Posts Tagged ‘Eternal Life’

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Eternity © Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:21 – LIFE, BE IN IT! Eternal Life and How to Receive it

She gave her life to Christ that day. She relaxed back into the hospital pillow after we had prayed and June (not her real name) knew that she had received the gift of eternal life. The very next day when I came to visit her again, I discovered that she had died.

In Matthew 19 the rich young ruler discovers that he loves riches above eternal life. In spite of this, he left Jesus in sorrow. Such a choice can never bring joy.

WHAT IS ETERNAL LIFE?

Eternal life is the life of God. When we give our lives to Christ and follow Him, He gives His life to us, and our possessions become His because we become His. Yes, He allows us to use possessions in serving Him, but all we have belongs to Him and is to be held lightly because it is temporal. The life we receive is life in Him and His life is eternal.

HOW DO WE RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE?

If we are to receive eternal life then it will involve responding to the only love in this world that is perfect. This perfect love is found in Christ.

John 15:13 (NLT) says, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”Jesus would prove this by dying for our sins. He was the only one able to do so.

John 3:16-18 (NLT) says, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.

There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”

Romans 10:9 (NLT) says, If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

WHAT IS THE PREREQUISITE FOR RECEIVING THE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE?

Jesus tailors this message of eternal life to the rich young ruler by saying, “If you want to be perfect (complete), go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away very sad, for he had many possessions. (Matthew 19:21 NLT).

The rich young ruler is not willing to sell everything he owns to give to the poor as Jesus commands him to do. He told Jesus he loved his neighbor, but not enough to give up his riches. He realizes in this moment he is not willing to follow Jesus. He rejects Jesus authority over him and walks away in unbelief.

1 Timothy 6:9-10 (NLT) says, “But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil …”

WHAT TAKES FIRST PLACE IN MY LIFE?

Matthew 19:21 is not saying that Jesus asks everyone to sell everything they own to give to the poor. Jesus says to the rich young ruler and to us, in effect, “Give Me first place in your life by coming under My authority.” Doing what Jesus commands is a prerequisite for following Him. We declare that truth by being willing to surrender rulership of our lives to Him.

I yield my life to Jesus. He gives His life to me. This willingness to surrender myself to Him is called being “in Him”. In Galatians 2:20 (NLT) Paul expresses it like this, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

In an effort to promote exercise, a television advertising slogan said, “Life, be in it!” The Life of Christ is eternal. Receiving Christ is receiving His life. His invitation is “Eternal Life, be in it!” That day, years ago, unlike the rich young ruler, June received the gift of Eternal Life. This Christmas what better gift could we receive.

Pastor Ross

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2016-09-11 13.50.55-3.pngEternity © by Ross Cochrane

Matthew 19:16-17 –DOES KEEPING THE 10 COMMANDMENTS GUARANTEE ME A PLACE IN HEAVEN? – Part 3

She was not at all concerned that she was in a crowded open ward with some men who were speaking loudly. June wanted to know “How can I know for certain if I am going to heaven? Have I done enough?” I was able to get the men to quieten down and they were apologetic when I told them that I was her Chaplain. They listened to our conversation.

Her questions proved to be important since she died the next day. I am reminded that her questions have been asked before in Matthew 19.

Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”

“Why ask Me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments”

“Which ones?” the man asked. And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely.  Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 19:16-19 NLT).

Why did Jesus choose only these commandments? Why did He give them out of order?

WHAT CAN I LEARN ABOUT HAVING ETERNAL LIFE?

  1. DO MY GOOD DEEDS OUTWEIGH MY BAD DEEDS?

June was unsure whether she had done enough to have entrance to heaven. She wondered whether her good deeds outweighed her bad ones. I was able to dispel her misunderstanding.

June would have loved the conversation Jesus had with the rich young ruler. She responded to Jesus very differently to this young man.

