"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"

Father God, thank you for the love of the truth you have given me. Please bless me with the wisdom, knowledge and discernment needed to always present the truth in an attitude of grace and love. Use this blog and Northwoods Ministries for your glory. Help us all to read and to study Your Word without preconceived notions, but rather, let scripture interpret scripture in the presence of the Holy Spirit. All praise to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Saturday, July 20, 2013

What Does God want from Me?

Have you ever asked yourself that question? Maybe you should. The Bible makes it very clear that we will all stand before God in judgment one day; wouldn’t it be good to know what He will be judging us on?

Actually, it is not God the Father that we stand before on that day, but God the Son – Jesus Christ.  “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son.” John 5:22.  Not only does the Bible say that, be the Koran also says it and the Talmud too. The Talmud doesn’t recognize Jesus as the Christ, or Messiah, but that’s Who He is and that is Who we will stand before on that day. Matt 16:15-17: And He (Jesus) said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" And Peter answered and said, "The Christ of God." And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven." 

What are the consequences of judgment?
Judgment is the whole point of life. The entire purpose of our existence on this planet is to prepare ourselves and others for Eternity. God put us here to decide whether we will accept His Son as Lord or not. It’s really that simple!

If we accept Jesus as Lord, we will be tested on the reality of our decision. If we pass the test, we will be accepted into the Kingdom of God for Eternity. 1 Cor 3:13 -  2 Cor 13:5 - Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--unless indeed you fail the test? If we refuse to acknowledge Jesus as Lord, or fail the test of truth, there is no place for us in His presence. We will be separated from Him for all Eternity.

What does that mean? That’s a murky subject. It could mean an eternity in Hell, something like Dante’s Inferno, or it could mean an existence apart from God. Literalists are emphatic that the former is true; CS Lewis, on the other hand, pours contempt on such people suggesting they shouldn’t bother trying to read grown-up’s books. Lewis proposes a futile existence apart from God in his book The Great Divorce. In it he describes an existence not unlike the Soviet Gulag, an existence with no God and very little hope or purpose.

The First Thing
So, in the process of becoming ready for judgment, Jesus, essentially, wants two things from us – the first, a relationship. Without a relationship with Jesus, we will stand in judgment on our own merits. But the Bible makes it clear that not one of us is deserving of salvation. Not one of us will be welcomed into the eternal Kingdom of God based on our goodness. The first qualification for eternal life is a relationship with Jesus Christ.

How do you know if you have a relationship with Jesus Christ?
Have you realized that you are a sinner and in no way deserving of spending Eternity with God? Have you recognized the suffering and death of Christ as payment-in full for your sins? Have you turned away from sin? Has the Holy Spirit changed you? Do you see some things differently – evil as evil and good as godly? Do you have a desire to read your Bible and pray – to know Christ better? Do you love Him? Do you love your neighbor? If you answer yes to all of these you are certainly in a relationship with Jesus. If you are missing some, you may have a relationship, but it needs work before you are ready to stand before Him.

The Second Thing
The second thing God wants from us is perfection. Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matt 5:48. …that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. Col 4:12b. Not perfection in the sense of never having a sinful thought or ever doing something bad, but perfection in terms of maturity or completeness. Jesus, Himself, was made perfect through His suffering, but He was never imperfect in the sense of having sinned, He was incomplete in the sense of never having experienced the temptations and trials of fallen man. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. Heb 2:10. His incarnation and crucifixion took care of that; now He can identify with our sufferings on a deeply personal level.

CS Lewis, in “Mere Christianity”, I think, paraphrased Jesus in saying: “If you let Me, I will make you perfect – no matter what it costs you, no matter what it costs Me.” Personally, I believe, with Lewis, that it is extremely important to the Lord to bring His people to full maturity, otherwise, why the great suffering of Christians that is so obvious over the past 2000 years?

Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. Heb 12:14.

There is a sanctification that comes from Christ when we establish a relationship with Him, but this verse is talking about a process of sanctification that we begin when we become Christians. That process is one of separation from worldly lusts and ambition. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Rom 12:2.

To sanctify means to set apart for holy use. Christ sets us apart from the rest of the world for His purpose. We then need to separate ourselves by the power of God and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, from the power of the cares, the riches and the pleasures of life. That doesn't mean that we cannot enjoy riches and pleasures; it means that the pursuit of such should not be our motivation.

What should our motivation be?
Glorifying God! For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Cor 6:20.

And how do I do that?
Many Christians think glorifying God is standing in the congregation singing ‘glory to God’, and to a point that does glorify Him. But what He really wants is for those of us who have His nature to display it. That is to reveal the character of God to others. We do that by forgiving our enemies, feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, visiting and caring for widows, the sick and elderly, and prisoners, and by interceding in prayer for our neighbors. Remember, in the 21st century, everyone is your neighbor.

Again, motivation is important here. I can imitate Jesus by doing the things above but this will simply glorify me. If Jesus is in you, you will want to do such things because it is your new nature – then you will glorify Christ. It may not be easy; displaying God’s character will usually cost us something – time, money, pride. If it costs us nothing, then it is not likely glorifying God, for love is a profound part of God’s nature. God’s love is predominantly agape love – sacrificial love – love that gives expecting nothing in return.

Are we there yet?