Friday, September 28, 2018

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In this blog, I provide encouragement and biblical teaching on seeking the Lord with all your heart, loving Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and living a life of holiness, righteousness, and truth.

As the Scripture says:

'You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jer 29:13)

And "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Mat 7:13-14)

Some of the topics covered include seeking the Lord, prayer, worship, tithing, inquiring of the Lord, hearing His voice, obedience, grace, godly attire and adornment, sanctification, consecration, backsliding, repentance, brokenness, suffering, humility, the fear of the Lord, the role of the commandments for the disciple of Christ, and the conditions of the New Covenant.  I hope this will be an edifying and encouraging experience for you that will help you to grow in your walk with the Lord.

Seeking the Lord Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God Holy Fire Baptism
Lifting Your Face in Prayer Lifting Hands in Prayer Crying Out to God Loudly
Pressing on Toward the Goal Taking Heaven by Force God Exalts the Humble and Brings Down the Proud
Whom Are You Seeking? Should you fear the Lord? Is a Woman's Hair Her Head Covering?
Aim for Perfection Obedience by the Spirit Is Obedience Optional?
Salvation with Fear and Trembling Holy Living in a Perverted World Drifting Away
The Cost of Discipleship Deleted Scriptures in the Bible? Is Tithing Required?
Where Should You Give Your Tithe? Walking in the Perfect Will of God Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian
The Obedience of Faith Did Jesus Nail the Law to the Cross? Law of Love in the New Testament
The New Covenant Law of Love in the New Testament The Law Fulfilled in Us
The Law Established Through Faith Costly Grace The Law of Christ
The Eyes of the Lord Garments of Godliness The Three Elijahs
The Burning Ones The End Has Come Now, But Not Yet
The Happy Hunters on Fire You're Better Off Following Jesus God Chooses the Weak Things 
The Beauty of Brokenness Seeing Jesus, Loving Him, Character and Glory Hearing the Lord's Voice
Hearing the Lord's Voice Inquiring of the Lord Praise the Lord!
The Loving God Who Bids Us to Come One thing Righteousness, Peace, and Joy
Is the the Self-Help and Actualization Movement a Sham? From Self-confidence to Confidence in the Lord The Self-Help Gospel
Checklist for Revival God Has Not Rejected His Jewish People, Has He? The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer
The Flaming Sword Clean Hands and a Pure Heart The Spirit of the Law
Keeping Your Body Pure and Holy An Open Mind that Loves the Truth Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?
Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth? The Apostasy Parables

The Top Ten Things Jesus Taught
The Disciples’ Prayer Is Tolerance a Virtue? Righteousness by Faith not Law
Life is Short. Eternity is Not. Noah's Ark a Type of Christ Grace, Mercy, and Peace
Ultimate Accountability Separation from the World The Knowledge of the Holy
The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness Ask for the Ancient Paths Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven
The Straight and Narrow Path Unhealthy Competition A Peculiar People
Listen to Jesus, Who Upholds Moses and the Prophets Hope for You

Beware of Philosophy and Empty Deception
The Love of Jesus The Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer Having a Servant's Heart
Avoiding Worldly Worship Purge the Evil from Among You Who is God?
Living a Life Worthy of the Lord Praying for the Lord Jesus Who is God? - Part II
The Way, Will, and Word of God Overcomers in This Life The Afflictions of the Righteous
Saints Alive in Jesus Bowing Low in Worship Repentance That Leads to Life
Keeping a Good Conscience Remember Lot’s Wife Called to be Blameless
If -- A Picture Paints a Thousand Words The Lord Will Rejoice Over You The Nature of Persecution
The Wardrobe of the Saints Filled Up to All the Fullness of God Loving Deeply
Seeking Glory from God Amazing Grace God's Sovereign Plans and Purposes
Abominations in the Sight of God Identification with Christ Alabaster Jar
Running from God Forgetting the Past Was Jesus Seeker Friendly?
God's View of Public Bathing Is Secular Music for Christians? Ignorance is Not Bliss
In the Yolk of Christianity Songs of the Holy Fire Known by God
Modern Day Idols Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God Walking in Truth, Righteousness, and Holiness
Escaping from Dead Religion Living Sacrifices in Consuming Fire God's Amazing Plan for Your Life
Your Identity in Christ Having the Love of God in Your Heart Knowing the Lord
Following in His Steps Our God is an Awesome God! Hide and Seek with God
Belonging to the Lord No Turning Back David, A Man After God's Own Heart
Living on Earth as They Do in Heaven Chosen for Obedience

Our gift of these articles by Len Lacroix is made possible in part by your gracious support of the ministry. Partner with us online.  You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

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

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.

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___________________________________________________

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. Partner with us online by giving to DMI.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Chosen for Obedience

Dear God seekers,

In Peter's first epistle he opens with a very beautiful greeting that is packed full of rich meaning, which gives us insight into why we have been chosen by God. He says:

"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood:

Grace and peace be yours in abundance." (1 Pe 1:1-2, NIV '78)

I love these opening lines of his letter, and in order to draw out all the meaning welled up in them, let's look at each of his points in one particular phrase, through which he addressed his salutation to those "who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood." This will be our main text, which we'll focus on.

