Yesterday we covered a lot of verses. One came up first thing this morning as I read Greg Laurie’s devo.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
This is a big deal. A really big deal. First, nobody outside of Christ gets to step a foot into heaven. A person’s eternal fate hinges on whether or not one has saving faith in Jesus. We see an immediate result upon death in the story Jesus told regarding the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 and also in Hebrews 9:27. Heaven or Hell.
It’s also a big deal while we are still alive and walking on this earth. There are way more warnings to believers about non-believers than we talk about in normal conversations. Yes, we are to share the gospel and show compassion, as clearly demonstrated in the Good Samaritan parable. On the other hand, we are to be on alert and on guard against influence by those who don’t believe. We cannot ignore this. Let’s look at one passage real quick:
1 John 4:1-6 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 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. They are from the world; the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
How do we know who is who? By testing. And how do we do that? Well, it seems to me that we simply start talking about Jesus. “Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” It’s simple. The very name of Jesus will quickly divide a crowd. Why?
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.
Jesus is truth. Plain and simple. End of story. Truth. And light.
John 3:18-21 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God.
Simply acknowledging Jesus is not the same as saving grace. Recall how many evil spirits acknowledged Jesus as the Holy One. Humans didn’t recognize him, but all the evil spirits did. As James wrote, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe – and shudder!” (James 2:19).
There is something about the name “Jesus” that causes a reaction in people. If you want to know someone’s true colors, start talking about Jesus. If we’re going to do that, in truth, we will need to talk about Jesus as revealed in the bible. You can certainly start with this:
Hebrews 1:1-3 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,”
Then you could go to what appears to be the first creed of the early Christians:
1 Corinthians 15:1-8 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
The Resurrection. It’s a really, really big deal. How big?
v. 17-20a And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead,
Non-believers will only be able to really dig into this for so long before unbelief becomes apparent. This is particularly interesting with people who regularly go to church, who shout, “He is risen!” at Easter, and who go to regular bible studies. People easily acknowledge the resurrection; but when you really start pushing, you will eventually find what their beliefs are. It’s not only the resurrection, but the implications of it. Jesus is alive. So what? I’ll tell you so what! He’s coming back! This time it’s not to offer salvation but for judgment. He will gather his people to inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world and to send the cursed to the lake of fire. (Matthew 25:31-46).
Jesus of the bible. He doesn’t mince words. He isn’t out to win friends and influence people as Dale Carnegie would want us to do.
Matthew 10:34-39 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father and mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Luke 9:57-62 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Let’s face it. When we carefully examine our bibles, Jesus’ mission is to clearly identify those whom the Father has chosen. There are no mistakes. Jesus will not lean back and say, “I can’t tell what’s in this one’s heart.” You and I may find it difficult to know. Certainly, we do not know positively a man’s heart. However, we are given clear and abundant instructions so that we can reasonably discern who are our brothers and sisters in Christ. So, what are we to do with those who aren’t? Some we will need to care for, as Jesus explained in the Good Samaritan parable. To others, our reaction must be quite different. For example:
2 John 10-11 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
It’s impossible to know any of this without familiarity of scripture, first, and revelation from the Holy Spirit through prayer. Will you make a mistake and judge incorrectly? Perhaps. Some are disguised as angels of light yet are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Some may be believers but far, far in error. It is much better to be on guard to errant teaching and judge incorrectly that to be naïve to it and expose yourself to the dangers of it. None of us are immune to being sucked into sin.
I’m not sure who this is for, but I get the strong, strong sense that it is for someone in particular. May God be with you.
Father, let us be on alert and aware of the schemes of the devil. We put on your armor and stand firm. We resist the devil and draw near to you. Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil. Amen.
Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers