Knowing What You’ve Signed Up For

A BIBLE STUDY ~

 

If you are reading this and are a Christian having committed your life to Jesus, to love and follow Him, I have no doubt you’ve felt like a failure at one time or another.  The reason I can say that is because I know a little bit about our common enemy. 

His name means adversary (aka the accuser, aka father of lies).  He would love nothing more than to take the same Bible I read daily for encouragement and my own spiritual growth, and give me a smackdown with it, accusing me of failing God in certain areas of my life.  I am so grateful then for the verses like Romans 8:33-35 (NIV).

[33]  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  It is God who justifies,  [34]  Who then is the one who condemns?  No one.  Christ Jesus who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  [35]  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  

The world often fails to see the potential for success that God has placed within a person.  But God Himself knows us and sees us for our true potential.

And when we open our hearts to Him daily and receive His GRACE, that my friends is the beginning of a life of success.  All other successes will be left behind when we leave this earth.  But knowing Jesus and making Him known to others is something we can take with us!

As Paul and his team were successful as they traveled around sharing the GOOD NEWS about Jesus, several dynamics emerge from these verses found in 1 Thes. 2 that helps us become more effective in SHARING God’s GRACE with others.

Even When You’re Up Against Strong Opposition –

1 Thessalonians 2:1-2 (NIV)

Acts 17 tells of the strong opposition Paul had faced not only in Thessalonia but also in Philippi.  The suffering in Phillipi that he alludes to here is detailed for us in Acts 16:16-40.  I encourage you to read the accounts of tribulation encountered.

In spite of this harsh treatment in Phillipi, they still dared to proclaim the GOOD NEWS (the gospel message) to the Thessalonians, even though they had run into a spiritual brick wall there as well.

Acts 17 tells us that the Jews in Thessalonia were jealous of Paul’s ministry so much, that they formed a mob and started a riot in the city.  Jason, the man whose house Paul was staying, was arrested and later released on bond.

So that night, Paul, and Silas (Silvanus), left for Berea under the cover of darkness.

THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL –

Although over the past 47 years as a Christian, I faced different degrees of opposition to the gospel message.  But I never faced opposition that the apostle Paul faced and experienced.  And I pray that I never will.  That said, I’m prepared for what might come, not by my own strength, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Opposition will come whenever we set out to accomplish something significant for Jesus’ sake–like sharing the gospel message and helping people grow in their faith!  This is warfare on a spiritual level, and the enemy will stir up as much trouble as he can to discourage us and immobilize us in sharing God’s GRACE with others around us.

BUT WE ARE NOT ALONE!

Just as Jesus told His disciples that He would be with them always. so He is with us.  And He will help us accomplish what He has called us to do!

The help that is delivered with Divine Assistance!

It would have been a natural thing in the world for Paul and his team to call a timeout and take a little break in their mission.

Paul decided not to be a whiner because he was not treated fairly by the people he was trying to reach for Christ.

As they passed God’s GRACE on to everyone they met, the RESULT of their efforts, using an American football term, a roughing the passer, penalty!  God, didn’t you see that?  How could you miss that call?  They deserve a penalty!

But Paul didn’t blame God or feel sorry for himself.

Paul knew what he had signed up for.

The Lord told Ananias in Acts 9:16,  “For I will make clear to him how much he will be afflicted and must endure and suffer for My name’s sake.”  Instead of complaining, Paul received strength, encouragement, and help from the Lord.

Sometime later in Corinth, after facing opposition at nearly every turn, the Lord encouraged Paul in a VISION:

Acts 18:9-10

Here’s the lesson to remember when things get tough for us in sharing Christ Jesus with others:

We can withstand any opposition the enemy throws our way

because God is with us!

“With the help of our God, we dared to tell you the gospel in spite of strong opposition.”  (1 Thes. 2:2)

So when we are doing what God has called us to do church, and we face opposition in our calling, God’s got our backs–God is with us and will help us carry out His plan!

And when we SHARE, we need to be sure that we are doing it for the right reasons.

Having the Proper Motivation –

1 Thessalonians 2:3-5 (NIV)

[3]  For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you.  [4]  On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel.  We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.  [5]  You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed–God is our witness.

In Philippians One, Paul said that some preached Christ for the wrong reasons (envy, selfish ambition), but he was okay with ut, because even with the wrong motivation, at least the gospel of Christ was being preached.

