How Many will get to Heaven?

Luke 13.23 reports someone asked Him, will only a few be saved?images

Unlike all other religions of the world, the Christian religion teaches that God became a man in order to speak to us, model to us and sacrifice for us so that we could live forever with Him if we humble ourselves and follow Him.

As God in Man living among us it was God’s big chance to clearly communicate to humanity what was most important to Him and which is eternally true.

In this chapter of the Bible God begins to teach that people must stop disobeying God or they will suffer eternal punishment. Someone finally asks Jesus will only a few be saved or live with God in paradise forever?

Now is God’s chance to confirm what so many believe that God is loving (He is), and that in the end God will let everyone into heaven because love never enforces consequences for bad behavior.

While God is love He is also holy which means He requires certain behaviors, He condemns other behaviors and will ultimately judge every person by His standard which He communicated to us in Jesus and throughout history as recorded in the Bible.

So what is God’s answer to how many people will be in heaven?

Only a few will make obedience to God a higher priority than being politically correct. Today the intelligent, the socially acceptable, the good people of our society deny marriage as being only between one man and one woman, condone and praise homosexual behavior and support the choice of a woman over the life of a child.

God will reward the faithful because He is loving but He will condemn the disobedient because He is holy.

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Being for God

Luke 11.23 observes anyone who is not for Me is against Me. images

What does it mean to be ‘for’ something?

Is it like putting on the colors of our local sports team then wearing them to the game to cheer the players onto victory? Many would agree, making Sunday the time Christians go to the game to cheer on the single player whose performance determines their own value of the time spent watching.

God is not so easily pacified for God calls His people to work and not to passively cheer a few.

The failure of so many Christians to be ‘for’ God Monday through Saturday explains why our society is increasingly more godless and hostile to the ways of God. The failure of God’s people to be for His cause has turned the hearts of most against the ways of God the truth of which is daily displayed on our televisions.

To be for God is to be part of His work in bringing His Kingdom to earth as it is in heaven. In heaven God is acknowledged, loved and served as absolute King of all in complete obedience to His will.

Those who are truly for God will demonstrate the wisdom of God and the goodness of God by obeying His commands before people living self-absorbed lives who find them unsatisfying and futile.

Living for God is to help as many people on a daily basis see, hear and experience the love of God through the risen Jesus Who now lives by His Spirit in the hearts and minds of those who are truly on His team.

God has not rescued people from death to be cheerleaders but has empowered His people to be players in the game of life and death, heaven and hell, in order to win every person into His eternal Kingdom.

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All Religion is not Equal

Luke 10.16 claims those who reject Me are rejecting God Who sent Me. images

There are many people who believe all religions are the same.

These same people have not reviewed the various religions to realize there are tremendous differences among them.

Christianity is the only religion to claim that God Himself became a human being in order to ensure our comprehension of Who He is and what He requires from us while simultaneously sacrificing His humanity as penalty for all the evil all of humanity has ever done against God.

Within Christianity are various denominations which are not the same as different religions. As there are many kinds of trees but all are trees and not birds so there are many kinds of Christianity but they are not different religions.

When God lived among us as Jesus He drew a line in the sand that He must be loved, obeyed and worshiped if people were going to be pardoned by God for their evil deeds done against Him.

No other religion is acceptable to God for pardoning humanity for all other religions deny God has come and lived among us and sacrificed Himself so that He could forgive all those who come to Him seeking eternal life.

If there is a God it makes sense that there is only one God.

If there is only one God it makes sense there is only one approved way of obtaining His favor.

God does not discriminate against people of any race, tongue or time for He created all people and loves all people deeply but He does discriminate against all religions that deny His appearing in Jesus and His work as Savior on the cross.

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Called out by God

Luke 6.13 recalls He called together His followers and chose twelve of them. images

After watching Jesus heal everyone who came to Him and hearing Him speak words about God that moved their hearts toward Him many sought Jesus just to be with Him.

Jesus was a rock star in His hometown and everyone wanted to be in His band. As everyone is called to Him Jesus selects twelve by name to be His inner circle.

Imagine the joy of being hand-picked by God to be on His team. Imagine the disappointment at being passed-over during the selection process. A similar anguish and ecstasy can be seen on ESPN during whatever draft day is being televised.

