The Scariest Words Jesus Ever Said

You know the verses, you have probably heard them your entire Christian life, but when is the last time you really meditated on the words of Jesus Christ found in Matthew 7: 21-23? Here are the verses…

Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)

21 “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.22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Understand the context of this verse. Jesus is referring to His “followers”… or at least those who claim to be followers of Jesus. This is a startling proclamation from our King that should give us pause. In our culture today, where people are taught to say a “sinner’s prayer” and they are saved… where hyper grace doctrines are being pushed at every turn… where many are seeking to live their BEST LIVES NOW…

In our culture it is almost a crime in the Christian community to speak of this truth: MANY Multitudes of “Christians” today are deceived and unknowingly on a path to Hell. You see scripture is very clear… Jesus was VERY clear…

Matthew 7:13-14  (ESV)

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

According to PEW Research nearly 70.6% of Americans self identify as Christians. That means that out of 325 Million Americans, 227 Million think they are going to Heaven. Yet Jesus tells us that the path is NARROW and FEW will find it.

So where is the breakdown?

What are Christians missing in this equation of salvation? This gift freely given by God. John 3:16 famously reveals “…that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” ~ Emphasis mine.

So is that it then? All one needs to do is believe in Jesus? What does that mean to believe in Jesus? Does Satan believe in Jesus? Do the demons believe in Jesus? Is salvation then just an intellectual exercise?

I would argue that salvation has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with what you have brought yourself to believe in your mind, and has everything to do with the condition of your heart. In fact, let’s go back to the Gospels, in the book of John chapter 3…

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Here Jesus clearly indicates a requirement for those who wish to live in eternal paradise with God, they MUST be born again. This goes beyond a mental exercise of simple belief and delves into a transformational relationship with the Holy Spirit of God. You must DIE to your SIN… another way of saying it… you must repent or “turn from your sin” towards God. This is not to say you become sinless or perfect when you accept Christ as your savior. But every Christian should be in the process of change, where we grow more and more Christ-like the closer we draw near to God.

If you have been a Christian for some time, and you still find yourself living the same life you always lived, you may need to examine your life closely. This is what Paul exhorted the church members of Corinth to do… “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” ~ 2 Corinthians 13:5

Brothers and Sisters, if you said a prayer years ago, and just accepted what people in church said about your eternal destination, I would strongly encourage you to follow Paul’s advice and evaluate your relationship with Jesus. If you find yourself running joyfully into sinful behavior or with little regret when you transgress God’s law… you have a real reason for concern.

Most Americans take the time to be absolutely certain of things far less important than their eternal destination, don’t make that mistake. Eternity is a very very long time.

Stay Strong & Stand Tall

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How Jesus Christ Saved My Life

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As you may have discovered if you have been looking around my blog, Jesus Christ has saved my life. For 35 years I was an Atheist and for many of those years in bondage to lust and an addiction to pornography.

Today, at the age of 46 I can loudly proclaim that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and the God of first, second and fifteenth chances! He has forgiven my sins, shattered the stronghold of pornography in my life, restored my marriage and given me the promise of eternal life.

He is a God who can restore any life, and rebuild any shattered mess you find yourself in. Whether you suffer from anxiety, depression, fear, anger, lust, addiction to drugs, alcohol, co-dependency, eating disorders, financial ruin, grief, physical pain or any other affliction… Jesus Christ alone is the answer to a new and victorious life.

Does your life feel out of control? Hopeless? Do you feel like there is no way out? Do you feel like the pain is too much to handle? Do you just want to give up? Do you want to run away or even have thoughts of ending it all? I know I have. Life can be filled with pain and grief and unless or until we learn to find the one way to cope with the trials and tribulations of life… there will be no end to it. Life will continue to be a vicious cycle and we will sink further and further into a pit of despair.

