them a model prayer to show them the kind of content their prayers should have, as well as how to approach God.

"And it happened as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said to Him, 'Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught His disciples.' And He said to them, 'When you pray, say: Our Father, who is in Heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, as in Heaven, so also on the earth. Give us day by day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'" (Luk 11:1-4, MKJV; cf., Mt 6:9-13)

Teach us to pray
The request of the disciples was, "Lord, teach us to pray."  We can learn to pray from a verbal teaching on prayer, as well as life lessons, which are trials and temptations we go through.  In this instance, He taught them verbally.  But He gave them plenty of other opportunities to learn to pray through trials and circumstances, such as the storm at sea.

Pray like this
Jesus taught them what to pray about and how to approach God in prayer.  He said, "When you pray, say:" In other words, “Pray like this.”

Our Father in heaven
“Our Father in heaven.” (v. 2). Address the heavenly Father reverently and lovingly, as “Our Father in heaven.” He also did not say to pray to Mary, but our heavenly Father.

Hallowed be Your name
“Hallowed be Your name.” (v. 2). As you approach God, praise, magnify, and exalt His holy name.  We enter His gates with thanksgiving in our hearts, and come into His courts with praise (Ps 100:4).

Your kingdom come
“Your kingdom come.” Seek first His kingdom (see Lk 12:31; Mt 6:33).  His kingdom is the royal realm where He has absolute and universal dominion.  It’s where He rules and reigns. It’s God’s Divine Government over which He has supreme administration.

When you pray for God’s kingdom to come, you are praying for Him as the sovereign King to come and live and rule in your heart.  The government of God’s kingdom is on Jesus’ shoulders (Is 9:6). He is the King of kings (Re 19:16; cf., Re 17:14; 1 Ti 6:15). There can only be one king on the throne inside your heart.  As Him to come and take His place on the throne.

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
“May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (v. 2). In heaven God’s will goes unchallenged and is always done. On earth there are many enemies of God and hindrances to block his will. His will is best.  When you pray like this, then it will guide you to pray in His will.  And even if you make a mistake and pray outside His will, He will know that you asked for His will to be done, so He will answer it according to His will, rather than how you wanted it.

When you do God's will, that is one way this prayer of your will be answered.  He said, "For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother." (Mar 3:35).  He also said, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it." (Luk 11:27-28). 

Jesus prayed for the Father’s will, when it was contrary to His own (Mt 26:39-42).  This is what we must do also, following our Lord's example. His will is what we live for, not our own. This is critical, because of the power of the will. Live your life for the will of God.  Live according to His will. (1 Pe 4:1-6).  The one who does the will of God lives forever. (1 Jn 2:17). His will us holy, righteous, perfect, and true.

Give us each day our daily bread
“Give us each day our daily bread.” (v.3). Once you have first sought God's kingdom, His will, and His righteousness, then you can bring your petitions before His throne.  Ask for what you need today.
Don’t worry about your needs for tomorrow and next week and next month. It’s all right to pray about those, but don’t worry about them, because God is able to handle all your needs each day, if you ask Him to.

Notice that he used the expression “daily bread.”  He did not expect you to have enough bread stockpiled for months to come. He also did not expect you to live luxuriously on food fit for a king.  Sometimes we are blessed with plenty, but let us not forget share it with others.  And if all we have is bread to eat, then we know the Lord has answered our prayer and He provided it.

The meals our Lord ate and fed to others were simple meals like a piece of fruit, or a fish, and some bread.  On a feast day like Passover, then there was more to eat and drink like lamb and wine.  Our daily bread also represents our basic necessities that we need for each day, such as clothing and shelter.

Some people wait until the end of their day to pray.  Sometimes it will happen this way, because of your schedule, but it is not wise to make it your routine.  How can you ask for what you need today at the end of your day?

When you pray, “Give us each day our daily bread,” and you are thinking about future days ahead, the fact is you still must ask.  The Lord instructed us to ask the Father for everything we need. Of course, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Mt 6:8b)  Yet you still need to ask Him.

Forgive us our sins
“Forgive us our sins.” (v. 4). We have all sinned, and we all stumble in many ways.  We need to repent daily, because we commit so many sins, often without knowing it.  We need to ask God for forgiveness, believing that Jesus died on the cross for our sin, and rose from the dead, victorious over sin and death.

In order to be forgiven, you must repent sincerely from your sin, and confess it.  "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1Jn 1:9)  Cry out for mercy. “Lord, have mercy on me!” and pray for the Lord to have mercy on others, too.  We need the God's mercy much more than we realize!

We also forgive everyone who sins against us
“We also forgive everyone who sins against us.” (v. 4)  This is another condition in order for us to be forgiven. We must forgive, because if we do not forgive, God will not forgive us.  "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Mat 6:14-15)  The spirit of unforgiveness will lead you down to hell. Release those who are indebted to you.

Lead us not into temptation
“Lead us not into temptation.” (v. 4).  He taught us to pray and ask the Father not to lead us into temptation. He told us to “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mt 26:40-41).

We sometimes feel confident that we can withstand the temptations that lie ahead of us in life without praying much, or without praying at all.  Yet even Jesus had to pray, and often spent the whole night in prayer.  He was tempted by the devil (Mt 4). He was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb 4:15). Temptation is common and every temptation is a common one

"Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." (1Co 10:12-13, NASB)

Don’t become complacent, thinking you stand. That's just the pride that comes before a fall.  Rather take heed lest you fall!