A lot has been made about the specific commandments Jesus chose and the order in which Jesus quoted the commandments, but it seems to me that Jesus quotes a number of them deliberately.

This young man wants to find out the one good deed that above all others should be obeyed to guarantee that he has eternal life. If I do one really good thing, can it outweigh all other things I may have done which stand in the way of my having eternal life? Jesus doesn’t give him or us what we request. The rich young ruler is obviously off track

Instead of asking which is the one good deed he must keep to have eternal life, perhaps the rich young ruler should realize that breaking even one leaves us in need of God’s grace. James 2:10 (NLT) says “For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.”

Is any one good deed better than the others? Obviously not.

Jesus chooses only those commandments that are to do with the well-being and love of our neighbors (good deeds generally). Keep all these and you’ll get what you want, He says. You’ll have eternal life.

James 2:8 (NLT) says, “Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself”(see Leviticus 19:18).

“I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replies. “What else must I do?” (Matthew 19:20 NLT).

Has he really obeyed all these commandments? Now comes the crunch.

  1. WILL OBEDIENCE EARN YOU ETERNAL LIFE?

The rich young man knows he hasn’t murdered anyone, or committed adultery, or stolen from anyone, or testified falsely in a court of law against his neighbor, and according to the law, he has honored his mother and father. Still, he doesn’t fully interpret the true meaning of keeping these laws summed up by Jesus as, “Love your neighbor as yourself”(Matthew 19:19 NLT) and he intuitively understands that eternal life has eluded him.

His ideas on obedience in keeping the commandments seem very different to those of Jesus (read Matthew 5), but Jesus doesn’t point this out.

June, like this young man, certainly knew, as she lay in her hospital bed, that despite her good life, something was missing. And she was right.

WHAT ELSE IS NEEDED? (Find out in Part 4). The answer might surprise you.

Pastor Ross

 

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Eternity © by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net

Matthew 19:17 – TWO PREREQUISITES FOR HAVING ETERNAL LIFE THIS CHRISTMAS (Part 2)

With a worried look on her face as she sat upright in her hospital bed, June said, “How can I know for certain that I will go to heaven. Have I done enough?” How could I know that June would die the next day? June would have loved the answers that Jesus gave to the rich young ruler who came to Him with the same question about good works and eternal life but her response to Christ was so different.

“Why ask Me about what is good?” Jesus replies. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17 NLT).

Surely Jesus is good and therefore should be able to answer his question. Why does Jesus say “Why ask Me about what is good?” Why does Jesus say, “Keep the commandments” and not “Follow Me” or “Believe in Me” first?

Jesus could have quoted the words that would eventually be written in Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT)“God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

Jesus could have quoted words which Paul would write in Titus 3:5 (NLT)“He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”

Where is His evangelical zeal? He didn’t go through the 4 spiritual laws or Evangelism Explosion points to cover the gospel and elicit a response of faith. Why did he bring up keeping the law, of all things? Jesus, what are you doing? Where is Your theology?

Then again, perhaps the 4 spiritual laws and our traditional methods are not the only way to share the gospel. What was Jesus trying to get this young man to realize? For that matter…

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW IF I AM TO RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE?

As I shared with June I told her that not one of us is good enough to get to heaven by ourselves. Like Jesus, I said in effect that…

  1. NO-ONE IS GOOD BUT GOD. Romans 3:23 (NLT) says “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” This young man was quite satisfied that he was a good man. He was arrogant enough to think that a perfect God would accept a flawed human standard of goodness. This is a common misconception.

 

Instead of saying “You are a sinner”, Jesus makes it clear to him that no-one is good but God. It amounts to the same thing.

 

If God alone is good then God alone holds the answers to receiving eternal life. It can’t be earned by us, only received by us and in a way that will not compromise the perfect character of God.

 

  1. WE RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE. WE DON’T EARN IT. Jesus says to him, “…if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments”.

I told June that Eternal Life is a gift, not something we earn, work for or deserve. But what about the rich young ruler?