Chosen 
First, the  apostle said we "have been chosen." What an honor and a privilege to be chosen by God to serve Him. He later goes on to say, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (1 Pe 2:9, NIV).

Remember Jesus said to his disciples, "You did not choose me, but I chose you..." (John 15:16a, NIV). That also applies to all the Lord's disciples today, since He still chooses disciples according to His grace.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, “So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened." (Rom 11:5-7, NIV)

When Paul wrote here about "the elect," he used the Greek word "ekloge," meaning (divine) selection: - chosen, election. When we elect someone, we have a choice. Otherwise, it would not be considered an election if we only had one option. Likewise, God had a choice, and he chose what Paul called "a remnant."

A remnant is a small portion of the whole. When we have a remnant of a piece of carpet, it’s a small piece. Likewise, there is a remnant chosen by God’s grace. Not all Jews and not all who call themselves Christians are chosen. Some people who seek God’s righteousness are seeking it by works, and they don’t obtain it. Then there are those who were not seeking it, and they obtain it. Those who obtained it without seeking it are the chosen ones.

God’s choice is always perfect. It’s always wise. It’s always just.

It’s extremely important to understand that when God chose the elect, it was based entirely on His grace. Grace is unmerited favor, which means you cannot earn it.

Paul wrote to Timothy saying that God "has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity." (2Ti 1:9). He taught that God did not save us because He knew in advance the good works we would do. God did not choose us based on our works. He saved us and chose us from all eternity, before the beginning of time, according to His grace. This way we cannot get the glory. All the glory belongs to the Lord.

In our main text of 1 Peter 1:2, the apostle actually identifies the audience to whom he is writing by putting the word "elect" (Gr. eklektos) together with two other Greek words to form the expression that is best translated as the "elect exiles of the dispersion" or the "elect sojourners living abroad." This reminds us that we have been chosen by God to live as strangers and aliens temporarily in this godless world, before we go to our eternal home in heaven. Peter actually goes on to make that very point later on in the beginning of his epistle, when he states : "Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear." (1 Pe 1:17, NIV). He also says later, "Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul." (1 Pe 2:11, NIV 78). This world is not our home; we who are chosen are just passing through.

According to Foreknowledge
In Peter's opening line of his epistle that we are focusing on today, he said that we are "chosen according to the foreknowledge of God." (1 Pe 1:2, NIV). That means God knew us before we were born, and even then He had already chosen us. As I wrote in my article, Election and Predestination:

The apostle Paul said, "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified." (Rom 8:29-30)

The Lord knew the elect beforehand. This is an amazing aspect about our relationship with the Lord that He actually knew us beforehand. Even our own parents didn’t know us until we were born. So we often think that God only began to know us once we were born. But as He said to Jeremiah the prophet: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." (Jer 1:5). According to God’s Word, this is true of all those who are chosen.

So the point here is we who are God's elect existed in God's mind throughout eternity past, before we existed in creation. Before there was even one Christian alive on earth, God had already made His choice. He already had in mind those whom He had chosen, and He knew us.

By the Sanctifying Work of the Spirit
Let's go back to our main text now in Peter's opening salutation of his first epistle, where he said we are chosen "through the sanctifying work of the Spirit." (1 Pe 1:2, NIV). When God called us and set us apart in Christ from the world to serve Him, He sanctified us instantaneously by the power of the Holy Spirit. For the apostle says in Hebrews, "And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Heb 10:10, NIV). That speaks of what's already happened when we came to Christ. But the Lord also continues to sanctify us on an ongoing basis after we come to Christ, as He works on making us holy. He says in Hebrews, "For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." (Heb 10:14, NIV).

Therefore, there are two kinds of sanctification, or two aspects of the same sanctification. There is that which is instant and that which is progressive. Let's remember that the progressive kind involves our ongoing cooperation with the Holy Spirit in making practical changes in our lives for the sake of holiness. The apostle says, "Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." (He 12:14, NIV). This means we must strive to be holy, since no one will see the Lord without holiness.

Peter explicitly says in the first part of his epistle, "But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'" (1 Pe 1:15-16, NIV). The fact that we must be instructed to "be holy" just as the Lord is holy means that this is the practical kind of holiness that requires our Spirit-empowered effort as described in Hebrews 12 above.

For more on this see my articles, Holy Living in a Perverted World and Walking in Truth, Righteousness, and Holiness.