While everyone is welcome to follow Jesus as their Savior only a few were chosen by Him to be their leaders. This gathering and selection was a fore shadow of a future draft that will occur among all people from all time.

Billions will be gathered before God when He opens His book and begins to read the names of all those who will now compose His eternal kingdom.

We will all watch as people are selected and will see their joy at being singled-out for eternal life with God.

We will all feel that pit in our stomach anticipating our name being read as one of those whom God will allow to enter His Kingdom.

We will also see the horror on the faces of those who were not called by God when He closes His book and begins to separate the children of God from those who denied Him and disobeyed Him during their time on earth and so are now sent into the eternal fires of suffering and torment wishing with all their being they would have made a different choice when they had the chance.

A draft is coming; making the team requires submitting to the Lordship of Jesus now so life can be gained forever.

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Rescued from Suffering

Exodus 2.25 proclaims He knew that the time had come for their rescue.images

400 years is a long-time to live as slaves. Generation after generation had cried-out to the Lord for help to no avail.

Suffering without response from God is a fairly common theme among the heroes of the Bible.

Joseph spent three years in prison. Moses spent forty years in exile. David spent 14 years as a fugitive. Paul spent two years in prison on at least two separate occasions. God Himself, in Jesus, was jailed, beaten and crucified by men. God had a plan in all of these circumstances to be accomplished in His perfect time.

We are ready for our rescue the moment of our capture but God uses these things both to refine us and to shame the world.

Since our rebellion against God when we decided we wanted to be like God (in control, unaccountable, know everything, do anything) instead of submissive to God, we have suffered under the consequences of a world and its inhabitants gone awry.

God has a plan to rescue everyone who will come to Him in humble submission before Him seeking His rescue. The world was created by God for God which means life is not about us but about Him.

Until we fully surrender in our hearts to God we will continue to chaff at the troubles we experience and we all experience troubles because we and the world are broken.

God is good and God is love which makes submitting to Him not harsh or burdensome but instead it leads to life abundant. When our hearts and minds are filled with the knowledge that God is good and His ways are best then we can persevere in confidence, peace and even joy through our suffering.

We shall not always suffer, a new world waits where suffering doesn’t exist, but it is reserved for those who fully surrendered to God and His love now regardless of their circumstances.

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Less talk more walk

1 Corinthians 4.20 records the kingdom of God is not just talking it is living by God’s power. images

There is a saying, ‘what we need is a lot less talk and a lot more action:’ this might be no more true than in the Church.

It is certainly easier to profess to be a Christian than it is to live like Jesus.

Many people claim to be Christians because they believe in God yet the devil believes in God but is certainly no Christian.

Obedience to God is the mark of the Christian just as obedience to God was the mark of the Savior.

Putting feet to our faith is evident when we work toward helping others become fellow lovers of God.

The goal of Jesus’ training of His disciples was that they become fishers of men; no doubt this is His same goal for His current disciples epitomized in His command for His followers to go and make disciples. If we are not involved in helping people love Jesus we are not doing the work to which we have been assigned.

Second, we live by God’s power when we reflect God’s character to the world.

Living among people in a Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control is not possible apart from God’s Spirit living within us, working-out His nature through us. Daily we have opportunity to forgive, overlook, return kindness for evil, help, serve and just generally love others: doing those things make God’s presence within us obvious as the world lives increasingly more self-absorbed, angry and indifferent.

Jesus lived His life in such a way that people were attracted to God then He shared with people how He alone is the bridge to God.

This is the life of the true Christian, the person who isn’t just talking but walking-out their life in Christ.

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Persevering toward the Goal

Mark 10.49 declares you lucky fellow, He is calling you. images

A blind man heard that Jesus could heal people of whatever ailed them so when he heard Jesus was near he shouted for His attention.

The people around Bartimaeus, the blind man, tell him to keep quiet either because Jesus is talking and they want to hear Him or because they think Jesus too important to help a poor blind man. Undeterred by the crowd who could care less about him, Bartimaeus continues to yell for Jesus until he is heard. When Jesus does hear him He asks that Bartimaeus be brought to Him where upon his arrival Jesus heals him.

The crowd responds to Bartimaeus as being lucky that he was able to garner Jesus’ attention and thus receive his sight but luck had nothing to do with it. Bartimaeus was healed because he believed and he persevered despite opposition from the crowd.The fickle crowd started against Bartimaeus for trying to get Jesus’ attention then praise him for obtaining his goal.

