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Malachi:  Are You Part of the Remnant?

Malachi: Are You Part of the Remnant?

Message from Malachi

A Prophetic Warning to the Church

Are You Part of the Remnant?

“”Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them.”

Malachi 3:16a

In the last part of Malachi 3 God shows us a clear distinction between two groups of people: those who complain and speak harshly about the Lord (Mal. 3:13-15) and those who fear the Lord (Mal. 3:16).  And the difference between the two groups is profound.  So profound, that the Lord took a book of remembrance and recorded the words of those who feared Him, those who held Him and His name in reverence, respect and awe (Mal. 3:16).

This second group, this faithful minority about whom God has written in the book of remembrance, is the remnant of God.  Are you part of that remnant?

A remnant is defined as a “small, remaining quantity of something.”  And that something could be food, or materials, or people— almost anything.

Biblically speaking, Noah and his sons were a remnant saved from the great flood.  They were a “small, remaining quantity” of the population of the earth (Gen. 6).  Lot and his family were a remnant saved from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19).  God told Elijah He had reserved a remnant, “seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal” (1 Kings 19:18).  These are just a few examples of the remnant of God.

In Scripture, the faithful in Israel are also called a remnant.  Paul, quoting Isaiah 10, says: “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved” (Rom. 9:27).  This means a small portion of believing Jews will be taken, by the sovereign grace of God, from the great multitude that makes up Israel and be saved— literally, a “small, remaining quantity” of Jews will come to faith in their Messiah, in their Christ.  This again is the remnant of God.

But for us, the church, there is also a remnant that will be saved and redeemed.  That’s right, just a remnant.  Why?  Because Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).  Note, that’s not everyone who says— but everyone who does.


Who is the Remnant?

They are the ones who “count the costs” of following Jesus and give all to Him (Luke 14:28).  They are those who “deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him” (Matt. 16:245).  The remnant are those who consider everything in this world rubbish, except knowing and gaining Christ (Phil. 3:8).  They are the ones who are singly focused on Jesus, totally devoted to Him, and do not want to know anything but “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2).

Are you part of the remnant?

The remnant is the seed that sprouted some 30, 60, 100 fold and not the seed that fell on the path or in the shallow, weed-infested soil (Matt. 13:1-9).  The remnant endures to the end (Matt. 24:13; 1 John 2:19).  The remnant bears the spiritual fruit of God (John 15:1-8) and also bears the brand marks of Christ (Gal. 6:17).  The remnant proudly proclaim, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

Are you part of the remnant?  Or are you simply a member of a church?

There is, like the distinction God made in Malachi 3, a huge and profound difference between the two.  One is the wide road that leads to destruction and the other is the narrow gate that leads to life.  And Jesus said, “there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:13-14).


Choose Today Whom You Shall Serve

Which road are you on? Both have signs, bright flashing billboards that say, “This Way to Christ!”  But only one leads to true salvation.

Are you part of the mass, the unbelieving crowd, the deceived multitude of those who “have a form of godliness but no power”? (2 Tim. 3:5).  Or, are you part of the remnant of God?  Are you a child of His, “and if children, then heirs— heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17).

Which are you?  Because the answer to this simple question is the difference between eternal life or eternal death.  It’s not something to trifle with, to ignore, or to blow off.  You must “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Jos. 24:15).  And you must “examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves.  Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?— unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Cor. 13:5).

Why?  Because all eternity is at stake!

“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Jos. 24:15).

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Podcast 266:  Loving the Gift More than the Giver

Podcast 266: Loving the Gift More than the Giver

How can we know and experience the Love of God (1 John 4:8) when we are often surrounded by pain and despair, broken lives and broken marriages, sickness, disease, rejection and betrayal, and everything else that makes up living with fallen people in a fallen world?

How can we, like Job, confidently say: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15)?

How can we live like that?  How can we have the faith that trusts in Him regardless of the circumstances?  How is that even possible?

Want to know the answer to these questions?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Psalm 27:1-14.

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Podcast 265:  Agape or Storge, Life or Death

Podcast 265: Agape or Storge, Life or Death

The Pharisees plotted together against Jesus and put forth a lawyer to try to trap Him in His words.  The lawyer asked, “Which is the greatest commandment in the law?”  And Jesus’ answer was twofold:

“’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it:  ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:37-40)

The word for love is agape.  “You shall agape the Lord and you shall agape your neighbor.”

