How can I respond to skeptics who deny that Jesus is God? Part 3

37 If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” John 10:37-38

We have learned from Jesus’ response to His skeptical audience that the way to respond to skeptics who deny Jesus is God is to confront them with questions (John 10:32-33) and communicate biblical truths with relevance to them (John 10:34-36). Today we will learn that the third way to respond to these skeptics is to CALL THEM TO BELIEVE IN CHRIST BECAUSE OF THE EVIDENCE OF HIS MIRACLES (John 10:37-39). Although the Jews refused to believe Jesus’ words, Christ says to believe in Him on the basis of His works because His works show the reality of who He is. They reveal His supernatural character. Only God could do what Jesus did.

Jesus said to His skeptical audience,37 If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” (John 10:37-38). Christ is encouraging them not to believe in Him if He does not do the works of His Father. Only God’s eternal Son could do the works of God the Father. And if Jesus does the works of the Father, this will show that “the Father is in” Him and that He is “in the Father.” Christ is saying, “If you are not ready to believe in Me because of My words, believe in Me because of what I do.” Why? “So you may know and believe My oneness with the Father as His Son.” The prophets of old could say the first part, “The Father is in Me,” but they could not say the second part, “And I in the Father.” Only Jesus’ likeness could be found in the Father as His works demonstrated. Christ’s miracles reflected the same character and power as God the Father.

No other person in history has manifested the same character and power as Jesus Christ. For example, let’s compare the prophet of Islam, Muhammad, with the Founder of Christianity, the Lord Jesus Christ. Both the Quran and the Bible testify that Jesus was sinless. In the nearly one hundred references to Jesus in the Quran, never once does it refer to Him as committing a sin. When announcing Jesus’ virgin birth, He is referred to as a “holy Son”(Surah 19:19). Indeed, He is called a “righteous” prophet (Surah 6:85). His sinlessness can be inferred from His virgin birth which the Quran affirms (Surah 3:45-47; 19:19-21) as does His title of “Christ” or “Messiah” [Surah 3:45; 4:157, 171; 5:72, 75; 9:30, 31; cf. Isaiah 53:5, 9; John 20:31). Further, the “Book” (law) or Bible to which Muhammad referred his antagonist (see Surah 4:171; 5:46), speaks of Jesus Christ as sinless (John 8:46; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 1:19;  3:18; 1 John 3:3).

In contrast to the sinlessness of Jesus, the Quran testifies that Muhammad repeatedly sinned. In Surah 47, Muhammad is told to ask God to forgive his faults. We read, “Know, therefore, that there is no god but God, and ask forgiveness for thy fault, and for the men and women who believe: for God knows how ye move about and how ye dwell in your homes” (Surah 47:19; cf. 40:55). Again, we read of God saying to Muhammad: “That God may forgive thee thy faults of the past and those to follow; fulfil His favour to thee; and guide thee on the Straight Way” (Surah 48:2). In fact, Muhammad is rebuked by God for his sin in Surah 33 which affirms, “It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by God and His Apostle to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys God and His Apostle, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.” But “thou didst hide in thy heart that which God was about to make manifest: thou didst fear the people, but it is more fitting that thou shouldst fear God… And God’s command must be fulfilled” (Surah 33:36-38).

Both the Quran (Surah 3:49; 61:6) and the Bible testify that Jesus did many supernatural miracles (Matthew 4:23-24; John 2:1-11; 4:46-54; 5:1-15; 6:1–21; 9:1-41; 11:1-45), the greatest of which was Jesus’ own resurrection which He predicted (Surah 19:33; cf. Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19; 28:1-20; Mark 8:31-38; Luke 23-24; John 2:18-22; 20:1-29). Even the Quran infers that Jesus rose from the dead when it says, “Behold! God said: ‘O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the Day of Resurrection’” (Surah 3:55; cf. 4:157-158). Muslims think this refers only to Jesus’ ascension to heaven because they believe that Jesus did not really die. But listen to what Jesus (Isa) said in Surah 19:33: “So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again).” So the Quran also testifies to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

While the Quran says the miraculous “signs” of Jesus included everything from creating life to raising the dead, the Quran also says Muhammad did no miracles (Surah 29:50). In fact, the Quran says Muhammad refused to do miracles (Surah 3:183-184; cf. 4:153; 6:8-9; 17:90-93), but he told people his sign was the Quran itself (Surah 17:102-108). Nor was Muhammad resurrected from the dead nor did he permanently ascend to heaven like Jesus. Instead he was buried in Medina, Saudi Arabia (al-Tabari 9:208) where he remains entombed. And faithful Muslims make their life-time pilgrimage there to pay homage to him.