Jesus gives this young man an impossible task. If it were possible to keep the commandments perfectly as Jesus did, then he could receive the gift of heaven. But no-one can. He has already said “No-one is good but God.” Paul would eventually write, For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.(Romans 3:20 NLT).

Was Jesus helping this young man see that there was nothing he could do to receive eternal life by himself? Was He helping him to place his trust alone in a perfect God rather than his good works? Is this what He was saying to June as I spoke to her that day?

What happens next? (see part 3 for more of the story).

Pastor Ross

Matthew 19:16 – WHAT MUST I DO TO HAVE ETERNAL LIFE THIS CHRISTMAS? – Part 1

Eternity

Eternity, Image created by Ross Cochrane with Paint.net

“Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16 NLT).

She sat up in her hospital bed, clearly agitated, waiting for me. She looked so alert and clearly wanted to talk. I was not to know that she would die the next day and how important it was for her to have her questions answered.

Almost before I had greeted June (not her real name) she blurted out “How can I know for certain that I will go to heaven? Have I done enough?” June had been attending my Devotional Talks at the Aged Care Centre and I am reminded of her all these years later as I read this interview with Jesus.

WHO IS HE?

Who was this someone who comes to Jesus? Matthew tells us that he is a young man (Matthew 19: 20). Luke tells us he is a ruler (Luke 18:18) and Mark says he comes running and kneeling (Mark 10:17). All three gospels tell us that he is rich. He is obviously a leader but with a lot of respect for Jesus as a teacher. Rich, young and powerful. Is he a ruler of the synagogue?

WHAT DOES HE WANT?

The rich young ruler thinks that there is one particularly good thing above every other good deed that he can do to earn eternal life. The fact that he comes to Jesus shows he is concerned about this and respects Jesus enough to get an answer to his dilemma.

His question, unlike the Pharisees (Matthew 19:3), seems to be genuine. He is not trying to trap Jesus.

Perhaps in listening to Jesus, he has become concerned that he would not go to heaven? Like June, he asks what he must do, not realizing the real truth about how we receive eternal life depends on God, not on us. But more about this later.

WHY DOES HE COME TO JESUS? 

He is obviously a good man willing to do good works to earn eternal life, but perhaps he heard Jesus speak about the children. Jesus said, “For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children” (Matthew 19:14 NLT). How could those who were like children be closer to eternal life than this rich young ruler of the synagogue, with all his good works, and status in society?

Surely eternal life doesn’t just come to people at birth. He knows that not everyone automatically has eternal life. Children are not capable of doing good works.

Notice that what the rich man calls “eternal life” is the same thing that Jesus’ calls the “kingdom” (Matthew 19:23) and the disciples call being “saved” (Matthew 19:25).

The more he listens to Jesus, the more he is shaken in his understanding of eternal life, so he comes to Jesus to set things straight.

WHAT CAN I LEARN FROM HIM?

So what can I learn from this young man as he comes to Jesus and from June as she sat in the hospital bed that day some years ago? What can they teach me that will make a difference in my life?

1.Seek the Eternal not the temporal. They are on the right track. This young man and June believe that there is more to life than what they are experiencing. (Matthew 19:16)

2.Come to Christ with respect and openness. After you come to the Lord Jesus Christ, ask Him how you can have eternal life, but be open enough receive what He says.

3.Recognise Christ for who He is. Jesus is the only One who is able to give you the answer to any questions about eternal life. Jesus says, “… No one can come to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6 NLT). Even if you come with presumptions that are wrong, these will be sorted out by the answers you receive from Christ.

Acts 17:27 (NLT) says that “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him—though He is not far from any one of us.” 

June, like the rich young ruler, asked her questions and we talked about the answers only Jesus could provide.

Psalm 145:18 (NLT) says “The Lord is close to all who call on Him, yes, to all who call on Him in truth.”

Isaiah 55:6 (NLT)says, “Seek the Lord while you can find Him. Call on Him now while He is near.”

