Up to now, I have had a couple of controversial articles that some people did not like. Actually, this is part of my job, to get the reader to think, to question. Therefore if it has some controversy in it, no problem. One of them was 'Hate Thy Neighbor.' Too many folks tend to hate for no real reason, not that there is a reason to hate. Then there was one that surprised me called 'Unique.' I did not expect to find disagreements about each person being a unique individual. In 'Hardliner', I showed you that I will tell you about the Lord but will not be put off by those who do not agree. However, I warn you right now that this article may not be what you want to read. You will possibly disagree with it or reject it completely because of what you know, traditions of the particular church you attend, what you have been taught, or that you just plain do not want to think of such a thing. I am in danger of losing readers with this article yet it has to be talked about, explored. But stay with me to the end, comment, and most of all, question.
The biggest danger in believing is that if you believe wrong things, you will not change. Do I know what the right and wrong things are? Sometimes. Yet I am questioning too. Why? Because churches teach traditions and doctrines that are not part of the bible at all. If we do not check absolutely everything out for ourselves, then we close our minds to the one thing that may just do us the most good.
One of THE most controversial subjects in Christianity seems to be the idea of 'once saved, always saved.' When I was born again, that was what I heard. I believed it. I still believe that when you seek Jesus, walk with Him, and declare He is your Master, salvation is real and very sticky! Yet things I have read in the bible have me questioning the Lord about the intent of the Word in that area. 'What are you talking about? When I ask Jesus into my heart, isn't that enough?' The answer is no, it is not. There is a condition. You must also obey the Master, walk with Him, seek Him continually. If all you do is go up, ask Jesus into your heart and live life as usual, then you are in danger of a number of things. Let's examine this a bit.
All through the scriptures where Jesus is talking, there are parables that mention about not being prepared. Over and over He speaks of this same subject. The ones that come immediately to mind are the parables of the great supper (Matt.22:1-14), ten virgins (Matt 25:1-13), the talents (Matt 25:30). In the great supper, the king had invited friends and relatives to join him in celebrating his son's wedding. None would come so he had servants go out to the streets to bring folks in. All were clothed in wedding garments except one man. When asked why he did not have a garment, he was surprised but did not respond. The very next verse says that the king ordered his servants to bind him and cast him into outer darkness. Why? Because he was not prepared.
The parable of the ten virgins shows that they were waiting on the return of the bridegroom. Only five were truly ready because they had oil enough to last the night. The others wanted to borrow because they had not come prepared. The first five said no, go and buy for yourselves so that we don't all run out before the bridegroom returns. So five virgins went to buy oil, something they should have done before. While they were gone, he returned. The first five entered into the house with him. The second five, now having enough oil, came back to find the door closed to them. They knocked. When the door was opened by the bridegroom, they said 'Lord, Lord' and his response was that he did not know them. Why? Because they were not prepared.
Finally, the parable of the talents talks of three servants entrusted with amounts of money while the master is gone. Each were given an amount according to his abilities. The first was given five talents which he wisely traded and received five more. I suspect it was much like the stock market. The second servant had two talents and gained two more. The third one had one talent. He was afraid so he buried his in the ground. When the master returned, each brought what they had to him. The first gave his ten talents to the master, who was extremely pleased, and the servant was rewarded. He was told by the master that he was faithful, that he had done well, and that he would rule over many things. The best news was that he could enter into the joy of his lord. The second likewise was rewarded in the same way. When the third servant told the master what he had done with the money given him, the master was no longer pleased saying that the least he could have done was to put it in the bank and get interest. The master called the servant wicked and lazy, took the one talent he did have, gave it to the first servant and declared that to everyone who has, more will be given. The reward of the lazy servant? He was cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Why? Because he was not prepared.
Just prior to the parables of the virgins and talents, and not long after the great supper, Jesus talks to his disciples about the time of the end of the age (Matt 24). One of the things He is impressing on them is to be watchful for the things He is talking about. It is so important to Him that He mentions it several times in a short period. Jesus refers to Noah and that the days of His return would be just as they were then. In other words, normal 'business as usual' days. Verse 40 refers to the 'catching away' of the children of the Lord, something often referred to as the rapture. Then verse 42. (emphasis mine in all cases through the rest of the article)
Matthew 24:42, "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come."
