A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
Several recent articles and answers to questions have created a flurry of responses, not all of them friendly. By far the biggest reaction came from my opinion about the Florida Healing Outpouring. While most of the respondents agreed with me, a few didn’t and let me know in no uncertain terms. They said, in effect, that if I don’t watch it God will squash me like a bug for criticizing a work of His.
I also got a lot of input from my article entitled “What Did God Do On The Eighth Day?” There I said that people who continue to work to earn or keep their salvation after accepting it as a gift are demonstrating that they haven’t entered their Sabbath Rest. It means that they don’t really believe that Jesus saved them completely, and that they have to finish the job that He said with His last breath was already finished. This means they believe that the ultimate responsibility for our salvation rests with us and not with the blood of Jesus, so we’re really saved by some combination of His Grace plus our works.
This troubled a number of people who grew up in churches where they were taught that we can lose our salvation by failing to live the right kind of life after being saved. While most of the ones who wrote in now believe in OSAS, they have friends who don’t and after reading my article wondered if I think their friends aren’t saved.
It turns out that support for my views on these two different issues can be found in one place in the Bible. It’s Matthew 7, so let’s go there and see what the Lord Himself had to say about it.
Ask, Seek, And Knock
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matt. 7:7-14)
This is a great and unconditional promise concerning the free gift of salvation and a satisfying life on Earth. If you ask to be saved, you’ll be saved. If you seek salvation you’ll find it. When you knock on the door of the Kingdom, it will be opened. This promise comes at the end of the Sermon on the Mount. In it, the Lord had explained the futility of trying to earn a place in the Kingdom, saying that it’s not just our outward behavior that would condemn us, but the motives that energize it. Anger equals murder, lust equals adultery, and so on. (Matt. 5:21-28) He also said not to worry about making it through life here. If we would first seek His Kingdom and His righteousness everything else would be given us as well. (Matt. 6:33) Now we’re told that all we have to do is ask to receive these things.
To underscore this, He called His promise a gift from our Father. When our children ask for good things we don’t give them bad things instead. And when we give gifts to our children, we don’t place a burden on them in the process. Neither does our Father do this to us.
Do you see His point? Salvation is a gift, free for the asking. Would He give us this gift and then impose a set of behavioral standards that if not met would result in revocation? Of course not.
The interpretation of the narrow gate in Matt. 7:13-14 as referring to a sacrificial life filled with have-to’s and don’ts is man’s idea, not God’s. It helps to understand that everyone on the road is seeking salvation. The broad road with its wide gate is filled with those who follow false religions or try to earn their own way to salvation. The narrow road with the small gate represents asking the Lord to save you and then relying on His completed work on your behalf. If it was living the life of a modern day Pharisee then salvation would come through works, not grace. It would be like asking the Lord to free you from your burdens, only to discover that He’s laid a heavier burden upon you instead.
Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28) He was talking about the labor of earning a place in His Kingdom and the burden imposed by the Law. The rest He offers is the life long Sabbath Rest that comes when by faith we accept His work on our behalf as sufficient to save us. (Hebr. 4:9) If you’re still working to earn or keep your salvation then you haven’t entered into His rest. You’re still trying to save yourself, and it can’t be done.
A Tree and Its Fruit
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matt. 7:15-20)
Throughout the history of the Church there have been false teachers and false prophets. Moses and Paul gave us the two standards by which to determine if a prophet or teacher is false. Concerning prophets the Lord had Moses say, “You may say to yourselves, ‘How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD ?’ If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously.” (Deut. 18:21-22)
As for teaching, it’s even easier. Paul commended the Bereans because they compared his teaching with Scriptures to see if he was telling the truth. (Acts 17:11)
Many popular teachers say things that simply aren’t in the Bible. I’m not talking about a case of differing interpretation. I’m talking about stuff the Bible not only doesn’t confirm but actually says the opposite. For example, many of those who teach of a great revival in the last days also adhere to the false doctrine of Dominion Theology which holds that through revival the Church will become very powerful and eventually convert the whole world.
But the Bible says no such thing. It teaches that before the end comes there will be a great falling away from the truth (2 Thes. 2:3) and that the one true Church will become weak and have little strength. (Rev. 3:8) It says that in the Latter Days some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons, (1 Tim. 4:1) and that people will no longer put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires they will gather teachers around them who say what their itching ears want to hear. (2 Tim. 4:3)
Regarding my article on the Florida revival, one person wrote saying that I should look beyond the teaching and focus on the miracles, but nowhere in Scripture are we told to judge by what we see. Instead we’re told that the day would come when counterfeit signs and miracles would look so real that even the elect would be deceived. (2 Thes. 2:9-10) I think that through so-called Christian TV the world is being prepared for that right now. But please remember this. It’s not preachers and evangelists who heal us. Supernatural healing happens every time the faith of the believer intersects the Promise of God. That can happen anywhere. Even in the midst of a circus that holds itself out to be a revival.
