Matthew 19:16-17 “16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”
There are a few things that we should get from this.
1. People are concerned with eternity. We know that every man and woman has eternity set on their hearts. We all wrestle with that question about what happens after you die. We all wrestle with the existence of the Lord and how we enter His gates. Everyone we talked to the past couple days had that thought and all said they wanted to know the answer. Everyone. Often many have the wrong idea of what grants them eternal life. Just like this young man. There are even those in the church that think that just because you walked an aisle, just because you were baptized, just because you show up to church that you are good. Those are great things, but those are not what give you eternal life. Only faith in Christ and His work on the cross. Only faith in the resurrected King.
2. No one is good. I love what Jesus said to him. Jesus gave him a foreshadow of the issue with his question in his first response. There is only one good. Only God is good. Only Jesus lived the perfect life. We all are sinners by nature and by choice. We all have fallen short of the glory of God. No one is perfect. This guy was coming to Jesus for assurance of his obvious blessed life. He had kept the law, as he thought. God had blessed him with riches. Of course he was a good man. Of course he was going to inherit eternal life. We often think if we just keep the scales tipped towards our good deeds that we will be good. The scriptures tell us that even our good deeds are filled with sin. We really do underestimate the sinfulness of our hearts. We are impure. We are sinful. Even in our “good” things we are sinning. We have no hope at all to be good. Only Jesus is good. Only He can give us righteousness.
3. Obey perfectly. This somewhat plays off the last point. To get to heaven you must obey the law perfectly. One problem… You fail. We all fail. Only Christ lived up to the perfection of the law. He came and fulfilled the law. Now we put our faith not in what we do, nor what we don’t do, but what’s been done! Christ took my place. Christ lived the life I couldn’t. Christ is the one I look to. He alone is how I inherit eternal life. I pray that you would share that message with someone today. I pray that if you are hoping in your good works, your actions, that you would stop, turn to Christ and His perfection. Only He can give you hope. Only He is good.
Acts 2:42 “And they devoted themselves…”
Is church membership important? If so, what are characteristics?
In looking at the first church there are many characteristics that shine forth. Though one that seems to be taken for granted is their essential salvation. To be part of the church one must be saved. That is the first qualification. We see this in previous verses after Peter preaches a sermon where they were “cut to the heart.” Their response is trusting in Christ for salvation and following through with believers baptism. So what are a few things we must see in this for the church? What do church members look like in this?
1. They are saved. Again, this should be first, but as you will see in scripture, there are some that are removed from the fellowship and treated like outsiders. This is the same with today’s church. Do they bear fruit of salvation? Are they repentant?
2. They are active. In-active church member is a ignorant statement to me. Now before you get upset, I am not talking about physically home bound people. I am talking about the folks that show up once a year or every few years. They would still be considered members when they have no desire to be with the body. Church-less Christianity is not a thing of scripture.
3. The tested church. This again is the watching of their lives. Do we see a life of repentance? Do they share their faith? Are they being conformed into the image of Christ?
All of this is important when we think of the first church as well as current church. Church membership is important. Salvation is the first characteristic we will see.
Psalm 100:1-2 “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!”
What is something you see that should be prevalent in our walk with the Lord? Joy! We should be joyful! Here the writer is saying that you should be joyful in singing! You should be joyful to serve the Lord! That you come into His presence singing! With these two verses I want to give you three challenges to try.
1. Sing during your devotional time. Thats right. I want you to spend some time alone this week and just sing to the Lord. When you are reading the Word, what song comes to mind, sing it! This is a practice that I will be honest, this is difficult for me. But as believers we should sing to the Lord. When you sing, it shows the joys of your heart.
2. Serve someone this week. How can you take time to serve someone this week? What can you do to encourage someone? These are the three questions that the Lord has laid on my heart to encourage people with, you can use them too. What is the Lord teaching you in His Word? What next step do you think He’s calling you to? How can I help you in that? These are simple questions that can encourage someone to take a huge faith step!
3. Sing at church! Yep! Sing with other believers. Even if you don’t know the song, sing! Even if it doesn’t fit your style, sing! Old or new, sing! I pray that you sing so loud this week that we wake the neighbors! Let people hear your joy in the Lord.
1 John 5:2-3 “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”
Reading this text this morning is very encouraging word for us all. A few things for us to dive into and to apply to our lives today.
1. Loving God means loving His children. Scripture makes this plainly clear. To claim to love God and to not love God’s people is an oxymoron. You cannot do it. That would be like telling someone, I like you but I can’t stand your kids… God says that part of loving Him is by taking that love and applying it to His children. This is not always an easy task, we have conflict, we are sinful, but our love for the Lord should move us to ask for forgiveness and repentance to restore relationships. We should always seek to have restored relationships.
2. Loving God means obedience. To live in blatant disregard to the scripture is to reveal your heart towards the Lord. To love the Lord means that you obey His Word. This is a fact. Our response from the grace that we’ve received from the Lord should be that of thanksgiving and love for the Father. That love should spur us to obedience to His commands. I’m always baffled how anyone could live in open rebellion to God’s Word and yet claim to love God. The truth of the matter is that if you really love God, His Word is supreme, and this means we must repent and trust and obey Him.