How do we love (agape) God?  And how do we love (agape) others like we’re suppose to love (agape) God?  How is that even possible?

To find out more, keep listening.

The following is a study on the Love (agape) of God.

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Fire by Night, Jesus by Day

Fire by Night, Jesus by Day

After redeeming the woman caught in the very act of adultery (John 8:4), Jesus proclaims to the crowd, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).  This was the second of His seven “I Am” statements in John.  To recap the scene, the woman’s accusers, the scribes and Pharisees (John 8:3), brought her to Jesus demanding He decide what was to be done with her (John 8:5).  “Does she live or does she die.  What do you say, Jesus?”  They were not concerned about her or her sin, but had used her to set a trap in order to test and discredit Jesus among the people (John 8:6).  But, as usual, Jesus was one step ahead of them and would not take their bait.

He simply wrote in the sand while they spewed their self-righteous, hypocritical venom towards the woman.  Finally, when He had heard enough, Jesus stood and said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:7).  Conviction set in.  Her accusers realized they were unfit, in the eyes of God, to judge her adultery since their sin was much greater.  And they “went out, one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last” (John 8:9).

Jesus then turned to the woman and spoke the words of redemption to her.  He said, “I do not condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11; Rom. 8:1).  It was at this point our Lord proclaimed His second “I Am” statement.

“I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).


I Am the Light of the World

This description should not surprise us since Jesus has been compared to light since the first chapter of John.  “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).  He spoke of the light six times in that context.  In John 3:19 we read: “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”  And again, light is used another 5 times in this context.  John MacArthur says: Jesus Christ alone brings the light of salvation to a sin-cursed world.  To the darkness of falsehood He is the light of truth; to the darkness of ignorance He is the light of wisdom; to the darkness of sin He is the light of holiness; to the darkness of sorrow He is the light of joy; and to the darkness of death He is the light of life.

But there’s even more.

During the Feast of Tabernacles there were two main ceremonies the Jews celebrated.  One ceremony took place each morning of the eight day feast when the priests of Israel joined with others to draw water from the pool of Siloam in golden pitchers.  Then, when they returned to the temple, the priests poured the water on the altar of sacrifice while singing and chanting Isaiah 12:3 and Psalm 114:7-8.  This water ceremony was in remembrance of God providing water from the rock during their wilderness wanderings.  And it was most likely during this ceremony, on the last day of the feast, that Jesus stood and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).

There was also a lamp lighting ceremony whereby, after the sun had gone down, four huge candelabras were lit in such a way the light would illuminate the sky like a searchlight.  This ceremony, accompanied by singing and dancing and holding torches, served as a reminder of the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night that guided the Israelites in the wilderness (Ex. 13:21-22).  And it was against this backdrop Jesus proclaimed Himself to be the “light of the world” (John 8:12).

But most amazing is the structure of John’s gospel that presents Jesus as manna (John 6), then water (John 7), and now light (John 8).  Jesus is the manna that fed God’s people in the wilderness, He was the water flowing from the rock to quench their thirst, and He was the light of fire by night to guide their way.  Jesus is our Provider, our Source of Strength, our Protector, our Guide, and our Light along the way.

This is the mighty God we serve.


Fire by Night

When we examine the cloud that protected the Israelites during their wanderings we can learn much about Jesus.  For example, the first time the cloud is mentioned in Exodus it is associated with and identified as the literal Presence of God (Ex. 13:21-22).  This means the Israelites, all during their generation of wanderings and troubles and doubts, always had the Presence of God with them.  All they needed to do was look up and they could visibly see God in their midst.  They were not alone (John 14:18).

And neither are we.  Why?  Because Jesus now dwells among us (John 1:14).