Watch therefore. In other words, pay attention. Look for His return. Do not decide that He may come in a few years or even longer. Be aware that the possibility exists that He could come even as you are reading this. We just do not know when because Jesus says that no one but the Father knows the day or the hour. But we are given times and seasons to being watching. This is now that season and these are those times. Matthew 24 is all about having this information.
Then Jesus goes into another parable. This time it's about the owner of the house watching so that when the thief comes, he is prepared.
Matthew 24:43-44, "But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh."
He says it again. Be ready! These are warnings. If there are so many warnings like this, and there are, then Jesus saw that in these times people would not be doing what He has told them to do. Many people. But who is He talking about? Believers. He is talking to His disciples about this, not a crowd or multitude. These warnings are not for those who have not yet come to Jesus. How would they know the times and seasons? There are people in the world right now who not only have never heard of Jesus but have no clue what a bible is. How could He be talking about them?
Then He mentions a wise servant and a foolish one. The wise one is doing what his master has asked him to do when he returned. The foolish one decided that the master would not return so quickly so he went out partying. What was the reaction of the master when he came home?
Matthew 24:48-51, "But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
That sounds terribly harsh, doesn't it. But perhaps you think that this is all about those who have never accepted the Lord Jesus before. I might think that if I had not also seen the book of Revelation where the Lord Jesus is talking to John, telling him to write to the seven churches. Remember that ALL of those churches were believing churches. All had been set up by the apostles who would not have done so if there were not believers in charge that were trusted friends. Two churches come to mind. The Laodicean church is lukewarm and Jesus vomits it out of His mouth. They decided that they were rich with goods and money yet He says they are wretched, poor, miserable, blind, and naked. We are talking about BELIEVERS here who have walked away from the path. He is warning them to straighten up or He will spue them out of His mouth.
Yet the church that interests me is Sardis. He tells them to be watchful, strengthen things that remain because they are ready to die. Why? He says that He has found them not perfect in what they have been doing.
Revelation 3:3, "Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee."
Is this beginning to sound familiar now? Yet He is giving them a warning and time to repent, change their ways. But Jesus does not stop there. The next verses are quite interesting.
Revelation 3:4-5, "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy."
That is wonderful because there are some who are doing what the Lord has expected and asked. And they will be rewarded. But look at this next verse. Does anything jump out at you?
Revelation 3:5, "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels."
Why would Jesus blot out someone's name from the book of life that is already there? The same people who's names are to be blotted out are those same ones who are not watching. Does that make sense? He is talking to a church that is being warned to get their act together, that are not perfect in God's eyes, that need to watch because He is going to come like a thief if they don't. Only those people who overcome will be clothed in white raiment and not be blotted out of the book. Those are pretty harsh words. Do you think He is serious about this?
Let me point out here that the word 'overcome' means to prevail, conquer, have victory. This means that those people who are found doing what the Master has said to be doing and have the victory are those who will not be blotted out of the book of life. Does this mean that if you are faithful but are doing something that is not your assigned job just at the moment that Jesus arrives, that He will forget you? No. Please remember, He knows your heart.
What are we supposed to do then? How do we do these things so we are staying in the will of God? Jesus tells us that too.
Matthew 6:33, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
If we seek the Lord first, ask Him about everything, and do what He has assigned us to do as believers, at the same time watching for that glorious return of Jesus for the church, there is no doubt that He will be pleased. This is not a condemnation thing to make you afraid or feel guilty. It is to encourage you to get closer to the Lord while there is yet time to do so. If all you do is ask Jesus into your heart but do nothing more, unless you are instantly killed or die as a result of illness right afterwards, then it is possible that you are among those who are being warned and need to pay attention. Also please understand this as well. I am not writing something to you that I did not deal with myself. These are lessons that the Lord has given to me. Did I have doubts? Of course. Not about my salvation but about my doing what the Lord has asked of me and what the cost would be if I did not walk according to what He has said.
Now the question is: Are you in the will of God? Will you be prepared when the Lord Jesus shows up for His church? If so, wonderful. If you are not sure, take the time to rededicate your life to the Lord now. Then begin a new practice of prayer, study, devotion. Make this year your best yet!
If you are reading this and have not asked Jesus into your life, there is still time. He will cleanse you of all sins and you will become a new creation. He has promised this. Remember, Jesus died on that cross for YOU. Yes, He did. That was so that you would not have to go to hell for those sins you have committed. It does not matter what the sin is, go to Him!
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