God does not tempt us. James said, "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death." (Jas 1:13-15)

Deliver us from evil
“Deliver us from evil” and some versions say “deliver us from the evil one.” (v. 4) The word “deliver” is from the Greek word rhuomai, meaning to rescue or deliver.  This is the same as crying to God, “Rescue us! Deliver us!”  And when you personalize it, then you should cry out, “Deliver me! Save me! Lord, save my soul!”  Or if you are sick, you should cry out, “Lord, heal me!”

Only God can deliver you, save your soul, set you free, and heal you by the power that is in Jesus’ name.  All power is in that name. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Ac 4:12)

The entire prayer is for “us” not me. That doesn’t mean you cannot pray for yourself.  You should pray for yourself, and when you come to Christ, you must pray for yourself.  But we must pray for others, too, and not just ourselves.

The devil is so evil and does so much more than we realize with the purpose to harm us.  He comes to kill, steal, and destroy people.  Jesus knew the devil would continue to do that, so He instructed us to pray for deliverance.

Disciples’ Prayer and Sinner's Prayer
This is called “The Lord’s Prayer,” but it is actually the “Disciples’ Prayer.” (Lk 11:1).  It is also a “Sinner’s Prayer.”  A person could pray this prayer sincerely from their heart to give their life to Jesus and be saved, as long as they repent of their sin, believe that Jesus died on the cross for their sins, and that He rose from the dead.

If you want to become a disciple of Jesus Christ, this is how you should pray. And if you want to grow as a disciple, this is how to pray. This was also “The Lord’s Prayer,” except He never needed to ask forgiveness (Heb 4:15).  But I am sure He needed to forgive others.

Notice how concise this prayer is.  There is so much meaning packed into so few words.

Putting it All Together
Learn to pray the way Jesus taught His disciples to pray.  He will also give you life experiences to learn how to pray, so be sure you don’t miss those practical opportunities.

Pray to God, the Father in heaven in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Approach Him with reverence, awe, and love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  Begin with praise and thanksgiving, just pouring out your love on Him and adoring Him.

Always put God’s concerns ahead of your own, and ahead of any petitions you may bring to Him.  There may be times where you have an emergency and you cry out to God for help without spending time in praise and thanksgiving, but normally you should take the time to do this first.

Begin with blessing Him, and His name, and seeking His kingdom, His righteousness, His will in your life to be done just as it is in heaven.  Ask the Lord to reign in your heart as King.  Lay your life on the alter as a living sacrifice to Him. That pleases the Father.  If that is your heart’s greatest desire, then all the requests you make of Him after that will be in accordance with His will.  If not, then He will know that you want His will above all else, so He will answer it according to His will.

After you have put the Lord and His concerns first, then bring your concerns to Him for yourself and others.  Bring all those petitions and requests before His throne, knowing that you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

Remember to repent daily and ask forgiveness, as well as forgive others.  Pray away those temptations the devil has planned for you and others.  Pray for salvation and deliverance and healing. And remember, everyone who asks receives, the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks the door shall be opened.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. "Prayer Warrior" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's Note:  If you enjoyed this message,  you may also like Lifting Hands in Prayer, Lifting Your Face in Prayer, and Crying Out to God Loudly.   I also invite you to visit the Main Directory for Seeking the Lord, and my collection of blogs at "Writing for the Master."  Now let me ask you a very important question. 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Top Ten Things Jesus Taught

Someone has said that Jesus spoke more about eternal damnation than any other topic.  Although it seemed correct to me, I wanted to confirm it to be certain.

So I decided to search out the matter for myself in Scripture, in order to see what topics Jesus mostly spoke about.  First I manually searched the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation, and developed a list of words and phrases representing 130 major and minor topics Jesus spoke about.

Then using e-Sword, an electronic Bible software program, I counted the verses in those six books of the Bible in the New American Standard Bible (NASB), where Jesus used those words or phrases (all counts are estimates).  The results of my analysis are in the table below (with the total verse-counts for the top ten topics bolded in the right-hand column), followed by my comments and conclusions at the end of the article.

