Lines in the sand/Part 3-Conclusion
In part 1 and 2 of this study I outlined a few specific lines God has drawn out for His people, lines He fully intends for His people to both recognize and obey. I'd like to address some of these more specifically and show what occurs when those claiming to know Him do and do not obey God along these lines.
A proper understanding of the gospel [John 3:5-21] [1 Corinthians 15:1-4] [Titus 3:5]
It goes without saying that in order for an individual to have the capacity to see, understand and discern spiritual truth, that person must actually know God personally. Without this very real spiritual union, no man can either understand nor obey God's will for his or her life.
We noted earlier that many people in this world assume that all of humanity are included within the family of God. Although they cannot prove this claim, they persist in it despite that which in reality God Himself says is not true.
Needless to say, there are countless numbers of people in this world who claim to know God, who even claim to be Christians, though their faith and confidence is not found or founded upon what God has said. Instead, their "faith," is rather placed upon what they deem to be right, acceptable, fair or reasonable to them. In other words, they rely upon either their own or other people's human reasoning to construct their beliefs about God. This is exactly how many religious sects become started and grow. Instead of believing (trusting in the scriptural facts about God) and then personally trusting in what He accomplished through the gospel on man's behalf) rather men are quick to reject this and substitute it with something else. Regardless of what man may substitute for true spiritual conversion (good works, religious duties, church, church traditions, donating money, some sort of penance, intellectual assent to church or bible truths, following religious leaders or their claims)- NONE of these things make an individual "Christian" nor can they. The true gospel must include an understanding of one's present state before a holy God, ie; man is sinful and an awareness that that sin has separated them from a holy God that can and will judge that sin. Until the problem of our personal sin is properly addressed, man is not and cannot become a child of God. Man must believe the gospel and repent of his sins before he or she can become a member of God's spiritual household. You must be born again spiritually, you must appeal to God for a clear conscience. [John 3:5] [1 Peter 3:21]
Until one is converted by God, he or she remains in their sins and is considered a child of the devil. These are God's own clear words and should be received with the utmost reverence and seriousness. Without God, man is estranged from God and hostile before Him without any hope. [Ephesians 2:12] Jesus makes clear in John 12:48 and 14:24;
"He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him, the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day"
"He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me"
A difference in kingdoms
In John chapter 18 verse 36 & 37 we read where Jesus says:
"My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm." Therefore Pilate said to Him, "So are you a king?" Jesus answered, "You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice"
Many things can be ascertained in these simple verses about Jesus' kingdom.
- Jesus' kingdom is not from this world. As such, it doesn't function or grow in the same manner in which the kingdoms of this world function and grow.
- A proof of the above statement is found in these verses. Jesus' kingdom does not function through threats, violence or fighting with other men. If it did, Jesus servants would have fought to keep him from being turned over to his enemies (the Jews of that time).
- Jesus is a king of His kingdom. Because His kingdom is not of this world it is not an earthly kingdom like the kingdoms of men. It is altogether different.
- The message of the kingdom is to "testify to the truth." That is the reason He came into the world- because worldly men need to hear the truth.
- Summation: Those who belong to His kingdom are of the truth and hear and listen to His voice. In other words, they follow the directions and leadership of their king.
We can easily contrast the kingdoms of men by this kingdom that Jesus rules and calls His own. Kingdoms of men are built here on earth, built with earthly materials ( works & doings), supported by earthly means (wisdom) and ruled by earthly men (authority). We only need to ask ourselves the following questions to decipher a kingdoms origin:
1. Where does this kingdom come from? Where is its origin?
2. Who rules this kingdom? Who is the king?
3. Who's authority is exercized in the kingdom? Is it the kings?
4. What materials are used to build the kingdom?
5. Who is responsible to build the kingdom?
6. What kind of wisdom is used in building this kingdom?
7. Who protects and safeguards the king and his servants/slaves?
In history past, many men and woman attempted to create and exercize authority over others in their personal kingdoms. Many of these people claimed to know God, claimed to be serving Him or in the case of the Nation of Islams founder even claimed to be Him. A few of these religions and their founders are listed below:
|Wallace Fard||Nation of Islam|
|Mary Baker Eddy||Christian Science|
|Ellen G. White||Seventh Day Adventists|
|Joseph Smith||Latter day saints/mormonism|
Now looking over the questions above and Jesus' own statements concerning His kingdom, "Would any of these meet Jesus' requirements? Would even the few religions above which claim to be "Christian" meet the qualifications?
