Lessons Of A Lifetime

SUNDAY SEPT. 9, 2018

Scripture To Consider:
“The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathaniel and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote; Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ And Nathaniel said to him, ‘Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’”

“Jesus saw Nathaniel coming toward Him, and said to him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!’ Nathaniel said to Him, ‘How do You know me?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Before Philip called you when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’

“Nathaniel answered and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Because I said to you, “I saw you under the fig tree,” do you believe? You will see greater things than these.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’ John 1.43-51

Something To Consider:
The following day Jesus found Philip and said, “Follow Me.” Philip, like most of humanity was probably not aware of his being lost and in need of being found or of following Jesus. But now Philip can, like so many others, sing those words of that old hymn, “I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see,” all because of God’s amazing grace. How sweet the sound it is to a person’s heart to hear the voice of Jesus saying, “Follow Me.”

God’s love letter, the bible, cries out two distinct directives that will alter the course of destiny for anyone willing to obey. The first divine directive is, “Come and see”, and the second is, “Follow Me”. Have we experienced our very own personal day of coming and of following Jesus? Every day for leaders in training is a day to follow Jesus. But what does coming to and following Jesus really mean? In Matthew’s gospel later in Jesus’ ministry, He declared in Matthew 16.24, “If anyone desires to come after Me [to follow Jesus], let him [or her] deny himself [or herself], and take up his [or her] cross [a symbol of suffering and surrendering], and follow Me.”

And where did the cross eventually lead Jesus? It led Jesus to lose His life! Where will coming after and following Jesus lead an individual, a couple, a family, even a nation if these are indeed the end times that Jesus and others wrote so much about? In the following verse of Matthew 16, verse 25, Jesus affirmed; “For whoever desires to save his [or her] life will lose it, but whoever loses his [or her] life for My sake will find it.” Are we looking to save or to lose our lives in or outside of coming to and following Jesus?

Something Else To Consider:
Philip, having experienced the joy of being found, found Nathaniel and shared with him the good news of Jesus of Nazareth. But Nathaniel was somewhat skeptical, having preconceived ideas of anyone from Nazareth. Being from Nazareth was like being from the wrong side of town or living on the wrong side of the tracks, as if there ever was such a place.

In God’s economy there is no wrong place to have come from. There is of course a wrong place to be going to where the eternal flames of fire never cease according to the Word of God! But Philip has felt another flame, the flame of passion for the lost and therefore tells Nathaniel to come to and to see Jesus for himself.

Philip, even as a new follower of Jesus appeared to understand the need for others to fully realize what hangs in the balance as it pertains to following Jesus. Philip appeared to understand what was at stake if people do not follow Jesus and where the incorrect and misfortunate decision to not follow Jesus will ultimately lead a person, a couple, a family, and even a nation.

And Jesus affirms Philip’s urgency in verse 26 of Matthew 16, by stating, “For what profit is it to a man [or woman] if he [or she] gains the whole world, and loses his [or her] own soul? Or what will a man [or a woman] give in exchange for his [or her] soul?” That is the ultimate question is it not?

According to Jesus in the very next verse, of which He was speaking of a most looked for end time event, Jesus declared to all those who have decided to come and see Jesus and have decided to come and follow Jesus; “For the Son of Man [Jesus] will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his [or her] works.”

Contrary to what has been taught for the last one hundred years or so, and the overemphasis on God’s grace without works, our works or spiritual fruit worthy of repentance, according to Jesus and other New Testament writers, are very important.

James, the step brother of Jesus in his New Testament letter in chapter 2, beginning in verse 17, set the record straight as it pertained to faith and works. James acknowledged under the influence of the Holy Spirit, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

James makes a good sound doctrinal argument, but he continued his biblical point by stating, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe, and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” Thank you, James, for your spiritual insight into what it really means to come to and to follow Jesus according to both faith and works!

Something More To Consider:
The simplistic approach to evangelism has never really changed, although many of the regimented religions of the world have attempted to complicate it and to institutionalize the concept of evangelism. According to Jesus, “Come and see”, and “Follow Me”, worked well enough for Him and His early disciples, therefore greatly impacting all of civilization for centuries. Why must we seek to improve upon it? Why must we attempt to fix what is not broken!

And yet, many misguided individuals may ask why does faith and works, coming and seeing, or following Jesus even matter? If indeed we are once saved and then always saved why worry and why observe these things taught by Jesus? And that is exactly the religious attitude that is wrongfully created by teaching the heresy of once saved always saved. If once saved always saved is the law of the land then why concern ourselves with the tenants of biblical faith?

If once saved always saved is a statement of truth why are there so many conditional commands of Jesus Christ in the gospels and in the seven letters to seven churches in Revelation? If once saved always saved is a correct concept why are we admonished to endure unto the end in order to thereby be saved, or why did Jesus emphasize our need to overcome seven times in those seven letters to seven churches in the book of Revelation?

Many have been religiously brainwashed into thinking once saved always saved, and therefore, following Jesus, or denying oneself, or taking up our own cross as a symbol of suffering and surrender, to many appears to be a waste of time and not at all required. And if that is your mindset then continuing in Christ, abiding in Him as the Vine and enduring to the end in order to thereby be saved is nothing more than religious nonsense and of little or no value.

It is no wonder therefore that those who propagate the once saved always saved concept do not teach the need for holiness and living a life of righteousness according to the Word of God. And what do we do with verses such as Hebrews 12.14, which declares; “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord…”

A Few Final Words:
Do our works that are done in Christ matter to Christ? According to the once saved always majority of 20th and 21st century organized church goers it does not matter how a person lives if they have confessed Christ as Lord and Savior and believes in the much espoused once saved always saved theory.

But is that the truth of the gospel message? Is that the truth contained within the New Testament letters and the book of Revelation? According to the Word of God, and also according to Jesus, once saved always saved is a total compromise and rather recent distortion of Scripture.

Following Jesus matters! Our continuing in the Word of God according to Jesus matters! Our denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and learning from Jesus prepares us to endure to the end, and according to Jesus, that matters! Successful leaders fully understand that they become examples to others. Therefore, leaders in training should be careful that the example they set for others is worthy of others to follow.

If we are following Jesus according to the gospel message preserved for us in the Word of God, it is extremely clear that our enduring to the end to thereby be saved really does matter! In the end, according to Jesus, will be found full of overcoming faith or eternally destroyed by and ship-wrecked due to the boat shaking faith of once saved always saved?

Our Father in heaven, cause us to come and to see Jesus every day of our lives, and may our coming find us following Him forever. In Him Always, Amen!

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