Three Things Jesus Promised Us
Jesus Promised Regeneration
There was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Him at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher, for no one could perform these signs You do unless God were with him.”
Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
“But how can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked Him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”
Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
Jesus has a one on one with a Jewish scholar, a Pharisee named Nicodemus, who reveres Jesus and is awed by His many works. Nicodemus must meet Jesus at night to avoid being seen with the Nazarene miracle worker, as he had become a nuisance to other religious clerics who profited from a corrupt institution, one that did not acknowledge God or produce any fruit or evidence of a transformed life.
Jesus turned their system upside down and anyone from their religious circle caught or seen interacting with him could face dire consequences.
Nicodemus points to the origin of Jesus, as His miracles were far too great and too often that no one could perform such things if he had not been sent to earth by the Almighty. The rabbi is introduced to the Rabbi of Ancient Days. He gives him tribute, honor, and respect, though, through the dark of night, he still lays before Jesus His heart and concerns.
Jesus does something odd, as He does with everyone He interacts with, He cuts through the subject matter, through the clutter, the trick questions, the face value information and reaches through to the heart of the individual who is before Him.
Jesus was very personable with everyone He interacted with, listening, soaking in, waiting, and only later responding, but not in kind, no, He spoke and answered deeper, wider, higher, and further than expected because He sought to answer the questioner, not just his questions.
Jesus informs this cleric that what supersedes these miracles, these divine intrusions into the modern physical realm is a rebirth, a renewal from on high that is the highest order of the miraculous working within man while he is still alive.
Jesus infers to Nicodemus that these signs and wonders, every scroll of knowledge, the vast libraries that hold them, the most eccentric mind in all its splendor lead to nothing if a man or a woman is not born again.
Nicodemus, a scholar in his own right, is confounded by such an impossible instruction by the Rabbi. “How can one be born again when he is old?” Or “Can one reenter his mother’s womb?”
How strange to meet with a miracle worker whom you claim operates on the basis and call of the Divine, yet, when confronted with another task, another resolution that would take the miraculous for it to pass, Nicodemus’s faith is reduced to imbecility.
Jesus informs Nicodemus, and this to the scholar’s astonishment that for one to attain the Kingdom of God, it is not through miracles, signs, wonders, clerical position, or scholarly tenure but only if the person is born again of the Spirit of God.
We entered our world as flesh and bones but to enter God’s Kingdom, which is of superior worth and lasting value, we must be born again, regenerated, renewed, and remodeled from within to reflect the person of Jesus Christ.
Jesus promises us rebirth so that we might live out the life He set apart for us. For without the Spirit of God to restructure our patterns, our thoughts, our mannerisms, to demolish our addictions, and rewire our heart, we will never be capable of inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven, nevertheless live by His Spirit on earth.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Jesus Promised Persecution
“Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves. Because people will hand you over to Sanhedrins and flog you in their synagogues, beware of them. You will even be brought before governors and kings because of Me, to bear witness to them and to the nations. But when they hand you over, don’t worry about how or what you should speak. For you will be given what to say at that hour, because you are not speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you.
‘Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will even rise up against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of My name. But the one who endures to the end will be delivered.’”
When Jesus sent his disciples out to minister the message of the kingdom of heaven, the message of taking up one’s own cross, the message of dying to self, the message of discarding the strange rules and regulations that were set up to keep people imprisoned within a particular caste of religiosity, he knew his disciples would face violent reprisal.
In fact, tradition informs us that eleven out of the twelve of his disciples were martyred for their faith.
His earthly brother, James, was killed by the sword. Peter was executed by the Roman government, led by the infamous Emperor Nero. Andrew was said to have been crucified in a foreign land. Thomas, doubting Thomas, made it as far east as India, where he was speared to death. Philip was murdered by a Roman proconsul for converting his wife to Christianity. Matthew the tax collector was martyred in Africa. Batholomew, who managed to travel alongside Thomas to India was also martyred. James, son of Alpheus, was stoned and clubbed to death for his faith. Simon, the Zealot, was killed because he refused to worship Persian gods. Matthias, the apostle who replaced the traitor Judas Iscariot, was burned to death in Syria. Apostle Paul, who came to know of Christ after His resurrection, was arrested in Jerusalem, shipped to Roman where he was imprisoned, tried, and decapitated for his faith.
