Preach the Word and Contend for the Faith!

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is truly amazing—and undeserving! To think, our sin (which is both an affront to the holiness of God and injurious to others) separated us from God and created for us a horrible hell-bound destiny; yet, the Son of God willingly bore our sins to deliver us from our depravity and bondage to sin and darkness; to reconcile us to God; to prepare us a home filled with genuine love, peace, joy, and purity—a place where there will be no death, sorrow, sin, or perversion of any kind (see Rev. 21:1-4, 27). And why was He willing to do this for us? “For God so loved the world…” (see John 3:16).

We will never fathom the horror the Son of God experienced in order to secure our redemption and pardon. The Holy One took upon Himself the sins of the world, facing the wrath of God against mankind’s murders, lies, thefts, rapes, perversions, pride, gossip, hypocrisies, etc. As if the scourging, beatings, and mockery was not enough, He was pierced by thorns, spikes, and a spear; furthermore, the Father turned His face from the Son He so dearly loves. The Son died in loneliness and with a broken heart which cannot be described.

This is the Gospel: Christ died for our sins (which have separated us from God), He bids all to repent (to turn from sin) and to die in Him, and to be risen with Him in new (transformed) life.

Somehow the church, in undisciplined zeal, began to compromise the Message to get people to come to church so they might be saved. Gradually the compromises have become more about building bigger congregations rather than God’s kingdom. Many churchgoers are more concerned about offending the congregations or the lost than they are of offending God. Furthermore, as the compromises have increased, so have the justifications of permitting all sorts of sins, perversions, and idolatries to find harbor in many churches—the very things Jesus was crucified for!

We are told to “preach the word” without compromise or apology—even if that means others turn and walk away. We are to plant the seeds, but it is God alone who will cause those seeds to burst forth with life.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching. ~ 2 Timothy 2:1-3 (ESV)

Elsewhere we are told to contend (fight fiercely) for the faith (the Gospel). That is, protect it from those who would ravage, twist, and pervert it.

I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. ~ Jude 3-4

Indeed, we are to preach and exhort in a spirit of love and compassion. However, how contemptible and deplorable to water down the Gospel message, lest we offend those who mock, trivialize, and trample the exceeding grace that Jesus Christ offers! What a mockery of the offense and scorn He endured on our behalf!

Oh people of God, let our hearts be revived for His sake, and let us preach and contend for the true faith entrusted to us. For those who respond in repentance and faith, praise God! For those who reject it, let them walk away and entrust them to God. As the Bible declares:

Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy. Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. ~ Revelation 22:11-12

Regardless of people’s response, let us be faithful to Christ and the Gospel message He has entrusted to us. To dilute the message to soften the sting ultimately does more harm than good—and we must give account.

It’s a Beautiful Morning

Followers of Jesus Christ are not to live in deliberate or habitual sin. We are asked, “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rom. 6:1 -2, ESV). Furthermore, elsewhere the purposes of both grace and salvation are explained:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. ~ Titus 2:11-12

Even so, the Bible teaches us, “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins, (Ecc. 7:10) and “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8).  And life teaches us experientially that we can sometimes blow it profoundly! How many of us have asked, “Will God forgive me of this? Again???” In fact, some give up altogether that God still loves them and can forgive them.

My friend, perhaps you have asked such questions. Maybe you are wrestling with such doubts now. Believe me, I have been there numerous times. But God’s grace truly is amazing, and the death Jesus died in our stead transcends our understanding. I hope you will be encouraged by the following passages:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ~ Lamentations 3:22-23

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. ~ Psalm 103:13-14

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~ 1 John 1:9

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. ~ Psalm 51:17

Perhaps you have blown it big time and guilt haunts you. My friend, look to the cross and the glorious and merciful Savior who had been slain upon it and is now alive forevermore! Find refuge in His mercy and peace in His great love for you. His mercies are new every morning, and there is never a time when we are not in need of them.

Heaven (Part 3): R.S.V.P.

Not everyone will enter heaven. What a sad and fearful thought that many church members—even persons of the clergy—will be denied entrance. Jesus says,

“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. 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?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” ~ Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)

Only those who repent of their sins (each of us have sinned) and believe on Jesus Christ who paid the penalty for our sins. Some will argue this is unfair, but consider the following:

  1. God is perfectly holy and pure. By His very nature and essence  He cannot, and will not, permit sin in His presence and heaven.
  2. Those who love sin would not enjoy heaven. The immoral, nefarious, and maleficent would abhor the absolute purity of heaven. Make no mistake, heaven would not be a paradise for those whose hearts are not changed by the Gospel and Holy Spirit.
  3. Some argue the Gospel is too “exclusive,” but God offers His salvation to every individual, regardless of their age, background, gender, color, or nationality. He will not force anyone to accept, but why would a person not want to?

If a deadly virus began ravaging the world, would you resent hospitals for saying there is only one cure? Would you refuse it because of its exclusivity? Yet, God says the only Cure for our dire spiritual predicament is to believe on His Son Jesus who died for our sins. Many are offended by this, and thus, forfeit heaven and every spiritual blessing that could be their’s in Christ.