Topic Total Number of Verses Where Jesus Mentioned Topic
God (166) verses spoken by Jesus containing the word "God."  [Please note: These were not necessarily teachings about God.  However, if you add to these verses all the instances where Jesus spoke about the Father (61), Himself (117), and the Holy Spirit (32), that adds an additional 210 verses, which would bring the total to 376 verses altogether.]  376
Heaven (66), the temple of My God, the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, Kingdom of heaven, kingdom of God, kingdom (101), Paradise (2), My Father’s house (1), throne or thrones (6), Life (70), that age (1), the age to come, eternal life (23), find it (3). 273
Hell (12), destruction (1), pit (3), Judgment (21), weeping and gnashing of teeth (7), on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust (2), cut it down (2), perish (10), slay them in my presence (1), thrown out, thrown away, thrown into the fire, thrown into the furnace, or thrown into prison (10), outside (1), outer darkness (3), burned (3), fire, eternal fire, unquenchable fire (13), fiery (2), furnace (4), worm (3), I will also deny him (1), denies (2), lose (10), woe (27), torturers (1), taken away (11), depart (3), I do not know you (1), depart from me (3), eternal punishment (1), condemned (3), condemn (4), condemnation (3), ashamed (2), your soul is required of you (1), erase his name from the book of life (1). 172
Make disciples (1), be My witnesses (1), until you leave that town (1), whatever city or village you enter (1), sent (76), send out (2), lost (13), sheep (29), preach, preaching, preached (14), going through the cities of Israel (1), sowing seed (1). 140
Son of Man (80), Son of David (1), King of the Jews (3), Christ (11), Lord said to my Lord (3), Shepherd (9), God’s Son (4), the Way (1), I am the Alpha and the Omega (1), the first and the last (3), the beginning and the end (1), the root and the descendant of David (1), the bright Morning Star (1). 117
Prayer, pray, and praying (33), ask and asking (30), seek and seeking (36), knock, knocks, and knocking (6), watch (11). 116
Faith (30), believe (74). 104
Love (57), compassion (8). 65
My Father (48), Your Father (3), heavenly Father (7), O Father (1), righteous Father (1), the Father (1). 61
Deeds (25); work, works (21), workers (2), does the will of God (3), and acts on them (2), obey, observe, keep My word (2), kept the word (1), kept My Word (1), keep the commandments (1), keep My commandments (2), that slave whom his Master finds doing so when He comes (1) 61
Hear (53), hearing (6). 59
Coming of the Son of man (3), the Son of Man coming (4), which day your Lord is coming (1), that day and hour no one knows (2), the master of that slave will come on a day (2), the master of the house is coming (1), He comes (9), He should come (1), kingdom come (2), coming on the clouds (1), the day that the Son of Man is revealed (1), the days of the Son of Man (2), when the Son of Man comes (2), will the Son of Man be in His day (1), I will come (2), I am coming (7), until I come (4), come on you suddenly (1), one will be taken (5). 51
My Name (28), Your Name (9), the Name of the Lord (2), the Name of the only begotten Son of God (1), My Father’s Name (2), the Name of My God (1), His Name (1), My New Name (1), the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit (1). 45
Devil (5), Beelzebul (4), satan (16), evil spirit (2), unclean spirit (4), driving out demons, drive out demons, casting out (10). 41
Heart (40), hearts (1). 41
Money (11), wealth and wealthy (8), riches, rich man, rich (18). 37
Command, commanded, commandment (35) 35
Light (34) 34
Prophets (33) 33
Seed (33) 33
Holy Spirit (12), Spirit of the Lord (1), Spirit of truth (3), Spirit of God (1), Spirit of your Father (1), the Spirit (13), the promise of My Father (1).  32
Sin (14), sinned (3), sinner(s) (14), sinful (1) 32
Glory (22), glorify (7), glorious (2) 31
Clean, unclean, uncleanness (24), defile (7). 31
Fruit (30) 30
Forgiveness, forgiven, and forgiving (30) 30
His own crucifixion, crucify (2), death (2), rejected (5), killed (8), suffer (7), condemn (1), lifted heel (1), betray me (4). 30
Abraham (17), Isaac (5), Jacob (5). 27
Children and child (27) 27
Persecution, persecutions, and persecute (3), persecuting Me (6), brought before governors (1), flog (1), synagogue (with reference to persecution - 6), arrest (3), hate you (3), kills you (1), kill you (1).  25
Hypocrites and hypocrisy (20), leaven of the Pharisees (4). 24
Judging (24) 24
Words (24) 24
Authority (21) 21
Follow Me (21) 21
Reward (15), treasure in heaven (4), treasures in heaven (1), I will give (5), you will be repaid (1). 21
Repent, repents, repented, and repentance (21) 21
Word of God (7), Scripture (13). 20
Church (20) 20
Blind (18), hidden from your eyes (1), you did not recognize (1) 20
Overcome, overcame, overcomes (8), perseverance (5), endure, endures, endured, endurance (6) 19
Moses (19) 19
Truth (19) 19
Vine (19) 19
Law (18) 18
Saved (11), save (6) 17
Peace (17) 17
Worrying, worries, and those who worry (17) 17
Sabbath (17) 17
Sign, signs (16) 16
Adultery (11), fornications (2), immorality (3) 16
Door (15) 15
Temple (15) 15
John the Baptist (3), of John (3), messenger (2), Elijah (7) 15
David 14
Rejoice (13) and rejoicing (1) 14
End of the age (4), tribulation (7), distress (1), that hour which is about to come upon the whole world (1) 13
Disciple (13) 13
Heal, healed (11), cures (1), sickness (1) 13
Servant (7), serving (1), greatest (3), slave of all (1), service (1) 13
Gospel (12) 12
Giving (1), gave, give to charity (1), put in more than all the contributors to the treasury (1), out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on (1), offering (8) 12
Chose, chosen, elect (12) 12
Baptized, baptizing (5), baptism (6) 11
Harvest (10) 10
Angel (8), angels (2) 10
Fasting (10) 10
Murder (10) 10
Righteousness (9) 9
Deny Me, denies Me, denied My name, or deny My faith (9) 9
Mercy (6) and being merciful (3) 9
Worship (8) 8
Taxes, “drachma” (2), Caesar (5) 7
His own blood (7) 7
Jonah (7) 7
Few who find it (1), laborers are few (1), workers are few (1), few are chosen (4) 7
Divorce, divorces (7) 7
False prophets, prophetess (6) 6
Cross (6) 6
Poor (3), poverty (3) 6
Wisdom (6) 6
Last shall be first (1), first will be last (5) 6
Thefts (2), steal (4) 6
Lame (5) 5
Resurrection of the righteous (5) 5
Humble, humbles (5) 5
Reconciled (1), your brother sins (4) 5
Passover 5
Crippled (4) 4
Praise (4) 4
Salt (4) 4
Guilt (4) 4
Key, keys (4) 4
Worth more than sparrows (4) 4
Life (4) 4
Water + life (1), drink + water (1), living water (2) 4
Solomon (4) 4
False witness (3) 3
Deaf (3) 3
Fall away (2), fallen (1) 3
Unity (1), one flesh (1), that they may all be one (1) 3
Vows (1) and swear (2) 3
Tithe, tithes (3) 3
Fear God (2), fear the One (1) 3
Confess (3) 3
Covenant (3) 3
Evil thoughts (2), thinking evil (1) 3
Sons of God (2), sons of your Father who is in heaven (1) 3
Born again (2) 2
Narrow gate (1), narrow door (1) 2
(Holy) fire(2) 2
Resist or resisting evil people (2) 2
No home, nowhere to lay His head (2) 2
His own resurrection, Raised up (2) 2
Two or three (2) 2
Wash his feet (1), wash one another’s feet (1) 2
Idols (2) 2
One thing necessary (1) 1
Pure (1) 1
Going the extra mile (1) 1
Being perfect (1) 1
Giving dogs what is sacred and pearls to pigs (1) 1
Multiplication, increased (1) 1
Greed (1) 1
Lust (1) 1
Slanders (1) 1
Dissipation (1) 1
Drunkenness (1) 1
Saul of Tarsus (1) 1
Grace (0) 0*

