A BORN-AGAIN BELIEVER

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WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BELIEVE?

In John 3:16, Jesus tells us that whoever believes in him has eternal life.

That’s quite a promise. I mean, the demons believe that Jesus is the Holy One of God – the Messiah – so does that mean the demons have eternal life?

Of course not. We know that the demons are on their way to the eternal lake of fire, despite their knowing beyond a doubt who Jesus is.

What, then, does it mean to believe in Jesus? It can’t simply mean to believe that he’s the son of God and the Messiah because, again, the demons believe that for sure (scripture tells us so), but they’re not saved.

So what does Jesus mean by believing in him?

Let’s think about this for a minute.

What else in life do you believe?

I believe that if I walk out in front of a bus that’s barreling towards me, I’m going to get run over by that bus and likely killed. I don’t want to be run over by a bus and killed, so I operate in my belief and I don’t walk out in front of any buses that are barreling towards me. I act on my belief.

I think Jesus meant the same thing when he said that those who believe in him have eternal life. Many people say they believe in Jesus, but they go about their everyday lives as if they don’t: They unapologetically break the Commandments, they never open a Bible to read what’s in it, and they essentially live the life of unbelievers, even while claiming that they “believe”. In other words, they purposely walk out in front of countless spiritual buses barrelling towards them and still think they’re spiritually safe. Surely the reward of Heaven can’t be won that cheaply? Surely Jesus meant that it took more than just to say (or sing) “I believe” to get into Heaven?

I am certain that Jesus did indeed mean that it took much more than that to get into Heaven. I am certain that, in God’s economy, to believe means not just to think something is so (like holding an opinion), but to live that belief. It’s not a superficial mental or emotional state that’s referenced in John 3:16; it’s a whole-body, whole-soul, whole-mind, core position that, once adopted, guides everything you do and say. Your belief is so deeply entrenched within you, so inseparable from who and what you are, that it molds your thoughts and actions, mostly without your even having to think about them in advance.

Belief is not the steam rising from a teacup full of tea, but the tea leaves themselves resting at the bottom of the teapot. There can be no tea without tea leaves, though there can be steam from any number of sources. Genuine belief is like tea leaves infusing and informing and flavoring the water in which they rest, whereas superficial belief is like steam that looks the same whether it rises from a teacup or a sewer grate.

I would wager that the belief steam rising from most Christians these days comes from a sewer grate. Belief that is stated but not lived is not what Jesus meant in John 3:16. How do we know that? Because Jesus, in other parts of the Gospel, clearly explains that it takes a certain amount of doing this-and-that and of not doing this-and-that to make it Home. Think of the parable of the sheep and goats. Think of the parable of the virgins and their lamps. Think of the rich young ruler. Think of Jesus outright stating that those who believed they were fast-tracked to Heaven based solely on their belief of being a certain tradition and heritage were destined to remain on the outside, gnashing their teeth for all eternity. Think of Jesus stating that you’ll be held to account for every word you utter. Think of Jesus stating that you have to be born-again.

John 3:16 is a great comfort to those who truly believe and whose lives – both outer and inner – reflect their belief. But for those who mistakenly assume that just saying “I believe!” is their ticket Home, a hard awakening awaits them, like it did the goats and the foolish virgins and the children of Israel who assumed Heaven was their reward simply for being children of Israel. Think of how many who were of age (20 years and up) at the start of the exodus actually made it to the Promised Land. In case you’ve forgotten, only two made it all the way.

That’s a sobering statistic if ever there was one, and that’s just for the temporal reward of the earthly Promised Land.

Why would the eternal reward of the heavenly Promised Land be any easier to obtain?

BIBLE READ-THROUGH: DAY 3 REFLECTION (EXODUS 5 – 31:18)

“40 Days and 40 Nights of God’s Word”

DAY 3: JULY 25

EXODUS 5 – EXODUS 31:18

This reading is the meat and bones of the Old Testament. It’s so rich, you could read it every day for the rest of your life and still find something new, something that impresses on you in a way it hadn’t before.

