All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me (Matthew 28:18).
If we don’t like something Jesus said we cannot appeal to the Father. The Father has invested “all authority” in the Son. Besides, take a look at John 12:49 and you’ll find that Jesus only said what the Father told Him to say. That means we have to deal with the difficult sayings of Jesus. They will never be undone (Matthew 24:35).
This is the companion blog to the one previously posted which finishes the list of “10 Things.” If you want to refresh your memory or haven’t read Part 1 then click HERE.
Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets (Luke 6:26).
Everyone wants to be loved and appreciated. But the only way everyone will love and appreciate you is if you tell everyone what they want to hear from you. Of course, that means you must be willing to compromise all of your convictions. “False prophets” tell people what they want to hear (which is why “their fathers” spoke so well of them). This is so blatantly obvious that it is almost hard to see. God wants to be loved and appreciated by everyone! Yet He doesn’t tell anyone what they want to hear. Rather He tells everyone what they need to hear which is always contrary to what they want to hear. It is the height of narcissism to turn your back on sinners and let them enter an eternity without God because you don’t want to offend them by urging them to repent. Jesus and all of the apostles died violent deaths (and they were just the beginning of a long long history of martyrdom). You don’t get executed for saying what everyone wants to hear. Christ’s church has a job to do and it is not making everyone happy with us.
Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division (Luke 12:51).
If you read the priestly prayer of Christ in John 17:1-26 you know that unity is the ultimate goal. But not at any cost! Even in that prayer, Jesus mentioned “the son of destruction” and “the evil one.” Evil is at work in the world and there are many who embrace it. Those who do have chosen to be “against” Christ (Matthew 12:30). Division is the natural consequence of rejecting repentance. The angels of the nativity may have proclaimed that peace and goodwill had come to earth (Luke 2:14 and that’s not exactly what they said but that is for another blog) but Jesus said, “this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil” (John 3:19). The New Testament is full of admonitions against accepting the false prophets and teachers throughout history. In Ephesians 5:11 Paul tells the church that is its job to expose “unfruitful works of darkness.” Apostasy (the spiritual cancer of Christianity) metastasizes when the church thinks the reason God sent His Son into the world was so that we could all hold hands and sing Kumbaya.
I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).
It is amazing how many of today’s churchgoers are embarrassed by this divine assertion. The modern obsession with theological/religious pluralism seems to have found quite the audience in American Christianity. Respecting the religious views of others is one thing. Asserting that all religions are equally valid is quite another. Even a middle-schooler can ascertain that the beliefs of Jesus and the apostles, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, L. Ron Hubbard, and Anton LaVey cannot possibly all be equally true and therefore valid. And yet here we are hearing religious leaders in various American denominations saying that while Jesus is necessary for Christianity, He is not the only way to receive eternal life from God. That unholy leaven continues to spread. If there is even a modicum of truth to religious pluralism then Jesus was either mistaken, ignorant, or lying when He said no one could be saved without coming through Him. If it is any of those three, Christianity fails. Big time. You are not a Christian if you cannot stand behind Jesus’ statement above or Peter’s bold statement in Acts 4:12:
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth (Revelation 3:16).
Jesus never chose His words carelessly. He fully intended for John and those whom John would reach with the Revelation to get a mental image of someone vomiting. The reality is harsh: people who dabble in Christianity (and they are many and in almost every church) make Jesus sick. The nature of the gospel of Christ is so urgent and vital with such incomprehensible consequences (eternal life or damnation) that to be apathetic about it is obscene. How can anyone say they believe John 3:16 and only give lip-service to Jesus? The eternal Godhead was ripped apart in order to save us (“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God” [2 Corinthians 5:21]) and we have better things to do than live every moment of our lives in thankful appreciation and service to Him? Saul of Tarsus was as cold as you could get toward Christ. But being ice cold means a level of thoughtful devotion that can be quickly changed (see Acts 9). What cannot be quickly changed is apathy. Everyone who is lackluster in the practice of their faith in Christ should read the letter to the church of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) very carefully. There is more riding on this than any of us care to dwell upon.
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven (Matthew 7:21).
I saved this one for last because this is the most terrifying yet ignored statement Jesus ever uttered. According to Christ, there are people who call Him “Lord” in this life who will not enter heaven. Not people who acknowledge God in general but not Jesus in particular. No, that’s not what He said. Rather, people who do acknowledge Jesus as God’s Son but are still prevented from entering heaven. It is all about obedience. In the next verse of the passage, Jesus predicts these people will have the gall to argue with God to His face. They will remind Him of all their good Christian deeds. But He calls them “workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:22). What good does it do to read a devotional every morning, attend church Sunday morning, evening, and Wednesday night, put money in the offering, go on a mission trip, and be a Christian leader if you refuse to forgive or choose to ignore the Bible’s clear teaching on issues like sexuality and stewardship? Answer: none. One cannot pick and choose what to like and adhere to and what to despise and disregard about Jesus. When He said to “[l]ove your enemies” (Matthew 5:44), He meant it. When He said not to “lay up for yourselves treasures on earth” (Matthew 6:19), He meant it. When He said that the only way to follow Him was for a person to “deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24), He meant it. It is all or nothing with Jesus. Anyone who chooses to disregard anything that He taught will be called “lawless” no matter how much else they did that they consider Christian service.
Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? (Luke 6:48)
A couple of good questions were submitted by someone after Part 1 was posted. I will answer them here.
“What is a mourner’s bench?”
The mourner’s bench was a designated place (pew) in a church (usually at the front) where people who were under conviction would sit during the church service. It was a signal to the rest of the congregation and the pastor to be in prayer for them. Typically, it was for those who were wrestling with matters of salvation but it gradually came to be used for any matter that a person was seeking prayer for and lost its significance since everyone in church usually has an issue that needs prayer. The trend toward privatization of faith also played a role in the disappearance of the mourner’s bench.
“Why do you say that ‘Blessed are they who mourn’ has little to do with sadness?”
This is a reference to the second beatitude in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-12). The first beatitude is “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The “poor in spirit” are those who recognize their spiritual poverty outside of reconciliation to God. The “poor in spirit” are those who know they need help from God in order to be with Him. Following that is the beatitude in question. Mournfulness is the correct response to recognizing one’s spiritual destitution. We’re talking about repentance here. As David said in Psalm 51:17,
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
This is the kind of mourning that Jesus has in mind in the second beatitude. It is not mourning (or sadness) in general. If that were the case then the parent who beats his child while inebriated and wakes up the next day “mournful” for what he did would be comforted by God. No, the comfort Jesus has in mind for “those who mourn” is reconciliation with God and forgiveness of sin (through Christ).