The cloud, the Presence of God, also protected the Israelites from their enemies and from the elements themselves.  We see the cloud standing between Pharaoh’s armies and God’s people— protecting them until they could safely cross the Red Sea (Ex. 14:19-20).  The cloud also provided shade for them as they camped in the desert for close to 40 years.  With temperatures during the day reaching 140 degrees and at night falling below freezing, without the cloud, the very Presence of God, they would have all perished.  Without Jesus, we likewise would perish.  After all, “He is the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

The cloud also communicated to the Israelites when they should go and when they should stay.  It was the primary means by which the Lord guided His people during their wanderings.  When the cloud moved, they moved.  If they stayed when the cloud moved, they would die from the scorching heat since their protective shade was removed. If they ran ahead of the cloud— same problem.  In the same way, Jesus said we live and breathe when we stay connected, abiding, in the vine (John 15:4).  “For without Me,” Jesus said, “you can do nothing (John 15:5).

When Jesus said He was the light of the world He was proclaiming to them, and to us, that He is the very Presence of God, their source of protection, and the One who guides in all truth.

Again, that is the mighty God we follow.


What Does it Mean to Follow?

But what does it mean to follow?

The last part of Jesus’ second “I Am” statement reads:  “He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12).  But what does that mean?  The Greek word for follow means “to accompany, to go with” and can apply, in a general sense, to the thrill-seeking crowds that followed Jesus just for the entertainment value (John 6:2).  But it also can refer to a true disciple (John 1:43, 10:4, 27).  In this context, Jesus is speaking about true discipleship and not casual followers.  He’s talking about coming to Him on His terms, and on His terms alone, and not like the ones who said:

Then a certain scribe came 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.”  Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”  But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead” (Matt. 8:19-22).

Or the conversation between Jesus and the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18-27.  As you recall, the rich young ruler walked away from following Jesus because the cost was too high.  Remember, we come to Jesus on His terms— and nothing else.

Jesus summarized what it meant to follow Him like this:  “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).

Are you following Jesus?  Is He the Light of your world?  Have you denied yourself, picked up each day the instrument of your own death, and faithfully followed Him?

You should.  You need to.  Why?  Because He is our Protector, our Provider, our Light, and Our Guide.  If He’s not your Lord, you will spend eternity in Hell, in torment, alone, separated from the love of God, paying the penalty for your own sins.

And, in case you didn’t know, eternity is long time.

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Can We Trust Jesus at His Word?

Can We Trust Jesus at His Word?

As I’ve studied John 7, I’ve become somewhat fixated at verse 46.  This verse has spoken truth to me and has forced me to face some blind spots, some shortcomings, some failures in my relationship with my Lord Jesus.  And these failures come in the form of childlike trust.  Or my lack of childlike trust in my Lord.

Let me set the scene for you.

As Jesus was preaching His Word to the unbelieving crowd gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:2), the Pharisees and chief priests were conspiring together to have Jesus arrested and removed from their midst.  They did not want the Romans involved, at least not yet, so they ordered the Temple officers, or Temple police, to “take Him” when the opportunity presented itself and bring Him back to them for trial (John 7:32).

It appears the officers shadowed Jesus for a least one full day, maybe more, before returning to the Pharisees empty handed.  In John 7:32, they are given the command to “take Him” and at least one other day passes by the time we get to John 7:37 when Jesus stands up on the last day, the great day of the feast, and offers His “thirst, come, and drink” invitation.  They listened to Jesus for at least one full day.  They also heard the promise of the Holy Spirit swelling to rivers of living water to those who believed (John 7:38-39).  And something in the words of Jesus changed them.

The crowd who heard Jesus’ message was divided (John 7:43) as to what to think about the man.  Some said He was the Prophet and others the Christ.  Still others couldn’t make up their mind and argued about Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah and how many, if any, Jesus fulfilled (John 7:40-42).

But the officers weren’t divided.  They listened and they knew and they returned to the Pharisees without Jesus, without excuses, empty handed.  When the Pharisees demanded, “Why have you not brought Him?” (John 7:45).  They simply replied, with bewildered expressions on their faces, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (John 7:46).  Yes, no man had the words of truth like Jesus and no man ever said the things Jesus said.

No one.  Ever.


They Believed Jesus at His Word.  Do We?