Isaiah 1:18 (NLT) says, “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”

The invitation of Matthew 19:16 and from the Bible as a whole is to come to Christ for the answers you need about eternal life during this Christmas season.

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? (See next post)

Pastor Ross

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Breaking and Smashing © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 2:12 –BREAKING AND SMASHING AT EASTER – Part 4

THE FOOLISH PLAN OF GOD

1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (NLT) says “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God … This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. … Christ made us right with God; He made us pure and holy, and He freed us from sin.” 

KISS THE SON

In the New Testament Psalm 2 is associated with Christ and so prophetically it invites us all to put our trust in the Son of God. The promise of salvation still stands. We love John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” but remember John 3:16 is found in the context of verse 17 and 18. John 3:17-18 (NLT) says, God sent His Son into the world NOT TO JUDGE THE WORLD, BUT TO SAVE THE WORLD through Him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.” 

David speaks to the rebellious kings, giving them time to come under his authority in Psalm 2:12 (NLT). He speaks of himself when he says “Submit to God’s royal Son, or he will become angry, and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities— for his anger flares up in an instant. But what joy for all who take refuge in him!”  

Judgment will come swiftly, but first, he offers joy and peace and refuge to those who submit to him. This is a picture of Christ in the future. God’s Royal Son.

Literally, Psalm 2:12 says “Kiss the Son.” The kiss in the ancient world was a symbol of affection and submission. In the Greek language of the New Testament the word for worship, proskuneo, means “to kiss towards. To come forward to kiss.” Worship wipes away the tears of judgment.

In John 5:22-27 (NLT), Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, those who listen to My message and believe in God who sent Me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. … The Father has life in Himself, and He has granted that same life-giving power to His Son. And He has given Him authority to judge everyone because He is the Son of Man.” 

In John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.”

Romans 8:1 (NLT) says “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” Derek Kidner says “Take refuge in Him. There is no refuge from Him: only in Him.”

The invitation of Psalm 2 is the same as Act 16:31 (NLT), “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, …” 

Pastor Ross

Matthew 17:22-23 – THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY… 

Chains of the Enemy. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net

Chains of the Enemy. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend” (Arabian Proverb).

Recently (2014) the media has exposed the sinful and cowardly beheadings and crucifixions of innocent people by an extremist Muslim group called Islamic State. These barbaric acts have disgusted the world and the Islamic State has been condemned as the enemy of true freedom. Even previous enemies have formed a coalition to stop their murderous advance.

The Bible associates people who commit such violent acts in the name of any religion as those who have given themselves over to demonic influences. Satan, the Great Enemy (1 Peter 5:8) is described as the Prince of Demons (Matthew 12:24), whose followers pursue his evil ideologies; accusation and blame against others (Revelation 12:10), murder of innocent people (John 8:44), pride in their blasphemous actions (Isaiah 14:12-20), and temptation of others to join them in sin (Genesis 3:1-7). They are fierce (Luke 8:29) and powerful (Ephesians 2:2) but cowardly (James 4:7). They are shrewd and intelligent (2 Corinthians 11:3) but blind, deceived (2 Corinthians 4:4) and ensnared by evil (Genesis 3:1-7). John 8:44 (NLT) calls them the children of their father the devil, who “love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies”.

Jesus tells His disciples that “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of HIS ENEMIES. He will be killed, but on the third day He will be raised from the dead.” And the disciples are filled with grief (Matthew 17:22-23 NLT). They will remember His words at His empty tomb, when angels will draw their attention back to this conversation. In Luke 24:6-8 (NLT) they say “…Remember what He told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of SINFUL MEN and be crucified, and that He would rise again on the third day.” Enemies and Sinful people murder the Messiah.

Was it Judas who betrayed Jesus? Was Jesus really referring to the Jewish nation, the Sanhedrin and the Romans as being His enemies? Afterall their deceit and barbaric acts resemble the Islamic State atrocities.