I've got some more bad news. Along with the few above claiming to be Christian are quite a few others who also claim to be representing Jesus and the truth of His gospel. Do any of these and their founders ring any bells?
We should be fair in saying it's highly unlikely that all of the men above intended to set out to become what many today claim are the founders of the above religions. Some did, others did not. Nonetheless, these men did practice one or more of the very practices above that Jesus claims are not synonomous with His kingdom. That being said, we are primarily focused now upon what has become left in the wake of these men's lives- the religions that have been built and established around these men and what they have taught. Are any of these religions synonomous with Jesus' kingdom or not? Are they in fact dividing lines Jesus has established or are they in fact lines men have drawn in the sand themselves? Why would this matter?
More reasons for God's lines of separation
In Numbers 34 we find the Lord speaking to Moses saying, "Command the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When you enter the land of Canaan, this is the land that shall fall to you as an inheritance, even the land of Canaan according to its borders." [Numbers 34:1, 2]
We see here that what God had promised them was very specifically designed and in fact had very specific borders dividing them from the nations around them. The following verses describe in detail the borders that would separate them from those other nations around them. We can see here several things:
- God's people were to be geographically separated from people who were not God's own. Not only was there already a division that existed, that division was to remain clear before them.
- The very specific lines of division were layed out by God Himself. He did not allow the people themselves to decide who they were and were not to be divided from.
- The line of division was a specific area or actually specific boundaries that surrounded them. The boundaries were designated by God and were to remain permanant.
- There were specific reasons for these borders and promises tied to those borders.
One important distinction
Many Christians have an unbalanced understanding of the scriptures for they fail to see the obvious distinctives in the old and new covenants in the Bible. The old covenant was given by God to Moses and in turn was given to the people who comprised the nation of Israel. This covenant contained a complex assortment of laws (ceremonial, civil and moral) upon which this covenant was based. The blessing of the covenant was tied to the obedience of the people. This covenant was a foreshadowing (a type) of the "better" covenant to come through Jesus Christ Himself.
The New Covenant, which is based upon the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is entered by faith in Him. The way of entrance is provided for through the shed blood of Jesus Himself. This covenant is not an addition to the old covenant but rather supercedes that covenant, replacing it with what is deemed by God to be "better." Without going into extensive detail, here are a few of the differences between the two covenants:
Given through Moses
Came through Jesus
[Hebrews 8:6; 9:15]
Not of faith
Law of faith
Yoke of bondage
Law of liberty
Law of death
Law of life
Law of works
Grace and faith
Live by works
Live by faith
Saves from wrath
Cannot give life
Can give life
[Romans 6:14, 15]
New and living way
[Hebrews 10:19, 20]
[Hebrews 7:18-22; 8:6]
[2 Corinthians 3:7-14]
Not done away
[2 Corinthians 3:11]
[2 Corinthians 3;13]
Continues in glory
[2 Corinthians 3:11]
Only for Israel
[Deuteronomy 4:7,8; 5:3]
For all men
There is a reason for the comparisons above. First, it is important to show that the two covenants do not and cannot mix. This should be easily seen by the comparisons above. Secondly, the first covenant was natural and earthly- it relied upon fallible men for its fulfillment for which they failed miserably. On the other hand, the new covenant was fulfilled by none other than God Himself in the Person of Jesus Christ. Lastly, a truly born again Christian has entered into the new covenant for they have entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ. This is not a mere natural union where laws unite two parties but rather a supernatural union where God's laws resides on other men's hearts. Look closely, a line divides the two covenants does it not? We shun one, we abide in the other (Another).
God's lines are for protection
One important reason for this separation was for the protection of God's people from their enemies. God knew the nations around them were a threat and that those nations would devise ways in which to conquer those unlike themselves such as Israel. Just as if inspired by the devil himself, they would use deceit and intrigue to infiltrate Israels people and camp, discover their weaknesses and exploit them.
In the old covenant God called a specific people to represent Him. This people became a specific earthly nation, Israel. Due to God's establishment, calling and choice of this nation to represent Him, all the other nations who were about them became their enemies. Although this is past history, the people who represent God today are part of a new covenant. This new covenant as shown above does not operate along the lines of the old. The old has been replaced by the new. Below are the specific differences and what results when men refuse to obey God along these lines for their own protection.
