Gut Check

Hello, everyone.  Glad you could join us today for another broadcast of the Resounding Shophar Blast!  The last couple weeks we looked at the signs and the need for us to be paying attention to the signs indirectly pointing to the return of Jesus for us, His Bride, the Church, His followers.  As I’ve mentioned in earlier broadcasts, my heart is first to remind Christians that Jesus is coming back at any time, and that they need to make sure they are ready when that time comes.  Today, I want to look at one of many reasons some Christians will not be ready when the time of Jesus’ return takes place.

When someone is expecting something to take place, how much they believe it will happen is seen in their preparation for it.  For example, if a person is excited about attending a football game where their favorite team is playing for the championship, they will be sure they have the proper attire for the event cleaned and ready, they will make sure the car is fueled up and ready to go, and that they have enough cash to pay for the $1,000 hot dogs being sold there.  Or, if someone is waiting to be picked up by a friend to attend a birthday party for their best friend, they will make sure they are dressed and ready to go, that the present they are taking to the party is boxed and wrapped up with a nice bow, and they will be all ready to simply walk out the door when their friend arrives.  In the same way, if a person is expecting Jesus to arrive at any moment, they will be sure to do all they can to be ready when that event takes place.

This picture of followers of Christ being ready when Jesus returns for us is seen in the parable of the ten virgins located in Matthew 25:1-13.  In this parable, there are ten virgins, Christians who are waiting and expecting the bridegroom to return for them, but only five of them were wise in making sure they were adequately prepared when that time came.  The five foolish virgins had not taken the initiative to make sure they were prepared for that time, and as a result they were left behind and were refused entrance to the wedding festivities.  So, what could keep someone from being ready when Jesus returns for us?  There are any number of reasons that this could be the case, but I want to look at one reason a person may find that they were not ready when they needed to be.

I realize that this is a controversial issue within Christian circles, but nonetheless it must be mentioned, and that is the idea that a Christian’s eternal destination is forever sealed at the point of salvation, where they surrendered their lives to Jesus.  In other words, we are talking of those who don’t believe that a Christian can “lose” their salvation, a dangerous teaching that is putting many at risk of falling short of eternity in heaven with Jesus.  I first want to mention that I don’t believe everyone that believes this train of thought is not going to heaven, but rather that those who do run the risk of not being ready when the time of Jesus’ return comes.

Why would the teaching that Christians can not lose their salvation be a dangerous one for people to embrace?  Well, the reason is really quite simple.  If they believe their eternal home has already been sealed and is non-revocable, then it becomes very easy for someone to slack off and not take their relationship with Jesus seriously.  And if a person isn’t taking their relationship as seriously as they ought, then they are more apt to allow unconfessed sin to continue in their life, or to put something or someone other than Christ on the throne of their heart, which is idolatry in the sight of God.  In other words, the person becomes complacent and apathetic as a follower of Christ.

Obviously, some will still argue that a Christian can not “lose” their salvation, but let’s take a brief look at some passages that would seem to indicate otherwise.

In John 15:1-8, Jesus identifies Himself as a vine, and that we are the branches of that same vine.  In order to be a part of the vine, one must be in a life-giving relationship with Jesus.  If a person never comes to salvation through Christ, then they are never a branch attached to the vine.  However, if a person enters a relationship with Jesus through salvation, then they become a branch attached to the vine.  In verse two, we are told that every branch that does not bear forth fruit He takes away.  In verse six, we are told that anyone that does not abide in Him will be cast out as a branch and withered, showing that while they initially received the life-giving nutrients available only through Christ, they are now no longer in a place to which they can continue receiving those.  Furthermore, we see that those same branches that were cast away for not abiding in Him, which meant they were no longer bearing fruit, were also thrown into the fire and were burned.  In this passage, we see a picture of those who had entered a relationship with Jesus at some point, but because they did not continue to abide in Him, they no longer bore fruit and were subsequently cast away and thrown into the fire.

We also see in 1 Timothy 1:18-19, that there are some who become shipwrecked in the faith because they rejected having faith and a good conscience.  When a sea vessel becomes shipwrecked, they have been immobilized to varying degrees, often suffering damage that sinks them to the bottom, a place they will more than likely “rest” for an indefinite amount of time which could be permanent.  The ship had to have a good beginning in order to take to the seas, but no matter how good it initially was it became shipwrecked sometime later.  This picture that the Apostle Paul gives us could be considered a parallel passage to that of John 15:1-8, in that there were some who started off good, but for one reason or another they became relationally disconnected from Christ.