I wish I could trust the words of Jesus more than I do.  I wish I had the faith to believe everything He said, even the hard stuff.  For example, in Matthew 6:33 Jesus promised, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”  And what things was Jesus talking about?  For starters, the very things I worry and fret over: my life (Matt. 6:25), how will I provide for my family (Matt. 6:31), and what the uncertain future holds (Matt. 6:34).  But Jesus clearly said if I seek His Kingdom and His righteousness first, before anything else, then He will take care of my needs.  As a good and gracious Lord, He will provide food, shelter and clothing for me.  And not only that, but He said He knows me so well that the very hairs on my head are numbered (Matt. 10:30).  Not counted, numbered.  He know and loves us that much!

But that’s a hard thing to believe.  And I don’t know why.

Jesus says if I, being evil, know how to give good gifts to my children, how much more will my Heavenly Father give good gifts to me? (Matt. 7:11).  Why is this truth so hard to live by?  Why is it so hard to believe?

These officers were listening to Jesus speak while they were strategizing for the best time, the most opportune moment, to arrest Him and bring Him back bound to the Pharisees.  But His words changed their heart.  His words changed their view of life, their view of true, eternal authority, and their view of their purpose, meaning, and destiny.  They were no longer pacified with the temporal, passing, transitory trinkets of life— now they were enamored with the Kingdom of God, and the King Eternal.


What Did They Hear Jesus Say?

One, they head Jesus proclaim, over and over again, He was sent from God (John 7:28-29).  Not sent by God, but sent from God.  This implies a pre-existence with the One who sent Him.  You and I can be send by God.  But Jesus was sent from God.  And there is a great difference between the two.

Two, they heard Jesus say His life was not His own, but was planned, ordered and arranged by God (John 7:6).  Jesus said everything is in His Father’s hand and He was here to do His Father’s will.  In fact, the very words these guards heard Jesus speak came from the Father, and not from Jesus (John 7:16-17).  Jesus spoke and modeled true submission to authority.

Three, they heard Jesus say that He, and He alone, was the answer to man’s deepest needs.  He invited the guards to come to Him and drink and let Him satisfy their thirst for peace, joy, and purpose in this life (John 7:37-38).  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

Four, they heard Jesus say He comes to offer them the greatest blessing imaginable (John 7:38).  He promised the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, to live inside of each of them, to take up residence as our deposit, our guarantee of our future inheritance to come in Him (Eph. 1:14).

And the officers were so mesmerized by the words of Christ, so thankful for what they heard, they went back to the Pharisees empty handed, willing to suffer whatever consequences awaited them.  But they didn’t care.  Because they had been in the presence of the Living Lord Jesus and had learned to trust Him at His word.

I pray that you and I, the church, would learn to do the same.  To simply trust Him at His word.

After all, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (John 7:46).

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Salvation:  The Deception of Non-Saving Faith

Salvation: The Deception of Non-Saving Faith

All throughout Scripture we see examples of people who have faith, but it’s non-saving faith.  After all, everyone of us have some type of faith and we exercise faith every day.  We have faith a car will stop while we cross the street, we have faith our prescriptions will actually do what our doctor told us they would do, we have faith a chair will hold us up when we sit down in a crowded restaurant, and we have faith the sun will come up in the morning as we prepare to go to the job we have faith we still have.  We all have faith— but we have faith at different levels and in different things.  And not all faith is the same.

For example, we have a certain type of faith in our government or in our economic system or in the media.  But that faith is not as strong, nor of the same substance, as the faith we have in the sanctity of our marriage, or in the trustworthiness of our best friend, or in our ability to keep a promise to those we love.  Each of these kinds of faith are as different and varied as the objects of that faith.  And none of these reaches the level of faith or trust or dependence we would expect to have in Christ.  Hence, we would call these examples, non-saving faith.

But what happens when a seeking person, just like you or me, comes to Jesus for salvation with nothing more than non-saving faith?  Would that person be saved?  Or would they be deceived into thinking what faith they had, bordering on intellectual curiosity, was sufficient for salvation?


The Deception of Non-Saving Faith

The Scriptures repeatedly warn about the deception of non-saving faith.  In the Parable of the Sower, seventy-five percent of the seeds sown did not lead to salvation (Matt. 13:3-9).  Those who sowed in the shallow soil and in the thorny soil were deceived into thinking mere growth, without corresponding fruit, equates to salvation.  Or, to put it another way, faith, without corresponding fruit, leads to salvation.  And the Scriptures clearly state they don’t.