Romans 5:9-11 (NLT) confronts us with a stark truth! It was not only Judas, Jews and Romans who killed Jesus! The list of murderers is much wider than those who directly sent Him to the Cross. It says “Since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son WHILE WE WERE STILL HIS ENEMIES, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son. …” 

The men who Crucified Jesus were the Romans but it was OUR sin that held the hammer that nailed His hands to the Cross. Judas accepted 30 pieces of silver, but it was OUR sin that greeted Him with a betrayers kiss in the garden. The Romans beat Him and scourged him and abused him, but it was OUR sin that placed the crown of thorns on His head.

It was OUR SIN that brought Him to the Cross. WE were His enemies! WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE! Somehow retrospectively, our sin (that which identifies with Satan’s purposes) caused His death and when He died He died prospectively for that sin. Romans 5:8 (NLT) says “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS.” We were the ones for whom He died, while we were His enemies.

John 1:10-11 (NLT) says “He came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him. John 3:16-19 (NLT) says “…God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.” In John 10:10 (NLT) Jesus says “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy…”

We are all enemies of God, in darkness, associated with evil, betrayers and accusers. All that we despise about the worst of us is exposed by the death of Jesus. Yet Jesus is the only One able to restore purpose to our lives. John 10:10 goes on to say My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 1:12-13 says “But to ALL WHO BELIEVED HIM and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.” John 3:16 (NLT) echoes these words and says “For God loved the world so much that He gave His One and only Son, so that EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend” (Arabian Proverb). Death was my enemy because Sin was destroying my life. Jesus is the enemy of my enemy and defeated the power of sin and death.  He is the only One who has come to save me and you.

Jesus is the enemy of my enemy and if I choose His invitation to believe in Him, then I am able to see His love for me and respond to Him as friend and Saviour. His invitation is extended to anyone who places their trust in Him. Galatians 2:20 (NLT) says “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” 

Pastor Ross

Genesis 28:10-22 – STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN

STAIRWAY TO HEAVENNot for Sale!

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN
Not for Sale!

Referred to as one of the greatest rock songs of all time, “Stairway to Heaven”, released in 1971, quickly earned a place in songwriting history. It was composed by guitarist Jimmy Page from the English rock band Led Zeppelin. It begins as a slow acoustic folk song and builds up to include a high tempo hard rock section and ends with a the broken vocal “And she’s buying a Stairway to Heaven”. Is “Stairway to Heaven” speaking of buying and taking drugs, or reaching some other form of ecstasy? The meaning of the song has been speculated for years, but few realise that another writer wrote about a dream of a “Stairway to Heaven”, one that can’t be bought, earned or deserved, only experienced, and his story appears in an ancient book we call the Bible.

“USURPER,” or “GRABBER”! By Genesis 28 Jacob has so far lived up to the meaning of his name. He received this name by taking a firm grip on his twin brother Esau’s heel while they were being born. Later, he grabs his brother’s Birthright by swapping it for a pot of stew, but it is when he grabs Esau’s Blessing by deceptive impersonation years later that he finds himself “in the stew” (in trouble) the repercussions of which leave him no option but to leave home (Genesis 27). He desperately wants the blessings of God on his life but finds he can’t buy a stairway to heaven.

For forty miles (64 kms) he travels over the mountains, the first time away from home, retracing the steps of his grandfather Abraham. As a shepherd, he is accustomed to sleeping outdoors and chooses a suitable rock for a pillow, perhaps resting it under his neck like some African tribes do to dissuade irritating insects of the land from crawling into their ears at night.

In his dream, it seems as if the stones of the valley have become a stairway to heaven. There are angels “going up and down the stairway” which connect earth to heaven. “At the top of the stairway stood the Lord, and He said, ‘I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac.’” (Genesis 28:13 NLT).

