A good start to this controversially titled blog is to confirm the fact that God’s perfect will is for none to perish. None. That means no one was put on earth with the specific destiny to perish. Our great and purposeful Creator doesn’t do things like that, and in fact any doctrine that would deny that basic truth has to be questioned not only for its accuracy, but for its intent. Arguments attempting to affirm some are predestined to salvation while (most) others are not, presents to the reader a theological point of view and rationale that is unsupported, and in fact, challenged by truths such as these:
2 Peter 3:9
9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
1 Timothy 2:4
4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Furthermore, to think that the One who would tell us to redeem time also told us to preach the gospel to every creature – common sense would have us wondering why we’d be instructed to bother wasting our time preaching to the majority already predestined to perish. Silly.
There’s additional supportive verses (as well as the full context of all scripture) but this is not where we’re going in this blog. Where we’re going pertains to the fact that much of the failure chronicled in scripture pertains to the failure of religion, and the tragic dumb-down potential for anyone who would allow themselves to get trapped in religion, comfortable as it might present itself to be. Relationship with God frees people up. Religion is a heavy weight around one’s neck. It is doomed for failure.
Jesus knew in advance that when He returned He would find church. He was asking a deeper question:
8 …….Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
To the point of religion failing to get people into relationship with God, and in fact no one being “pre-condemned”, but rather condemning themselves by their religious decisions (no matter how God attempted to break into their religious realms):
30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.
31 And the Lord said, “To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like?
32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, saying:
‘We played the flute for you,
And you did not dance;
We mourned to you,
And you did not weep.’
God’s will for the religious leaders of His own time was that they would hear Him, and repent, and be converted, and thus saved. Instead, they intentionally rejected God’s will, and chose the familiarity of religion. The result would be their failure, and their eventual eternal accountability for having misled many with their religious ways. They had willing fallen into the trap of religious dumbness.
In the gospel of John our Lord makes a condemning declaration to those who would continue to purposely not respond – and He explains to them (and to us) that the issue is willingness and a hunger to hear, not whether or not one might have won the salvation lottery.
John 7:14, 17, 28
14 Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught.
17 If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.
28 Then Jesus cried out, as He taught in the temple, saying, “You both know Me, and you know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know.
Here we see our Lord, fully representing the Father, declaring to the religious leaders that by His works they were able and accountable to KNOW HIM and KNOW WHERE HE’S FROM. Instead, they settled into a religious mindset and way of life to completely miss the plan of God. And in so doing they didn’t know God. Religion had trapped them. And they were dumb to what should have been their salvation.
It’s somewhat less challenging to board the way-back machine to 2,000 years ago and see the failure of the Pharisees. It’s somewhat more challenging to understand the same allure of predictable religion actively, demonically, campaigns for our allegiance as well, and the jeopardy remains the same. It can be wrapped in charismatic church almost as easily as it can be wrapped in formal, liturgical church. It is a heart issue, not a stained-glass or robes issue.
Hebrews 3 and 4 three times quotes the same OT scriptures: “TODAY IF……”
4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”;
5 and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.”
6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience,
7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said:
“Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day.
9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.
10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
Writing to discouraged Jewish converts, the author of Hebrews was addressing the critical matter of true Sabbath, explaining that the supernatural rest of God was not about a PLACE (otherwise the ministry of Joshua to get them into the Promised Land would have settled the matter), nor was it totally about doing or not doing certain deeds on Saturday (although I believe there’s invitation to Sabbath observance). The true rest of God is in surrendering our works and discovering then picking up His works for us.
There is a place in Him, with Him, that the natural man cannot discern, but the spiritual man can. It’s a place of surrender. It’s a place of hearing the voice of God and knowing both what to do, and what not to do. I write this as a challenged man, often too busy for my own good, or anyone else’s. I am fully convinced that pressing in to hear His voice, spending my life, my time, my energies on knowing Him, is the place of rest. It is not about religious activity – although fruitful spiritual activity will come forth from that true effort. Funny tension there, between diligent pressing in and finding true rest. But God set it up that way.
It’s 2017. We’re called, in perhaps the most troubling times like these, to live successfully in and for God. Our demonstration of Spirit-filled and Spirit-led living is the only hope for the lost and dying among us, as well as for ourselves. The eyes are the world are in many ways on the living epistles of our lives. We’re invited to turn down the loudspeakers of our own lives, to hear God. Our call is to represent Him, not religion. Religion as most people know it, including churchianity, is pre-destined (there you go!) to failure. God is jealous for us, and jealous for His word to be accomplished. That implies what is out of order in our own lives is destined to not succeed. You’ve likely read in 1 Corinthians (3:15) where it speaks of some of our works perhaps being burned up. Why bother with those?
The creation groans, waiting for a revelation of the sons of God, the ones led by the Spirit of God.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.
20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;
21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.
These are great times to be sensitive to the Spirit of God. TODAY – each and every day – IF IF IF you will hear His voice. Oh God, let that be us.
Scripture NIV and NKJV