Professors Not Possessors
"Remember . . . how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent."
-Revelation 3:3a, emphasis added
Jesus spared no words to convey His utter contempt for religious charlatans producing only the false fruits of self-righteousness. Perhaps the strongest warnings ever uttered in His earthly ministry came from the heart of the loving Savior whenever He came across phonies--the religious fakes, the "stuffed shirts," the con-men and women with false pretenses who only appeared to be His. Some of His most graphic illustrations were about these Christian look-alikes.
Jesus warned: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves" (Matthew 17:15). Such people live for their own desires--like animals. Instead of loving and serving others, they "use them," like objects, for their own gain. Jesus called them fruitless trees that were to be "cut down and thrown into the fire" (Matthew 7:19).
Jesus said that it does not matter whether you have made a profession, been circumcised, joined a church, or been baptized. None of those things really matter if you aren't a genuine fruit-bearer for Christ. Are you bearing fruit? The evidence of salvation is not reassurance from your parents that you prayed for salvation as a little child, or someone else saying, "I remember when you went forward at that crusade, and you wrote it in your Bible." You are a Christian and will go to heaven if the Spirit of God is bearing fruit in your life. When Jesus came and knelt beside the still and cold body of the church at Sardis and felt their pulse, He pronounced it dead.
Jesus pointed to the shocked church workers who never really knew Him personally: "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father" (Matthew 7:21). Fruit bearing is a result of a transformed heart, an internal prompting that longs to do the will of God. Though no child of God can perfectly or always do His will, there is an ever-growing desire that says: "No longer I, but Christ-not my will, but Yours be done."
The wages of sin is death.There is a barrier between man and God--man's refusal to acknowledge God's prior claim to his life. Mankind is self-centered instead of God-centered. The Bible identifies this as rebellion, and calls it sin. Furthermore, the Bible declares that "the wages of sin is death," but God offers a solution: "the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). Through the gift of His only Son, whose death on the cross paid the penalty for man's sin and rebellion, God went the limit. Now comes your part.
Are you willing to admit that God is right when He says you have rebelled? Do you recognize your need of a personal relationship with God? Because Jesus took the penalty for your sins, trust God that He will forgive you and give you eternal life. Accept the Bible's invitation: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31). The Bible also says that "if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9). Simply speak to God and tell Him you want to change the direction of your sinful life by receiving Jesus. That is the repentance God wants to work in your life. Then confess Jesus as your Lord, and you will find true living hope for the end of days as He produces the fruit of His salvation in your life-His love, His joy, and His peace.
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