Counting Method
I understand that some verses recorded in more than one of the Gospels refer to the same incident, and someone may say this is double counting. But the Holy Spirit inspired the writing of Scripture, and even these redundancies were inspired.  Repetition is a proven method of teaching, and not all topics are repeated in the synoptic Gospels, which proves that there was a reason why some were repeated.  Moreover, since I applied the same standard or method of counting to all topics, it is an equitable method of estimating.  This method may not give us the precise number of times our Lord spoke or taught on each topic, but it does give us an estimate – an order of magnitude, which allows us to rank each topic in relation to one another.

Furthermore, I did not merely accept the total number of results for a word or phrase in each computerized Bible search.  I visually scanned the search results to try and get an accurate estimate of the number of verses spoken only by Jesus.  Then I did not even count all the verses in which Jesus spoke that particular word or phrase, but often filtered out results that were not relevant to the topic.  For example, when I searched for the word "condemn," I did not count every verse where Jesus used this word.  I did not count the instances where He said that the scribes and Pharisees would condemn Him to death.  This same method of counting was used for all topics, in order to avoid any artificial inflation of the totals for each one.

Also in Revelation, only the words that Jesus spoke were counted.  These are primarily in the first three chapters and the last chapter.  However, technically the entire book of Revelation is “the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants what must soon take place.” (Rev 1:1a).  You see, the opening verse of that book says, "He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John" (Rev 1:1b).  So although the Lord sent His angel to communicate these words, they were His words, and it was all His revelation that God gave to Him. That means all topics covered in Revelation were from Jesus, although they were not all spoken directly by Him.  There are many verses about God, heaven, hell, the lake of fire, the pit, worship, end times, the Great Tribulation, plagues, judgments, wrath, woes, the Lord Jesus Christ and His soon return, witnesses, the kingdom of God, the harvest, the devil, false prophets, righteousness, deeds, and eternal judgment.  These would increase the total number of verses we would need to count for those topics in this analysis, and would help to further prove my point about their frequency.  However, none of these verses that are part of the revelation of Jesus Christ were counted, unless they were spoken by Jesus.

Major Topics That Jesus Spoke About
I mentioned in my opening of this article that I wanted to confirm whether Jesus spoke more about eternal damnation than any other topic.  Through this exhaustive study, I confirmed that my thesis was a fairly close approximation.  However, it is more accurate to say that there are more verses in the Bible that record Jesus speaking about eternal damnation than on any other single topic, except God and heaven.

God and Heaven
Without any question, He mentioned and taught about God more than any other topic.  It should be no surprise that God’s Son came to earth and mostly instructed us about God. After this, He spoke about the glorious place where God lives with His holy angels, and all His saints, those holy ones, who love Him and have been made perfect.  He used expressions to describe this place like “heaven,” “the temple of My God,” “the city of My God,” “the new Jerusalem,” “kingdom of heaven,” “kingdom of God,” or simply “kingdom,” as well as “Paradise,” “My Father’s house,” “throne,” “thrones,” “life,” “eternal life,” “find it,” “that age,” and “the age to come.”  This is the beautiful place He invited us to go and spend eternity with Him, where all the saints will worship Him and God, His Father, forevermore.

Eternal Damnation
However, He spoke almost as much about eternal damnation.  Besides using the word “hell” itself (Greek, gehenna), He used many other expressions like “destruction,” “pit,” “judgment,” the place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” “on whomever it falls,” “it will scatter him like dust,” “cut it down,” “perish,” “slay them in my presence,” “thrown out,” “thrown away,” “thrown into the fire,” “thrown into the furnace,” “thrown into prison,” “outside,” “outer darkness,” “burned,” “fire,” “eternal fire,” “unquenchable fire,” “fiery,” “furnace,” “worm,” “I will also deny him,” “lose,” “woe,” “torturers,” “taken away,” “depart,” “I do not know you,” “depart from me,” “condemned,” “condemn,” “condemnation,” “ashamed,” “your soul is required of you,” “erase his name from the book of life,” and “eternal punishment.”  These expressions all represent the eternal wrath of the Holy One against wickedness and lawlessness (sin).  They all express the perfect holiness of God, Who in His great love for mankind is warning us not to go to that terrible place.

Evangelism, His Divine Identity, Prayer, Faith, Love, the Father, and Good Deeds
After these top three topics (God, heaven, and eternal damnation), then he spoke about preaching the gospel (i.e., evangelism) and making disciples. The next major topic He spoke about was His own divine identity, which He disclosed using various titles.  After that the next major topic was prayer.  After that one, faith was a major topic.  Love was one of His top ten themes, along with mercy, forgiveness, and compassion. The heavenly Father was often upon His lips, in part because of His great love for the Father, and His total dependence upon Him.