Years later Jesus refers to Himself as this stairway to heaven (John 1:51). Rock solid. Mankind below and God at the top of the stairs. Going up and down on this stairway of promise which joins earth to heaven are the angels of God, ascending and descending, serving God and His purposes, bringing heaven to earth. Access to eternal life. Acts 16:31 says “Believe in (trust in, rely on) the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” This is not a stairway to heaven that can be bought, earned, worked for, or deserved. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT) reminds believers that “God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” 

Jacob is so awestruck by this dream that he says, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” But he is also afraid and says, “What an awesome place this is! …the very gateway to heaven!” (Genesis 28:16-17). Faced with a choice to run from God and his purposes, instead He chooses to commit his life to serving God.

In the words of the song “Stairway to Heaven” Led Zeppelen’s sings,

“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run

There’s still time to change the road you’re on.”

Jacob tried doing things his own way and his plans ended up in a wilderness. It is often in the wilderness that God reveals Himself to me through Christ. The questions I find myself asking are “How will I respond to Him?” I cannot buy my way to heaven, but I can trust in Him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and accept the eternal life he offers as a gift (Read John 14:6, Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:16-17, Romans 6:23).

Pastor Ross

Matthew 7:22-23 – HOW TO LIVE A GOOD LIFE AND STILL GO TO HELL!

Judgment. Picture created by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and Filter Forge and MorgueFile.org

“I think he’ll go to heaven. He lived a pretty good life. He deserves it.” I speak to a relative after the funeral service and suddenly I am aware that nothing I said was understood. My assistant Chaplain tries to redeem the opportunity, but the relatives eyes show confusion and the moment is lost among other guests.

“But officer, I am an excellent driver most of the time”. As the police officer writes me a ticket he looks at me as if I just don’t understand (I never drive over the speed limit … Hardly ever … OK, probably too often).

Living a good life was not the reason for Graham (not his real name) going to heaven. On judgment day he will not stand before the Lord and say “Lord, I lived a pretty good life.” How lame would it be to stand accused before any judge and say “Well judge, I’ve lived a pretty good life” and expect the real problem for you being there to be pardoned. Romans 6:23 (NLT) says “For the wages of sin is death,…” Time off for good behaviour doesn’t count when it’s a death sentence.

Matthew 7:22-23 (NLT) says it hasn’t changed. Same false assumptions! But Jesus says “On judgment day many will say to Me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in Your Name and cast out demons in Your Name and performed many miracles in Your Name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you who break God’s laws.’” Will He look at them as if they JUST DON’T GET IT? 

The Bible mentions various forms of JUDGMENTS. This judgment refers to the last judgment, sometimes referred to as the judgment of the GREAT WHITE THRONE. It pictures a COURTROOM where a VERDICT is pronounced on those who have made a choice not to include Christ in their lives.

Romans 8:1 (NLT) says that “… there is NO CONDEMNATION for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” It’s like the law of DOUBLE JEOPARDY. Christ paid the price for my sin so it’s been dealt with once and for all (Romans 6:10). Those who don’t know Christ, however, will be judged according to their WORKS. It will be THEIR WORKS versus THE WORK OF CHRIST on the Cross (Revelation 20:12). The judgment will verify what the Bible has said all along – that HUMAN WORKS, no matter how good, CANNOT satisfy the justice of God concerning our sin (Matthew 7:22-23, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 6:23).

Since God is totally fair then He can only be satisfied by the work of Christ on the Cross for our sins. When we trust in what Christ has done, then, and only then, can He offer us a place in heaven. Romans 6:23 (NLT) goes on to say “… but the free gift of God is eternal life THROUGH CHRIST JESUS our Lord.”