For Obedience to Jesus Christ
Over in our main text again, the apostle Peter says in the opening of his epistle that we are chosen "for obedience to Jesus Christ." (1 Pe 1:2). We are chosen to be obedient to Christ, or as the NASB puts it, we are "chosen...to obey Jesus Christ." As I stated in my article, Is Obedience Optional?, this is not something we can opt out of, when we follow Christ. According to Scripture, obedience to God is a salvation requirement, no matter what anyone else may tell you. Peter is explicit here that the reason we were chosen was for obedience to the Lord. He re-emphasizes this later in his first chapter saying, "As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance." (1 Pe 1:14, NIV). He compares the elect here to obedient children, and instructs us not to conform to those evil desires we were once controlled by when we didn't know the truth. This is directly related to the imperative to "be holy" in verses 15 and 16 that I have already mentioned in the previous section.

Obedience is an essential part of salvation. In Hebrews the apostle says that "once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him" (Heb 5:9). Notice that He's the source of salvation for all who obey Him. If you are still not convinced, then please read my other articles called The Obedience of FaithDoing What is RightFaith Works!, and If -- A Picture Paints a Thousand Words.

Sprinkled with His Blood
Lastly, the apostle Peter says we were "sprinkled with his blood." (1 Pe 1:2). Although we are chosen to obey the Lord Jesus, we all fall short at some time or another, and that's why I'm so glad we are also chosen to be sprinkled with His blood. It's the blood that washes all our sins away and makes us whole. It's the blood that saves our soul. Peter said, "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." (1 Pe 1:18-19, NIV).

It's His blood that purifies us. As John wrote, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." (1 John 1:7, NIV). The life is in the blood (Lev 17:11), and the blood of Jesus is pure and holy, because He knew no sin (2 Cor 5:21), nor did He ever commit any sin (1 Pe 1:22). Since He rose from the dead as the Resurrection and the Life, we are saved from death through His atoning blood that was shed on the cross. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26, NIV).

Putting it All Together
According to the Bible, God's Word, those who know Christ are chosen to live as foreigners in a godless world according to God's foreknowledge for a specific purpose, which is to be obedient to Christ and sprinkled with His blood. It's only because we have been sprinkled with the blood of Jesus that we can say to one another as Peter did, "Grace and peace be yours in abundance." (1 Pe 1:2, NIV).

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible New International Version (NIV), copyright Zondervan, used by permission. The "Wise and Foolish Builders" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm of Inspired Art, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this article, I invite you to read my other articles called The Obedience of FaithIs Obedience Optional?Following in His StepsLiving on Earth as They Do in HeavenDoing What is RightFaith Works!, If -- A Picture Paints a Thousand Words, Aim for Perfection, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, Called to Be BlamelessElection and Predestination, and my daughter's poem, Overflowing Blessings. There are more articles on the Home page of this blog, too. You can also find my complete collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.

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.

Friday, September 14, 2018

David, A Man After God's Own Heart

We read in the book of Acts that the apostle Paul said, "After removing Saul, [God] made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’" (Ac 13:22, NIV; c.f., 1 Sam 13:14). Have you ever wondered why God considered David a man after His own heart, despite his failures? In this article, I'd like to explore the reasons why God so esteemed him, and in doing so to show the character traits we should earnestly desire to have, if we would aspire to be men and women after God's own heart as he was.

Devoted to His Will
The first reason why David was esteemed by God that way was that he would do everything the Lord wanted him to do. That was the explicit reason God Himself cited (1 Sam 13:14). He was surrendered to the will of God, or you could say he had given himself over to it, which was in stark contrast to Saul, who at best only partially obeyed the Lord.

King David Playing the Harp
by Gerard van Honthorst
The Psalms provide us with a very good picture of David's attitude in this respect. David wrote, "Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; My ears You have opened; Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required. Then I said, 'Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.'" (Psa 40:6-8). Aside from the fact that this is a Messianic prayer that prophetically describes Christ's attitude toward the Father, it was David's attitude as well. His desire was to do God's will. It was like the slave that says to his master, "Your wish is my command." In other words, if the master even wishes for something, I will act upon it as if it were a command.

We see an actual example of such an instance when David once wished for water from the well in his hometown, and his three mighty men jumped at the opportunity to satisfy his desire, even risking their lives to do so. Scripture states: "David had a craving and said, 'Oh that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem which is by the gate!' So the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines, and drew water from the well of Bethlehem which was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David. Nevertheless he would not drink it, but poured it out to the Lord; and he said, 'Be it far from me, O Lord, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?' Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did." (2 Sa 23:15-17). While David did not expect them to do that, they loved him so much they were willing to risk their own lives to fulfill his desire. That's the attitude that David had toward God.

Referring to Christ, the apostle quoted Psalm 40 in Hebrews when he wrote, "Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, 'Sacrifice and offering you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me; in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you have taken no pleasure.' Then I said, 'Behold, I have come (in the scroll of the book it is written of me) to do your will, O God.' After saying above, 'Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you have not desired, nor have you taken pleasure in them" (which are offered according to the Law), then He said, 'Behold, I have come to do your will.' He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Heb 10:5-10)

The reason for the difference of wording from Psalm 40 is that the apostle in Hebrews quoted from the Septuagint, which was the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. In quoting this, the apostle shows that this was the attitude of Christ toward the Father: "Behold, I have come to do your will." In saying so, He declared His purpose in life, which should also be my purpose and yours if we desire to be men and women after God's own heart.

