Are you willing to give up the vain things of the world?
A man from another religion once asked me, “I’m willing to join your religion (Christianity) but what’s in for me?”. I responded that he would go to heaven instead of hell after he dies. (This is taking into account that he becomes a Christian who follows and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and his commandments in the true sense). Here’s how the rest of the conversation went on:
Man : “Is that all you have to offer?”
Myself : “Yes, aren’t you looking forward to everlasting life?”
Man : “Yes but I thought there some benefits more than that”
Myself : “What benefits are you referring to?”
Man : “I mean aren’t you Christians going to give me financial benefits for joining your religion?”
Myself : “No, but we can help you find a job if are unable to get something yourself”
Man : “Alright, I don’t need this religion”
Myself : “Okay fine, I see you made your choice because financial benefits is all you are after!”
Man :”I’ll be able to handle it from here”
Myself : “If you anytime again have thoughts about this, do reach out to the preacher of a church.”
Before all of that conversation started this same man was able to tell me the key principles of the Gospels, he also said he believed in the existence of Jesus and also his holy resurrection! Yet, somewhere down the line, his heart was attracted to the vanities of this world and in his case; the lust for wealth.
Indeed I now realize, ‘the love of money is root of all evil’ (refer 1 Timothy 6:10). I’m not saying you shouldn’t work to sustain yourself or your family nor count yourself a sinner just because you have some wealth. Here the key thing is that you should never be so attached to money that you forsake the Lord God and his commandments!
As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22)
In the case of this man or even I can say in the case of even of those who call them Christians but don’t like it, the deceitfulness of riches choke the true understanding of the Word of God, and so it proves unfruitful ie there is no action nor faith in line with the Word of God. But the love of money is just one of the vanities of life. Some people love to party, excessively that they miss out on praying and reading the Bible, let alone being at Church. Some people want to be famous so bad, that they willing do evil deeds be it violent or sensual just to be showing up on TV, the newspapers and social media in general. While some just want to laze around when it comes to God but are super active in the things of the world such as their jobs, their social status and friend circles, that they miss out both on prayer and good works which have been ordained by God for them.
Make it your choice to reject the vanity of the world and instead follow the Lord Jesus in the true sense of the Word!
Verses for reflection:
- For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. (Mark 8:35)
- For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Mark 8:36)
- And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 10:22)
- For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
Do not hesitate to rebuke a sinner!
We are to rebuke a sinner so that he or she turns to the Lord Jesus in the way of righteousness. Now a rebuke does not have to be a loud rant. One can be calm but et bold in rebuking a sinner so that he or she sins no more. You should never be so scared to rebuke someone that you altogether don’t rebuke at all. Now all those who hear rebuke may not every time repent. However that shouldn’t worry you because it will serve as a warning to others. Also pray for the one who you are rebuking so that they receive it with true understanding.
- A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool. (Proverbs 17:10)
- If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. (Matthew 18:15)
- Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. (Luke 17:3)
- Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)
- Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. (1 Timothy 5:20)
- All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16)
- My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. (James 5:19-20)
A serious problem : preaching the Gospel the wrong way
A quote from an Evangelical preacher which in a way sums up how the preaching of the Word of God can go wrong:
Evangelicals, (including myself), have distorted the image of Jesus
FROM a Righteous, Reigning, Awesome King of Glory, to be feared, loved and obeyed.
Down to a Friendly Neighbor.
We have diluted the Gospel down to “Say a prayer and get your free ticket to Heaven.” We handed out tickets to heaven, like it was free candy, forgetting the words of Jesus “It is hard for a man to enter the Kingdom of God” and “narrow is the door…few there be that find it”
We have diluted down the image of Hell,
FROM a place of Miserable Agony, Torment, Wrath, Burning & Regret
Down to a much more digestible phrase, “Godless eternity” (which doesn’t seem to put fear in any unbeliever)
Never ever dilute the Gospel even if the person who is hearing might reject the true meaning of the Gospel. It’s your job preach the Word of God without altering it. Don’t worry about the so called “undue” fear mongering because certain things are actually good to fear; ” The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10)”
Effects and dangers of preaching an incomplete Gospel
Any person who preaches the Gospel whether in church, home or elsewhere must take a serious note that they are to preach the complete Gospel. One must never get bullied or pressured to only speak the points of the Gospel that the congregation likes to hear such as healing and salvation but avoid topics like martyrdom and sanctification. You are not here to impress the people, you are in fact here to preach the Gospel. And this means that you are not to compromise with the preaching of the Gospel at any given point of time and place.