If this sounds like your reality, let me share something with you… something that will change your life forever. There is a God who created all that you see in the universe. He created you, a unique being in all of His creation… there has never been another like you and never will be. Your DNA is yours alone. That same God knows and loves you more than anything else. He wants to have a personal loving relationship with you… but He wants you to come freely into His arms.

You have a choice to make, we all do. Turn away from God and face the world on our own, or turn towards God and leap into His waiting arms. You may look back on your life and your story is unique… but let me ask you… how has life been so far, doing things your way? When I asked that question of myself, I realized very quickly that I hated the life I had created under my own power. It was littered with destruction as a result of my sinful choices and I knew there had to be a better way.

Once you accept that you are hopelessly lost where you are, cry out to God and ask Him to forgive you for your life of sin… put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ and you too will be freely given the gift of eternal salvation. Not only that, but this call to faith will invite the Holy Spirit of God to come into your life and be your guide and counselor. You will learn to leave all of your worries, anxieties, fears, and old habits at the foot of the cross… and in time you will know what it means to walk in Victory.

You will become renewed, a new creation and as you walk side by side with Jesus your life will start to look more and more like His. Brother or Sister, if something you read above has appealed to you, or has described your life I want to encourage you to reach out to God right now, right where you are!

You can begin this new walk, this new chapter of your life this very moment… God is waiting. If you would like, it would be my honor to pray for you. You can leave a comment below and I will pray for you right away, or if you prefer privacy you can send a prayer request to standtallforchrist@gmail.com

Stay Strong & Stand Tall

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Filling That Void

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Many times in life we find ourselves searching for something. This search can take many forms and take us many places. Maybe we seek enlightenment or a simple adrenaline rush. Perhaps we feel a need or thirst that we just cannot quench.

What is the cause or source of this void in our life? From a Biblical perspective and more specifically Christianity the answer is Jesus Christ. This void is what God instilled within all of us that would cause us to seek Him out. Sadly what most people do is try to fill this void with something, ANYTHING except God… from possessions, drugs and sex to false idols and other worldly desires.

If you cheat on your spouse for a few moments of pleasure, how does that really fulfill you in life? If you shoot drugs into your veins for that momentary high, how does that really fulfill you? Certainly you will feel that pleasure or that high and it will feel good, but those feelings are fleeting and what are you left with? Guilt, shame, emptiness, broken marriages, shattered lives?

More importantly, if you can rationally understand the consequences of your actions before you take them, and predict how much destruction will be brought to your life… why would you still take those actions? Back to the example of the cheating spouse, you know that cheating could have very severe consequences… a broken marriage, lost trust, possible divorce… not to mention all the people this affair could affect in very negative way. So what could possibly motivate you to move forward with it? Why do you get lost in that brief moment of pleasure?

So far I have asked a lot of questions, now let me attempt to provide some answers. As I already stated we have a built-in desire to seek God, this has been in us since the dawn of man. Long before the Bible or Jesus Christ walked the earth people yearned for God and would seek something to fill that void in their life. The ONLY way you will find true fulfillment and fill that void is to develop a relationship with the one who put it there. Every day you have to strive for righteousness and live according the example Jesus Christ provided us.

In simpler terms, live a Godly life and always do what is right. This sounds SO easy, but actually is incredibly difficult for most people… but why? For me, and I do talk from experience, it boils down to your closeness with God. If you are having daily conversations with God (in prayer and scripture) and with every breath and action drawing closer to Him… you will find it much easier to avoid the temptations of a fallen world. If you step away from God and walk with the world, those same temptations will take hold and you will find yourself on the edge of making a huge mistake that could be very costly.