Only John, the revelator, was able to escape martyrdom and that at the behest of Jesus. But John did not experience old age without trouble or trial. He wrote his apocalyptic letter from the island of Patmos where he was exiled for the rest of his days. And before this final episode of his life, sadistic executioners had attempted to boil him alive in a vat of boiling oil, but he endured this torture without a boil or welt, to his torturers’ astonishment, and survived the incident.
Jesus promised his immediate followers an almost immediate death, because of the message they would carry. It would have been justified, really, if Jesus were a terrorist, an insurrectionist bent on destabilizing both the local Jewish and the imperial Roman empires to then cast himself as the Supreme Regnat Ruler of all Judea and the world abroad.
But his apostles were murdered, burned, stabbed, stoned, clubbed, and crucified because they preached a gospel of redemption and forgiveness for sins. They taught Christ crucified, dead, and resurrected.
A religion that taught that a man from an insignificant nation such as Israel could rise from the dead was too dangerous to keep around.
Jesus promised his followers that they would experience persecution and troubles, well admonishing them that this beautiful faith in such an evil world would face reprisal. Jesus did not sugar coat his gospel nor what would happen to its adherents should they choose to lay down their lives and pick of their cross to follow him.
We find comfort in knowing that when persecution does come, and it will, in various forms and modes, we can rely on His Holy Spirit to strengthen us through the fires, the floods, the pain, and the inquisition. In fact, He will place words in our hearts and in our mouths to relay to those who seek to harm us.
2 Timothy 3:12
“In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
He did not want us to be brain dead Christians but to be as shrewd as serpents, knowing when to run, when to hide, when to move, and how to proliferate this message of hope without losing our lives. He advised us to be as harmless as doves but still capable of flight.
Persecution fans the flames of Christianity. When Christians were ousted from Jerusalem by religious clerics bent on their destruction, they fled to Samaria, India, Ethiopia, Rome, and beyond.
Christians need not fear persecution because it is what our Lord promised us.
Jesus Promised Resurrection
John 11:17-27, 43-44
Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
In the eleventh chapter of the gospel of John, we are confronted with a most dramatic scene and one of utmost tragedy and loss. Jesus receives word from two sisters, Martha and Mary, that Lazarus, a person very much loved and liked by Jesus, is ill and that he must come as soon as possible to restore his health.
No one knows why Jesus decided to stay where he was because if He wanted, He could have commanded whatever troubled Lazarus to be gone in an instant as He did with the centurion’s servant in a different passage. Jesus could have shouted from one city to the next, walked on water, flown, if He really wanted to, just to reach Lazarus before the poor fellow succumbed to his unknown illness.
We don’t know how old Lazarus was, whether he suffered from a heat stroke, a snake bite, an embolism, a heart attack, or the plague. His mystery illness must have been too common to reference or too uncommon to diagnose by these desert townspeople. We know Lazarus struggled only for a brief time before finally dying, because by the time Jesus made his way to Martha and Mary, their brother, had been in the tomb for four days.
Martha is so vexed by Jesus’s delay that she rushes to meet him while Mary is too heartbroken by these events that she is immobilized by grief and remains at home. We don’t know, for sure, if Martha set off at first to complain and possibly yell at Jesus, as many of us would, or if Mary was embittered by Jesus’s absence in the face of loss, like many of us are in this kind of situation.
But Jesus is confronted by Martha, about his miracle-working, his presence, his divinity, and like many Jews of that era, she believed in a final resurrection where the righteous of the earth would be brought back from the throes of death and transported back to earth to live forever. Martha was giving Jesus a lesson in both punctuality, miracle-working, and eschatology.
Jesus tells her and anyone who would believe in Him that though they die, they will rise again.