(What God had said)
(What God is saying today)
HOW MEN REJECT THE NEW
|God drew specific lines around a physical nation he called "Israel." This nation had physical borders that encompassed them.||God has drawn a spiritual line which encompasses all born again believers in Christ throughout history as His children. They are know as "spiritual Israel" having accepted Christ by faith alone.||
*Promoting the lie that America has replaced Israel as God's chosen nation and defends that falsehood through military might.
*Created numerous physical denominational structures in opposition to Christ's one spiritual body and defend themselves one against the other.
|God's people were geographically separated into one specific area which separated them from other nations and people groups. Israel used armed warriors to protect the holy city and people.||God's people are only geographically separated as Jesus builds individual autonomous ekklesias in specific locales. Their battle is not against other nations but against principalities and spiritual powers in the heavens.||Men create, name, build and rule over physical churches however and wherever they desire. They safeguard these institutions through monetary investments, educated professionals, religious hierarchies, paid salaries and men's traditions.|
|God decided which lines (laws) were to be exercized among His people and how.||The law of love governs Christ's spiritual body. God appointed elders and mutual submission among the saints guided and protected them. Small gatherings and intimacy also played a part.||Men create either their own lines or erect their own traditions which make the sheep vulnerable to attack. These include religious hierarchy, erecting personal religious kingdoms, evil associations, open door policies, little if any mutual accountability and little if any discipline.|
|God's people were gathered together in one large assembly/congregation.||In smaller home fellowships each member is known, accountable and responsible for how they live. Error is discovered quickly and dealt with appropriately.||Man's pride and worldliness tell him "the bigger the better" and brings out the bright lights and loud music for the masses. Building big costs money and all but guarantees compromises, watered down truth and shallow living.|
God's lines are for purity
Another important reason God separated his people was so they would remain pure before him. The nations and people's that surrounded them were steeped in various forms of immorality, impurity, idoartry, sorcery and many other evil practices. God knew that if His people mingled or intermarried with the nations around them that they would eventually adopt many of these practices. That in turn would direct their attention from Him to other idols in His place. Below are some of the specific differences and what results when men refuse to obey God along these lines so they remain pure before Him.
(What God had said)
(What God says today)
HOW MEN REJECT THE NEW
|Men were kept pure by keeping their lives in line with God's words and commandments as if treasure.||We are kept pure when we retain our focus upon Him who is purity itself.||The focus of religious men is polluted by traditions of men which cloud if not obscure altogether God's words. Instead of Jesus remaining the center He becomes replaced with church, church functions and various "ministries"|
|There were specific instructions given to the Levites (priests) who served God in preparing the people for worship.||
All born again Christians have access to God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Our focus is to be upon Him and not earthly blessings.
All Christians are considered priests before God.
|Today's "worship leaders" act as mediums to the people thus obscuring Jesus' eternal priesthood in having prepared the way (past tense) to God for us.|
|God commanded that His people drive out the inhabitants of the land He was giving to them. Their would be trouble if they refused to obey this command.||Our inheritance today does not include physical land. Rather it is spiritual in nature and found in and through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Our focus is to be upon Him and not earthly blessings.||
Some professing believers claim we must reclaim the dominion we lost in the garden of eden. This includes taking over segments of society and using those segments to mandate a "Christian" worldview upon others.
Others willingly gear church functions toward and for unbelievers which brings about a leavening influence among those claiming to know God.
|Those found in serious sin or leading others into the worship of false gods were to be put to death. This included family members.||False teachers and teachings are to be exposed and then rejected. They are never allowed to remain within the framework of any local ekklesia and must be shunned.||Man's churches trivialize other people who either mislead by error or purposely deceive the saints. They regularly justify participating in fellowship with these individuals despite God warning them of the dangers and corruption that will result.|
|God warned the people what would happen if they refused to rid themselves of the evil influences around them. Those influences would cause them trouble and even bring His judgment upon them.||
God warns us to come out from among those who promote error or uncleanness and to cleanse ourselves from all defilement.
Christians are to have a leavening effect upon those outside of the faith not the other way around.
Within man's substitutions for local ekklesias there is little if no true intimacy. Open door policies invite leaven and breed immorality, impurity and many false doctrines. The very manner church fellowship is orchestrated makes it impossible for anyone to truly know who is living holy and who is living in sin.