Additionally, the Scriptures talk about having a “form of godliness but denying its power.  And from such people turn away!” (2 Tim. 3:5).  We see people like Hymenaeus and Alexander, both lost, serving as prominent members of the church (1 Tim. 1:20).  There are those who come to the wedding feast dressed in clothes of their own righteousness.  The end result?  They were bound, hand and foot, and “cast into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 22:13).  We have the warning from the Lord about the wide road that leads to destruction and the narrow gate that leads to life (Matt. 7:13-14).  And, in the book of Hebrews, there are those who were “once enlightened and have tasted the heavenly gift” but never fully drank of the living waters of salvation (Heb. 6:4).

Remember, Jesus said He “did not come to bring peace on the earth, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34) and “a man’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Matt. 10:36).  How?  Because our commitment to Christ must be greater than our love and devotion for those we hold most dear, even our own family.  Jesus, when asked “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” said of His own family, “For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother” (Matt. 12:48-50).

The sad truth is many people come to Christ but never fully partake, or drink, of Him (John 7:37) and are deceived into believing they are truly saved.  Many people, most in fact, go part of the way towards Christ and end up short of true salvation.  They feel and recognize their need for Christ and acknowledge He is the only One that can satisfy their deepest longings, yet they fail to appropriate Him into their lives on His terms.  They thirst, they come— but they fail to drink.  They create their own gospel, their own way of salvation, and their own standards of righteousness, holiness and sanctification.  Yet they are deceived— because a man-made Gospel does not lead to Christ.


Thirst, Come and Drink

On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, approximately six months before Jesus was to celebrate His last Passover in Jerusalem and was later betrayed and crucified (John 13:1), He stood in the midst of the crowd and gave the following invitation: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).  Jesus gives His gospel presentation to a group of people who have very different views about who He is.  And whenever Jesus presents us with Himself— He always forces us to chose.  We are forced to either accept Him on His terms or to reject Him outright.  There’s no middle ground, no gray area, and it’s not open to personal interpretation.  It happened to the crowd at the Feast of Tabernacles and it happens today every time the Gospel of Christ is proclaimed.

The questions are always the same:  Who is Jesus?  What is truth? (John 18:38).  Is Jesus who He really says He is?  And, if He is, what does that mean for me?  Is it really possible to have my sins forgiven?  How can I be reconciled with God?  Tell me, what must I do to be saved? (Acts 2:37).

In this passage, three key words describe the path of true salvation.  The words are thirst, come, and drink.  And the promise, of course, to those who thirst, come, and drink: eternal life with God and the filling of the Holy Spirit, the living water Jesus talked about (John 7:39).

Thirst – those who thirst recognize a deep longing, an intense craving, an unsatisfied need in their life.  It’s those who come to grips with the reality that their life has no eternal purpose or meaning and they are “dead in their trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1).  They instinctively perceive there’s more to life than what they’re experiencing and, therefore, they try to fill the void they feel with all sorts of carnal sensations— sex, drugs, food, false religions and philosophies, immoral relationships, pride, selfishness, arrogance— until they finally admit only Jesus can bring light into their darkness.

Come – when the personal longings become unbearable and the promise of redemption seems so alluring, so captivating, and enticing, many come to Jesus for what He promises to offer.  These understand who Jesus claims to be, the exalted Son of God, the Messiah, the Christ, the Lord, and they understand what He has done for them, redeeming them from the penalty and power of sin by dying for them on the cross.  What they know and understand about Jesus is true.  The problem, however, is what they do with that truth.

In other words, there’s more to salvation than simply coming to Jesus.  You can’t just come and receive Him on your terms as some sort of trade or barter transaction.  You must enter through the narrow gate (Matt. 7:13), on His terms, and His terms are not open to negotiation.  His terms are all or nothing, total commitment, His life for yours.  He doesn’t come to make us better or to enhance certain aspects of our life… no, He comes to put us to death and raise us to life again in His image, as His child, to do His will and not our own (Rom. 6:3; 1 Peter 3:18). He is the Lord, the Sovereign One, God Almighty (Phil. 2:10-11), and we are now voluntary slaves, bondslaves, of His.  Remember the words from Romans 10:9: “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  Note, it’s Jesus as Lord and nothing else.  You cannot come to Jesus as Savior only.  He is Savior, because He is Lord.

