Things Are True
by Dan Coburn
Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church
I'll take a lot of heat for this, but here goes; Jesus didn't save you so you could go to heaven. Oh you most assuredly will as a by product, but that wasn't the purpose.
All the stuff about streets of gold, crystal sea, river of life - etc. are all true, but listen closely. Absent Christ, heaven would just be another vacation type destination. What makes heaven heaven, is being in the presence of Jehovah God. That's why Jesus said things like: "The kingdom of heaven is at hand" - speaking of His presence. Most professing Christians go to church, pray the prayer, get dunked, and spend their remaining days fretting about how difficult it is to "walk the walk". And so it is. In point of fact, it's impossible.
Nugget: 1st John 1:8-9 was written not to the world at large, but to Christians and says: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". That's why we are told to "die to self daily", but that's another column.
"Ok preacher, if Jesus didn't save me so I could go to heaven, why exactly did He?" Good question. Let's see if we can sort it out. Jesus tells us: "I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing". John 15:5. And in vs 7: "Herein if my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples". And what might this fruit bearing be exactly? "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" - Luke 19:10.
Application = "Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." John 20:21. Seem vague? How about this? "To whit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation." - 2nd Cor. 5:19. This isn't a Baptist doctrine, but a mainstream theme of the New Testament. It isn't obscure, but rather ignored. When we think of Peter being told "the gates of hell shall not prevail against My church" does that sound defensive or offensive? When did we Christians adopt the world's philosophy that we should just compartmentalize our faith, circle the wagons, and quietly await His return? Even the disciples didn't have it by-and-large. They would ask selfish questions, and miss the Spiritual answer.
Example = Acts chapter one - "Lord are you going to establish your kingdom now? Are you about to wipe out the Romans and deliver us as a ruling class?" Jesus' answer = "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
Paul cried out many times: "Lord I am in misery. I have a physical ailment that troubles me all the time. I have been beaten, stoned, arrested, falsely accused, chained to multiple guards,- these prisons are no vacation spot, the water gives me dysentery, I have a contract out on my head, and I need some relief". Jesus' answer? "my grace is sufficient for you". Or in Acts 18, "Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:".
Most folks today still think God was put here to answer their personal or perceived needs, rather than the other way around. We seek Churches that meet our needs or fit our criteria. We tailor God to fit the people rather than tailoring ourselves to fit His Word. "Oh preacher. That's too harsh". The alternative is worse. "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." - John 5:28-29. Seem too hard? It is. It requires a Supernatural Enabling, which we will discuss next week.