OUR GOOD WORKS DON’T ERASE OUR SIN, any more than eating lettuce will somehow counterbalance the calories you have just consumed in eating an extra large pizza. Those who insist on their OWN GOOD WORKS rather than accept the WORK OF CHRIST in paying the price for those sins will be CONDEMNED. Jesus says that even those who cast out demons and perform miracles in His Name will not be accepted for doing so if they don’t know Him personally and …

… OBEY HIM. OBEY WHAT? 2 Thessalonians 1:8 (NLT) speaks about God’s judgment “… on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to OBEY THE GOOD NEWS OF OUR LORD JESUS.” Obey the good news about Christ! The good news about Christ is found in John 3:16-18 (NLT). It says “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. “There is no judgment against anyone who BELIEVES in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has ALREADY BEEN JUDGED for not believing in God’s One and only Son.” He’s the only One who has come to save us! We can’t save ourselves. No-one but Christ can. What are you trusting in – yourself or Christ?

The invitation is always to know and trust in Jesus Christ. In John 10:27-29 (NLT) Jesus says “My sheep LISTEN to My voice; I KNOW THEM, and they FOLLOW ME. I give them eternal life, and they will NEVER PERISH. No one can snatch them away from Me, for My Father has given them to Me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.” 

Pastor Ross

Genesis 25:7-18 – HOW TO CLAIM YOUR INHERITANCE

Claiming Your Inheritance

“MISHMA, DUMAH, MASSA,” (Genesis 25:14). Three of the children of Ishmael, maybe triplets. Their names became a PROVERB. Adam Clarke in his commentary on Genesis says “Mishma” means HEARING. “Dumah” means SILENCE; and ‏”Massa” means PATIENCE. The idea is “Hear much, say little, and have a lot of patience.” Perhaps that’s what James was quoting when he wrote in James 1:19 (NLT) “… You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry”.

MISHMA, DUMAH AND MASSA were tested at the bank recently. It was a comedy of errors from start to finish. My Mum didn’t sign her will and after her death my elder sister and I wanted to personally finalise various papers at the bank. We wanted the bank to release the money from my Mothers account, our INHERITANCE. It would only take five minutes in my lunch break.

My sister met me at my office and we went to the BANK together. We finally found the bank in the heart of the shopping centre but realised we had left the papers in the car. So we walked all the way back to the car and then found our way down the three floors once again to the bank. It only took us about 15 minutes. Patience. Still plenty of time.

The woman at the bank was helpful but insisted that we needed to find a JUSTICE OF THE PEACE to authorise certain documents. Don’t say anything that you will regret. Listen to the woman. She is only doing her job. Patience.

The Justice of the Peace came in on Wednesdays. It was Tuesday. We walked back to the car and drove back to my office where I enlisted the help of a Justice of the Peace from my workplace.

With papers authorised, once again we travelled back to the bank. The initial fifteen minutes had become two hours by the time we finalised the papers. Now all we had to do was post these documents to our solicitor who would enable us to “CLAIM OUR INHERITANCE”.

It could have been worse. We might have realised that we had left the papers at the bank when we had arrived back at my office, but fortunately the quick thinking woman from the bank came running down the corridor and handed us the documents. We had left them on the counter. My sister looked at me and said “Don’t say anything!” and we laughed at how we had made a simple task take so long. Mishma, Dumah and Massa came in handy that day.

In Genesis 25, only Isaac is named on the will, signed by Abraham Himself, to take to the bank to collect his INHERITANCE. Only Isaac was chosen by God to be the son whose descendents would one day lead to Jesus Christ. Who needs a Justice of the Peace when you have the GOD OF JUSTICE AND PEACE to verify the COVENANT?

Neither Ishmael nor the six sons of Keturah share in the inheritance of Abraham, although all of them are his children. Before he dies, Abraham gives them generous gifts and sends them away. Perhaps Abraham is protecting what God has said about the destiny of his son Isaac.

Back in Genesis 16:12 (NLT) God told Abraham that Ishmael would “be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in OPEN HOSTILITY AGAINST ALL HIS RELATIVES.” The 12 tribes of Ishmael follow their father’s example. What a terrible way to live – in open hostility to everyone around them and to the purposes of God. I claim my inheritance by FAITH and not by FIGHTING against His purposes for my life.