Some one else said that for every Scripture I could quote that showed some of these things to be wrong, he could quote 5 that prove they’re right. But the Bible is the Word of God and doesn’t say one thing in one place and something else in another. Either my interpretation is correct or else his is. We can’t both be right. I’m standing by mine.
Another said, “I know in my heart that these things are true.” But the Bible also says that the human heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. (Jeremiah 17:10) Some of the biggest cults in the world got that way by telling people to follow their hearts.
Still others have accused me of putting God in a box and of trying to limit His power. This is the least meritorious of all the arguments. First of all, people accused Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others of the same thing whenever they said things the people didn’t like. (I’m certainly not comparing myself to them, but I am in good company.)
But the truth is, Amos 3:7 says that God put Himself in a box. He promised that He would never do anything without first revealing it through His servants, the prophets. He wasn’t talking about the endless stream of people running around today with prophetic words for everyone. He was talking about those few that He had called to the office of Prophet. The last of these was the Lord Jesus. Since then everything has to conform to His teaching. If Jesus didn’t teach it, the the Gospel writers didn’t record it, and the Apostles didn’t practice it, then it’s not Biblical. Even the great Paul distinguished his opinion from the Lord’s word when he taught. (1 Cor. 7:12) You can’t excuse the shenanigans of these false teachers by saying that God is doing a new thing because God doesn’t do new things. If He did, we wouldn’t know who or what to believe.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matt. 7:21-23)
So here’s the bottom line. Regarding personal salvation, some people who think they’re saved will find out that they aren’t. Even those who’ve prophesied and performed miracles in the Lord’s name will discover that they failed to do the one thing the Lord requires of us and their work will be called evil, no matter how good it appears to us. Before it’s too late please make sure you’re safe. It’s an easy thing to do. You only have to ask yourself two questions. “What is the will of the father,” and “Am I doing it?” Turn to John 6 for the answer to both.
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28-29)
God requires one thing of you, and that’s to believe in the one He has sent. Nothing more is necessary, and nothing less will do. Now here’s His will for you.
For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:38-40)
It’s the clearest statement anywhere in the Bible. God’s will is that if you believe that the death of His Son has paid the price in full for all of your sins, you’ll have eternal life. His will is that Jesus will never lose you no matter what. There’s nothing else you have to do, there’s nothing else you can do.
Anything you do to contribute to the advancement of the Kingdom after you’re saved has to be purely out of the gratitude of your heart for having been given the free gift of salvation. The minute you begin believing that you’re earning it or protecting it by doing good works you’re in grave danger because you’re revealing your true belief, that Jesus didn’t do it all and now it’s up to you to keep yourself saved.
And as for revival, one day soon the whole world will follow the anti-Christ because they’ll believe he’s God. (Rev. 13:3) They’ll be fooled because he’ll be a terrific guy, he’ll quote scripture, and he’ll perform the most amazing miraculous feats you could ever imagine.
At his side there’ll be another one like him. John said this second guy will have two horns like a lamb but will speak like a dragon. (Rev. 13:11) Horns are symbolic of power and the lamb symbolizes the Lord. This false prophet will appear to have the power of Jesus but his words will come straight from the devil. Together, these two will lead the greatest revival the world has ever seen and the whole world will be converted. (Now you know where Dominion Theology comes from.) The world will be fooled because God will have brought a famine of hearing the word of the Lord by removing His Church. (Amos 8:11) Truth will have been replaced by experience and feelings.
John wrote that the spirit of anti-Christ is already in the world. He was talking about false teachers who go out from the church but by their going out prove they they never belonged. He said it was one of the signs that we’re in the last hour. (1 John 2:18-19)
The Wise and Foolish Builders
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matt. 7:24-27)
So this is your choice. Believe God’s word or go with your feelings. People who won’t accept the fact that Jesus did it all will go on trying in vain to save themselves. And like all the other ones before it, this revival will wind down and if there’s any follow up at all we’ll discover that once again, almost all the seed will have fallen on rocky soil and very little will have taken root. (Matt. 13:20-21) More and more people will leave the evangelical movement for places that aren’t so dogmatic and that feel more energetic and exciting, and the true church will become smaller and weaker. Once the name-only Christians are mostly gone the Rapture will come and the world will be left to fend for itself while we in the Church begin the adventure of the ages. We’ll realize at last that the Church was never intended to be compatible with this world. It’s meant for the next one. How do I know? The Bible tells me so. Selah 06-14-08