With each passing week the blog gets tougher for me to write. Reason is, I know what I am preaching is super challenging and controversial in light of traditional thinking.
Having said that, my motive is for reaching the un-churched and those away from God. I really believe there is entire generation of people who are searching for answers yet shying away from God and the church. My heart goes out to these and I want to reach them.
Think about this: America, the most evangelized nation in the world with a church on just about every street corner, arguably seems to be waning in its love for God and His church. Many churches, even the mega ones, say many people are lack in their desire to serve God or attend church. Why is that? After all, as Americans, we say we've heard the gospel. We already know the bible - right? Shouldn't we have less problems?
Sermons are not necessarily the Gospel. I believe there are multitudes of people who assume they have already heard the gospel and haven't.
That's the attitude I developed at an early stage in life. I grew up in church and thought I had heard and exhausted all that God offered me. From that place, I deducted that there was no way I could live a Christian life and decided to step out of the church and away from God. Ignorantly, out of a desire to abstain from hypocrisy, I left the church and decided I was destined for eternal damnation.
Back then, I knew my failures and my problems well as I still do today - and they were many. I wanted to live right but it seemed no matter what I did I still made the same mistakes over and over again. The harder I tried the worse I got. My religion wasn't working. I gave up!
How did I get there?
One of the scriptures I would read back then was one that I dealt with in today's sermon. It was from Mathew 7:21-23:
21Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22Many 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?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.’…
If you were like me back then, when I read this verse everything in me would tremble with fear. I would cry and beg God for forgiveness til I felt relieved only to soon find myself in the same mess over and over. My view of God back then was that He was angry and on edge ready to cut me off forever.
Let me clarify something, back then I wasn't reading the bible so I could make myself feel better about my sin. I knew I was wrong and needed help as many of you. I was reading the bible to obtain a way out. I figured that by reading and long prayers I could somehow appease God and receive forgiveness one last time.
Like many of you today, I actually wanted to live right just unable to do it. Without realizing it, my problem was when I would read verses like above without understanding it. Like some of you, I would read that verse, or others like it, and become convinced that it was written just for me. I was sure this was my verdict and the Lord would inevitably deny me. I knew I was a train-wreck and had no other conclusion available. At least I was honest about it! As shocking as it is to some I was around 14-15 years old during that time.
The opposite effect happened to me!
When I read the bible back then it actually pushed me further away from God and I became more convinced I would never make it. It actually caused me down-spiral even more into sin! Fast forward over the next few years of my life from there I picked up very destructive habits and became full of sin to put it lightly. I literally felt I was on my way to hell and knew it so may as well enjoy it. My thought was why fake being a christian when I know I'm not? May as well go on in my sin. At least then I'd have peace and end the internal war inside me.
I can't help but wonder how many people, like me, ever read verses like this one or heard something like it preached and wondered the same way I did? How many people out there are sincere, as I was at 14-15 years old, trying to serve the Lord and because of bogus understanding stepped away from God and the church? I would bet there are many.
The easiest way to began seeing into what Jesus was saying was "I never knew you". Last time I checked God has never suffered from schizophrenia. He doesn't forget things.
Compare this verse with the one of several like John 10:
27My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand. 29My Father who has given them to Me is greater than all. No one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand.…
When the Lord says"I never knew you" you can guarantee He knew what He was saying. He never knew them...period! That means they were never His, ever! These people were never even "once" known by the Lord and then thrown out by Him. Never means never!
If you have been born again, rest easy, this verse is not referring to you. You and I are eternally known intimately by Him.
Contrary to popular belief our salvation is not fragile or easily broken. Its ratified in the very blood of Jesus. In essence Jesus says what we have with Him is...unbreakable. The Lord wants His children to have "blessed assurance" they are eternally His and can never be snatched away or perish from His hand. Eternal is eternal.
I conclude with Romans 10:9,
that if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.