Sometimes the preaching of an incomplete Gospel might have the actual words of the Bible and even sound impressive but that still leaves a lot of gray areas in the spirit. For instance, saying that Jesus picked up his cross for you but skipping up the part of the Gospel where Jesus wants us to carry our cross and deny oneself, leaves a person to have a lot of guess work as to whether to indulge in worldly luxuries or spend time helping the poor and needy.
Speaking about the Gospel where you focus a lot on love but miss out on mentioning that Jesus actually rose from the dead, is basically an incomplete Gospel. As a result the person hearing such a Gospel will be surprised when someone actually mentions that Jesus had to die for us and then rose from the grave.
I had encountered one such person from another religion who claimed to know everything about Christianity as he attended a lot of Christian worship services at a particular place. I felt that he was boasting too much, as a person who hears the complete Gospel won’t brag about his knowledge as the Gospel clearly speaks about being humble. So I asked him, “I hope you know that Jesus died on the cross and rose again from the dead on the third day, do you?” And to this he replied that he doesn’t believe in the resurrection at all because this was something he heard from me for the first time and never heard it in the church he attended. I told him to read the Bible and see what the Gospel actually says about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and he was still in shock. In hind sight, this incident made me realize that certain preachers are consistently NOT preaching the complete Gospel.
Now the following seven points are just a few of the effects and dangers of preaching an incomplete Gospel to the people:
1. People are not clear about who Jesus is
2. People are not sure if they are to leave their sins
3. People are not sure if they should pray for healings and miracles
4. People are not warned of persecutions and rejection they might encounter
5. People are not on guard against false prophets and false gospels
6. People are not encouraged to do good works
7. People are not sure of their salvation
A detailed explanation is given below for each of the above points so that you understand them better.
1) People are not clear about who Jesus is
It’s completely vain to preach a Gospel which doesn’t clearly identify Jesus as the Lord and as the Son of God. I wonder how do people even tolerate a preacher who doesn’t want to mention Jesus, not even one bit in church. If you don’t mention that Jesus is the Lamb of God how are they to understand his sacrificial death on the cross on our behalf?
Here are a few verses to consider:
- The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (Mark 1:1)
- The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)
- Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:26-28)
2) People are not sure if they are to leave their sins
I notice that certain preachers avoid any mention of repentance. They will say stuff like ‘You don’t need religion. You only need Jesus’ as if they really know what they are saying. (On a side note, if you not sure whether if Christianity a religion or relation, then I’d say it’s both. To know about why I said that please refer to my earlier post Is Christianity a religion or relation?). The fact is that people have to both accept Jesus as their Savior and also repent of their sins.
Anyone who says that once you repent, each and every of your future sins are automatically forgiven can read my earlier post titled : ‘The heresy of pre-forgiven sin‘ which shows you must repent every time you sin.
Here are a few verses to reflect upon:
- No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:3)
- Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:7)
- “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2)
3) People are not sure if they should pray for healings and miracles
Some preachers try to focus a lot on good conduct but leave out the fact that miracles in the name of Jesus did happen in the Gospel and can still happen today. Miracles and healings are for today and have not gone by with the Apostles. They are still available for the glory of God. It’s vain to talk about miracles and healings as something that were only available at the time of Jesus but now it’s gone. (You can refer to my post titled Signs, wonders, miracles, deliverance and healing are for today, which explains it up).
Here are a few verses to ponder upon:
- “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. (John 14:12-14)
- As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Matthew 11:20-24)
4) People are not warned of persecutions and rejection they might encounter
If all one is preaching is about the comforts of heaven and the joy of salvation but not warning the people about the persecutions and rejection they might encounter on account of believing in Jesus Christ, then they won’t be ready for it if it were to happen to them by any degree. This is not about scaring them but helping them be prepared to hold on to their hope in Christ even in the face of danger to life or ridicule by others. If Jesus could speak about that, why are you fearing to talk about the same thing?
Here are a few verses to think about:
- and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. (Matthew 10:22-25)
- “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12)
5) People are not on guard against false prophets and false gospels
If Gospel that is preached doesn’t warn against false prophets and the false gospels which emerge from these deceivers, then even though that Gospel is very clear on repentance it is still needs a lot of catching up to do. Because the people won’t have a clue and so be off their guard when false gospels, false prophets and even false Christ’s come to them and as a result believe in lies which can be damnable heresies.
