Not So Random Thoughts 53

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Romans 9:15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

“God has surely promised His grace to the humbled: that is, to those who mourn over and despair of themselves. But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled till he realizes that salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsels, efforts, will and works, and depends absolutely on the will, counsel, pleasure and work of Another—God alone. As long as he is persuaded that he can make even the smallest contribution to his salvation, he remains self-confident and does not utterly despair of himself, and so is not humbled before God; but plans out for himself (or at least hopes and longs for) a position, an occasion, a work, which shall bring him final salvation. But he who is out of doubt that his destiny depends entirely on the will of God despairs entirely of himself, chooses nothing for himself, but waits for God to work in him; and such a man is very near to grace for his salvation. (Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will)

It is sobering to think of how much of religious thinking and church services in modern America seem to be uninformed or at least not to take the passages of Scripture above seriously. It appears that people have forgotten that Jesus taught that there really is a narrow gate and a narrow path. It appears that people either don’t know or ignore that there are many on the broad way that leads to destruction but few on the way that leads to life. Do these passages have anything to do with reality or not? Are these passages real and weighty about the things of eternity or are they not?

The Scriptures above and many others teach us about false prophets, but we seem not to care or pay attention. It seems that we may know the facts of the matter, but we don’t seem disturbed by them and just don’t seem to care. It is almost as if we have been blinded to the spiritual realm and have no real sensibility at all in that regard. We are so taken with this life and the things of this life that we have put off the importance and vital nature of spiritual things. We can get so upset about things of this world that matter so little and yet have no sense of the things of eternity. A false prophet can cause enormous damage and yet be thought of as a nice man who is a good speaker. A false prophet can cause enormous damage in the spiritual realm and yet be quite orthodox in many ways and be thought of as a powerful preacher.

Jesus was quoted in Luke 6:46 saying “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” We normally think of that in terms of obedience in doing things, but He also warns us about the narrow gate and the narrow path. He warns us about false prophets. Evidently not many listen to Jesus and take care about the things He talked about. Does it do any good to say “Lord, Lord” and not listen to His words? Does it do any good to say He is “Lord” and not take warning about the things He warned about? Is it bowing to Him as Lord of all if we are not concerned about the things that He spoke of regarding eternity? When the Lord tells us that many (not just a few and not just a lot) will argue with Him on the judgment day about how they preached in His name, cast out demons in His name, and in His name performed miracles, those who are truly His should beware. When Jesus said those things His words as Lord should drive us to see how we live, preach, and do evangelism.

If we are to truly bow to Him as Lord in all things we must know that our religious activities do not save us and may actually do more to deceive us than anything else. Jesus tells those who were quite religious in their time on earth to depart from Him “you who practice lawlessness.” Does this mean that their very religious actions were considered as lawless? Could the words of Jesus mean that their religious actions were lawless and perhaps more lawless than the open sin of open pagans? It could very well mean that. The religious actions of people that are not commanded for them and not done from His grace in them are lawless deeds. When we call Jesus “Lord” and yet our obedience is not truly from Him and not truly for Him, our religion itself is lawlessness. When our hearts are proud (though we may think we are humble) all of our religious actions are for self rather than Christ even if we use His name. That can be a proud act as well. Doing our religious actions for self is idolatry. When our religious actions are idolatrous, surely we can see that religion for self (whether we claim it or not) is lawlessness.

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