Colossians 1:21-22 (NLT) says that because of sin we all fight God either openly or inwardly. It says “This includes you who were once FAR AWAY from God. You were His ENEMIES, SEPARATED from Him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now He has RECONCILED you to Himself through the death of Christ …” Christ bore the enmity, the open hostility and inward rebellion of us all, opening the way for me to have a relationship with Him.

What is that inheritance that God wants me to receive? 1 Peter 1:4-5 (NLT) that “we have a priceless inheritance—an INHERITANCE that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your FAITH (in Christ), God is protecting you by His power until you receive this SALVATION, …” Eternal life, forgiveness, peace with God.

MISHMA, DUMAH AND MASSA. Listen (MISHMA) and spend time to understand what God is saying (DUMAH) and remember that “the Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient (MASSA) for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9 NLT).

The invitation of reconciliation is a prayer away. “Lord, I choose to be reconciled to You and receive the inheritance of Salvation that You have given to me in Christ.”

Pastor Ross

Genesis 25:7-10 – HEREAFTER

Hereafter

Last night I watched a video called “HEREAFTER” with Matt Damon. It is a movie about people grappling with what happens to them after they die. Matt Damon plays the part of a reluctant Psychic who connects with people who have died by touching the hands of relatives. He relates what those who have died are saying. By the way, doing this is strictly prohibited in the Bible (Deuteronomy 18:10-14).

The thing that really strikes me about Genesis 25 is a clear reference to the HEREAFTER. Genesis 25:7 says “Abraham lived for 175 years, and he died at a ripe old age…” That’s an understatement! 175 is almost OVERRIPE but I think the idea here is that it was a fruitful life because it goes on to say that he “lived a long and satisfying life. He breathed his last and WAS GATHERED TO HIS ANCESTORS.” 

Think about that statement for a moment. Genesis 25:8 (NASB) – “GATHERED TO HIS ANCESTORS.” Henry Morris in his book “the Genesis Record”, points out that this is an interesting phrase since NONE of his ancestors were buried in the cave of Machpelah where he was buried, so it can’t refer to the actual BURIAL PLACE.

It has to be a reference to LIFE AFTER DEATH! Do “HIS PEOPLE” refer to those who died, from Adam down to him, believing in God? Are “his people” believers, the believing line through the line of Seth? I think so. God is creating a scarlet thread of redemption down through the pages of the Old Testament that will eventually end up with the birth of Christ. He is creating a spiritual line that extends down even further.

What makes this statement even more compelling as a reference to the HEREAFTER is that nineteen hundred years later, the place where believers are said to go to when they die is actually described as “ABRAHAM’S BOSOM” (Luke 16:22). We will be with Abraham, the father of those who believe (Romans 4:9-13).

Even the most Godly people die. 100% of us die. Romans 6:23 (NLT) says that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Every person since Adam and Eve has forfeited their lives because of sin except, of course, Jesus, who never sinned. He did not forfeit His life but gave Himself up freely for us (John 10:17-18), paying the penalty for our sin (Romans 5:8).

John 3:16 (NLT) says “For God loved the world so much that He gave His One and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” 

The invitation God offers us concerning the HEREAFTER is to accept the gift of eternal life through faith in Christ. John 3:36 (NLT) says that “anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life.” There is a HEREAFTER. Not everyone who thinks they are going to heaven will be there, however (John 3:36), but those who place their trust in Christ and come under His authority will experience the gift of eternal life with God.

Abraham lived a long life and then received eternal life because he believed in the promises of God. Romans 4:9-25 (NLT) says “… that Abraham was counted as righteous by God because of his faith. … So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. … For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” …

The spiritual line of Abraham didn’t stop at Christ. It was intended to continue down through to me and you. It leads us to Christ and back to Christ. God bless you as you make choices today concerning Christ which echo in eternity.

Pastor Ross