There is another very important aspect to Godliness, and that is discernment through the Holy Spirit. Imagine for a moment you are a Super Hero, and actually you don’t have to imagine it… for if you have the Holy Spirit, you have God within you and what could be more “Super” than that! But I digress, you are a super hero and one of your powers is a “Danger Sense”. Just like Spider-Man you are able to avoid dangers by noticing them BEFORE they can affect you in a negative way. This would be a pretty cool super power right? Well I think so, and guess what? That is exactly what the Holy Spirit gives you… the ability to discern SIN. As a non-believer most people don’t even accept that Sin is real, let alone that they partake in it. But as a follower of Jesus Christ you gain an incredible sense of what Sin IS, how dangerous it can be in your life and as you grow stronger in Christ how to avoid it all together.

But here is the reality, if you want to have access to this great power of the Holy Spirit you HAVE to STRIVE for that relationship with Jesus Christ. Just like you can walk away from God, you can also diminish the influence of the Holy Spirit in your life.

This will NOT be an easy road to travel, especially if you are a new believer in Christ. Living a life of righteousness can be the most challenging task you have ever attempted, but the rewards are like no other. Imagine being blameless in all things, imagine living every day knowing you have done no wrong, imagine how those in your life would be affected by this new life you live.

Please do not misunderstand me, I am not claiming you can lead a SIN-FREE life, as that is only possible by one man in Jesus Christ. What I am claiming is that you can lead a blameless and righteous life, and when you do it will be the greatest life you could ever imagine.

Stay Strong & Stand Tall

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Is Hell Fair?

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The Hell doctrine is one of the most important and less taught pillars of the Gospels. Most preachers avoid teaching it, because on the surface it looks completely “unfair”. But let’s examine it for a moment. We know from scripture that our BEST deeds are like filthy rags in the eyes of God (Isaiah 64:6). Meaning we think we are doing good and treating people well, but to a pure and Holy God we are not.

The next thing we need to understand, is that GOD is not only a loving God but a JUST God as well. Which is why a sacrifice had to be made in the old days, to remind men that there was a price to be paid for SIN.

Now let’s compare GODs justice to our own justice here on earth. Here are just SOME of the things God considers a SIN: lying, cheating, stealing, murder, anger, dishonoring your parents, praying to false idols and gods, calling the Lord’s name in vain, lusting after another woman or man even in thought, envy and pride. Now this is a SMALL list of sins, when you look that over and be HONEST with yourself, how many times have you sinned in your life? For me, the answer would probably be MILLIONS.

If we look at our laws, and particularly crimes that would be punishable by time in prison… how many years would you get sentenced to prison for committing a crime MILLIONS of times? You can cheat on your taxes ONE time and get 10 years in prison. You can murder 3 times and get LIFE in prison. You can even get sentenced to 800 years in prison!

You might say, YES but lying is not MURDER!!! That is unfair to punish me for lying… but isn’t that what a tax cheat is… a liar? So here we have a GOD who is Holy, Loving and Just. He has plainly told us his laws and what he considers to be a CRIME punishable by eternal separation from Him (Sin). He also KNOWS we will NOT be able to live a sin-free life and make it to heaven on our own power. This is why he sent Jesus to the cross. Once Jesus (GOD) came to earth to be crucified he became the FINAL sacrifice and paid the price for ALL the worlds sins past, present and future.

The ONLY Stipulation to accept his gift of grace, is that you believe in him with all your heart (in other words have a personal relationship with him) and REPENT or turn-away from your sins.

Sadly most people will not find their way to heaven (Matthew 7:13), because they have the problem of SIN. AS GOOD as they might be they are still SINFUL… and SIN Cannot enter the presence of a Holy God. Heaven is the ABODE of GOD, therefore to gain entrance you need to be cleansed of all SIN. There is no place on earth you can go to be cleansed of sin, there is only ONE way and that is through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

BUT HERE is the great news, ONCE you enter into that relationship with Jesus he gives you the GIFT of EVERLASTING life, and your eternity is sealed in his Grace. ON the PLUS side, entering that relationship will CHANGE your life forever in GREAT ways. You will live better, love better, see things in life that are truly important and experience everything in a different way.

Stay Strong & Stand Tall

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Did God Create Sin?