That's exactly what the apostle Peter taught, saying that we should live the rest of our lives on earth for the will of God. He wrote: "Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God." (1Pe 4:1-2).

Likewise, the apostle Paul admonished the Ephesian church to "find out what pleases the Lord." (Eph 5:10, NIV). He told them, "Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is." (Eph 5:17). We, too, should find out what pleases the Lord and understand what His will is.

As Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, "He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf." (2Co 5:15). In saying this, he taught that everyone who is alive on earth should live for Christ and not for himself.

Moreover, the apostle John taught the same thing when he wrote, "The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever." (1Jn 2:17). This shows that doing the will of God is necessary for eternal life. Some people would baulk at that, but isn't that what the Lord taught? He said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Mat 7:21, NIV).

For more on this, please see Walking in the Perfect Will of GodPleasing the Lord, and The Way, Will, and Word of God.

Knowing the Lord
Another reason why David was considered a man after God's own heart was that he knew the Lord. I don't mean a mere head knowledge, but an intimately personal knowledge. He knew the Lord as his shepherd (Ps 23:1), his sustainer (Ps 54:4), his fountain (Ps 68:26), his rock (Ps 28:1; 31:3), his strength (Ps 18:1; 59:17), his shield (Ps 3:3), his fortress (Ps 31:3), his stronghold (Ps 59:17), his deliverer (Ps 40:13,17; 41:1; 68:20; 70:5), his comforter (Ps 86:17), his Lord (Ps 38:22; 51:15), and his Savior (Ps 38:22; 55:16; 68:19). When you know the Lord this way, it's more than just information about Him that you know, but rather you have a personal relationship with Him.

The Scripture says that Adam knew Eve, and she conceived and bore him a son (Gen 4:1). The Hebrew word for "knew" in this passage is "yada" meaning "to know", which indicates that Adam had intimate relations with his wife. God desires to have a very close and personal relationship with each one of us as well, which is how we will come to know Him and take His heart for our very own.

The apostle teaches us that this is the way it is for each of us who enter into the New Covenant with the Lord. "No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest." (Heb 8:11, NIV).

In His high priestly prayer on the night He was betrayed, Jesus prayed, "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (Joh 17:3). This means that the very essence of eternal life is to know the only true God and His Son Jesus Christ. What could be more essential to seeking after God's own heart?

John affirmed the need to know God and His Son in order to have eternal life. He wrote: "And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life." (1Jn 5:20)

When we know the Lord, God sheds His love abroad in our hearts, and we receive in our hearts the same love that He has for Jesus. For Jesus prayed, "And I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them." (Joh 17:26)

Conversely, those who do not know the Lord do not have eternal life, but are destroyed. Paul said, "He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you." (2 Thes 1:8-10, NIV).

For more on this, please see Knowing the LordFrom Religion to Relationship, and Having the Love of God in Your Heart.

Being Made Holy
A third reason why David was called a man after God's own heart was that he desired to be holy, which is something we should all desire and strive for.

Going back to the Hebrews passage I cited earlier, it states, "Then he said, 'Here I am, I have come to do your will.'...And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Heb 10:9-10). This teaches us that by the very will of God, which Jesus came to do, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of His body, if we have put our faith in Him to save us. This places the process of being made holy in the past tense ("we have been made holy"), which means it is a completed work of sanctification.

However, the apostle goes on to say, "For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." (Heb 10:14, NIV). This means that by Christ's sacrifice on the cross, He has already made us perfect forever (past tense), provided that we are being made holy (present tense). Here we see that while we already have been made holy and made perfect, we are also being made holy. So it is both a past, completed event and an ongoing present process of sanctification. The past event was our positional sanctification in the sight of God through faith in Christ, but the ongoing sanctification is the practical kind that is worked out and evidenced in our everyday attitudes and behaviors.

This practical sanctification is essential, if we ever hope to see God. The apostle stated, "Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." (Heb 12:14, NIV). So while we are already made holy in the positional sense, through our faith in Christ, we must make every effort to be holy, which refers to the practical holiness without which no man shall see the Lord's face.

Paul prayed for the Thessalonians, "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." (1 Thes 5:23-24, NIV).

While we understand that even the best are only sanctified in part, we also realize that we need to pray for God to sanctify us wholly in every part of our being -- body, soul, and spirit. He will do it, so that we will be kept blameless at the coming of Christ. To this end the Lord prayed for us saying, "Sanctify them by the truth; Your Word is truth." (Jn 17:17, NIV).

Another passage that teaches us about the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit is found in Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians. He stated: "But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth." (2Th 2:13)

Certainly Scripture teaches us that sanctification is a work of God by His Spirit inside of the believer, but that does not eliminate our involvement in the process. Paul said, "Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." (2 Cor 7:1, NIV). He clearly taught that we each have an active role in purifying ourselves and perfecting holiness in the fear of God. This demonstrates that we are in fact a man or woman after God's own heart.

