Part One: THE WAY IT IS
————————————————–DOES IT REALLY MATTER?
Luke 6:46: why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do the things which I say?”
Let it be said again…. the heart and theme of this book is lordship.
If Jesus asked you, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord’?” hopefully you would be able to reply, “Lord Jesus, the reason I call You ‘Lord’ is because I obey Your word.”
And the Lord might reply, “How do you know you obey My word?”
“Because, Lord, I have checked it out.”
Lovers of God are lovers of truth. And lovers of truth are eager to “check it out”. There is no reason not to.
Matthew 7:24: whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:
What are the sayings of Christ? They are not only His spoken words as recorded in the four gospels, but also all inspired Scripture. (“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” 2Tm.3:16)
You were the “wise man who built his house on the rock” when you heard the word of salvation and responded by receiving Christ as Lord and Saviour. There are many gospels to choose from, many alternatives to God’s plan of salvation, but you were wise enough to choose the gospel of “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
Now you are a believer, God’s adopted. As a dutiful Father, He has supplied you with instructions on how to live as His child. Learning His ways, His perspectives and His commands is a process. Wisdom is obeying these words as the Spirit reveals them. Wisdom is examining the way you do things to make sure you are building on the rock and not on the way it is. It will take courage.
Jesus promises if you are obedient your house will never fall, no matter what storms life blows your way. “A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.” (Ps.91:7)
2 Timothy 3:12: all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
There is both a reward and a cost for loyalty to Christ. Lovers of the way it is will not be tender toward those choosing loyalty to the Word. There is a penalty. However, the cost, though sometimes severe, is always dwarfed by the reward. The sacrifice is temporary; the reward is eternal. (“Neither moth nor rust destroys and … thieves do not break in and steal.” Mt.6:20) It pays to follow Christ.
Matthew 16:15: “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter replied to Jesus, “You are the Christ”. Thomas declared Him to be “My Lord and my God!” Paul (Saul) had to ask,“Who are You, Lord?” He was to learn that “God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.” (Ph’p.2:9) John said of Him, “In Him was life”. Those in heaven declare Him to be the “worthy…. Lamb who was slain”. Isaiah called Him “Mighty God”.
“But who do you say I am?”
A good reply would be: “You, Lord, are the Potter; I am the clay. You are the Master; I am the servant. You are the Teacher; I am the student. You are the holy One, the mighty God, the lover of my soul, my Saviour, my King. You are my Lord, and it is You and You alone I obey and follow after.”
Acts 9:6: “Lord, what do You want me to do?”
Jesus toppled Saul’s life with His brilliant presence on the road to Damascus, Saul fell to the ground and “trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’” That is the question a christian should be continually carrying in his/her heart, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Only the fervent and obedient would ask such a question, for such a question may have a challenging answer. Jesus told Saul what to do, and likewise Jesus will instruct any disciple (though probably not so dramatically).
John 14:15: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.
We can know our hearts by identifying whom it is we are obeying. If it is Jesus we love, it is Jesus we obey. If it is another we love, it is another we obey.
But how does one know he is obeying Christ’s commandments? People of false religions and even cults think they are obeying God. How can one know it is really God’s Word one is giving allegiance to?
The answer is twofold: His Word (the Bible) and His Spirit. The Spirit and the Word agree. The Holy Spirit leads into all truth. He unfolds the truths of God’s Word. All that is required is commitment to truth…. the Truth, the Lord Jesus Christ.
If it is so simple why do so many err?
Truth sometimes costs. It can cost money, it can cost favour, and it can cost friendships. And approval and applause and opportunities. Truth can cause misunderstanding, isolation and persecution, certainly not always and perhaps not usually, but often. To embrace all truth, not picking and choosing, one must love Christ above all. Many choose to err (or choose not to choose truth) because the price of truth is more than they are willing to pay.
Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;
The deceptive heart lives in denial; the obvious cannot penetrate. Such a heart does not ask, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” It does not pray, “Show me Your ways, o Lord.” (Ps.25:4) It has little faith and probably more than one idol.