Most people never make it this far.  They never move past simply coming to Jesus and they never progress to true salvation.  Most view Jesus as an enlightened master or great teacher or the supreme moral example for all mankind, but never as Lord.  They fail to take Him at His Word, or count the costs of salvation (Matt. 8:19-22), and to give their lives to Him in abject submission and humility.  They want what He can do for them to make their life better, but they do not want Him as their Lord.  So they say a prayer and try to incorporate some behavior, moral changes into their life and maybe even experience a deceptive sense of salvation, like a sensation of peace or contentment, but they have never yielded or surrendered their life to Him nor submitted to His Lordship.  And, as sad as it may seem, they’re still lost.  Why?  Because their nature has not been changed (2 Cor. 5:17), redemption and conversion have not taken place, and the Holy Spirit does not indwell them as their deposit, their guarantee of their future inheritance in Christ (Eph. 1:14).  And then Jesus will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matt. 7:23).

Drink – this is where true salvation takes place.  You have a thirst and you come to Christ to quench and satisfy your thirst, yet simply coming to where the Living Water flows does not, in itself, quench your thirst.  You must drink.  You must partake.  You must be engulfed, enveloped, saturated in Christ, the Living Water.  He must be everything to you if you are to receive anything from Him.  Salvation, being a joint-heir with Christ (Rom. 8:17), requires more than reciting some prayer as a nine year old at VBS.  It’s a radical, unconditional, total and complete, without reservation and with reckless abandonment, pledge, vow, promise, commitment, allegiance to Christ as Lord.  You are no longer your own to do what you wish with your life (1 Cor. 6:19).  You have been bought with a price, you now belong to Him, and you are to live to bring Him honor (1 Cor. 6:20).  You are now pilgrims and strangers on the earth (Heb. 11:13; 1 Pet. 2:11), because this world is not your home (Heb. 13:14).

This is this kind of all or nothing relationship that marked the disciples, the early church, and every true believer since Pentecost until today.  And, if you truly know Christ and are known by Him, it will mark your life also.


Those Who Believed Jesus… Kinda

The Scriptures tell us when Jesus finished His invitation to the unbelieving crowd to come and drink of Him and those who would come and drink would receive, in themselves, the flowing rivers of eternal life in the person of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39), the crowd was divided.  Some believed His words, but only partially.  Some didn’t believe at all, and wanted to destroy Him (John 7:44).

Nothing much has changed.  As it was back then, so it is today.


Truly this is the Prophet

John 7:40-41 states:  Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.”  Others said, “This is the Christ.”  Note, they said He was the Prophet, capitalized, and not a prophet.  This first group was asserting that Jesus was the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18:15 where Moses said, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear,”  For centuries this passage had be interpreted to prophetically speak of the coming Messiah, the Christ.  However, by the time of Jesus, the Jewish scholars, from their understanding of Malachi 3, believed the passage spoke more of the forerunner of the Messiah (Mal. 4:5-6). and not the Messiah Himself.  Now the Prophet was someone who would show men their need for a Redeemer, for Christ, and then faithfully point them to the only One who could satisfy their need.  But the Prophet was not the Messiah and could not, himself, satisfy their thirst, need or longing.  He could just point the way or be a path or channel, but He had no power or authority to grant salvation.

Unfortunately, many people still believe this about Jesus.

They believed Jesus came to point men towards the truth, but they would fervently deny He was the Truth (John 14:6).  They would declare Jesus came to point men to someone or something coming to satisfy all their needs, but He was not that Someone and He did not possess the something they were looking for.  The men who said, “Truly this is the Prophet” (John 7:40), recognized and affirmed the special status Jesus had as a one-of-a-kind religious leader who did things and taught things unlike any religious figure before (John 7:46).  He was in a class all by Himself.  They would even go so far as to say Jesus was sent by God and had a special relationship with God (John 3:2).  But they would not receive Him as God or serve Him as Lord.  They wanted Jesus and something else, anything else.  These were those who thirsted and came, but never drank.