For more on this, please see Holy Living in a Perverted World, Aim for Perfection, Called to be Blameless, The Knowledge of the Holy, and Walking in Truth, Righteousness, and Holiness.

Receiving His Mercy
Although David was devoted to doing God's will, knowing the Lord, and becoming holy, he still fell short of God's glory like the rest of us, and needed God's mercy. He would have been a much better example for us if he had not fallen into adultery with Bathsheba, and his own life would have been better for it, too. But then we might assume that the reason he was a man after God's own heart was that he was so perfect and without sin in his life. So the Lord used even his great sin to teach us something. We learn from it that in our pursuit of doing God's will, knowing Him, and becoming holy, that if we sin, we, too, will need to receive God's mercy.

David prayed, "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin." (Ps 51:1-2, NIV). While he could not undo the sin he had committed, he knew he must repent and seek forgiveness from God. He sought hard after God for mercy to wipe out his transgressions, wash away all his iniquity, and cleanse him from his sin. That's the example we need to follow, too, if we would be a man or woman after God's own heart.

"Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb 4:16). We should always know that if we sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One (1 Jn 2:1), so we can approach the throne with confidence, because it's a throne of grace. There we can find mercy to help us.

"Then he adds: 'Their sins and lawless acts  I will remember no more.' And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary." (Heb 10:17-18). When you have been forgiven of sins and lawless acts, the Lord remembers them no more. At that point, it's no longer necessary to offer any sacrifice for sin. The price has been paid at the cross for us by Jesus Christ. "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Rom 8:1). Don't let the devil beat you up and heap condemnation on you. Instead, repent and go to the throne of grace, asking for mercy and grace. Then receive it from the Lord. Jesus said, "But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mt 9:13, NIV).

For more on this, please see and God Forgives and Forgets.

Finding His Grace
Just as David cried out for God's mercy, he also relied on God's grace as well. This, too, was part of being a man after God's own heart. Here are some of the prayers he prayed regarding God's grace:

"As for me, I said, 'O LORD, be gracious to me; Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.'" (Psa 41:4)

"But You, O LORD, be gracious to me and raise me up, That I may repay them." (Psa 41:10).

"Be gracious to me, O Lord, For to You I cry all day long." (Psa 86:3)

"But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth. Turn to me, and be gracious to me; Oh grant Your strength to Your servant, And save the son of Your handmaid." (Psa 86:15-16)

This unwavering trust that David had in God's grace is an important part of how he sought after the heart of God. Likewise, we too, must boldly approach the throne of grace to find grace to help us in our time of need (He 4:16).

The apostle said, "Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin." (Heb 10:18). While receiving forgiveness is a result of God's mercy, it is His grace that frees us from ever having to make any sacrifice for our sins. Once a person is forgiven, he no longer needs to offer a sacrifice for his sins. For to do so would be to question God's grace and seek to earn His forgiveness.

Paul taught that "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us." (Eph 1:7-8a). It's always according to the riches of His grace, which He gave to us in such large measure.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Eph 2:8-9). The meaning of this Scripture is self-evident, that we are saved by grace through faith, not by works. Even the best reach heaven by the grace of God, because even they are not good enough to earn their way in by their own merits. Someone said, "You can't earn God's love. You can only accept it."

In David's case, as I have said, it would have been better for him if he had not committed adultery with Bathsheba and then murdered her husband Uriah, but once he realized his sin and repented, the grace of God was sufficient for his need. Although his sin increased, the grace of God increased even more. As Paul said, "The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more." (Rom 5:20).

If you have never experienced the grace of God like that, then let me tell you that there is no time like the present to do so. "As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, 'In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.' I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation." (2 Cor 6:1-2). You may not have tomorrow, but you have today, and now is the time to seek God's favor and receive His grace in your life.

For more on this please see By Grace Alone and Amazing Grace.

Putting it All Together
In our look at the life of David, we've discovered that there were several reasons why God considered him a man after His own heart. He was devoted to doing God's will, he knew the Lord personally, he desired to become a holy and godly man, yet he also knew how to receive mercy and find grace to help him in his time of need. May the Lord help each one of us to have these same outstanding characteristics in our own lives, so that we too may be men, women, and children after God's own heart.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, copyright the Lockman Foundation. Other Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan. The painting of King David Playing the Harp by Gerard van Honthorst, 1622.

Author's note Also see Aim for Perfection, Knowing the Lord, The Knowledge of the Holy, Is Obedience Optional?, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, Pleasing the Lord, Holy Living in a Perverted World, Called to be Blameless, A Tale of Two Kings, Sin and ConsequenceGod Forgives and Forgets, By Grace Alone, Amazing Grace,and From Religion to Relationship. You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

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.

Living on Earth as They Do in Heaven

Life would be much different for each of us if God's will were done here on earth as it is in heaven. I'd like to share with you just how different it would be and why.