He spoke a lot about doing deeds and works, using expressions like "does the will of God," "acts on them," "obey," "observe all that I commanded you," "keep My word," "kept the word," "kept My Word," "keep the commandments," "keep My commandments," and "that slave whom his Master finds doing so when He comes." He taught that “…those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.”

Hearing
After these top ten topics, then came His constant emphasis on hearing His Word, which ranked eleventh without combining it with other expressions.

The Return of Jesus Christ
His Second Coming was the next major topic, ranking twelfth on the list! He spoke about it quite often, using various expressions like "the coming of the Son of man," "the Son of Man coming," "which day your Lord is coming," "that day and hour no one knows," "the Master of that slave will come on a day," "the Master of the house is coming," "He comes," "kingdom come," "coming on the clouds," "the day that the Son of Man is revealed," "the days of the Son of Man," "when the Son of Man comes," "will the Son of Man be in His day," "I will come," "I am coming," "until I come," "come on you suddenly," and specifically referred to the rapture saying, "one will be taken."  And when He spoke about it, He often said it would happen suddenly, unexpectedly, quickly, soon, and without delay.  He emphasized the need to be ready for it.  Yet so few today ever preach or teach about His soon return.

The Name of the Lord, Power, Authority, the Heart, Children, Sin, and Repentance
And He spoke a lot about the Name of the Lord, which ranked as His thirteenth most frequent topic, including the Father’s Name, Jesus’ Name, and the Name of the Holy Spirit.  Power and authority were not major themes, but they did come up often, as did the matters of the heart, and children.  He preached a lot against sin, naming many sins specifically, and preached that men should repent, telling them not to sin any more.

Since He Himself said, “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of,” we know what His heart was full of, based on the things He said. And those things He spoke about most of all were the things that His heart was overflowing with the most.

Grace
He never once mentioned the word grace publicly, *but only once privately in answer to the apostle Paul's prayer about his thorn (2 Co 12:9), and that was not about grace for salvation.  Yet He was full of grace (Jn 1:14), and both grace and truth were realized through Him (Jn 1:17).  So while He may not have spoken publicly about it at all, He certainly demonstrated it. He welcomed sinners and ate with them.  He also forgave them freely when they repented, and told parables that depicted grace, such as The Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11-32) and The Lost Sheep (Lk 15:1-7).

Peace and Unity
He did not speak very much about peace, in fact He said He did not come to bring peace to the earth (Mt 10:34), yet this is a major topic among those in the world, and many Christians wear the peace symbol (an upside down, broken cross), which is satanic.  Those of us who know Him have a peace within our hearts that He gives us (Jn 14:27), and peace with God, but world peace will not come to the earth until after He returns to reign on the earth.

And one of the topics He taught about the very least was unity, which he merely mentioned in three verses, yet that is what the ecumenical church talks about the most.

Prosperity
Money was certainly not a major topic of His, coming up about as often as the heart, but almost everything he said about riches, prosperity, and wealth was negative.  Yet today the prosperity preachers seem to mostly preach about wealth and prosperity, as if this is the central message of the Bible.

Prophetic Confirmation
My findings in this study were confirmed by the message Lord Jesus gave to sister Rachael Mushala:

“Apostasy has gone out into the world. Many false prophets have gone out into the world teaching doctrines from hell and leading many souls to hell. You must be careful and not follow miracles. Didn’t I warn you in My Word that these false prophets would come? And now they are here, preaching only about prosperity and never condemning sin. All preachers talk about now is prosperity and money, but what is money if your soul burns in hell? Didn’t I say to sell all you have and give the money to the poor and then follow Me? Money is the root of all evil. Don’t be allured by it. It is what has allured many preachers. All they care about is filling their pockets and filling their churches, but they never preach repentance. I know that while you are on earth you are going to need money, and I will provide you with just enough. The rest of your treasures will be in heaven, safe. All the riches you long for will be stored up in heaven where moths cannot destroy. This earth is going to be destroyed with fire, and nothing will be left standing.”

He said, “My heart aches at all the souls being led to hell by false prophets. They are the majority; very few pastors preach My Word. Very few preach repentance. It doesn’t matter if they have many followers or they perform miracles. Even satan can perform miracles. Do not follow miracles. That is why I said in My Word that many will come to Me on the last day and say we performed miracles in Your name, but I will reply, “I do not know you.”

Putting it All Together
In summary, the top ten things Jesus Christ spoke about were God, heaven, hell, making disciples, His own divine identity, prayer, faith, love, His heavenly Father, and the importance of keeping His Word by acting upon it.

I hope that this study has helped to show you what is important to Jesus, and helped to disprove some errors that we find in the Church today.  There is so much deception now in the Church that we must be careful.  Do not be deceived into hell!  You should be careful when a preacher always preaches about grace, but never talks about hell or never preaches against specific sins that will take you there.  When you hear preachers that are talking mostly about prosperity, peace, unity, or any of the other topics that Jesus seldom spoke about, or that He never spoke about, then beware!  If they make any of these minor topics their main theme, to the exclusion of the major ones our Lord emphasized, then you know they are not teaching according to the pattern of Jesus.  They are “majoring in the minors,” and that should be a big warning signal to you. 

Let me be clear that if Jesus mentioned something one time, it is important.  But we must preach the whole counsel of God, not just our favorite topics.  The true messengers of God are preaching mostly on the same things that Jesus emphasized, because those are still the most important things on His ever-aching heart.  His messengers are still preaching about God, heaven, and eternal damnation, emphasizing the need for faith, prayer, and making disciples.  They are preaching against sin, calling people to repentance, so that they will not perish. They are still preaching righteousness and truth, teaching us to hear the Word of God, keep it, be doers of it, and bear good fruit for God’s glory, living a life of love, compassion, and mercy. They are preaching about the Name of the Lord, as well as our Lord's soon return, and the need to be ready for it.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. "Top Ten" image courtesy of William Marler's Top Food Safety Challenges for 2009.