You cannot corner a deceitful heart with reality; it is the greased pig always managing to slip away. It sways under peer pressure, bending to the whims and will of That’s just the way it is!.
The deceitful heart can be comical. The plump woman consuming ice cream while explaining that her weight stays on in spite of her constant dieting. The alcoholic who drinks because he likes the taste of whiskey. The smoker puffing his last. The friend who would gladly pay for lunch if he hadn’t forgotten his wallet in the car again. The procrastinator who will gladly do that chore tomorrow. (That’s me.)
The deceitful heart can be damaging, resisting the very truth that can set one free, leading others into its divided loyalties. One should pray as did the psalmist, “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Let…. the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight…. Unite my heart to fear Your name…. Let my heart be blameless.”
Jeremiah 17:5: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD.
The way it is…. it really does matter. Trusting in traditions is trusting in man and with it comes a curse.
Jeremiah 17:7: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD.
The christian life is simple: Trust in God and life will get progressively better; trust in man and life will get progressively worse.
2 Corinthians 5:10: we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,
After life on earth there is an account to be given, rewards to be received or denied. Were you obedient? Did you walk close to Jesus? Did you heed the way it is or did you submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit? Because most christians do not take this matter seriously is no reason for you not to.
Expect, at the judgement seat of Christ, to see a stern judge, one more stringent than those depicted in movies. In reference to the judgement seat Paul wrote, “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men”. (2Cor.5:11) “The terror of the Lord” is in reference to Jesus. Persuade men to do what? To be prepared. To get serious. To shake off distractions. To live a life that would cause you to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant”.
It was in 1971 that the Holy Spirit invaded our catholic world; that which was tagged the “catholic charismatic movement” had reached our city. Jesus had come.
What seemed changeless was changing under this extraordinary visitation of God. Many catholics (unfortunately not most) were praising Jesus Christ after experiencing a personal and dynamic encounter with their Sin-bearer. Tears flowed, healings were common, signs followed, Spirit-inspired songs were sung, fellowship was sweet, Jesus was magnified.
On a summer evening in 1972 I was singing with dozens of charismatics in an old catholic church building, “Though none go with me, still I will follow, no turning back, no turning back.” The Holy Spirit deposited into me a prophetic word, making it clear that I would one day have occasion to prove that I meant the words I had just sang (“though none go with me, still I will follow”). I was rattled. God seemed to be telling me there would be a time when my loyalty to Jesus would be tested because everybody in my circle of acquaintances would stop following Him. How could it be?
Charismatic catholics were being tugged from two directions. Jesus and His Word were pulling from one side and the way it is of catholicism from the other. Both Jesus and catholicism demanded loyalty. For most it was very painful, and most chose foolishly….
I was at mass in our parish church and the people were singing a worship song to Mary. I looked around to see if the born-again charismatic leaders, my friends, were joining in or would they make a stand for Christ and His Word by being silent. All were singing to Mary! Repeat: All were singing to Mary! When I (finally) removed my family from catholicism the leadership of our charismatic community censured me for the purpose of demonstrating their loyalty to the catholic church. The way it is was still on the throne.
Soon the catholic charismatic movement died out in our city, and the way it is retrieved most of its prodigals.
Most of those born-again catholic friends undoubtedly still pray to Jesus and try to relate to Him through the sacraments and mass. But they are following (obeying, being loyal to) another. Jesus is no longer their captain. His Word is secondary to the words of traditionalists. They turned back, once more depositing their trust on the way it is and its keepers.
When I entered evangelicalism it was sometimes boring, but I felt safe. The churches were said to be “Bible believing,” which I understood to mean they lived by Scripture. They had been around long enough to have a mountain of understanding on the Bible (the Bible is not that thick). Were they not “fundamentalists” who believed in the fundamental truths of Scripture? The way it is, the chief god of catholicism, could never have found entrance into evangelicalism. Could it?
——————————————————A TRIBUTE TO JESUS CHRIST
“i determined not to know anything
… except jesus christ and him crucified” (1Cor.2:2)
to know him
be familiar with
the lord jesus
to sup with
the lord jesus
to lean on
the lord jesus
salvation in him
healing in him
security in him
good enough in him
the lord jesus