However, the Lord wants us to take a close look at our motivation and make sure it aligns with who He is.

  • Not from bad theology (or “pop theology”).  Anything that makes us think wrongly about who God is and/or who we are.
  • Not from impure motives.
  • Not to trick the listeners (manipulation).
  • Not to please men (seeking their praise, (Vs. 6).
  • Not using flattery.
  • Not out of greed.
  • Positively, to PLEASE GOD!

The proper motivation to have for sharing the GOSPEL–The Good News–with others is to please God!

It pleases God because He doesn’t want anyone to perish without Him, but for everyone to come to repentance.

If we are using our faith to impress others or get something that we want for ourselves, then we are missing it!  How many times over the years in my own evangelistic outreach have I prayed the words of Psalm 139:23-24.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting.”

It’s characterized by giving, not taking.

1 Thessalonians 2:6-9

Paul could have asked the Thessalonian Christians to take care of them, providing housing, food, and other needs.  But he wanted to take care of them, not the other way around–much like a mother cares for her children.

Paul spoke of being gentle, not demanding.  He nurtured them and helped them grow while he was there amongst them.  His love was so strong that he said that he was delighted to share not simply the gospel, but his own life.  He worked day and night to avoid being a burden to them while preaching the good news to them.

How was Paul able to do all of this?

Because that’s what Jesus did!  He came to serve, not be served.  He came to give, not take!

GIVING is the truest expression of love.  God so loved that He GAVE…

Jesus loves the Church and gave Himself for her.

So the question, “What’s in it for me?” wasn’t foremost on Paul’s mind.  He knew his reward would come later.  Now was the time to SERVE, not be served!

Its effects are seen in those who share it – 1 Thessalonians 2:10 (AMP)

[10]  You are witnesses, [yes] and God [also], how unworldly and upright and blameless was our behavior toward you believers [who adhered to and trusted in and relied on our Lord Jesus Christ].

Paul knew they needed to practice what they preached!

Not that he had to do anything different but just to set a good example.  A good example flowed out of a life that was sold out to Jesus!  I would like to call this approach, “modeling discipleship.”  Paul was showing them how to live at being honest, hardworking, holy, righteous, and blameless.  He was simply being a follower of Jesus, and they got to witness it.  Its effects are discipled into those who received it,

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12

There’s immediate transformation when a person receives the GOOD NEWS about Jesus, but there’s also a lifelong process as well.

The spiritual growth process requires encouragement, comfort, and urging–that’s what DISCIPLESHIP is all about!

Most of us are okay with the encouragement and comfort concept.  It’s the urging that might irritate us at times.  Urging someone to live a life worthy of God and that means that they can’t get too comfortable and satisfied.

A follower (disciple) of Christ cannot give in to every whim or passion or desire that floats through their heads!

So, we are to be as parents to new believers, as a father deals with his own children. 

Sharing the GOOD NEWS with an individual doesn’t end when they accept Jesus as their forgiver and leader.  It’s an ongoing process of discipleship where the life of Jesus is imparted to them in a relationship.

SHARING THE GOOD NEWS WITH OTHERS:

As we ALL share the GOOD NEWS, realize that it comes with the opposition, but can be done with God’s help.

Our motivation should be to please God, not people.  It’s about giving, not taking, and it changes us so we can help reach and disciple others for Christ.  That’s what God intended for each one us as His people and when we became the church–WE ARE THE CHURCH!

The GOOD NEWS about Jesus and the POWER of God is leading to SALVATION for everyone who believes.  If you haven’t yet received the GOOD NEWS about Jesus and by trusting Him for forgiveness and committing to follow Him, I pray you will right now, where you are.  If you already have, then let it TRANSFORM you!  SHARE IT, and DISCIPLE those who receive it!

_________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS:

Photos/Images:  Google Image Search

Commentary:  1 Thessamonians 2:1-12 – Bible Hub

Dictionary:  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old And New Testament Words.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); and other translations as a reference in the text of used in the Photo/Images.

No One Is Guaranteed One Minute Beyond Now

Scripture Reading:  Matthew 16:26-28

[26] “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?  [27] For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. [28] “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming to his kingdom”  (NIV Bible).

Let’s face it; we live in a world that bases our success on how much stuff we’ve accumulated.

And Jesus, on the other hand, told us that our success won’t be based on stuff.

Matthew 6:24 (AMP)

[24] “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon” (deceitful riches, money, possessions, or whatever is trusted in).