Author's note: I recommend my article called The Law of Christ, which explains why the teachings of Jesus Christ must be our foundation, and that the teachings of the apostles and prophets must be understood on that basis alone.  You may find the Main Directory for the Seeking the Lord blog here.  You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations Revelation of Hell to Seven Colombian Youths Angelica Zambrano Hell and Heaven
Baptized by Blazing Fire Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies Angelica Zambrano Second Visit to Hell
Walking in the Perfect Will of God Ibrahim's Experience in Hell Holy Living in a Perverted World

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Apostasy Parables

Dear God-seekers, some people believe that it’s impossible for a disciple of Christ to fall away and perish.  I’ve proven that to be false in my article, Drifting Away, based on the explicit use of around nineteen different words for apostasy in the New Testament. However, in addition to those explicit references to apostasy in the Bible, there are also many implicit teachings on apostasy, such as the parables about falling away.  Let’s take a look at those together.

Parable of Sower
First, there is the Parable of the Sower (Mat 13:20-21; Mk 4; Luk 8:13). When people hear and receive the Word in their hearts, one possible outcome that does happen to some of them is that they "fall away" in time of temptation, such as when affliction and persecution arises because of the Word.

The Lord said, "The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away." (Mat 13:20-21)

His words were recorded a bit differently by Luke, yet with the same meaning: "Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.” (Luk 8:13).   

Jesus said this about the man who hears the word and receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself. In other words, he was speaking about those who initially receive the gospel with joy.  Certainly it’s impossible to fall away from something you have never experienced.  Many people, after having been born again, have lost value.  According to our Lord, if during their lifetime on earth they do not repent for doing so, they will perish in hell.

Parable of the Faithful Servant
Secondly, there is the Parable of the Faithful Servant about a faithful servant and an evil one (Matthew 24:45-51; Mark 13:33-37; Luke 12:35-48).  The faithful and sensible servant did what his master put him in charge of His household to do, which was to give them their food at the proper time.  Therefore, he was ready when his master returned.

This is clearly a parable about falling away, because both of those depicted in the parable were servants of the Master, put in charge of the His household to feed them promptly.  The only one who is blessed is the one whom the Master finds doing so when He comes.  "Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes." (Mat 24:46). This depicts the Lord’s return on a day when you do not expect, and at an hour when you do not think or know (see Mt 24:44,50).  It is only the one who is doing what He was told to do and fulfilling all the duties of His ministry who will make it. 

However, the wicked servant was not ready when his master returned.  The reason is “that evil slave says in his heart, 'My master is not coming for a long time,'” (Mat 24:48).  It is an evil attitude to suppose the Lord will not be coming for a long time.  Please don’t entertain that thought, because He is coming very soon.  It was such an evil thought that caused that servant to make the fatal error of beginning to beat his fellow slaves and to eat and drink with drunkards. (see Mat 24:49).  He depicts that servant of the Lord who falls away, and the Lord tells us the final outcome of such a one.  “The Master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Mat 24:50-51)

Parable of the Ten Virgins
Thirdly, there is the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Mt 25:1-13).  All ten virgins were waiting for the Bridegroom to come, which depicts the disciples of Christ waiting for the Lord’s return.  Those who don’t care about Jesus are not waiting for Him to return.  The five wise virgins bought extra oil for their lamps. This proved to be wise, since the Bridegroom came at a very late hour, after they had burned up their initial supply of oil, and it was very dark at the midnight hour when He came, so they definitely needed their lamps.

The five foolish virgins didn’t realize they were doing anything wrong, yet due to being unprepared, they missed the wedding.  Their problem was that they neglected to buy extra oil for their lamps, and only realized their need for it when their lamps began to go out just as the Bridegroom was returning.  Since the wise ones did not have enough oil for both their own lamps and those who were running out, the foolish ones were forced to go seeking after oil when it was too late.

"And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. "Later the other virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, lord, open up for us.' "But he answered, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.' (Mat 25:10-12)

The foolish virgins missed the wedding feast.  The door was shut, and although they begged to be let in, they were left outside in the dark.  Although they called the Bridegroom “Lord,” He said He did not know them. 

This parable clearly depicts disciples who fall away from the Lord.  Those who are of the world are not depicted as virgins, but those who seek to keep themselves for Christ are.  You cannot say the foolish virgins did not acknowledge Jesus, because they called him Lord.  They were waiting for His return, and they had lamps just as the other five virgins did, since they had all received the Light of the gospel.

Don’t be caught with your lamp going out just as the Lord is returning.  It’s up to you to buy extra oil from the Lord.  Cry out to the Lord to give you extra oil in your flask by the anointing of the Holy Spirit. 

Parable of the Talents
The fourth parable about falling away is the Parable of the Talents (Mt 25:14-30).  The parable of the talents depicts three different servants being given talents.  They were all given something, which they were expected to put to work for the master.  Two of the servants put all their talents to work for the master, and had something to show Him for it.  But the one servant did not put his talent to use for the master, and had nothing to show for it.  He was the servant who fell away, even though he was given talent just as the others were.  Therefore the master ordered, "Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 25:30).  This represents the eternal punishment of hell that awaits those who do not use their talent for the glory of God.