The command: "But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness or silly talk or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks" is a joke among them. These behaviors and attitudes are rampant, widely tolerated and even embraced and accepted these days.
|Allegiances and dependence upon wicked nations, princes or people brought consequences. This was tantamount to rejecting and refusing to trust God for everything.||
Those who trust God influence a world without allowing it to adversely influence them. They are salt and light before a wicked generation who's only hope is Jesus and Him Crucified.
Christians are never to endorse, support or in any way lend credence to false religions, cults, their leaders or followers. Rather, we are to stand against them, renounce their falsehoods and strive to preach the one and only truth to them.
|Many pursue ecumenical projects with other individuals, organizations, churches and governments that have nothing to do with the proclamation of the gospel. In every instance these efforts to synchronize different people's beliefs into harmony only confuse the sinners and the saints, lead people astray, compromise the Christian faith and make "good works" and "changing the world" the new Great Commission.|
God's lines are for prosperity
When most people think or hear of prosperity they think about how their own life will become better to some degree. I suppose that is part of being prosperous, although this section has more to do with our lives being fruitful for the kingdom of God. Prosperity is dealing with increase no doubt, but ultimately who is it that ought to be increased as a result of my life. That's what we'll discuss in this final section of the reasons behind God's lines.
Before we approach this section, I'd like to remind you of a quote I used in part 2 of this study:
"Sometimes in order to gain a proper perspective of reality, we must jump ahead to the conclusion of a matter before we can see properly"
Although you may not have caught it, I've proven this more than once over the entirety of this study. If you look back to the section "One important distinction" I compare the old and new testaments. Looking over the list you can see the contrasts- specifically what I've highlighted in both red and purple. That might interest you, but when you reach the bottom of that section something should grab your attention, namely the word near the bottom of the page in red: Abolished. If this be so, and we are indeed truly born again Christians, we can erase the left column and never look back. We no longer have need for what only leads back to death. We can live in the new now. But will we?
Let's look back a little further first, ok? Do you remember when I made the list of false religions? Why did I make that list? Why did I make a similar list below that which called both Protestantism and Calvanism religions? Have you considered why?
Please. A little further back yet, ok? Please return to the section with the seven questions. But before you read them again I'd like you to think for a minute. Not about false religions, not about other religions or systems of theology men have designed. I want you to think about your religion if you have one, how you put into practice what you say you believe. I'd like you to do this for one simple reason, because you want the answer to God's prosperity, you want the answer to fruitfulness with God, no? I assure you, you can have that answer.
With your religious tradition in tow, start from the top and ask yourself each one of the seven questions listed, one at a time. Take time to pause, you'll likely need to. If you're honest with yourself after the fact, you'll still need to retreat even more. That is, if you find that your religion has failed you, as everyone of them eventually do, along with the proponents of them.
Back a little more? Ok, let's just start at the beginning. After all,
You can't go back from the beginning, untill you go back, to the beginning.
Can I explain? By beginning, I mean with the gospel itself. For if I have failed to have a proper understanding of the gospel, than everything that comes after will simply be propped up on a false foundation- lies upon lies upon lies.
There are three simple words found in John 19:30 that have far reaching implications for anyone who claims to be a Christian. Those words are, it is finished. Most of us have never been properly taught, nor have we grasped the magnitude of these words of Jesus. Though we would often limit His words to His finished work upon earth, in reality, His words are limitless in their scope and triumphant in their expanse. They are words no doubt, reminiscent of what He accomplished yes, and what He would accomplish for those who believe Him as well.
A proper understanding
Simply put, if something is finished it cannot be added to. That's mere common sense. And if Jesus has finished something, that means neither you, I or anyone else can add to what He's finished. The work is done, only resting remains.
Have you ever considered how the above statements might apply to the gospel? To your life? To your practice of a particular religion?
If you have a proper understanding of the gospel, then you know that you added nothing to your salvation. Salvation is the free gift of God, there is absolutely nothing you can do to earn it. The reason for this is simple, salvation is not something God gives to you outside of Himself (like a birthday present) but is rather actually Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. The bible makes this abundantly clear:
"And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life" [1 John 5:11-13]
Even if we are willing to recognize the above truth, that God saved us solely by His mercy and grace we still suffer with another aspect of this salvation, what is and is not our responsibility as a son or daughter of God. This is very difficult to grasp because all around us are people claiming to be Christians telling us what they think we need to believe and what we need to do. The lists are exhaustive and never, never end. Sound familiar? It should, your church and religion operates the very same way.