Your Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven
The Lord taught us to pray to our Heavenly Father, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Mt 6:10). I stated previously in my article, The Disciples' Prayer:

In heaven, God’s will goes unchallenged and is always done. There’s nobody there resisting God’s will. On earth there are many enemies of God and hindrances to block his will. Yet His will is best. “Father knows best.”  The Father is looking out for your best interest. Trust God. Go with what He says.

When you pray for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, 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 yours 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. Your will has the ability to make you miss heaven. God will not force you to obey Him. He will not force Himself on you. If you allow your will to take priority, it can take you to hell. If you aren’t willing, then you can block God’s will from being done, so live your life for the will of God. Surrender to His will, and live according to it. (1 Pe 4:1-6).  The one who does the will of God lives forever. (1 Jn 2:17). His will is holy, righteous, perfect, and true.

Citizens of Heaven
Even while we are living on earth, if we know the Lord Jesus Christ personally and are born again, then we are citizens of heaven. The apostle Paul wrote, "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ." (Php 3:20, NIV). This means that heaven is our home and our names are already written in the register there as citizens of that glorious place. Our names are written in the Book of Life, which is an actual book in heaven with the names of every person who belongs to the Lord (Php 4:3; Rev 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12; 20:15; 21:27).

Jesus taught those of us who are truly His disciples to rejoice that our "names are written in heaven.” (Lk 10:20). It's very important that your name be written there, because it means you have eternal life and will spend eternity there with the Lord. However, anyone whose name is not found written in the Lamb's Book of Life will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev 20:5). Hell is real! You don't want to go to that terrible place. That's why you need to make certain that your name is in the Book of Life.

Being a citizen of heaven comes with both privileges and responsibilities. The privileges are rather obvious. As I said, you get to live there forever in the presence of God and walk with Jesus on the streets of gold. You receive a beautiful white robe to wear, which is reserved for the overcomers. You can bathe in the River of Life and drink from it. You can eat from the fruit of the Tree of Life. You will worship with the saints at the throne of God and behold His power and His glory in the sanctuary. You will enjoy fellowship so sweet with the saints and angels up there. It's a wonderful kingdom of light, life, and love, where everyone is full of joy and cares for one another. There's no more sorrow there, no more dying there, no more sickness, and no more pain. It's only perfect peace and rest.

But with that citizenship comes the responsibility to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Everyone there delightfully does the work the Lord has given them to do, which is very fulfilling and satisfying. It's not toilsome at all like work here on earth. And they live in holiness unto the Lord there, so there is nothing impure or evil allowed in that place. There is no devil, no demons, no property of satan, nothing false or artificial. There is no smoking, no drug use, and no alcohol abuse. They don't bow down to idols there. Everyone dresses modestly and godly. Everything is perfectly pure, holy, and righteous in heaven. "Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life." (Rev 21:27, NIV).

If you would like to know more about what heaven is like, you can read about it in the book of Revelation. You can also read many testimonies that I have posted on Eternal Destinations from people who have visited heaven and come back to tell about it. Heaven is real!

On Earth as it is in Heaven
Now let's relate that back to life here on earth. Since we who know Christ personally as our Lord and Savior are citizens of heaven, and we pray for our Heavenly Father's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, that means He is expecting us to live our lives here and now just as they do in heaven. That also comes with privileges and responsibilities as well.

You get to begin enjoying your eternal life right now and experiencing the abundant life that Jesus promised (John 10:10). You also experience the presence of God and walk with Jesus in your everyday activities (Jn 15:4). You receive a beautiful white robe to wear, but you need to wash your robe and keep it from becoming stained with sin (Rev 3:4,18). You can drink daily from the living waters that Jesus promised (Jn 7:37-39). You worship with the saints at the throne of God. You enjoy sweet fellowship with the saints here. You are seated in heavenly realms with Christ (Eph 2:6), and you are hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:3). The Lord sets His angels about you to protect you at all times (Psalm 91:11-12; Heb 1:14). It's a wonderful kingdom of light (Col 1:13), life, and love, where everyone is full of joy and cares for one another. You may have hardships, trials, sorrows and griefs to bear (Ac 14:22), but the Lord comforts you, gives you grace, and enables you to experience peace that passes all understanding in the midst of it (Phl 4:7), as well as joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Pe 1:8).

But with that citizenship comes the responsibility to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself (Lk 10:27). Your life should bear the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). You must do the will of God (Mt 7:21), and complete the work the Lord has given you to do (Col 4:17). Whatever you do you must do it with love as unto the Lord for the glory of God. And you should aim for perfection (2 Cor 13:11), walking in holiness, righteousness, and truth (Eph 4:24), allowing nothing impure, unholy, worldly, sinful, or evil in your life (2 Cor 7:1). That means you must not entertain demons. You must not own or wear any property of satan on your body. You must not be deceitful, false, or artificial (Ps 101:7). You must not bow down to any idols or lift up your soul to them (Ps 15; 24:3-4). Everything in your life must be perfectly pure, holy, and righteous like it is in heaven (Heb 12:14). That includes the way you dress and adorn yourself, which must be with decency and propriety in all modesty (1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Pe 3:3-4), so that you honor the Lord with your body (1 Cor 6:19-20).