If you don’t use every talent you have been given for the glory of God, you will be judged for it. One could put his talent to work to make a profit for himself, which is pursuing mammon.  Yet he may not realize that in doing so, he is doing nothing with it for the Lord.  He is looking out for himself only.  Mammon in the New Testament of the Bible, is material wealth, which is evil, and enslaves people through the use of money.  Pursuing mammon is stressful and leads to frustration.  It also leads to hell.  You cannot serve God and Mammon. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Tim 6:10).  Remember the parable of the rich fool (Luk 12:15-21).  Jesus warned, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions." (Luk 12:15b).

Parable of the Sheep and Goats
The fifth parable about falling away is the Parable of the Sheep and Goats (Mt 25:31-46). It depicts the final judgment when the King sits on His throne and all the nations stand before Him.  He will separate the sheep from the goats with the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. The sheep are those who loved and served their neighbor. "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Mat 25:34).  But the goats did not love and serve their neighbor.  Therefore, the King will condemn them.  "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.’” (Mat 25:41)

There are many similarities between the wicked ones who fall away in each of these parables.  They share common traits.  The goats who did not serve the Lord by loving their neighbor are like the wicked servant in Mt 24:45-51, who mistreated and abused his fellow servants.  The goats are also like the wicked, lazy servant who did not use his one talent in Mt 25:24-30.  And if you look at these parables yourself, I’m sure you will find more similarities among the wicked people described in them, since sin always leads us away from God.  In fact, the same wicked person could be depicted in more than one of these apostasy parables.

It would be a big mistake to assume these parables don’t apply to you.  That’s why we need to ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and expose anything that is hidden that must go. The goats don’t even notice when they are not serving the Lord (Mt 25:44).  They were shocked when they got to the end of their life and discovered they had neglected to serve Him.  Yet they are His followers during their lifetime, because they called Him “Lord.”

On the other hand, the sheep don’t even notice when they were serving the Lord (Mt 25:37).  That’s because they don’t blow a trumpet to let everyone know whenever they do a good deed.  They don’t even let their left hand know what their right hand was doing.  They just serve the Lord from the heart obediently with love.

As I mentioned, the goats are also like the man with one talent that didn’t put it to work for the Lord.  They have something to give in the Lord’s service, but they don’t give it or use it.  They are looking out for themselves only.  They don’t think about the Lord’s needs. Jesus was that hungry person you met.  Jesus was that thirsty person you met. Jesus was that stranger you saw or met.  They may have come to your door, needing a place to stay.  Jesus was that person who was in prison. Jesus was that person you saw or met who was in need of clothes. Jesus was that sick person you saw or knew. The goats don’t recognize Jesus when they see Him in their brother.  They only cry for themselves and not for the Lord.  They fail to realize that the talent they received was supposed to be used for serving the Lord, not for self.

Therefore, in the end, the Lord will call them accursed ones, and command them to depart from Him into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  The devil will never be shown any mercy, but will be punished forever and ever with eternal fire.  In case you are one who does not believe a Christian could ever go to hell, you need to realize that the goats are assigned to the same place prepared for the devil and his angels.

Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
The sixth parable about falling away is the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matt 18:23-35).  This man missed heaven, because of unforgiveness.  He was tortured instead and had to pay his own debt, because he did not forgive his debtor.  It’s clearly a warning about falling away.

We know for certain that this man depicts the disciple who has fallen away unto eternal damnation, because of the following reasons: First, he was a servant of the King, who was his Lord. This clearly depicts a follower of Jesus, our Lord and King. Secondly, he had received mercy from the Lord.  Since the only people who receive mercy and forgiveness for their sins are those who call upon the name of Jesus, we know this man depicts a believer.  However, the mercy that had been given to him was later revoked, because of his own refusal to show mercy. Thirdly, Jesus told this parable to Peter (see Mt 18:1, 21).  The parable of the unmerciful servant was a response to Peter’s question about the need to forgive others.  Fourthly, we know this man depicts the disciple who has fallen away unto eternal damnation, because Jesus concluded the parable by saying, "My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart." (Mat 18:35).  He said His heavenly Father would do the same to “you” His disciples, if a certain condition were met.  That condition is if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart. The expression “each of you” clearly refers to Peter and the other disciples, which proves that this is a warning to disciples. Fifthly, the fact that Jesus said we must each forgive our “brother” shows that this is about disciples, since he was not speaking of biological brothers but spiritual brothers in Christ.

Parable of the Head of the House
The seventh parable about falling away is the Parable of the Head of the House (Mat 24:43-44).  Jesus said:

"But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will." (Mat 24:43-44)

This parable was spoken to the Lord’s disciples (see Mt 24:1,3).  In fact, Jesus said, “You also must be ready.” (Mt 24:44), which meant that the disciples themselves must also be ready, and this parable applied to them.  Each disciple is like the head of a household. In the parable, the head of the house was not on the alert when the thief came, which represents the coming of the Son of Man at an hour when you do not think He will.  And since the head of the house did not know when the thief was coming, he fell away by failing to remain alert.  Therefore, he allowed his house to be broken into, which depicts the loss experienced by those who are not ready.

Some Things God Won’t Do for You
Those who incorrectly believe that a disciple could never fall away usually believe so due to a false understanding of God’s sovereignty.  While God is sovereign over the universe, He has given each person a free will, and there are some things God won’t do for you. 

Let me give you some examples. First, these parables teach that God won’t utilize your talents for you.  He is waiting for you to use them for His glory.  Secondly, He won’t serve others for you. Although He will lead you to opportunities, and He will prompt you, He will watch to see whether or not you serve the people He puts in your life.  Thirdly, He won’t forgive your debtors on your behalf, but expects you to forgive your brother from your own heart.  Fourthly, He won’t automatically fill your flask with extra oil to help you stay ready for the Bridegroom’s return, if He is a long time in coming.  You need to go and buy that extra oil from Him yourself, and if you are wise you will do so.  Fifthly, He won't repent for you.