The Great Divide
Throughout what many call Christiandom (the totality of everything that is considered Christian in belief and practice) we find another line in the sand. It is the line between what Jesus said He has DONE (it is finished) and what Christians believe they are obligated to DO for God. The little word "for" is more than a little significant, and in fact the entirety of our fruitfulnes and effectiveness in God's service can be disrupted by the very use of this word.
If you as an individual intend to do something for God, just how do you intend to go about that? However you want? However you desire? With whatever resources you choose to use? Is that Christianity?
Christianity from beginning to end is started, sustained and brought to completion by Jesus Christ Himself. He is the doer, we merely cooperate with what He reveals to us to be His particular will at any given moment in time. It has never been, nor will it ever be our place to decide anything or do anything for Him. How can we know this? Retreat one more time back to the chart where I compare the old and new testaments. If you compare the words I highlighted in red and in purple you will find under the Old Covenant the words bondage, death, works, wrath, law, old, shadow and then this beautiful word abolished. On the other hand the New Covenant is about faith, liberty, life, salvation, grace, new, better and glory. It is not merely the difference in the terms themselves that matter, but in the reality of the manner in which they are expressed in daily life: one covenant is about doing (law), while the other is about trusting (having faith) in what Jesus has done. (grace). "For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ" [John 1:17]
If you are truly born again spiritually in Christ, anything you could do for Jesus died at the cross, and it must remain there. Just as you had to recognize your total inability to save yourself, so now must you recognize your total inability to live the Christian life. When you truly acknowledge this and recognize that Jesus alone is your only resource, herein have you begun upon the real path to prosperity and fruitfulness in Him.
Jesus is the Answer
Most of us have heard this statement or seen one similar to it. Have you really ever though about it? Why is Jesus the answer for you? Is it because he helped you to be saved, which by the way isn't even true. Is it because you consider Him your best friend or helper? Is it because He will get you through the tough times and provide for your needs?
There is some truth to the above, but I find it sad that this is how shallow our understanding of Jesus really is. Why is Jesus the Answer? Jesus is the answer because Jesus is life itself. I need the life of Jesus, not just here or there, but in every place, in every area and in every relationship that I have. Jesus, and only Jesus is that important to me.
The last line
There's one final line that we must address and we'll all agree on this one. That line is the one which separates physical life in this world from death. It's not a very pleasant subject is it? We would just assume ignore the subject altogether until the day comes when we're staring that reality in the face. It's not always us near the end, it may be a friend, a spouse, a mother or father or someone else we know. Regardless of who it is, we can't help not think about our own mortality and the very real upcoming death we will all soon meet.
For most of us, we feign fearing death as if it will never happen. Remember when you were young, anything goes and often the wilder and riskier the more we enjoyed it. It was as if death itself couldn't catch up to us. Middle age paints the picture a little different. Troubles rise, pains increase and so do those offering remedies. We run to and fro seeking any solution offering any glimpse of hope from the slighest of ailments. It's as if we've earned the right to be pain free and so we search out any offering to avoid our sufferings. For most of us, we can't imagine how we could go on living in pain.
I'd like to contrast the above with other people just like us who once lived upon this earth. These were also people who believed in God, who suffered their own share of difficulties and knew well their own mortality. Here's a description of them:
"But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. " [Hebrews 10:32-34]
For most of us, our sufferings don't compare, but there's something more here. They not only willingly suffered, they willingly shared in the sufferings of others and even rejoiced in the midst of their sufferings. How can this be? Why are we so quick to run from, avoid and suppress near every form of suffering under the sun while these saints embraced the same and more?
"Sometimes in order to gain a proper perspective of reality, we must jump ahead to the conclusion of a matter before we can see properly"
There was a reason the apostle Peter so often had to stir up the saints by way of reminder. They seemed very quick to forget what was promised them and the means through which that was accomplished:
"Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised" [Hebrews 10:35, 36]
And what is this will of God? "For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me"
These believers lived in reality. Not merely the reality that they would suffer, nor that it was God's will to suffer, but they lived in light of eternity, and that's my point. They lived in light of the end, an end that was based upon promises of God and not upon their present circumstances. They lived in the Reality, Christ.
Nothing sidetracks us more in the faith that an overemphasis and preoccupation with our own problems and interests. I know this better than most. When our eyes are upon ourselves they no longer remain upon Jesus wherein our confidence must remain. The apostle said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" because Christ was His strength. It was not Paul's own efforts plus Christ's help but rather Paul being willing to ackowledge his own inability and weakness and rely totally upon Jesus in every circumstance, "Not I, but Christ."