Since they don't smoke, do drugs, or get drunk with alcohol in heaven, then that means you shouldn't do those things here on earth either, if you are a citizen of heaven. Since they don't get tattoos in heaven, you shouldn't get them here either (Lev 19:28). Since they don't wear makeup in the Holy City, you shouldn't wear it here. Since they are not going around dressed half naked in heaven, you should cover your body. Since they are not listening to secular music in the courts above, you shouldn't listen to it here either. It's easy for you to know how the Lord expects you to live, because anything they do in heaven, you should do here, and anything they don't do there, you should not do here. This is what the Bible teaches us. It's sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God.

Do you think that the saints here on earth are allowed to carry on living like the world (1 Joh 2:15-17) -- drinking, smoking, watching secular movies, listening to secular music, hating, lying, cheating, deceiving, not caring for one another, not praying, not worshiping the Lord, wearing the property of satan, being artificial, and dressing immodestly or indecently -- and then die and go to heaven? Do you think that just because they said a sinner's prayer and attend church they can live their life however they wish, and then as soon as they die they will walk through the pearly gates into heaven and begin to act differently and become holy people? If you do, you're wrong (Rom 6:1-2). If you don't hate sin now, you won't hate it there. If you don't like to worship and pray now, you won't like it there either. If you don't love the Lord with all your being now, you won't do so there either. If you don't love your neighbor as yourself now, what makes you think you will become a loving person after you die?

Let's pray that our Father's kingdom would come and that His will would be done here on earth in our lives as it is in heaven, so that we would live our lives on earth as they do in heaven. With the Lord's help, and by His grace, let's live on earth as they do in heaven.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB copyright the Lockmand Foundation, used by permission. Other Scriptures where noted as NIV, taken from the Holy Bible New International Version, copyright Zondervan, used by permission. Citizens of Heaven image copyright Word of Grace Bible Church - Battle Ground, WA, used according to Fair Use Act for educational and commentary purposes only.
 
Author's note: You are invited to read Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, Aim for PerfectionGodly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?, Tattoos and Body Piercing, Keeping Your Body Pure and HolyAlcohol and Cigarettes -- Ten Divine Revelations, Rock, Rap, and Reggae Music -- Three Divine Revelations, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, Called to be Blameless, Holy Living in a Perverted World, Separation from the World, The Straight and Narrow Path, Whatever You Do, Do All Like This, Your Identity in Christ, and Fruit in Every Season. You may access the Main Directory for this Seeking the Lord blog for more articles like this, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

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.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

No Turning Back

Dear God seekers,

I'd like to show you something you probably already know, but may not have considered before quite the way I'm going to present it. Let's begin with some basics, followed by the point I'd like to make.

The Fate of the Non Believer
First of all, let's consider the eternal destination of a non believer. Let's say he is an atheist. Or perhaps he calls himself a Christian, and even attends a church, but he doesn't know Jesus Christ personally as his Lord and Savior. He has never been born again, and is not a child of God. He could be any one of these types of people, but regardless of which one he is, my point is that his fate would still be the same. His eternal destination when he dies would ultimately be in hell, which is a terrible place. If you don't agree with that, then you should read the Bible. The bottom line is that all have sinned and fall short of God's glory, and the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23), which is eternal separation from God. A few of my articles that will help you understand this are Where will you go when you die?, From Religion to Relationship, and You Must Be Born Again.

The Destiny of the Believer
Next, let's consider where the believer goes when he dies. Take for example, Paul the apostle. We know he's up in glory now with the Lord. Or take John Wesley and D.L. Moody, who also made it to heaven. A Korean pastor died and saw that these two famous preachers now have two of The Four Tallest Homes in Heaven. There is no human being who deserves heaven, but because Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins on the cross, those who believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life. Scripture says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (Joh 3:16, NIV). The bottom line is that the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom 6:23). It's only through faith in Christ and His atoning sacrifice on the cross that we can have eternal life. We must be born again and have a personal relationship with Him. For more on this topic, please see my articles, Christ Alone and By Grace Alone.

The Fate of the Apostate Man
Lastly, let's consider the eternal destination of the apostate man who falls away from Christ. Let's say we have a person who has come to know Christ and been born again. He's accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and he begins to follow the Lord. Perhaps he follows the Lord for a day, or a month, or a year, or ten years. During that time he prays, reads the Bible, and attends church. Perhaps he even leads others to Christ. But at some point, for whatever reason, he falls away from the Lord and dies in that state. Perhaps he backslides and goes back into the world into a life of sin. Or perhaps he simply becomes a worldly Christian. Or perhaps he falls into temptation and commits sexual immorality with a woman and then dies immediately afterward in a car accident before he has a chance to repent.

