What saith the word?
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Rom 15:4). There is an interesting story with reference to the Ark of the Covenant which teaches us several lessons about God as well as man. In 2 Sam. 6:1-19 and 1 Chronicles 15:1-15, we learn that for many years, the Ark of the Covenant was moved from place to place. But, when David became King, he decided to bring the ark to Jerusalem. So, David, along with some of the noblest men in Israel, came to the home of Abinadad in Gibeah to retrieve the ark. Now, in order to get the ark to Jerusalem, they placed it on a cart pulled by oxen. Yet, somewhere along the way, the oxen stumbled and one of the men, Uzzah the son of Abinadad, reached out his hand to steady the ark (which no man was allowed to touch) and was struck dead. Clearly, Uzzah though he was doing a good thing in trying to protect this falling ark which was being moved. Uzzah’s death angered David initially, but later he calmed down, thought about things, then came again and successfully brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem according to God’s mandated methods of moving the Ark.
Now, there are many lessons to be learned from this account. First, God demands complete obedience. Second, many think that God is not concerned with the details. Yet, 1 Sam. 15:22 tells us to obey is better than sacrifice. In Gen. 6:22 we read that “Noah found grace and did all he was commanded”. Matt. 7:21 teaches that the only ones to enter into the kingdom of heaven are those who do the will of the Father which is in heaven. Third, convenience or preference in a given situation does not trump the word of God. David could not put the ark on the cart. Instead, only the Levite priests were permitted to carry the heavy ark with the aid of poles resting on their shoulders for about 15 miles because that is how God commanded the moving of the Ark. Fourth, feelings do not determine truth. The men were rejoicing and having a great time moving the ark until God’s judgment. A conscience which is not offended in a matter does not mean the activity is authorized. In Acts 23:1 Paul said that he had lived in all good conscious before God even though he was persecuting the church. Fifth, notice the attitude of David. At first, he is angry at God because of the consequence of sin (Prov. 13:15), but later after thought reading about how the Ark was to be moved correctly, he becomes humble and acknowledges his sin (1 Chron. 15:13). From this lesson, we learn much about the character of God. While there is no ark to touch today, there are plenty of commands that we are either obeying or ignoring. How are you treating God’s word?
So many people today call themselves “Christians” simply because they say they believe in the person Jesus who lived on this earth. Not only do many of these people have no idea what being a Christian entails, they do not represent Christianity in a way that would draw others to Christ. Additionally, they often cause others to label Christians as Hypocrites because of their actions. Simply going to church does not make one a Christian anymore than going to the sports arena makes you an athlete.
Being a Christian is more than just going to church, but with that said attendance is necessary (Heb 10:25). As Christians we must be disciples or learners (2 Tim 2:15) and followers of the teachings of Christ (Col 3:17). Unfortunately, many people today who claim to be Christians do not go to church or they worship with groups that teach or worship contrary to the scriptures and are often not devoted to living according to Biblical standards.
Many people who are Christians and ought to be drawing others to the church and uplifting others in the congregation, are in actuality pushing non-Christians away while at the same time using words which tear down fellow believers. James describes the danger of the Christians tongue. James 3:6 “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell”. It is amazing how the tongue, which can do so much good in teaching and edifying, can also tear down and destroy another person or congregation of believers. Many Christians deny the faith through their actions or their lack of action, by their words or their lack of words, and through their behavior while attending worship or by not attending worship at all.
Paul records how one can determine if they are truly living as a Christian in 2 Cor. 13:5 “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” We should all ask ourselves “are we proving we are Christians?” “Do people know I am a Christian based on my behavior and not solely on the verbal claim of “being a Christian”? Unfortunately, those of us who truly are Christians have to work twice as hard to demonstrate what “true Christianity” is, because there are many “false Christians” or “erring Christians” in the world which are giving us a bad name. I am so thankful for all of you who are “walking the walk”!
Jesus said in Matthew 7:21 (KJV) “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” In other words, some who “believe” in Jesus, did things for the cause of Christ, and claimed to have acted according to his authority, will not go to heaven; and the only other alternative is hell. A statement like this is not popular amongst most people because it declares there is a standard which allows one into heaven. Many are convinced that all believers” go to heaven. However, the scriptures do not support this belief. In Matthew 7:22 (KJV) Jesus said “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” These believers were busy doing many things in the name of the Lord. However, their rejection by Jesus is not because they were lazy, but instead, because they did it their way and not according to His will.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:23 (KJV) “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” These people thought they were doing good things, but Jesus calls their works “iniquity”. These people acknowledged Jesus as “Lord” in word, did many things in His name, but did not act according to His law. They were lawless, or they acted outside the bounds of Christ’s law, which is the New Testament. When one goes beyond the doctrine of Christ, they transgress and separate themselves from the Lord (2 John 1:9). That is why the Lord says, “I never knew you.” They did not have fellowship with Him in life; therefore they will not have fellowship with Him in death. Jesus’ words destroy today’s common belief that one can please God and be a follower of Christ while believing and acting in any manner on Christ’s behalf.
Who matches this description today? Well, since he is talking to those who claim to be followers of Christ, this pertains to “religious people” who act in opposition to the inspired scriptures, whether personally, or in worship. Why? It’s because their religious beliefs or practices are not according to the law of Christ. Their man made creeds or personal preferences contradict the New Testament and many of their practices are without biblical authority. For some, this stance is hard to take. The word “hell” is not a good thought to many, and to say that some are definitely hell bound, troubles many. Yet, it is the truth as set forth by Jesus. With this said, we do not take delight in this fact, and should be moved all the more to teach the Gospel. There are many sincere people, who have been sincerely deceived into thinking they are going to heaven. It is up to all of us to teach that one must have obeyed the Gospel and lived faithful with ongoing repentance to be found faithful at the judgment.