We have a crisis in America today created by our media who continually malign the hard worker, the diligent and the persevering.

Finding people to work hard and persevere through difficulties in order to achieve their dreams used to be an American staple but is now maligned by a media that promotes government guarantee of prosperity without hard work.

Those who have worked hard are both loved for their success and maligned as greedy, selfish and corrupt. Bartimaeus took responsibility for making his goal without concern of the crowd’s opinion.

The Church needs to return to teaching people that each person is to earn his own way through hard work and not insist upon hand-outs from the government regardless of what the media encourages.

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How to See God

Mark 8.11-12 demands a miracle for us but God responds, ‘certainly not!’th

When God lived among us as the Man Jesus He did many things to convince men that God was with them. However when scoffers demanded a miracle God refused to comply.

People still demand God to prove Himself to them before they will believe and God most often refuses to respond.

While God still does miracles today He does not respond to the proud but to the humble man He shows Himself strong. God has already given us everything we need to prove His existence if we will but honestly search for Him.

Creation declares the glory of God both in its breadth and in its beauty. Creation is both complex and orderly portraying its Creator as both grand and wise.

God has also worked through men over hundreds of years to record His work, His will and His ways. The written record of God is the Bible and in it we find Him. All we need to know about God He has revealed to us through the Scriptures.

Finally, His personal appearance in Jesus is historical fact. God has come as a man so that people could understand God. Jesus’ ultimate miracle was His resurrection from the dead proving Himself to be the Author of life and demonstrating His power over death.

God still invites people to reconcile with Him that they might know Him personally and live with Him eternally but to do so we must humble ourselves before Him and not demand He perform for us.

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Being Fit for God

Mark 7.23 lists things that make us unfit for God. images

The list God gives, which is partial and not exhaustive, for the things that we think in our hearts and minds which cause us to become unfit for God are lust, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, pride seems to be part of our daily human nature.

This measurement by God of our soul instead of our external actions alone is what separates Christianity from the other religions and condemns each of us as unfit for God. We like to think of ourselves as good people, at least better than most yet having these attitudes in our hearts that God condemns makes us no better than the person who acts them out against their fellow man.

We chaff at this notion thinking that God should pardon us since we exerted self-control in not doing what we were thinking but God demands purity both from within and from without. This predicament we all find ourselves explains why we all need a Savior.

It is why Scripture declares all are evil and none are good and so all must confess their sins before God, repent from doing them any longer and focus now and forever upon the doing of His will.

Our normal state of ‘stinkin thinkin’ will continue as long as we live in these bodies but will diminish as we take-in daily the reading, studying, and doing of God’s words recorded in the Bible.

As we give ourselves over to new attitudes and actions we grow in godliness and usefulness to our God.

Jesus lived to teach us of God’s love for us and willingness to pardon us for our evil thoughts, words and deeds then died in our place as punishment for those every things.

To receive pardon for the past we must repent today then seek God for His power to please Him tomorrow.

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Why do bad things happen

Job 2.10 asks shall we receive only pleasant things from the hand of God and never anything unpleasant? images

Job was a very blessed man who loved and obeyed God. The devil told God Job only loved Him because God so richly blessed him but were Job to suffer, like everyone else, Job would curse God.

God allowed the devil to steal Job’s wealth, kill his children and destroy his health yet Job did not turn away from God.

Job did not expect a broken world to always result in blessing toward him or that God would always keep him from harm while many others suffer. Unfortunately many Christians do not have the same perspective as Job but rather think like Job’s friends who saw blessing and curse a result of behavior that was good or bad.

While God loves to bless everyone, obedience to God is its own blessing just as disobedience to God brings its own curse.

Our view of God’s sovereignty causes us to see God as minutely engaged in all of our circumstances and able to manipulate those circumstances toward our good if we could just somehow convince Him to do so.

God can do anything and He is aware of all or our circumstances but He also allows people, demons and nature choices the consequences of which are sometimes bad. Therefore bad things do happen to good people in this world because the world has rejected the Sovereign rule of God so we feel our own powerlessness to control our circumstances completely.

The Christian response to life is to love God and do His will regardless of cost or consequence because we know, is going to return and recreate the heavens and earth and when He does there will be no more death or sorrow or pain.

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