  • It’s good that God told Moses in advance that his efforts to persuade Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go would fail multiple times before finally succeeding. Otherwise, Moses might have given up after the fifth or sixth try. God talks to all his children, to guide and encourage them. This spiritual fact has mostly been lost on Christians today. They think prayer is a one-way channel to God, but the communication flows both ways, as we see throughout the entire Bible. God is a very present God and Father for those who love him and serve him and heed his advice.
  • Interesting that the Egyptian magicians (demon-summoners) could turn a rod into a serpent and back, and turn water into blood, but they couldn’t turn dust into lice, or call forth the frogs, or any of the other miracle plagues that God struck the Egyptians with. Even today, some people who claim to be Christians can perform miracles in Jesus’ name, but they’re actually summoning demons to do the task. Jesus warned us about those people. Just because someone performs a miracle in Jesus’ name doesn’t mean the miracle is from God.
  • Note that the plagues didn’t affect the Hebrews, just the Egyptians. The Hebrews were protected by God. Note also that later in the reading, when the Hebrews are in the wilderness, God tells them they won’t get sick (“I will take sickness away from the midst of thee”). These are the protections promised to those who obey God’s Commandments and other directives. We are not of the world; we are in the world, not of it. Remember that.
  • “SPOIL THE EGYPTIANS!” After 430 years of slavery, the Hebrews were only too happy to take whatever they could get from the Egyptians, and God made sure the Egyptians gave generously. But why on Earth did God direct the Hebrews to take gold jewelry and fabric on their wilderness journey? Would they not have been better off taking food and water? We find out later in the reading that the gold and fabrics are for the building of the Ark of the Covenant and everything that went with it (candlesticks, basins, etc.). God’s directions to you initially may seem odd and even nonsensical, but they always have a purpose, as you eventually find out.
  • The Egyptians thought they had the Hebrews trapped when they heard they were camped on the shores of the Red Sea. The Hebrews, when they saw Pharaoh’s army coming for them, thought the same. But God’s whole purpose in bringing the Hebrews to the shores of the Red Sea was to trap the Egyptians, not the Hebrews. The Hebrews he safely led through the sea on dry land by miraculously parting the waters, whereas the Egyptians who followed after them he drowned. God ALWAYS makes a way for his people. No matter how hopeless and impossible it may look, GOD ALWAYS MAKES A WORKAROUND. We need to remember this for what is coming. You don’t have to give into evil because you don’t see a way around it. God will get you through it HIS way (that is, in a way that you cannot conceive at the time), if you trust him and follow his advice.
  • THE TEN COMMANDMENTS! These are the core of scripture. None of them have changed, and they are all as equally valid today as they were thousands of years ago when God first gave them to Moses. Remember that, at the time, the Commandments were to apply to Hebrews only, so killing a non-Hebrew was not considered a sin. Jesus later expanded the jurisdiction of the Commandments to include everyone, whether believer or not, and God then wrote his Commandments on everyone’s heart, believer or not. So none of us now has any excuse not to follow them. No-one can claim they don’t know the Commandments, and no-one can claim they don’t apply to them. The Commandments now apply to everyone.
  • Do you keep all of them? Your answer had better be “YES!” without thinking twice, or you have some repenting and restorative work to do.
  • Fascinating directive about the altar – you’re not supposed to go up steps to get to it, and if it’s stone, it’s not supposed to be hewn. Strange, but nearly every altar I’ve seen in every alleged Christian church I’ve been to has steps leading up to it and is made of polished marble or some other manufactured stone, wood, iron, or artificial material. I don’t recall one altar in an alleged Christian church that was simply unhewn stone. Anyone know of any? How about graven images of people that are prayed to, decorated, or have lit candles around them – seen any of those in alleged Christian churches? “By their fruits shall ye know them.”
  • I LOVE THE SABBATH! Obviously, God does, too, since he made it a Commandment and stressed that we need to keep it to “refresh” ourselves (his term). The Sabbath was made for our refreshing, so that we can rest physically and mentally and have plenty of time to get another hit of God’s Word without feeling obligated to perform other duties. It is the one day a week to be Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus rather than Martha running around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off. There’s nothing better on Earth than spending the whole day with God and reviving yourself through scripture. If you don’t do that, you don’t have the refreshing you need to get through the next week. As Jesus said: “The Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath”. God wants us to refresh ourselves in mind, body and spirit one day out of every seven because he knows we need it. He made us that way.

What were your impressions of this blockbuster reading? Did anything jump out at you that you hadn’t noticed before? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts. Happy Sabbath, everyone!

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The BIBLE READ-THROUGH SCHEDULE on PDF is directly below:

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TWO

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Paul preached to believers knowing that most of them would not make it to Heaven. That’s why he was so hard-hitting; he wanted to press home how perfect and priceless the reward of Heaven was, and how difficult it was to get there. His job was to motivate and energize the few lovers of truth who heard his words; and if, in the process, he alienated most of those he encountered, that was justifiable collateral damage. He wasn’t running a daycare or feel-good religious retreat. His mission, like that of all believers before and since him, was to get the information out about salvation so that people could make up their own minds about whether to say “yay” or “nay” to God.