3. Loving God is not burdensome. Now some might look at my previous point and know that we have hard things we have to do. Repentance often means doing things that are uncomfortable. For some living in deep sin it means making drastic changes. But God’s Word says that radical obedience to the Lord is not burdensome, rather it’s quite the opposite. It’s freedom. When you finally repent and obey the Lord to do the hard thing He is calling you to, there is freedom. Right standing with God matters more than anything else.
I pray that we would be a people that take this word seriously. Let us show our love for God but how fierce we love one another. Let us show our love for the Lord by our radical obedience to Him. I’m praying for you and thankful for you.
1 John 4:4 “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
What a verse to take comfort in. If you are a believer in Christ, this verse should give you tremendous hope in any temptation you may come across. I want to break it down for you and give you some things to think about.
1. You are from God and have overcome them. In this statement there are two truths to understand, one is predicated on the other. First, you are from God. Earlier, John writes to test the spirit to see if they are from God. To know if they are from God is if they confess if Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. John is saying that they have proper belief in the doctrine of the Trinity as well as understanding the divinity and humanity of Christ. That Jesus was both 100% God and 100% man. This is an essential belief of our Christian faith. You believe this, therefore, you are from God. This is the understanding leading into the next part. Secondly, you have overcome them. John referring to the spirits that do not confess Jesus as God. These are the spirits that are at work in our world. They want to lead us away from the truth or distort the truth, which is not truth. As believers in Christ you have overcome them! You believe the truth!
2. He who is in you. When Jesus was speaking to His disciples He told them of the one to come. The great comforter. In the ministry of the Apostles, we see tremendous work of the Holy Spirit. Paul writes in Ephesians 1:13-14, “13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” This is the promised Comforter that comes to us. He is in us. As believers you have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of you. This is a big deal!
3. He is greater than he in the world. Lastly, the Holy Spirit that is inside you, He is greater than he in the world. Why? Because He who is inside you is God. He is greater than the created one in the world. Satan has no power to create, but to manipulate and trick. God has the power to raise the dead to life. God has the power to make dead people born again. Take courage today when facing temptations, when facing trials, when facing uncertainty that He who is in you is working in you. What a great truth to ponder on this morning.
I pray that you are encouraged, that you are strengthened.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
What a profound word. Simple, yet reveals the heart of man. I’ve said this several times before, but nothing reveals if someone is a believer more than if they are willing to confess sin and repent. If they do not and will not, that reveals quite the opposite. Let’s take a a few encouragements from this verse!
1. If, that’s how he starts this verse. This is an action required. This predicate is on you and I doing this action. So the question that we must ask ourselves, when is the last time that you did a heart check? When is the last time that you truly evaluated your life? When is the last time that you looked at your heart and questioned your motives, your thoughts, your tendencies? The statement, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks does not apply to you. You are not allowed to believe that. As believers in Christ, we are called to be repenting, to confessing, are you confessing sin?
2. He is faithful and just. When we confess our sins, He is faithful and just. When we are not faithful, He is! This is something that should be of tremendous encouragement to you and I. That the act of confession shows us the Gospel. Confession is that beautiful thing of acknowledging our sin to God, then repenting of said sin, and seeing how Jesus took care of that sin on the cross. Confession brings freedom. I’ve shared with many this statement, “A secret revealed has no power over you.” Satan loses his power over you in that secret when you confess.
3. Cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This is the most beautiful statement one could read and believe. You are cleansed in confession. When you confess God gives such beautiful grace to you and I, cleansing us from all unrighteousness. As believers in Christ this is something we long for. This is our motivation for confession.
Here is the question, are you regularly confessing your sin to others? If not, you are missing out on God’s wonderful grace for your life.
John 18:38a “Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”
This is a question that all of our society is pondering, what is truth? As believers in Christ we know that answer, we find it in John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
From this understanding there are a few implications for us as believers that I want to cover.
1. We love truth. As believers in Christ our love should be for the truth. We do not love falsehood. Whether this be in our culture or in our own lives. We aim to live out the truth. This means when the light exposes falsehood in our own lives, false beliefs, false motives, false actions we are quick to repent and turn to the truth. This morning reading this I was moved and reminded at how much we love truth. Truth sets you free. As believers we do not fear revealing our sin and repenting, that fear is not of God but of Satan. Know this statement, a secret revealed has no power over you.
2. Jesus is truth. The only way to the Father is through Jesus Christ. He is the savior, He is the way, there is no other way. As believers this is our conviction. We do not believe that there is another way to the Father. Secular Humanism says, that your truth is your truth and my truth is my truth. The Gospel says, Jesus is truth. Jesus alone is truth. Do you really believe that this morning?
I pray this morning that we would be willing to live in that truth. Do not be ashamed of the truth, the truth will set you free. I had to opportunity this morning to share the truth with a man this morning that trusted in his actions, our actions do not save. Only Jesus is the truth, only Jesus is the way.