The reason we find this difficult is due to this world's system that continuosly attempts to tell us we must earn everything. We must work harder. We must train longer. We must look better. We must give more, sacrifice more, tolerate more. Never do they suggest what Jesus does, "Come unto Me all who are heavy-laden and I will give you rest." Even the Church as a whole says thus; You must go to church, you must volunteer, you must tithe, you must read your bible, you must pray etc. Why does this sound so familiar? It sounds familiar because it's the same system of operation this world utilizes- a system of laws to keep men in check and under control.
Jesus Himself is the Answer. The answer to my sadness, lonliness, depression, poverty, homelessness, abuse, sickness and any other possible difficulty I may face in the future. There is not one single exception. It is only when we attempt to escape the pain or suppress our problems that they remain.
Man's lines obscure the truth
When we think about the lines God and men have established, we find a series of conflicts that arise. Some of the conflicts are indeed necessary, some outside the will and purposes of God. It should be quite obvious which conflicts are which.
When man erects his own lines before God, those lines create confusion and conflict. This can be easily seen through the enormous divisions that have been created through demoninations, religions, churches and all types of religious organizations. None of these divisions were created by God nor does God sanction them. This is not only obvious through scripture it's obvious due to the confusion these divisions cause. Even those outside of the faith have no idea which direction to turn. While each attempts to glean the attention of the world's masses and resources, few if any point in the only direction that really matters- to God Himself, to His heavenly kingdom. Even where man would attempt to point others to Jesus through some form of advertising, they just can't resist placing their church name or organization alongside the words of Jesus.
As we noted earlier, man just hates to suffer and like many other solutions man has invented to avoid suffering, ecumenism has arrived to save the day and professing Christians are pushing for it as hard as the world or harder. Hundreds of self-made religious organizations of every stripe and flavor are pushing for a united spirituality that will supposedly save us all from each other and the hostilities we have no means of keeping restrained. Needless to say, that those who pursue such aims are no longer interested in saving souls or standing fast along the lines of separation God has instituted. For them, that isn't a safeguard, a means of purity or of prosperity. To them, that's the problem- the all to rigid fixed doctrines and truth of religion that have caused us all this suffering and death. Their sole aim is to overturn these truth and if possible, God Himself.
Triumph through adversity
Any honest student of the scriptures has a general idea of what direction this world is heading in, and that direction is not peace and prosperity, but judgment. This is made plain through scriptures such as these:
"I have come to cast a fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled" [Luke 12:49]
"Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and their will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven" [Luke 21:10, 11]
"There will be signs in sun and moon and start, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heaven will be shaken" [Luke 21:25, 26]
"But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid men such as these. [2 Timothy 3:1-5]
Notice than even above in this verse in Timothy, Jesus is still dividing the evil from the righteous. He is still commanding we acknowledge and walk along the lines of distinction He has established.
The day is coming and indeed has come when Jesus will reveal to all just who is and isn't part of His kingdom. As always, the means in which He has always used in separating the sheep from the goats is the very same means in which His Son had to endure Himself. We see this below:
"For it was fitting for Him (God the Father), for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation (Jesus) through sufferings" [Hebrews 2:10]
Those who continue to reject God's lines of separation do so for one very specific reason- they have never really understood nor counted the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself says;
"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he becomes like his teacher, and the slave like his master" In the next verse Jesus describes how this occurs and why;
"If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known" [Matthew 10:24-26]
If you or I intend to remain faithful and prove ourselves to be among God's own, we will eventually have no choice then but to both abandon the line's we've drawn and adopt and confess the lines God has established. In doing so, we will nodoubtedly bring upon ourselves the very wrath of both a compromising church and a world intent upon erasing God from their self-sufficient lives entirely.
If our primary aim in life is to satisy the one we claim to love and serve, we shall know and understand our calling both to "die daily" and at some point to potentially sacrifice our very lives for the cause of Christ. This dying is no mere sacrifice here and there but a very real abandonment of any self- effort as well as any self-made religion or standards. We cannot continue along lines that God Himself never established.
If I am still intent upon trying to do something for God than I will find such a command and life to be far beyond my ability and power. Then again, if I religuish entirely my own efforts and remain within the framework of God's own lines, I shall have no choice but to trust Jesus Himself to become my all in all. That my friends is living by faith, which in turn results in fruitfulness for His name's sake.
or man's battle lines?