So I guess what we really need to be asking ourselves each and every morning before getting our day started is “What’s really important to us?”

Are we more concerned with our bank account that the account we have with Christ Jesus?  Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:10,

[10] “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

And it isn’t always money.

For a lot of us, we put the stuff that money can buy ahead of our RELATIONSHIP with the Lord.  And for a lot of us, it comes down to not so much how much we’ve got but what we do hang on to what we’ve got.

For some of us, even if we don’t have much, we put our relationship with the Lord on the back burner in the pursuit of the almighty dollar.  We live in a material world that shoves it down our throats by having the latest and greatest.

We want more, more, more!!!

Yet we fail to hear the Lord’s words of wisdom on how we handle our STUFF.

Read what He says…,  Matthew 16:26 (a)

“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”

What we need to remember, and I don’t want to ever take things from Scripture out of context if I can help it, that this particular sentence was spoken AFTER Jesus encouraged us to deny ourselves of worldly pleasures, take up our crosses and follow Him.

He was asking us what would it matter if we had everything of earthly value in our possession; what if we had everything we ever wanted?  What if we never wanted for anything because we already had everything there was to have?

And we were still locked out of Heaven.

If we could have it all and do nothing but seek the pleasures of this world we would still be waiting in the end.

Because if our SOUL was lost, we couldn’t and wouldn’t find anything to replace it.

You lose it, it’s gone forever!

You lose it to Hell and it’s lost forever!!!!

Even so, we as the Body of Christ seem to not see the importance of a person’s SOUL.

Yet Jesus wanted us to understand that we gain nothing from the world if we turn our backs on God.

YOU CAN’T PUT A PRICE ON A SOUL –

If you die with the most toys, you still die.

You can work hard all your days and have everything money can buy.

You can hold all kinds of powerful positions, awards hanging on the wall, trophies on your desk…and your portfolio will never stack up to the condition of your SOUL.

THE HUMAN SOUL will either go to HEAVEN or HELL.  It will either be SAVED or LOST.  There isn’t a middle ground, no exchanges, and no do-overs once we close our eyes for the last time.

Your family can’t buy your way or pray for your way out of Hell.

You can’t bargain your way out either.

You may be wondering right now as you read my words why I’m writing a blog on a subject like our souls. 

You may be sitting there thinking “I’m saved, what difference does it make?”

What about those that you know who haven’t made that decision?

I wonder at times if any of you give two cents about the lost people who you know?

DOES HELL EVEN KNOW THAT YOU EXIST?

I remember the story from Acts in the Bible about the demon-possessed man who told some Christian wannabes  “Jesus I know, Paul I’ve heard of.  Who are you?”

When you fail to tell them about the life-changing, life-saving POWER of Jesus Christ, you’re basically telling them that it’s okay that they go to Hell!

Is that a harsh statement to make?

 Matthew 16:26b – “Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Jesus asked this follow-up question regarding our service or lack of it to Him.

What will you give to SAVE your soul?

What are you willing to  SACRIFICE, give up?

What’s ironic here about life is this:  The more we live for our own selfish needs, the more miserable we become.  But the more we do for the Lord, and the more we do in His name, the happier and more satisfied we become.

Can we really put up enough for our souls?

Jesus seems to be telling us that there are many people who would rather spend their entire life pursuing gold, silver and “stuff” in this world of ours than to hear about your Jesus.

Is there anything in this world that you possess right now that can or will be a suitable payment in exchange for your SOUL?

Jesus knew ahead of time that people would wait until the last-minute and get in by the “skin of their teeth.”  Who in their right mind would ever believe that this world gives us the best we can get and that’s all there is to it?

If we were to correctly answer this question, we would have to say we would give EVERYTHING in exchange for our soul!

And we should be willing to do it right now!!

And we should want to tell everyone we come in contact with!!!

And why is that?

No one is guaranteed one minute beyond now.

We could leave here this very minute and step into ETERNITY.  And the truth is that so could any of your friends, neighbors, or relatives who think they’ll skate by because they’re nice and don’t bother anybody.

And a lot of those ‘nice people’ aren’t gonna make it because they’re embarrassed that someone will find out they’ve become “religious”.

Mark 8:38 says:  “If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when He comes in His Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

I sometimes find myself wondering how much of my church family, and when I say “church,” I mean the greater Church, is ashamed of their relationship with Jesus Christ.  A lot of self-professing Christians talk a good game on Sunday, but when it’s time to put up, they clam up!

