I would like to examine a subject that we touched on in a previous discussion some time ago, if you will bear with me. Please forgive me if I cover some old ground, but the topic is dear to my heart and I believe that it is important enough to delve into it a little deeper. As I arrived at my place of employment this morning it was raining, and as I was walking in the parking lot another man whom I have known for only a short time asked me if I had been doing a ‘rain dance’ that morning before arriving at work. My reply was “There is a former rain and a later rain, and as long as there is an earth, there will be seasons.” He simply looked at me, said “Yep” and as we entered the building, we went our separate ways. Just a short time later, the person who is in a position of authority over me where I work handed me some paperwork and requested that I fulfill the tasks on them. My reply? “Well, it’s nothing that will last in the eternal, but I’ll get right on it.” He looked at me, shook his head and went about his business for the day. Was I doing what I was suppose to be doing?
This was not the first time that these and others where I am employed have heard the Words of Scripture, the truths of the Word of God from me, nor by the grace of God will they be the last, for the “religious guy,” as I am known, and perhaps others names that each of us are called that we will not mention here, has a much more important job to fulfill than the temporal tasks that he is asked to perform five days a week at his “job.”
I would like to share a very short version of an incident that occurred in my life some twenty-five years ago. I was told after a lengthy conversation with an individual that I was employed with at the time to “pray with one hand and work with the other and tell me which one is going to feed you.” I replied, “The one I pray with, of course.” I was fired on the spot and escorted out of the building, but, before I reached my vehicle in the parking lot, thoughts of how I was going to feed my family had left my mind, and a “peace that passed all understanding” (Phil. 4:7) a calm assurance entered my heart, and I knew that I had done the right thing, that I had done what I was suppose to be doing.
I will not place myself above others, nor think higher of myself than I should, (Rom.12:3) what I did was the right thing for me to do at that time, a witnessing opportunity that at the moment would risk all, so to speak, but looking back I would not change a single word.
There is the main point, and yes, I will be making this very personal, for whether our Lord returns before you are finished reading this to take us home before the terrible tribulation period begins, or if you are twenty years old and He decides to bless you with another half-century of life, time is short. So, the questions are, do you “feel” like you are a Christian, are you acting like a Christian, or are you doing the works of a Christian? Unless I am missing something here, my friends, these are the only three options, and only the last one describes those who are truly saved.
There are always consequences to our actions, whether in the temporal or the eternal, but it is of course the eternal that we are concerned with here. There are those that feel like they are saved, inside of them they get a ‘happy’ feeling when they attend church or listen to a familiar Christian radio program. These people are generally ruled by their emotions, and like a roller coaster, these emotions know both extreme highs and extreme lows. They will jump off the roller coaster, move away from the truths of God’s Words when things are not going as well as they would like to, doubting His love. Their trust in the Lord wains because of this doubt of His protection and provisions, and even the assurance of their salvation is questioned in their hearts. These are they that have “built their house on the sand,” (Matt. 7:26) and their hope and trust in Christ diminishes as He brings trials and tribulations into their lives that are meant to draw them closer to Him.
The second of this group of three, those who “act” like Christians, may be among the ones that are to be the most pitied, for they are like the Pharisees, and “for a pretense…” (Matt.23:14) I can find three categories for these individuals, either they are self-deluded, deceived by Satan, or perhaps the worst, using a religious pretense to lift themselves up above other men, in others words, pride. These are generally always well dressed, every word is carefully thought out, not so that they will not offend anyone, but so that they will seem more pious, more righteous than those around them. For the most part, these individuals are surrounded by those in the first group, for they help them to ‘feel better’ about themselves, for when they are in the presence of those in the second group, the ones who act like Christians, they feel closer to God.
Many religious organizations have honed this acting into a fine art, drawing those who only feel like Christians into their trap, for they are easy to lead, easily persuaded into the next step of sin, acting like Christians. Those who lead the acting put on a very good show, and it can be extremely difficult to spot them, for they have practiced their subtle craft of deception for a very long time, long enough to first be deceived by Satan, then self-deceived into actually believing that the lie they are living is the truth. Our Lord will use this same type of delusion, in a sense, though for His Holy Names sake and not for evil, in the tribulation period. (2nd Thess. 2:11)
Many of those in the first group, and dare I say nearly all of those in the second, will be left behind when the Lord Jesus returns to take His Church home before the great and terrible day of the Lord begins. (1st Cor. 15:52)
Which leaves us with the third group, the obedient servants of Christ, those who know His voice and follow Him, no matter the cost. These are they that circumstances do not sway, the ones when “divers temptations come,” (James 1:2) rejoice, when trials and tribulations are sent their way, give glory to God in the highest, for our Lord has seen fit to allow them to be partakers in His suffering. They do not just lead by example, but by example and words, words of the truth of the love that God has for them, and all, in His precious Son Jesus Christ. Every thought is held captive for Christ, (2nd Cor. 10:5) and when they are not, for we are human, they ask for forgiveness, (1st John 1:9) not so that they will not be punished, but because of the love that they hold in their hearts for our Savior.
These know little of temporal happiness, for it is fleeting, and is only a cheap imitation of the joy of the Lord. They love not their own lives unless they are serving, and when they are not serving, they are studying to show themselves approved, (2nd Tim 2:15) when not studying or serving, they are contemplating the Scriptures, awaiting anxiously the next opportunity to serve their fellow man, and thereby serve their Lord. His words are always on their lips, and any opportunity that arises to speak them is met with joy, even when the response back is in hate. What they own is not theirs, and they gladly help whenever possible, seeking no reward for doing so. The knowledge in them that this is not our home, (1st Peter 2:11) drives them ever onward to seek first the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33) and lay up all their treasures there.
They desire one thing above all others, to see the face of Jesus, and to hear Him say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
There are no second chances, my friends, “It is appointed a man once to die, then the judgement.” (Heb. 9:27) Only a few minutes after you die, after your soul leaves your body, you will open your eyes, then you will know for a fact whether your faith was just a “good feeling,” an “act” that you played very well, but was only that, an act, or if you were truly doing, for you will see either heaven or hell in that moment.
Now, today, right at this moment is the time to be sure, to know for a fact that you are doing, that you have a personal relationship with our loving Lord, that He has called you, that you have heeded the call, and are doing all that He bids of you.