Another passage to consider is found in 2 Peter 2.  This chapter is dealing with false teachers and false doctrines, and in verse 15 we read that they have “forsaken” the right way and gone astray.  Well, what does it mean to be forsaken?  The Greek word for “forsaken” is, “kataleipo” (2641), which means to abandon or leave behind.  This clearly indicates that some of these false teachers once knew Jesus and the truth of the Gospel, but through deception they had gone astray from the truth.

1 Timothy 4:1 is another passage that indicates that in the last days some will depart from the faith.  The Greek word translated as “depart” in this verse, “aphistemi” (NT:868), means to desist, to depart, to fall away, or to withdraw self.  Again, we are clearly seeing Scripture indicating that there will be some who, for one reason or another, will leave the faith, which subsequently means they will experience broken relationship with Jesus.

What about Romans 8:12-13?  In this passage, we read that those who live according to the flesh will die.  Some will argue that this chapter is showing the distinction between followers of Christ and those who are not, but we must consider two things before we can make that assumption.  To begin with, we read in Romans 1:7 that the Apostle Paul is writing to all the saints, all the Christians in Rome.  He’s not writing to non-Christians, but instead to Christians.  Second, Romans 6 speaks to us about submitting ourselves to unrighteousness and sin, or to righteousness that leads to life, an option that only Christians can make.  Non-Christians are bound to unrighteousness and sin, and even if they change their sins, so to speak, they are still bound to unrighteousness apart from a relationship with Jesus.  However, having been set free from the bondage of sin and unrighteousness through Jesus, we now have the option, the freedom to choose, to submit ourselves to unrighteousness or to righteousness.  So, when we look at chapter 8, we must view it as a chapter exclusively addressing Christians.  To solidify that point, let’s take closer look at verses 12-13.

In verse 13, we are told that those who live according to the flesh will die.  If a person is already born dead in trespasses, how can they die if they are already dead?  They would have to first come alive for them to die, but we know that a person can not become spiritually alive apart from a saving relationship with Jesus.  Furthermore, the Greek word for “die” in this passage is “apothnesko” (NT:599), which means to “die off”, either literally or figuratively.  This only reinforces the belief that not only is the Apostle Paul referring only to Christians, but also that Christians who live according to the flesh will die spiritually, unless they repent and start living according to the Spirit and will not find their eternal residence in Heaven.  In another verse in this chapter we read that those who live according to the flesh will not even be called the sons and daughters of God.

Other passages to consider are found in Revelation chapters 2-3.  In these chapters, Jesus is speaking directly to seven churches, Christian churches, as well as churches and Christians into the future.  When speaking to the churches, there are times when Jesus tells them to repent or suffer the consequences if they don’t.  I want to look specifically at chapter 3:1-6, the section where Jesus is speaking to the Church in Sardis.  In verse 2, Jesus tells the angel, or the messenger and minister there, that there are some who are ready to die.  It’s interesting that the Greek word for die in this passage is the same one we mentioned earlier for Romans 8:13, which means to die to an eternal death, and why is that?  That is because Jesus was not finding their works to be perfect before God.  This implies that not only is God expecting us to be doing “works” after receiving salvation, not to be confused with obtaining salvation apart from “works”, but that He also looks at our works and the motivations behind them to determine if they are right and holy in His sight.  This seems to coincide perfectly with what we saw in Romans 6 and Romans 8, where we have the option to submit ourselves to righteousness and live according to the Spirit of God, or to submit ourselves to unrighteousness and live according to the flesh.