Martha goes on with her discourse on the study of end times, attempting, perhaps, and failing, to school Jesus on the reality of their situation and future events.
Jesus informs Martha and us, that He is the resurrection.
For a first-century Jewish citizen or anyone, ever, this concept of resurrection is impossible, if not the most impossible undertaking in human history. Who is able to reach through the curtain of shadows and pull back life? Who can reach through a lost conscience and reveal light? Who is able to turn rot and putridness back into flesh, tendons, muscles, blood vessels, bones, ligaments, rushing and pumping blood back to life?
Only He who made it all in the first place, of course.
Jesus commands nearby observers to remove the stone from the tomb, where again, He is met with murmurs from Martha of rot, stink, and death, but He presses on without hesitance.
Before this tomb, He shouts, and I can imagine, the gates of darkness ripping apart, the shadows rescinding at the sight of an omnipresent light, as the chains of stillness of time and the chains of rot fell, and Lazarus, in the beyond hears the voice of Reason, the voice of Truth calling him back to life.
We don’t know how long it took from Jesus’s shout till Lazarus appeared at the entrance of the tomb. We can speculate that it took thirty seconds, ten, maybe, if Lazarus were fully aware of what just happened.
But I can be sure that one could cut through the suspense in the atmosphere with a knife.
If this Jesus, who had claimed to walk on water, cast out filthy spirits, heal the sick, cleanse lepers, and command storms to calm down, if this Jesus, the Rabbi who replaced John the Baptist and claimed a new kingdom was on its way to earth through Him. If He failed here his ministry would be up for repudiation and critique.
But before bystanders and spectators are able to formulate a complaint, a letter of resignation from the ministry, from discipleship, from this wave of faith reform, Lazarus steps out of the tomb.
It was then, and only then, that many sought to kill Jesus. Because if this man could raise the dead, what then, could stop him?
Jesus promised Martha that her brother would rise again, and Lazarus did. Jesus promises that we, too, will rise from the grave, no matter how long we’ve been dead, how rotten our flesh may be, how dusty and mold-infested our grave may be, we will rise again.
Whether our body is fed to lions, bloats in a swamp in the mouth of alligators and other reptiles, or we are buried in warships or cruise liners in the depths of the Pacific, from there, Christ will call us to life and we, too, will rise again.
He proved this by raising Lazarus and others.
And He proved it by being raised from the dead, Himself, after three days in a hollow tomb.
And Three He Did Not
Jesus Did Not Promise Prosperity
Matthew 6:19-21, 24
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Christ spoke often of avarice and its hold on the human heart, how it ensnares a man, binds him to an anchor, and traps his throat so he cannot scream for help before it casts him off a ship.
Avarice is like a god in the human heart, where one prostrates to it, prays to it, serves it, sacrifices limb and sexual pleasure for it, all to attain, maintain or surpass a particular level of comfort or affluence for the sake of pride or out of fear of losing it all.
Greed creeps into our relationships like poison, ripping a father from his son, a mother from her daughter, husband from wife, friends from friends.
How many divorce proceedings have taken place because of financial woes, perhaps, an overspending spouse, a gambling wife, or a luxury golf club loving husband who spends more time and money on the green for appearances’ sake than on their budget at home.
Jesus spoke in bitter terms about the dangers of money-hungry people and those who make a god out of coin.
“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
Alluding again to the image of a man being bound to an anchor and sent off to the depths of the sea where he will succumb to drowning. Individuals who make earthly prosperity and possessions the purpose of their life become like this fellow who is tossed from the side of a ship. What’s more troubling is that instead of reaching for help, fighting the chains that envelope him, or making an attempt to swim to shore, he grabs on to the anchor, which is money, wealth, affluence, and holds fast to it and drowns.
Some of us would prefer to die with our treasures than be liberated from such a deadly weight.
Jesus does not promise us riches. In fact, He reminds his hearers that one cannot serve both God and money. It goes to show that money is not equal to God but we can idolize it and prostrate ourselves before it as if it were a god.