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Did God create sin? This is a common question usually put to a Christian from Atheist circles. Obviously as Christians we do not believe God created sin, but rather sin was the direct result of our disobedience to God’s will. In other words, because of our “Free Will” we CHOSE to disobey God even though He warned us of the dangers well in advance. Once Adam and Eve made that choice, sin entered the world. Was this the first time sin occurred? No. Lucifer sinned against God first, then a third of the Angelic Host decided to follow Lucifer in his plans against God. This was however the first time sin “entered the world” meaning with Mankind’s sin the entire scope of God’s creation was affected. This includes the entire universe… EVERYTHING.

So let’s back up a minute. Why did God give us choice to begin with? Why did he have a forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden at all? Obviously God is omnipotent, which means he knows everything. He is the creator of time, which means he can see all the way to the end of it. He knew the outcome of placing that tree in the Garden, which means he knew Man would sin, which means he knew how this was all going to go down. All the way from the beginning he knew. Or did he?

Free Will is a powerful force, and many do not give it the respect it deserves. God DOES know EVERY possible outcome of EVERY possible choice you will ever make in your life. God does know all of the vast possibilities that your walk in life could produce… but that does not mean he knows which one you will inevitably choose. Let me use a simple illustration to clarify my point: Imagine a boy sitting at a table with two plates. On one plate sits an apple, on another a stack of cookies.

This boy is faced with three simple choices. One he could eat the apple. Two he could eat the cookies or Three he could choose neither apple nor cookies and walk away. Sure there are a million other choices he could make, like knocking the cookies on the floor and then run away laughing… but for the sake of this illustration let us imagine this hungry little boy WILL make one of those three choices today.

God knows all three choices AND the results that each of the choices will have on the child. He knows how this simple choice will lead to other choices and so on and so forth. Now the child’s Free Will takes over and HE makes his own choice. He eats the cookies (he was eyeballing them the whole time). God knew of the possibility but the boy still made the choice.

The same is true of us everyday of our lives. We make choices and many of those choices are sinful and harmful to our lives and the lives of others. God has given us everything we need to make the right choices, he has given us his living Word. He has given us the Holy Spirit. He has even given us a built-in moral compass to help guide us in life. What we do with all of those wonderful gifts is completely up to us. We can use them to glorify and love God, or we can ignore them and seek pleasure from the world. Free will: The greatest gift God ever gave us and the catalyst of every demented evil thought the human mind has ever conceived.

Why did God give us Free Will? Because without it, we would be mindless robots singing worship songs everyday. That is not true love and at the end of the day, this is what God wants most. To have a TRUE loving relationship with each and every one of us.

Stay Strong & Stand Tall

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Can Christians Lose Their Salvation?

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Photo by Jeremy Yap on Unsplash

This question cuts to the core doctrine of Christianity… the blood atonement of Jesus Christ. There is NO greater pillar in the foundation of Christian belief, than the blood of Christ that atones for all sin.

There are groups of people, churches and other organizations that teach that a Christian can lose their salvation through continued sin… it is so prevalent in fact they have a name for it “Conditional Security”. In a nutshell, they teach that you are given eternal salvation when you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior and repent “or turn away” from your sin, but that if you do not live in continued obedience to Christ… you could lose your gift of salvation.

The more I studied scripture, prayed and meditated on this question the more I realized just how utterly powerless this idea renders God. If we have to rely on OURSELVES to get to Heaven, we are DOOMED. Every good deed we do, is like a filthy rag in God’s eyes, so what HOPE do we have?

Isaiah 64:6
But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.

Why would God send his ONLY BEGOTTEN SON to DIE on the Cross if the very people he was sent to save, would again condemn themselves to damnation… by doing the inevitable… and sinning again? You see God knows we will continue to sin and this will not stop until we are given our eternal bodies of perfection, free from the sinful nature (1 Corinthians 15:50-53).

