Today’s reading: Luke 13
Jesus is an incredible teacher. He has so much to reveal but it always seems that He waits for the perfect time to do it. Often in response to a question. His ‘answers’ to questions seem to get right to the root of what is really going on. I feel like the space between the question and the answer is often where I find a lesson.
In today’s reading Jesus was asked, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”
In my estimation, in the space between the question and the answer here Jesus redirects the questioner’s thinking away from comparison and towards personal faith. Almost as if to say, ‘look, it doesn’t matter how many will be saved. What matters is that you be one of them.’ Comparison is empty. Salvation has nothing to do with out doing anyone. Salvation is not on a curve with our peers. We can not gauge salvation by looking to the culture. Praise God, He has revealed to us the truth and the truth stands alone as the standard, unchanging, never moving, the rock of our salvation.
Some believe there is a reason that in this account of the first great missionary move of the church there is both the presence of a false convert and a true believer. Perhaps one of the lessons here is that this is a reality of ministry. (Matthew 13:24-30)
Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them. (Acts 8:5) After hearing and seeing the miracles, Simon, the Sorcerer, having in the same city proclaimed to be great and having been given heed as the same, believed and was baptized proclaiming Christ. (Acts 8:9-13) Simon the Sorcerer, after witnessing a new miracle, the laying on of hands by the apostles that the believers might receive the Holy Spirit, desired this power for himself and offered to pay the disciples to procure it. (Acts 8:18-19) The Apostles exposed him as false and rebuked him. (Acts 8:20-23)
Here we see the intention of Simon’s heart. Apparently he was not interested in God because solely because he loved God in the true sense of the word, that is; loving someone for what you can do for them, but instead, for a selfish, lustful desire, that is; “loving someone” for what they can do for you. He seemingly was not interested in God except that he might procure the power of God. Except that he might then use this power for himself and sow to the flesh more and more. (Galatians 6:7-8) In this case, Simon the Sorcerer seemed interested in the power of God to fuel his prideful quest of being great among the people. It was found out that is was really all about him and not God.
Perhaps some good questions to reflect on and return to:
- Do we love God for what we can do for Him (serve Him) or are we more interested in what He can do for us? Are we more interested in God or His stuff (blessing, etc.)? In your heart (your deepest and most subtle desires); Are you for God or is God for you? ‘For’ here being in the useful sense of the word.
- Do we love others for what we can do for them or what they can do for us?
Painting: Rembrandt, The Baptism of the Eunuch, 1626
In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. – 1John 3:10
The NIV starts verse 10 out this way, ‘This is how we know’. All throughout Scripture, obedience and love are the hallmarks of a true believer. 1 John 3:10 answers the question every believer should test themselves on: how do I know that I am saved?
God assures believers of their salvation through the Spirit. (1John 3:24) A believer’s renewed heart compels them to obey the will of the Father in obedience to His word and to love God and others in deed and truth. The presence of Christ in a believer is unmistakable to them over time.
And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. – 1John 3:24
Obedience and love. Like all of Scripture, 1 John chapter 3 continues to return to these two hallmarks of a believer. As you read through today’s Scripture: 1 John 3 and Psalm 41, be on the lookout for these. As you enjoy the fellowship of Christ today, feel the Spirit leading you to obedience and love.
If you have not committed your life to Christ, placed your trust in Him alone and repented from trusting in all other promises, imagine for a moment what your day would be like if you had. Your whole life made new. Ever going with a Companion who will reign in your heart and will never leave you. A companion who is Master over all, King of Kings, who leads you beside still waters in righteousness, who makes you to lie down in green pastures.
When first read, 1Corinthians 5:5 can have a puzzling effect on the reader. At least it did for me. Still when I read this and other similar instructions it causes me to slow down and think deeper on what I’m reading. A command to hand someone inside the church over to Satan, to abandon them, seems like it could be at odds with love which never fails (1Corinthians 13:8). It gives a feeling that we are being told to give up on a person. A closer look shows that is not the case at all.
- Abandoning the person to their owns ways will give them the best chance at learning the right way (1Corinthians 5:5). Perhaps condoning sin may have the opposite effect. God’s law is everywhere, convicting iniquity and reinforcing truth. It is there to help us understand that we are sinners in need of saving (Romans 7:7).
- The more I study this I have come to believe it is a matter of humility. The prideful lie is that this person’s salvation rests on our shoulders. That God is relying on us and us alone. That we must save them. More, that if we were to somehow offend them, that we would be responsible for their lack of salvation. That removing them from the congregation would somehow be our choosing to condemn him. If this were to be believed think of the consequences. How the sinful behavior could corrupt the whole (1Corinthians 5:6-7). Instead I think the truth is to love them in peace and entrust them to God, exercising the perfect balance between love and justice. The scripture tells us to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). The conclusion here I believe is that Paul was not giving up on this person but rather that he was committing them to God’s sovereignty and trusting in God’s plan for showing people their need for Him.
God thank You for Your justice that makes everything right: Selah. Thank You for Your love, perfect with no conditions. Thank You for Your Grace and Your mercy LORD and for coming to save us. May we love others with the love of Christ that You have given us. May we be fishers of men. Amen.
Originally published on BibleJournal.net form August 31st, 2016’s reading: 1 Samuel 24; 1 Corinthians 5; Ezekiel 3; Psalm 39