When we hear of televangelists who speak in code about seed offerings, the seed of promise, a step of faith giving, and other forms of intimidation and superstition tactics, know that these men and women are not of God nor do they speak for Him.
If their deity is their wallet then you will see their fruits. Run from them, and rightfully so, because their life, on the outside, is glamorous; their yachts, luxurious; their mansions, massive; and their communities, affluent, but their heart is as dark as hell and black as tar in a death infested pit of sorrows.
Their shame is bare on their faces and their supercilious demeanor is impossible to hide.
This way of life is not of God. And do not misunderstand me by thinking that Christ is against wealth and riches.
God owns all of the gold, diamonds, and pearls of the world. He owns the waterfalls, mountain tops, and mined and unmined valleys. He holds the very oxygens particles that rush in and out of our very lungs. He controls the universe but He does not serve it. Though He may bless us with temporary wealth and affluence, these are but instruments we use to serve our neighbors, family, and friends. The moment these blessings become something other than that, they are no longer blessings but curses.
1 Timothy 6:9-10, 17-19
“But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.”
“Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good reserve for the age to come, so that they may take hold of life that is real.”
“Come now, you rich people! Weep and wail over the miseries that are coming on you. Your wealth is ruined and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your silver and gold are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You stored up treasure in the last days! Look! The pay that you withheld from the workers who reaped your fields cries out, and the outcry of the harvesters has reached the ears of the Lord of Hosts. You have lived luxuriously on the land and have indulged yourselves. You have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter. You have condemned—you have murdered—the righteous man; he does not resist you.”
Jesus Did Not Promise An Earthly Kingdom
“My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. “If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. As it is, My kingdom does not have its origin here.”
Jesus stands before Pontius Pilate, a Roman prefect over Jerusalem who had the power, so he thought, to liberate Jesus or kill him. But Pilate had no idea that his entire life had summed up to this very moment, to be an instrument of God’s wrath poured out on Christ on earth. Pilate, as a child could have been fond of horses, stone masonry, he could have been fond of war tactics that would have enabled him to rise to such a position of prominence in such a tumultuous body of land like Judea. He mused about the woman he would marry, the posterity he might be blessed with, the honor of an audience with Caesar, and possibly, further military and governing promotions.
But God elevated Pilate from his origins and placed him here, before Jesus, to cast judgment not just on Christ but also on the Jews. Pilate time and again interrogates Christ and later returns to the Jews declaring that he found no fault with the man and that nothing he has done would merit death.
He passes Jesus off to Herod Antipas, a fox of a man, godless and morally corrupt ruler who after interrogating Jesus and finding him boring and unentertaining returns him to Pilate without condemning him of wrong.
Pilate asks Jesus if he is truly a king, perhaps a king of the Jews. A lesser king, a meer insurrectionist in the Roman-controlled territory of Judea.
Jesus could have stated His claim to the earth right here, He could have informed Pilate that the very blood coursing through his veins came from the essence of God. The air Pilate inhaled was a grace from the very hands of Christ. The molecules that held Pilates constitution together, that held the firmaments where they stood still, that kept the elements around them from immediately combusting into flames was under the resolute control of Jesus.
Jesus could have ripped his chains apart, commanded Pilate’s life into the afterlife the same way He willed Lazarus’ soul back to life.
He could have called the dust from the Sahara desert northeast in a catastrophic dust storm over Jerusalem to disrupt this kangaroo court led by religious extremists.
He could have summoned storm and sea onto land with a tsunami miles away from shore to drown out his accusers.
Christ could have commanded angels, legions of them, no matter their current responsibility, to take up arms, pestilence, disease, plague, and death and reign fire from the skies over Jerusalem and over Pilate’s magistrates.
He could have, He had the voice of one who could:
“He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Silence! Be still!” The wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Then He said to them, “Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?” And they were terrified and asked one another, “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
His presence had such weight that when guards with swords and clubs were sent to arrest him their knees gave way.
“Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. ‘Who are you looking for?’ he asked.
