Monday, May 20, 2013

TAKING 'JESUS' FOR A TEST DRIVE

Though it happened several years ago, it is difficult to forget the moment when Rick Warren, appearing on Hannity & Colmes, told Alan Colmes to just "try Jesus for 60 days." It is not known if Colmes ever took Warren up on his offer, but here is a thought to ponder: Satan would love it if men would just "try Jesus" for a brief period of time. Why? Because the "Jesus" being taken for a test drive is not the Jesus of the Bible. So even if men grow fond of this "Jesus" and decide they want to keep him, one day they will discover that the true Jesus never knew them (Matt. 7:21–23).

It is a harsh thought, to be sure, but it must necessarily be true. Those who teach such a false Jesus are those who demonstrate that they do not understand the Gospel. And if they do, then they have deliberately chosen to reject and undermine it in favor of a more worldly and lucrative one. These so-called Bible teachers would have one believe that Jesus humbled Himself, became a man, lived a perfect, sinless life, died as the perfect, atoning sacrifice for men's sins and rose again three days later so that men could then experience a more comfortable life while on this earth. They would have their hearers believe that Jesus has come so that, when they "give Him a try," He may improve their finances, their sex lives, their friendships, their health. But the men and women who teach these things lie and place themselves in great eternal danger. Jesus never promised men their best life now. In fact, in His Word, those who have been saved are promised exactly the opposite:
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. (John 15:18–21)
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. (1 Peter 4:12–14)
The ironic and wonderful truth is, however, that those who are drawn by God and saved by God—those who are brought before the throne in fear and trembling and repentance and humility—would never cast Jesus aside after truly coming to know Him. In spite of promised persecution, those who have been chosen will delight in serving Him and are promised assurance of their eternal salvation:
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:37–40)
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:25–30)
Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.
(1 John 5:10–13
This is precisely why salvation is not a team effort between men and God, but wholly a work of God alone. If Rick Warren and others like him would present the real Jesus and the true Gospel and honestly reveal what are the terms of discipleship, no unregenerate man, who does not understand the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14), would even want to embark on a 60-day trial:
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:23–26)
Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
(Matthew 8:18–22
Where is the fame, the comfort, the popularity, the cash? Such things may never be given to the believer in this life. But he who has been saved is promised a far greater inheritance:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3–14)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3–5
This inheritance is being kept by God until the proper time, and oh, what a glorious day that will be!
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6–9)
Further Reading
Jesus Christ Is Coming Soon
Salvation Is a Work of God
Affirming Sola Scriptura

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