What will you give in exchange for your soul?

Better yet, what will you give in exchange for your SAVED SOUL?

If you are SAVED, you were SAVED with time to spare.

What about that person who isn’t SAVED yet?

If living for your own selfish desires does nothing but make you miserable and unsatisfied, why not SURRENDER ALL of that and turn it all over to Christ?

EVERYTHING I do, say and experience can attribute to what He is doing in me.

I’M HIS!

HE BOUGHT ME with His blood on the Cross!

So what would I give up in exchange for my SOUL that belongs to Jesus?

EVERYTHING OF ANY VALUE!!!!

We have something much better to look forward to ~ Matthew 16:27 (AMP)

[27] For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory (majesty, splendor) of His Father with His angels, and then He will render account and reward every man in accordance with what he has done.

The same JESUS of Genesis 1 is the same JESUS of John 1 and Acts 1.

It was JESUS who originally said “I’ll be back,” not The Terminator.

None of us know the date and time that He shall come but the bottom line is that everyone is going to know when He gets here.

Acts 1 says:  [11] “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you to heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

It will be unlike any event in human history.  And those who have intentionally lived to fill their pockets and fatten their bank accounts will find themselves in a world of trouble.  For all that they have won’t be enough to pay the COST for their SOUL.

On that day there will be TWO kinds of people in the world.  Those who have a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus Christ and those who don’t!

The SAVED and the LOST.

There’s GOOD NEWS for you if you feel that you’re missing the mark.

We can prepare for ETERNITY now.  We still have time to turn it around right now.

You may not be guaranteed one more minute but you can make a commitment to Christ for the next minute of your life right now.

It’s impossible to live a perfect life.  No one can.  But if I have learned nothing else in this long life of mine, over those years I’ve learned the difference between living for Jesus and living for me.

Jesus came to SEEK AND SAVE the LOST.

He commanded us to go into the world to SHARE the Good News, to witness for Christ, to disciple, baptize and teach.

A few years ago my wife gave me for Christmas one of my favorite Bible verses framed and hung on the wall over my desk as a reminder of my commitment to spreading the good news–to teach and disciple others around the world for Christ.

He will come back soon I hope.  But in the meantime, what will He find us doing?

________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS –

Source:  Bible Study Tools, Matthew 16:26-27

Bible Translations:  NIV Bible, except where noted.

IMAGES:  Google Image Search, setting advanced; 

Romans 10:15 “How beautiful are the feet…” image unknown source.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“HELL YES,” OR “HELL NO”?

My son and I when together love to discuss and look at Scripture with an invisible magnifying glass. My wife has sometimes referred to both of us as the “Biblical Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson” with our sometimes heated discussions.  Here is but one example of discussion regarding spending an Eternity in HELL:

My son:  “How could a loving God send someone’s soul and spirit after death to a place like Hell?  I’m not confident that there is an actual place of eternal fire for the unsaved.  I think that HELL is just a metaphor, a manufactured location by the Church.”

Awhile back ago, there was a SURVEY taken of 7441 Clergy concerning their belief in HELL:  58% of Methodist, 60% of Episcopalians, 54% of Presbyterians and 35% of American Baptists.   They believe collectively that HELL is NOT a location after death for the lost, but the experience of self-estrangement, guilt, and meaninglessness in this life.

I don’t know about your belief in a place called Hell, but I know what the BIBLE really says!

Hell Is A Place Beneath Man

EZEKIEL 31:16

[16]  I will make the nations quake at the sound of its fall when I cast it down to Sheol with those who descend into the pit…God is speaking of Assyria. `

AMOS 9:2

[2]  Though they dig into Sheol (Hades, the dark abode of the gathered dead), from there shall My hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down  (Amplified Bible).

Psalm 55:15

[15] Let desolations and death come suddenly upon them; let them go down alive to Sheol (the place of the dead), for evils are in their habitations, in their hearts, and their inmost part  (AMP).

David calls this on his enemies knowing that GOD had once done this to Moses’ enemies (Num. 16:30-34).

Matthew 11:23 (NIV)

[23] “And you Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens?  No, you will go down to Hades [the realm of the dead]…

Speaking of the indifference to Christ and His work.