‘Jesus the Nazarene,’ they replied.
‘I am he,’ Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.) As Jesus said ‘I am he,’ they all drew back and fell to the ground!”
He could have reduced Pilate to dust with His words and instituted His kingdom on earth but Christ chose the arduous path, the Via Dolorosa, the way of grief, where He would be tortured and later crucified.
Christ did not promise us an earthly kingdom that would be initiated by our doing, our effort in government, our petitions in public office, or a kingdom launched by presidents or prime ministers we vote into power.
Egypt came to prominence but today only pyramids and a sphinx of Giza remain to show for its splendor. Assyria and Babylon dominated the world for nearly a millennium and we must fight to preserve the fragments that remain of these super empires. They’re becoming harder to find. Persia conquered the world and was deemed unstoppable until Alexander the Great, from Greece, overwhelmed its power. Rome was not built in a day and it lasted, in many ways, for more than a thousand years, only to crumble under religious and feudal disorder.
Christ’s kingdom preceded these and proceeds others more powerful than them. His Kingdom originated in Eternity past, present, and future and is made evident in the human heart. Christ’s Kingdom is not of this world, this galaxy, this realm of reality and universe. It predates the universe itself.
Because of this, His Kingdom will live in our hearts until His return where He will combine our reality with His. It will outlast, in fact, it already has outlasted every other.
Should Britain, Spain, Germany, Japan, Holland, Belgium, Portugal, France, and Italy attempt at an imperial reign on earth again, they might succeed for a time but their demise is imminent.
Should the United States of America attempt at world domination by military power, it may succeed, but only for a time, for it too, has a kingdom built on a flawed foundation crippled by sin and rot.
Only Christ’s Kingdom is Everlasting.
When we hear of dominions, mountains of power, regnant churches, political dominance and such thing, those who speak of them are not of God nor can they reference Christ who opted for a better Kingdom, a better sacrifice, for an Eternal Reign.
Jesus Did Not Promise Religiosity
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!”
Jesus outright shuns the self-ingratiating religious sentiment that buries itself in the hearts of clerics, scribes, priests, and proselytes who live off of performative services and traditions that serve no purpose in the Kingdom of God. People who strive to accomplish much for the self, unaware that their religion is more man-centered than it is Christ founded, find themselves ensnared by all types of sins.
Always controlling the body through ascetic systems but unable to control the passions of the heart.
He confronts moralistic therapeutic deism, demanding from his followers that they die to themselves, relinquishing all ties to religious acts for the sake of appeasement, that of the ego. Their god is aloof, asleep, perhaps, too distant and too uncaring to do anything for his creation.
Let us not forget that in those days the prominence of Jewish clerics, scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees was likened to that of public, civil, religious, and social judges. Jewish citizens answered not only to the Roman centurions, proconsuls, and magistrates but also to their own Jewish leaders who stemmed from religious bodies of government.
Jesus was speaking to his counterparts then and to future followers who made religion the end of their faith, as if the acts performed within a building or the wonders performed without were enough to merit someone a transformation of the self in His presence.
There is a reason why Jesus explained to Nicodemus, who was a religious cleric in those times and leader of the Jews, that one must be born again before that person can rightfully fulfill the requirements of a transformed life.
Outside of the miraculous work of God to transform our hearts, to transform a dead man into a living one, to rekindle the spirit within us that died as a result of sin, we cannot accomplish any good work that merits our entrance into His Kingdom.
Christ lays out three categories of religious performances that stand to lose their place in His Kingdom by behaving religiously without ever converting from a death-ridden system to a life-transforming God.
He condemns the hollow efforts of false prophets who claim to speak on Christ’s behalf but have never given their hearts to Him. Their shows are vivacious, their sermons loquacious, their pulpit antics demonstrate just how little they care about a relationship with God.
Their utterances are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.
Jesus condemns so-called exorcists who believe they’re driving out unclean spirits but are just partakers in a play written by fallen angels showcasing how foolish their shouting and screaming can be while accomplishing nothing at all.