In fact, He won’t do anything you yourself are supposed to do in order to be ready for the Lord’s return.  If He did all these things for you, then there would be no reason for Him to punish all those people depicted in the parables for not doing them. Granted He will prompt you through the Word and by the Spirit, as well as through others in the Body of Christ, and through circumstances.  The Holy Spirit does work in and through the yielded and willing vessel to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose (see Phil 2:13). But He will not override your will and do these things for you.  It is possible to resist, quench, and grieve the Holy Spirit.  It's possible to neglect to seek the Lord for help to do His will.  The Holy Spirit does lead the sons of God, if we desire Him to, but it is necessary on our part to be led by Him (see Rom 8:14).  You must live in accordance with the Spirit (Rom 8:5). 

Final Judgment of Those Who Fall Away
In these parables, we see recurring themes, as well as a recurring pattern in which a final judgment is rendered against those who fall away, and they are sentenced with eternal punishment. Some of those final judgments include the following:

  • “And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt.” (Mt 18:34)
  • “And will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 24:51)
  • The door was shut. "But he answered, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’” (Mat 25:12)
  • "Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 25:30)
  • "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Mat 25:46)
  • “The master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers.” (Luk 12:46)

Jesus Prophesied There Would Be Apostasy
These parables depict what our Lord Jesus prophesied would happen in the last days, when He said, "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” (Mat 24:9-13)

He said that many would fall away, which means it will not be a rare occurrence.  Since it is so common today, even among pastors, the standards within the church have been lowered to accommodate the apostates.  Truly, you could be a Christian reading this article, and not even know that you yourself have gone astray. You may not even realize you have fallen away through immorality of some kind, through idolatry, through your attire and adornment, through the music you listen to, through false doctrine, the traditions of men, failure to tithe properly, failure to keep Sundays holy, through the things you do for entertainment, or one of many other possible sins that have become so common and accepted in the Church today. This is because very few are preaching against sin any more.  They are neglecting to tell people what will land them in hell.  They are teaching falsely.

The Lord told us what those would act like, who have fallen away.  First, they will betray one another and hate one another, which is widespread these days. Secondly, most people's love will grow cold, which is so common today that we no longer even notice it.  It seems to be accepted as the norm. Thirdly, the Lord said lawlessness would be increased, until it reaches a climax just before He returns, when it will be just as it was in the days of Noah.  “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen 6:5). Fourthly, many will be misled by false prophets, which is much more common than you may realize. 

Putting it All Together
There are at least seven parables about falling away, including the Parable of the Sower, the Parable of the Head of the House, the Parable of the Faithful Servant, the Parable of the Ten Virgins, the Parable of the Talents, the Parable of the Sheep and Goats, and the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant.  We could call them “the apostasy parables,” although they teach other lessons besides this.

These parables depict what our Lord Jesus predicted would happen in the last days, when He said that many would fall away.  In these parables, we find some recurring themes.  First, they teach that some followers of Jesus will not be saved, because they fall away. Second, we learn from them that the righteous will inherit eternal life, rewards, and happiness, while the ones who fall away will be thrown into hell, where they will inherit eternal punishment and condemnation. Thirdly, the Lord taught us to keep on the alert, be ready, and stay awake, in order to avoid falling away.  Fourthly, it is only the one who endures to the end, who will be saved.  Fifthly, it’s necessary to act according to His will.  Sixth, while God is sovereign over the universe, He has given each of you a free will, and there are some things God won’t do for you.  Last but not least is the recurring theme in which a final judgment is rendered against those who fall away, and they are sentenced with eternal punishment.

Let this be a wake up call to each of us to heed the voice of the Spirit, and listen to the warnings of our Lord.  We are living in the days of the Great Deception and the Great Apostasy.  Please ask the Holy Spirit to examine your heart and reveal if you have gone astray in any area of your life.

I want to see each and every one of you there in the kingdom of heaven.  But the path is narrow that leads to life.  God’s standard is high and He is not going to lower it for anyone.  He still loves you, but He requires holiness, righteousness, and truth in all of His children.

I want to be the seed on good soil that produces thirty, sixty, or a hundredfold.  I want to be that faithful slave whom the Master finds promptly feeding His household when he comes. I want to be one of the wise virgins, who were ready and went in with the Bridegroom to the wedding banquet.  I want to use every talent the Lord has given me, and hear Him one day say to me, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!"  I want to be among the sheep who one day hear the King say, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world."  Don't you want that, too? I pray the the Lord would help you and I live in such a way, so that we can be among those who are called blessed.  But don't assume it is automatic, just because you call yourself a Christian, or just because you once prayed a sinner's prayer to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

If you realize you’ve gone astray, then be earnest and repent, cry out for mercy, return to the Lord, and seek Him with all your heart. There is still hope for you while you are alive, but mercy is only available on the earth.  So don’t put this off for later, thinking you will have time.  This could be your last chance.

Also see: 1 Timothy, Hebrews, Romans 11, 1 Corinthians 9-10, 2 Peter 2, Jude, and Revelation 3.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Photo from goatsupplies.netfirms.com

Author's note Also see Drifting Away, The False Gospel of Eternal Security, The Conditional Security of the Believer, Overcomers in This Life, Garments of Godliness, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Rachael Mushala Testimony of Hell, Faith Works!, Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian, Holding Fast the Faithful Word, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies, Keeping Sundays Holy, and Is Tithing Required?

If you are confused about how the Lord is able to keep us while there is still the possibility of falling away, then I recommend reading Keeping Power of God and Election and Predestination.

You can access the Seeking the Lord Main Directory or my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.