Here are few verses to take heed of:
- And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false christ’s and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand. (Mark 13:21-23)
- Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. (Matthew 7:15)
- As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.…. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. (Matthew 24: 3-5, 11)
6) People are not encouraged to do good works
Any preaching of Gospel that relies solely on mental assertions but doesn’t encourage to do good works is lacking the depth of love in action. Your good works are meant so that you glorify the Lord God. We are called to be both hearers and doers of the Word of God.
Here are a few verses to put into action:
- In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
- Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. (Matthew 6:1, NLT)
- Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:28-29)
7) People are not sure of their salvation
Preaching the Gospel in such a way that it overemphasizes on doing good works but does not speak in clear terms about salvation can end up confusing people. There might be a danger that people will incorrectly presume to their own hurt that their goods works will grant them salvation. So it’s important that the salvation is preached to them as per the Gospel instead of any man made doctrine.
Here are a few verses to believe in:
- When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:25-26)
- “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:16-18)
- The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:35-36)
- Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:16)
A suggested prayer:
Dear Lord God, I come to you in the name of Jesus Christ your Son. Please forgive me if at any point of time in my life whether knowingly or unknowingly I did not preach the Gospel in all its fullness. Give me the courage and hope to preach the Gospel for your glory and without any fear. Bless my will power and memory so that I recall your greatness, mercy and victory in the Gospel and exhort those who hear it to believe in Jesus Christ. Be with me Holy Spirit that those who hear the Gospel from me and are in sin turn back to their One True Shepherd so that they love and serve him all the days of their life. Amen and amen.
True freedom comes from Christ
All across the world, over the centuries men and women have yearned for freedom. Freedom from evil emperors, freedom from fascists, freedom from invaders etc. There have been many successful freedom struggles while some have been short-lived.
Coming to spiritual freedom, no other person has achieved this freedom except for Jesus. Many have tried to be free by means of works, by high level meditations and philosophy but all their hopes have not resulted in true freedom.
Freedom is not a license to do as you please. Neither is it about having more choices. It’s about having liberty to do what is right no matter what.
Being in sin is the worst sort of slavery. It affects you very badly in the afterlife, if you die in your sins. Hell is the prize the devil offers you for being in sin which he delights to give to all who sin. This is a place of damnation and torture which is forever. No wonder the Lord God sent Jesus to save you from going there.
John 8:34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.
1 John 3:8 The one who commits sin is of the Devil, for the Devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the Devil’s works.
When you believe in Christ you are faced with a choice. The choice is whether to love Christ or to love sin. It’s a very clear choice my friend which can’t be denied.
Jesus came on earth with a mission to reconcile human kind to God. Man lost his friendship with God due to sin. So Christ had to atone for the sins of the world so that people could be fully reconciled to the Lord God.
He came to call the sinners to their true freedom in spirit. This freedom is not for those who are proud but for those who are humble to enough to realize that they can’t live holy lives by themselves and need the help of God for this.
1 John 1:10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.
Jesus ate and drank with sinners so that he could take them out of their sinful ways by showing he cared for them but was misunderstood by others. So he made his views very clear to them.
Mark 2:16-17 When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?” And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
1 Timothy 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners
When you have received freedom you must value it. Never take it cheaply. You know, there are people who pay tens of thousands to their lawyers to keep them out of prison.
In Christ Jesus, you get spiritual freedom without any charge. Now that doesn’t mean its cheap, alright. Jesus had to pay the greatest price for you; he had to die a brutal death on the cross for you though he had no sin in him. It’s just that God loves you so much that he knows you can’t pay this cost by yourself so he is not asking you to pay it up but only believe what his Son Jesus has done for. God’s Holy Spirit will lead you in your walk with Christ if you ask for this, for nothing is impossible with God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he(God) made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
John 16: 13-15 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
Suggested prayer : I confess that Jesus is the Son of God. I believe that He came to save me from the bondage of sin and reconcile me to his Father in heaven. I turn away and repent of my sin and unbelief. From now on I make a firm and clear choice to follow Christ alone. May the angels of God bear witness to this as I confess Jesus’ saving power in my life. I thank the Spirit of God for always guiding me to Jesus and ask that the Holy Spirit continues to lead me in my walk with Christ. I do this all for the glory of God. Amen and Amen.