These groups will procure events for the sake of cash where they claim to drive out every form of demon, devil, and spiritual refuse inasmuch as they leave the conference wealthier than when they entered.
Embarrassing moments are now caught on camera of fake possessions, fake manifestations, and fake deliverances that show just how Christless their religion truly is.
Whereas Christ is the main focus of Christianity, here, in these circles, the casting out of demons, confrontations with spiritual forces, shouts from the pulpit, and an abhorrent disregard for biblical truth and simplicity becomes their god.
These persons will reduce Christ to genie-status, claim that they have greater access to the divine through hidden knowledge, thus giving them social and religious points within these tenebrous churches to operate with impunity.
These groups erect tents, fill them with crowds, deafen the neighboring community with thunderous gospel songs, hire charismatic actors to preach the word of God for the sake of promoting their healing rallies for financial gain.
How many poor souls have sought the presence of Christ but were given the presence of false hope and false miracles?
How many poor and destitute souls have stories of being wheeled into these venues in hopes of finally coming to a healer, a prophet, a miracle worker who would deliver them from their ailment or their paralysis but leave the event more broken, more bruised, more hurt, and still in the same condition as before.
And if healing does not occur then the cripple, the leper, the diseased, the paralytic, cancer-ridden children are the ones to blame, not the healer, for their lack of faith.
And please do not misconstrue Christ as one who does not allow for prophets because He is the Final Prophet. Don’t allow yourself to believe that Jesus does not cast out demons for in His earthly ministry He relieved numerous people of these filthy spirits. Don’t think that Jesus does not condone miracles when He was a miracle worker here on earth.
Christ here is not concerned with divine revelation, deliverance, and the miraculous. Here, He confronts the people who idolize these things. People who worship prophets. People who worship exorcists. People who worship miracle workers.
They perform these works, not as a means to bring people into a saving faith but to further their own name and status in the evangelical community.
These people, once they reach the judgment seat of Christ they will not be granted a place with His followers but with those who practiced iniquity, lawlessness, and evil.
Their hearts sought not God but sought the things of God.
They were near to God with their mouths but their hearts were darkened with sin.
Their spirituality seemed powerful enough to overwhelm Satan and his forces but little did they know that they were but cogs in the devil’s machine to trick and mislead thousands into man-centered entertainment worship.
Their events do not point to God as healer, redeemer, forgiver, justifier, sanctifier, and glorifier, but to a holy man of God.
Religiosity promises much, accomplishes little, and leaves the adherent dead in his or her sins. It is to no one’s shock that simply calling out to Jesus or placing His name in front of a building does not equate to a transformed life or people.
Their end is their own doing. Their god is in their own heart. Their pleasure is self-ingratiating. Their traditions become doctrine. Their doctrines are feudalistic. Their good works are filthy rags in the presence of a Holy God. Their sacrifice, effort, travel, presence, and attendance is a sign that they are more captive to the works of the devil than they are willing to acknowledge
In attempting to live freely for God they live in chains to their earthly leadership.
This is not to discredit religion that helps and assists:
Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
But to discredit the matrix that thrives on enslaving people into systems that Christ died and resurrected to destroy.
When introducing someone to Christ we must be honest with them as to what God expects of them.
German theologian, pastor, and spy Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it best in his book The Cost of Discipleship, not too long before he was arrested by Nazi soldiers and executed for plotting to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
“The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death—we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
Lest a person is born again they cannot see that Kingdom of God nor can they live as people of God’s Kingdom here on earth. When one claims to follow Christ they must know the consequences of adhering to such a faith. If we offer people anything other than death in Christ they cannot also experience resurrection and life in Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:8
“We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”
Throw out the money-huckster gospel, the gospel of earthly kingdoms and temporal dominions, the chains of religiosity that have served for nothing, nothing at all.
The true gospel of Christ is not for bad men to be made good but for dead men to be made alive, again.
We must hold firmly to those things Christ promised us in His word and refrain, at all cost, from the things He did not.