HELL is a place of Eternal Fire –

An Eternal Flame in the Karakorum Desert

God speaks of His JUDGMENT of Sin in Deuteronomy 32:22 (AMP):

[22] For a fire is kindled by My anger, and it burns to the depths of Sheol, devours the earth with its increase. and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.

Matthew 18:9 (NIV):

JESUS speaking on REPENTANCE instead of going to HELL–

[9]  And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the FIRE of hell.

Luke 16:24 (AMP) – JESUS speaking of the rich man…

RICH MAN speaking: [24] “And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have pity and mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in the FLAME.”

THE PEOPLE OF HELL, WHO ARE THEY?

ANSWER: ALL People and Nations Who Forgot God

PSALM 9:17 (AMP):

[17] The wicked shall be turned back [headlong into premature death] into Sheol (the place of the departed spirits of the wicked), even all the nations that forget or are forgetful of God.

[Bible Hub-Psalm 9:17, The Treasury of David]:

How solemn the seventeenth verse, especially in it warning to the Forgetters of God. The moral who are not devout, the honest who are not prayerful, the benevolent who are not believing, the amiable who are not converted, these must all have their portion with the openly wicked in hell, prepared for the devil and his angels.  There are whole nations; the forgetters of God are far more numerous than the profane…and according to the very forceful expression of the Hebrew, the nethermost hell will be the place into which all of them shall be hurled headlong.  FORGETFULNESS seems a small sin, but it brings eternal wrath upon the man who lives and dies in it.

“HELL …NO!”

Even the “religious” can make it into HELL!

Matthew 23:33:  “You snakes!  You brood of vipers!  How will you escape being condemned to Hell?”

The Proud and Haughty–

Proverbs 16:18:  Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

And in case you are wondering…there’s plenty of room in HELL.

Isaiah 5:14, 15:  [14] Therefore Death expands its jaws, opening wide its mouth; into it will descend their nobles and masses with all their brawlers and revelers.  [15] So people will be brought low and everyone humbled, the eyes of the arrogant humbled.

HELL, a place for the devil and his angels–

2 Peter 2:4:  For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment;

[SEE Matthew 25:41]

The Permanence of Hell–It is Eternal Vengeance

JUDE 7:  In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion.  They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

JUDE 11:  Woe to them!  They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.

The EARTH opened up and took Korah and his family to hell.  [Numbers 16:1-3. 31-33]

Those who do evil to us as true believers of Jesus Christ will pay a price of eternal magnitude.

2 Thessalonians 1:7-9

HELL IS A PLACE OF ETERNAL TORMENT –

Revelation 14:11 (AMP):  And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no respite (no pause, no intermission, no rest, no peace] day or night–…

Matthew 25:46 (NIV):  “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

This QUESTION has been asked and discussed by many over the years regarding eternal destination for all:

“Do babies, infants, go to Hell when they die?”

In order for me to answer that question, I must find a biblical example of when an infant died, and in which his or her ETERNAL DESTINATION is recorded.

In 2 Samuel 12, king David’s newborn son fell terminally ill and after 7 days the child died.  Let’s read and listen to a father’s words in verses 22-23:

It is clear that David’s dead infant son never returned to this earth, but David also said that ONE DAY, he would go to be with his son.  Through inspiration, David writes in the Psalms

Through inspiration, David writes in the Psalms where his own eternal destination was going to be with his son in the “house of the Lord” (Ps. 23:6).

“Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place” (AMP).

KING DAVID was looking forward to the day when he would be able to meet his son in heaven.  There is absolutely nothing in this context that gives any hint that dead infants’ SOULS go to Hell.

“HELL, NO!” is the answer: Do babies/infants souls go hell?

Wishing Away the Reality of Hell Won’t Fly Either –

The Bible is clear in the O.T. and the N.T.

So, is HELL a real place of pain and torment? YES! But, it is also a place where lost sinners will spend eternity.

It’s not God’s fault that humanity sins.  But it is God’s JOY & PLEASURE to offer humanity a way out, a way that is provided through the LOVE of His Son, Jesus Christ.

So the CHOICE has to be made by you where you are in life:  “HELL YES” or…”HELL NO.”

If you are not saved, today is your day!  But, if you are, then you are given the responsibility to SHARE this message with them.

_________________________________________________________

CREDITS:

Commentaries:  [1] Bible Hub – Psalm 9:17;  [2] Apologetics Press–Do Babies Go to Hell When They Die?

PHOTOS:  Google Advanced Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) and Amplified Bible (AMP).