In verse 4, we see another indicator that even though we have been washed clean of sin and unrighteousness at the point of salvation, we are not permanently clean of it if we allow sin and unrighteousness to continue in our life.  What I’m referring to is the word “defile”, which is the Greek word “moluno” (NT:3435) and means “to soil” figuratively.  If something or someone is already defiled, they cannot later become defiled because they already are.  In other words, a Christian can become defiled if they allow sin and unrighteousness to continue in their life.  Therefore 1 John 1:9 is so vital for us as followers of Christ.  If when we are saved, we remain permanently clean of all sin and unrighteousness, and that our future admittance into heaven is permanently sealed, then why would the Apostle John say, “if WE confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us all unrighteousness”?  Obviously, the Apostle John was saved, so why would he include himself in both the present and future tense in the statement if there was no way he could become defiled with sin?  This reminds me of what the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 5:25-27, where he speaks of Jesus coming back for a bride without spot, blemish, or wrinkles.  Why would he mention that if it were not possible for Christians to acquire spots, blemishes, and wrinkles in their relationship with Jesus?  What about John 13 where we read of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet?  When Jesus came to wash Peter’s feet, Peter initially refused to let Jesus do so, but Jesus told him that if he continued to refuse then he would have not part with Him.  Peter then responded by telling Jesus to wash all of him, but Jesus responded by saying he only needed his feet washed because he had already been bathed.  I believe what Jesus was saying to Peter perfectly goes along with what we’ve been looking at today.  It’s practically impossible to go through this life, after having received salvation, and not get our feet dirty with sin and unrighteousness, which left undealt with can have serious and eternal consequences for us.  Therefore, John tells us to confess our sins so that we remain clean and righteous before Jesus.

How serious is it for us to stay clean and free of sin in our lives?  In Revelation 16:15 we get a pretty good glimpse of why that is important.  In an urgent news flash of sorts, Jesus interrupts what John is writing to tell us that those who are watching for His return, and who have kept their garments, or in other words kept their robes of righteousness clean and free of sin, that these people are blessed.  On the other hand, Jesus makes it clear that those who don’t watch or keep their robes of righteousness clean and free of sin will be naked and others will see their shame.  Jesus is making it very clear, in the middle of John’s account of that which was revealed to him regarding the last days, that if we don’t watch for His return or to keep our garments clean and free of sin, then we will lose our robes of righteousness, or in other words will be left behind, and those who see them will see their shame because they knew the truth and didn’t adequately apply it to their lives.

There’s one last passage I want to share with you regarding today’s topic, and that is found in Hebrews 6:1-8.  In this passage, we read that those who once had relationship with Jesus, but either due to neglect or a conscious choice had fallen away, that it is impossible to renew them again to repentance and salvation.  This is not a hypothetical situation that will never happen as some would believe, but instead a clear and definite statement of fact.  The impossibility is not found in whether this could happen or not, but rather in that it would be impossible to renew someone to repentance and salvation if this pertains to them.  In a book I wrote called “The Glory Filled Future”, I point out that there is a difference between those who backslide in the present and those who get left behind at the rapture.  The difference is that as Christians we are now in the marriage phase of our relationship with Jesus called a betrothal, but after the rapture there is no bride left here on earth to be betrothed to Jesus.  As being betrothed to Jesus, that betrothal can not be terminated except through divorce or death, which leaves room for an unfaithful bride, Christians not living as they ought, to make amends to her groom, Jesus, and then prove herself faithful to Him as she watches for His return.  However, any bride that is found to be unfaithful when Jesus returns and is left behind, I think this is where that passage in Hebrews is applied.  As a kid growing up in a Christian home, there seemed to be a mindset within Christian circles that if anyone got left behind, that there was a plan “B” to still make it to heaven.  However, as I look at this passage and others, including the parable of the wedding guest that got kicked out for not having the proper wedding apparel on, I believe this passage is telling us that there is no plan “B” for Christians who were neglectful in their relationship with Christ and got left behind.  That is not to say that people will not be getting saved during the Tribulation period, because Scripture is very clear that there will be many who will be, but I believe Scripture would indicate that it would be impossible for a Christian to miss the Rapture to later obtain salvation.

It is with the understanding from Scripture we have looked at today, and how that contradicts the teachings some embrace that their salvation is permanent no matter how they live, that I want to encourage each of you to take a gut check of your relationship with Christ.  If we are to be ready when Christ returns, then it’s important for us to re-evaluate our life and relationship with Jesus often, perhaps even daily.  If we have sin of any kind in our life, it is imperative for us to confess and repent of it to God, to turn from that sin asking God for forgiveness keeping our robes of righteousness clean without spot or wrinkle.  If we think that our salvation 20 years ago secured our eternal home in heaven, it will be easy for us to get slack and apathetic in our relationship with Jesus, or even to be watching for Him to return.  Don’t play Russian roulette with eternity by allowing sin to reign in your life, or by being apathetic regarding the return of Jesus for His followers.

