Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Some Important Questions

1. Can we be believers in Jesus yet not bear any fruit?
"So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits." Matthew 7:17-20
Here Jesus tells us that we recognize people by the fruit they bear. Also, He doesn't say that some healthy trees bear good fruit - He says EVERY. And EVERY tree that doesn't bear good fruit is cut thrown and tossed to the flames.
"Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness' - and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone." James 2:20-24
If we place our faith in Jesus, we must show outward signs of our faith. This goes back to the passage from Matthew. If we have no outward signs (fruit), how can we be identified as followers? Some believe that James is contradicting Paul when he says that we are justified by faith apart from works (Romans 3:28). But even though faith does not depend on works, faith will have works if it mature and genuine.

2. Is there a difference in believing and following?
"While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, 'Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.' Immediately they left their nets and followed him." Matthew 4:18-20
When Jesus was calling these first disciples, He did not say for them to believe in him and go on about their lives. He said to follow. From that day forward, their lives were never the same. From the time we decide to follow Jesus, our lives should never be the same either. Matthew is another example (Matthew 9:9). The disciples didn't hesitate or hold on to part of their old life. They got up and they followed. It should be the same for us!
"To another he said, 'Follow me.' But he said, 'Lord, let me first go and bury my father.' And Jesus said to him, 'Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Luke 9:59-60
These verses (and the verses that follow in Luke) prove that following Jesus costs something - which is something I always try to stress. It isn't always easy but Jesus never said that it would be. Jesus clearly here does not accept any excuses we might give for not following Him. This man did believe in Jesus. He wasn't saying that he had to bury his father right then. He wants to live his life uninterrupted, wait on his father to die and receive inheritance, then he will follow Jesus. This is unacceptable to Jesus. Following Him should be our number one priority. It shouldn't come second to our lifestyle.

3. Can we follow Jesus yet not follow His commands?
"And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says, 'I know him' but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked." 1 John 2:3-6
This should be self-explanatory. Our salvation can be assured if we keep His commandments. We should have a relationship with Him, and it should be a relationship that changes our life radically. You can't be saved and not have a relationship with Him.
"For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries" Hebrews 10:26-27
If we live like the world lives then we can't claim salvation. Christians aren't sinless, but our lives can't be characterized by sin. Sinning deliberately is an indication of ingenuine belief. Once again, there should be evidence of fruit in our lives.
And last but not least...
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, not men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
As believers, we cannot act like unbelievers. It doesn't matter if we profess that we believe and it doesn't matter that we call ourselves a Christian or follower of Christ. Even if we believe in God and place our faith in Him, we cannot have sex outside of marriage, commit adultery, be greedy, get drunk, etc. and still expect to see heaven. Paul was clear here that people who fall into these categories will not see heaven.

He wants us to follow Him - completely and wholeheartedly. Will we answer His call? I pray we will.

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