That’s all it’s ever been about, folks – making an informed choice for or against God, and sustaining that choice to the end.

If getting to Heaven meant a hard life on Earth filled with persecution, poverty, pain, homelessness, suffering, tests and trials, so be it. Paul was clear that whatever the cost, it was worth it. When I read about Paul’s journeys and “adventures” (i.e., shipwrecks, imprisonments, death sentences, etc.) and how against all odds he just kept going with a smile on his face and a song in his heart, I can only shake my head in awe. Now THERE was a man who put his money where his mouth was. I can’t even fast for 24 hours without grumbling along with my stomach and sneaking a Snickers (praying that God’s looking the other way).

Paul took his cue from Jesus and the prophets. They likewise kept going against all odds, and they likewise pressed their followers hard to set their sights above (not below), to think as God thinks (not as man thinks), and to endure to the end. They were not hosting a popularity contest, and good thing, too, considering how unpopular most of them were and how unwelcome their message. They expected most people to walk away, but they persevered in their mission solely for the few who would not.

Nothing has changed in that regard. Jesus said: Wherever two are gathered in my name, there am I among them. He didn’t say you needed a quorum of 12 or 70 – just two. I think, in part, he said this because he knew that getting even two true believers in the same room at the same time would be a monumental task in itself, seeing that true believers are so few and far between. A megachurch filled with true believers every Sunday? Not bloody likely.

Over a million Hebrews were ‘sprung’ from Egypt during the Exodus. That was a supernatural event, orchestrated by God. Of those million+ souls who left Egypt that miraculous day, only two eventually made it to the Promised Land.

Two out of a million+.

That fact should give you pause.

God’s very specific about it in the scriptures, though I’m not surprised that no sermons are preached on it in the satanic churches that pass for “Christianity” these days. Wouldn’t want the congregation to start asking questions about whether or not they were actually going to make it to the Promised Land. After all, if you listen to mainstream Christianity, you’ll think that everyone gets to go to Heaven, as long as they have some kind of vaguely defined ‘belief’ in Jesus.

God wants us to know how hard it is to get into Heaven. As much as he wants us to know how much he loves us, he also wants us to know how very very very profoundly difficult – almost impossible – it is to get into Heaven. It’s hard to get into heaven because heaven is so amazing and wonderful, and because sin has no place there. Heaven is the greatest of rewards and the only one worth striving for. All of the Earth’s combined wealth and beauty is not even fit to form the dirt on the ground in Heaven, that’s how amazing and wonderful Heaven is. Many have been told that Heaven is their birthright, but Heaven is not anyone’s birthright: it’s a reward for services rendered by doing God’s will.  If you’re not rendering those services by doing God’s will, then you won’t be rewarded. It’s that simple.

Just two of the original million+ Hebrews who left Egypt made it to the Promised Land. In case you missed it, that’s a metaphor, a guide, and a warning for us born-agains. The Hebrews were sprung from a geo-political prison; born-agains are sprung from demonic prisons, but both Hebrews and born-agains have God’s miraculous intervention to thank for their freedom. Born-agains are meant to see the Hebrews’ 2:1,000,000+ ratio and then understand that God means business when it comes to getting into the Promised Land. You can argue against this all you want and twist scripture to say otherwise, but the truth is: getting into Heaven is impossible without God’s help, and God only helps those who sincerely do his will.

If you’re reading this, it’s not too late to fully align your will with God’s and live your life accordingly. However, it will be too late some day. Now’s the time for you to do this. If doing God’s will isn’t the number one priority in your life, make it the number one priority now and keep it number one for the rest of your days. Live your life as Jesus lived his. It’s not brain surgery; just follow the commandments, treat ALL PEOPLE as you would want to be treated (no matter how nasty they are to you), and spread the Good Word. God will show you how and support you – mind, body and soul – every step of the way.

God’s entire purpose for creating the universe and putting us on Earth is to persuade us to come home to Heaven. That’s his plan. He doesn’t want to keep us out of Heaven, but he needs us to be sincere in our commitment to following Jesus and choosing his way. Lip servers and lukewarm fence-sitting Christians don’t get into heaven. People with unrepentant sin on their souls don’t get into heaven, and neither do those who actively, consciously and persistently choose what they know is not God’s will.

Be wary of those who’ve relabeled sin as “love”. This is the latest trick of the devil, and a temptation and test for true believers.

Jesus clearly showed us God’s way. Our job is to choose it, live it, and show it to others, just like Jesus did. Then maybe – MAYBE – we’ll get to go home.