If we have the power to “override” our eternal salvation by committing sin, then there is NO power in the Blood of Christ.

John 10:28-29
28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.

Here John clearly proclaims once we are given eternal life, we shall NEVER perish. He doesn’t say “And I give them eternal life, until they sin again” or “… as long as they live a sin-free life”.

You see, we can NEVER live a sin-free life, before or after our salvation, not as long as we inhabit these bodies that are cursed with the sinful nature.
(Psalm 51:5, Ecclesiastes 7:20)

But what about people who turn their back on God? Walk away from their faith and deny Christ? For me, it is hard to imagine anyone receiving the Holy Spirit in their life and then rejecting Jesus Christ… but it is equally hard for me to imagine the God that I worship FORCING someone to spend an eternity with Him in Heaven, when someone has chosen to deny Him.

You might hear many atheists come forward and proclaim they were once Christians, such as prominent author Bart Erhman, and now they reject Jesus Christ and don’t believe in God anymore. So let us take a closer look at what it means to actually BE a Christian so we can discern if these claims are true.

According to Scripture, a Christian is someone who has been born again by God (John 3:3; John 3:7; 1 Peter 1:23) and has put faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8 tells us that it is “… by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

Read that last line again very closely… “NOT from yourselves, it is the gift of God”. You see, once we have truly given ourselves over to Christ our eternity is sealed. If men like Erhman continually walk through life denying Christ, then it is very unlikely they ever had salvation to begin with. Notice I used the word “continually”, why? Because you shouldn’t be led to believe you will never sin again once you are saved.

“Born Again” does NOT mean you will never sin again, even Paul one of the greatest Christians in the New Testament struggled with ongoing sin (Romans 7:15). What it does mean is you will come to hate sin, and when you do fall to temptation, you will recognize what you have done, confess your sin to God and ask for forgiveness.

This may lead to the question, but what if I continually fall to the same temptation? Will God continue to forgive me? Peter had a similar question for Jesus…

Matthew 18:21-22
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

In this verse, Jesus is illustrating the immeasurable power of God’s grace to forgive. THIS is the power of Christ’s Blood! He WAS the final sacrifice… his blood cleansed all who believe in Him.

Now, there are some scriptures that people can point to as evidence that you CAN lose your salvation, so let us take a look a couple of those verses now.

Ezekiel 33:13
Though I say to the righteous that they shall surely live, yet if they trust in their righteousness and commit iniquity, none of their righteous deeds shall be remembered; but in the iniquity that they have committed they shall die.

At first glance, this passage appears to state that the righteous (believers) will lose their salvation if they sin, but that would be reading the passage out of context. God sent Ezekiel out to the exiled Israelites to warn them of the “sword coming upon the land” (Ezekiel 33:3), in other words a WAR is coming. The death this passage is referring to is a physical death during war, not a spiritual death. In other words, he was telling the exiles… repent from your sins now or face the very physical punishment of death.

Matthew 7:21-23
… Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

In this verse it appears to say that some Christians won’t get into Heaven, but the true meaning behind these words points to a relationship with Jesus Christ. Just because someone says “I am a Christian” with their lips, doesn’t mean they have that relationship. Without that relationship, which is the essence of Christianity, there is no eternal salvation.

So what is the best way to discern when a Bible passage is true? There are a couple of things I want to say about this, first and foremost you MUST pray to God for Discernment and Wisdom EVERY time you read your Bible. Second, if a vast majority of scripture points to one meaning, and you find one or two that seem to contradict that meaning, be sure you are reading the verse in complete context.

It is my hope and prayer that if you take one thing away from this article, it is that once you ask Jesus Christ to come into your life, repent of your sins and ask forgiveness, and truly BELIEVE in His name… you WILL be granted the gift of eternal life in Heaven.

And this gift is one that can never be given back or taken away.

 

Stay Strong & Stand Tall

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