Where would he go when he dies? Our natural inclination would be to assume that he would go to heaven and receive a lesser reward than he otherwise would have received. We assume the Lord would give him credit for trying and that he would at least make it to heaven, even if he ended up in the outer environs far from the throne. We might assume that God would not damn his soul completely, since he at least came to know Christ and began to walk with the Lord. At his funeral we might eulogize him right into the pearly gates of heaven, and overlook the sin in his life that he never repented of.

However, the Scriptures teach us something quite different. The Bible says he will not only go to hell, but we would be wrong to assume that he would receive a lighter sentence because he was a Christian. According to the Bible, he will receive a worse punishment than if he had never given his life to Christ in the first place. The Lord taught that he will be beaten with many blows, because he knew what his Master required and didn't do it.

Jesus said, “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." (Lk 12:47-48, NIV).

Likewise, Peter the apostle wrote: "If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them." (2 Pe 2:20-21, NIV).

According to Peter, the man in our story would be worse than if he had never given his life to Jesus. In fact, he would have been better off if he had never known the way of truth than to have known it and then turn his back on the sacred command. That's a frightening prospect, but it is exactly what the Scripture teaches. No wonder Jesus said to fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Mt 10:28b).

Don't look back! Remember Lot's wife. It's not worth it! The apostle warned us, "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left...But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved." (Heb 10:26,39, NIV). If you don't believe it is possible for a born again believer to shrink back and be destroyed, then you should probably read my articles called The Apostasy Parables, Drifting Away, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, and The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness.

Scripture is very clear about this. That's why Jesus warned us to count the cost before deciding to follow Him. It will cost your life. He said: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’" (Lk 14:28-30, NIV).

It's true that the one who backslides away from Jesus will be ridiculed in this life. Take it from someone who knows firsthand. I backslid after I had been saved for about three months and continued to do so for nearly six months until I repented and returned to Jesus. During that time, I was ridiculed by one of my unbelieving roommates in the Army barracks. I was living in deep sin and he was mocking me that I was supposed to be a good Christian. It was humiliating. But worse than that would be to die in that state and be mocked and beaten by the demons all throughout eternity. They do that to those who were once true Christians and ended up in hell.

Perhaps they say with an sinister laugh, "Ha, ha, haaa! You were supposed to be a Christian. You had the Bible and you knew better. You have no excuse for being here. You deserve it. Don't you know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor homosexuals, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. You fool!" Then they beat that person severely and probably laugh saying things like, "Ha, ha, ha, ha! Now you will be here with me forever and I will get to keep tormenting you like this. You're all mine! Ha, ha, ha, ha!"

This is why Jesus cautioned us to first count the cost before we decide to follow Him, because once you start to follow Him, then it's too late to count the cost and decide you can't continue on the straight and narrow way.

Once you give your life to Jesus, you cannot turn back. The only way to go is forward toward Jesus and toward heaven. Of course, you have the freedom to choose to turn back after you start following Jesus, but it would be a terrible decision for all the reasons I have stated. Christians who turn back receive a far worse punishment in hell than those who didn't know any better. So once we begin to follow the Lord, we need to understand this and realize that no matter how difficult the journey may become, we must continue to go forward with Jesus and never quit.  Jesus said, "The one who stands firm to the end will be saved." (Mt 24:13, NIV)

No More Satisfaction
The other thing to keep in mind is that the Christian who turns back to a life of sin can no longer find the same satisfaction from it that he once had before knowing Christ. Now his conscience will bother him and he will always know he is not right with God. That's probably why backslidden Christians make some of the worst sinners, because they keep trying to drown out the pangs of their conscience. They keep trying to get the same level of satisfaction they once knew, but they can't unless they drive away the Holy Spirit, which is a dreadful thing to do. So not only is it worse for such a person in hell than for a non believer, but it is worse in this life, too.

Putting it All Together
Hopefully this has served as a warning for you and perhaps a wake up call for those who have already fallen away. It's easy to see how the non believer ends up in hell and how the believer goes to heaven. But I trust this message has proven to you that it is far worse in hell for the believer who shrinks back to destruction. Don't let that happen to you.

If you have fallen away from the Lord, then repent today, because you don't know if you will have another day. This could be your last chance. It's not by accident that you are reading this article. Repent while you are still on earth and while mercy is still available. Jesus loves you and wants you back.

For those who are faithfully following the Lord: Never give up! Never give in! Never give over to the enemy! Keep following Jesus. Endure to the very end. As that song says, "I have decided to follow Jesus. The cross before me, the world behind me. No turning back. No turning back."

Attribution notice: Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, copyright Zondervan, used by permission.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like The Apostasy Parables, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, Remember Lot's Wife, Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian, Eternal Security, Holding Fast the Faithful Word, Holy Living in a Perverted World, Separation from the World, Don't Look Back (poem), The Straight and Narrow Path, and Ask for the Ancient Paths. I highly recommend reading, Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies, Conditions of the New Covenant, and Holy Fire Baptism. You may find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

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.