This is the Christ

The second group said, “This is the Christ” (John 7:41).  This group recognized and believed Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior of Israel, the One prophesied from the Old Testament (Luke 2:11).  Yes, they knew these facts about Him to be true, but they defiantly refused, like the first group, to bend their knee to Him as Lord (Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10).  They refused to commit their lives and future to Him as the Sovereign One.  The Scriptures do not indicate this group followed Jesus as Lord.  They simply said, “Yes, I believe He is the Son of God and, yes, I believe He is the Messiah and the Christ.  So what?  What does that mean to me?  Now, pass me the butter and biscuits.  I’m hungry.”

This group confessed Jesus as something, but not as Lord (Rom. 10:9).  They had non-saving faith in Jesus as the Christ.


This is the Christ… uh, but…

Then there’s the group that fully confessed Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matt. 16:16), but would rather argue and bicker and debate over trivial matters of their own theology and reject Jesus because, in their mind, He didn’t meet every jot or tittle they thought He should (Matt. 5:18).  These are the ones who argue saying, “He can’t be the Christ because He came from Galilee and the Christ is supposed to come from Bethlehem.  Plus, the Scriptures teach the Messiah must come from the line of David, and I’m not sure where this guy comes from” (John 7:40-42).  So they compared what little they knew about Jesus with their own limited and incomplete knowledge of the prophetic Scriptures and concluded He could not possibly be the Messiah because He failed to meet all their sincerely held convictions of what the Messiah would be.  We have many in the church today who operate the same way.  They smugly elevate their own statement of beliefs or denominational creeds or preferences to the level of infallible Scripture and use them as a litmus test for fellowship or, sadly, salvation, and even truth.

But if this group would’ve investigated further, they would’ve discovered Jesus was from the line of David (Matt. 22:42) and did come from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) and fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecies regarding the Messiah (John 5:39).  But they were more concerned with being right in the eyes of each other and promoting their own theological brand or position than in knowing the truth.  In their apathy and laziness, they failed to look for the truth because they arrogantly assumed they’d already found it.  And in their pride and hypocrisy they missed their Messiah.

Again, just like the first two groups, they also missed out on eternal life.


Those Who Did Not Believe Jesus

The final group were those who hated the Lord Jesus and wanted to destroy Him.  These were the ones who wanted to take Him by force (John 7:44) but were prevented because, from God’s perspective, it was not yet His time and His hour had not come (John 7:30).  Needless to say, the people in this group did not understand Christ nor receive the gift of salvation He offered (John 7:37-39).


To What Group Do You Belong?

So where do you fit in?  What is your response to Christ?  Do you believe partially, somewhat, kinda, in Him?  Do you say, “Yes, He was a good man, and yes, He was sent from God, and yes, He’s a great moral teacher and example, and, yes, He’s a path or a way of some sorts to God.”  If so, that’s not enough.  Your confession of Him or your profession of faith is severely lacking.  Fatally lacking.  For Jesus, He is all or nothing.  There is no partial with Him.  There’s no half way, no honorable mention, no consolation prize, and no kudos for trying.  He’s all or nothing, totally in or totally out, through the narrow gate only, and on His terms without negotiation or compromise.

Remember His words,

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.  Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.  For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed” (John 6:53-55).

Or, in other words, Jesus gives eternal life to those who ingest Him into the core of their very being, as their strength, source of daily nourishment, their very sustenance.  Jesus did not come to make us better, or to enhance or improve our fallen lives.  No, He came to make us new, to put the old man to death and to raise the new man to life with Him.  And what kind of life does He promise?  It’s beyond anything we can ask or think (Eph. 3:20-21).  He offers a peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7).  And He promises we will be children of God, and if children, then heirs, and if heirs, then joint heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17).  Just think, all that Christ is and all He possesses becomes ours as a joint heir with Him— when, and here is the requirement, we give all that we are to Him.  This promise belongs to those who exercise real, genuine, saving faith in the completed work of Christ.

One final thought, the seeds that fell on the path, in a shallow soil, and in the soil infested with weeds and thorns, did not produce fruit (Matt. 13:3-9).  They did not lead to eternal life.  Why?  Because Jesus never said you’ll know My disciples by their profession, nor church membership, nor civic good works, nor non-profit activities, nor from the applause of men — you will know them by their fruits (Matt. 7:16-20).

Fruits.  And nothing else.

Do your fruits indicate you belong to Him?

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