Perhaps you have bought into the deceptive lie that a Christian can never fall from the faith and relationship with Christ.  If that is you, then I strongly encourage you to start taking your relationship with Jesus seriously in preparation for His ever-imminent return.  If you have allowed sin to remain in your life because you didn’t think it could interfere with your eternal destination, then I again strongly encourage you to repent of it and start living your life in a way that honors and pleases Him through obedience.

I venture to say that some of you listening to our broadcast today have never entered a saving relationship with Jesus, but you would like to.  Today is the day to receive the salvation Jesus makes available to us, and to do so is very simple.  While other religions require prospective adherents to do works, Christianity is not the same.  In Ephesians 2:8-9 we are told that salvation is a gift of God, nothing that we could ever earn or deserve, but the required steps to receive it is a simple as A, B, C.

Looking at the A, B, C’s of salvation, letter A represents the first step in the process, and that step is to “ADMIT” or to ACKNOWLEDGE that you are a sinner.  This is a simple step that can also be very difficult for some who find it hard to admit this of themselves.  However, Romans 3:10 tells us that no one is righteous, no, not one.  And why is that?  In Romans 3:23 we’re told that all, everyone, has sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  This means that nobody is good enough, no matter how good they may be, because they still have sin in their life.  We further told in Romans 6:23 that the wages of our sin is death, but as I mentioned earlier, Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that salvation is a gift of God that we can receive by grace and through faith.  So, the first thing one needs to do is “A”, to admit that they are a sinner.

The second thing a person must do, and this is “B” in the “ABC’s”, is to “BELIEVE” in their heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and that God raised Him from the dead.  Romans 10:9-10 tells us that if we confess with our mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved.  It’s not just a mental believing as some would like it to be, but rather a believing that dictates the way one lives their life.  It’s a way of life that reflects and supports what they say they believe.  In James 2:19 were told that even the demons believe, and they tremble, but salvation is not available to them.  Just having a head knowledge is not enough.

The third thing a person must do, and this is “C” in the “ABC’s”, is to “CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD.”  You need to call Jesus Lord, and to do so means one must surrender their life to Him.  There is coming a time when every knee will bow before Him, and every tongue will confess to God that He is Lord.  Now is the time for salvation, and now is the time to voluntarily surrender your life to Him.  The eternal rewards for surrendering your life to Jesus is far greater than anything this world could ever hope to give you.

Is a relationship with Jesus like I’ve described important and worth it?  YES!  Yes, it is.  I won’t say that life will be easier or with less problems, but it will be more fulfilling, and with that there is a Blessed Hope for all Christians to embrace and pursue.  More and more people are beginning to feel hopeless with life, especially when they see everything that is happening around them and around the world, but as Christians we have a hope that is solid and independent of anything this world could ever hope to offer us.  The signs we are seeing across the news headlines now days only energizes the hope we have of Jesus’ ever imminent return for us.  It is that same hope, that Blessed Hope, that encourages Christians to keep the faith and to continue living for Him and Him alone.  Are you one of those who place their trust and hope in Jesus?

If you do not have a saving relationship with Jesus, and you would like to, I encourage you to talk to God right now.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or eloquent, just a sharing of your heart to Him.  If that is you, and you’re ready to give your life to Jesus, then say this prayer from your heart and to Him.  Again, it’s not a formula, just a sharing of your heart to Him.

“O God, I am a sinner.  I’m sorry for my sin.  I want to turn from my sin.  I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son; I believe that He died on the cross for my sin, that He was buried, that You raised Him to life, and that He’s coming to take me back to His house in heaven very soon.  I have decided to place my faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, trusting only in His shed blood as more than sufficient to save my soul and to take me to heaven.  Thank You, Lord Jesus, for saving me.  Amen.”

Now that you have entered into this relationship with Jesus, I strongly encourage you to find a Bible and start reading it, and to find and get plugged into a solid Bible-believing church that teaches and preaches the full Gospel of Jesus, which includes Bible prophecy and the need to be living righteously and holy before the Lord in all your ways. 

In closing, know that Jesus is coming soon, very soon, for His followers, and it is vitally important for each of us to be found both watching and ready for Him when He does.  Don’t get lulled into the deceptive thinking that you’re a shoo-in for eternity in heaven simply because you accepted the salvation offered you through Jesus Christ at some point in your past.  It’s our responsibility to be watching for Him, and to be ready, free of any spots, blemishes, or wrinkles brought on through sin in our lives.

The King is Coming!

Be ready for Him!

John Johansson

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