Both the Quran and the Bible teach that Jesus is the Word of God (Surah 3:45; 4:171; cf. John 1:1, 14, 17; Revelation 19:13), whereas the Quran was considered the Word of Allah, and Muhammad was only a messenger (Surah 3:144).

When we compare Jesus Christ with Muhammad, by far Jesus is superior to the prophet of Islam in His character, His power, and His position. Why? Jesus tells us it is because “the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” (John 10:38b). Christ is equal to God the Father because He is also God!

The Jews understood Jesus was claiming to be equal with God the Father, so “they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.” (John 10:39). The Jews were furious! But Jesus “escaped out of their hand” because it was not the Father’s time for the Son to be glorified. The Bible does not tell us how Jesus did this. Perhaps Jesus moved without walking. It was some kind of supernatural phenomenon.

You would think that by this point the Jews would realize that seizing Jesus is not going to happen on their time (cf. John 7:30-32, 44-46; 8:20). No one could take His life from Him (cf. John 10:18). But soon He would voluntarily lay it down. Jesus was in control of His own death. He would not be overpowered and crucified by the Jews and Romans. He would submit to His Father’s will and voluntarily lay down His life in our place.

Christ’s invitation to believe in Him based upon His works shows that saving faith is reasonable. It is not done in the absence of persuasive evidence as some teach today. Belief in Christ is based upon powerful witnesses, including His miraculous works, the greatest of which is His resurrection (Romans 1:4; I Corinthians 15:3-6)! Christ’s resurrection is based upon historical evidence, not the superstitions or fantasies of people.

Historical records testify that Jesus truly rose from the dead as He predicted (see Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19; 28:1-20; Acts 2:22-36; 3:14-15; 4:8-10; 5:29-31; 10:34-40; 13:23-35; 17:2-3; I Corinthians 15:3-6). Even the Jewish historian, Josephus, confirms the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ when he writes, “About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he … wrought surprising feats…. He was the Christ. When Pilate… condemned him to be crucified, those who had…  come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared …  restored to life…  And the tribe of Christians … has … not disappeared.” (Josephus, Antiquities 18.63-64, cited in Yamauchi, “Jesus Outside the New Testament”, 21).

When John records the purpose for writing his gospel, he says, “But these [signs John has recorded] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31). John states that He has recorded miraculous signs by Jesus (changing water to wine, 2:1-11; healing of the nobleman’s son, 4:46-54; healing of the lame man, 5:1-15; feeding the five thousand, 6:1-14; walking on water, 6:15-21; healing the man born blind, 9:1-41; raising Lazarus from the dead, 11:1-45; and Jesus’ resurrection, John 2:18-22; 20:1-29) that his readers “may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing they may have life in His name.” Miraculous signs by Jesus are a powerful incentive to believe in Him alone for everlasting life and a future home in heaven.

By the way, Jesus has not stopped doing miracles today. He still heals. He still changes lives. He still transforms sinners into saints. He still touches people supernaturally. Are you willing to let Him touch you? He invites you to come to Him just as you are for His free gift of eternal life if you have never done that before. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me has everlasting life.” (John 6:47). No one is more qualified to make this promise and keep it than Jesus Christ. Will you take Him at His word? Let’s pray.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am amazed how loving and patient You are toward us. Even when we harden our hearts toward Your Word which points to You as the Savior of the world, You still pursue us and provide miraculous works to reveal Your supernatural character and power to us. There may be some of us today who shake our fist at You in anger and rebellion. But You do not retaliate. You show Your love to us in unexpected ways. It may be in the form of a bird singing in the morning or a beautiful sunset at night. It may be a smile from a stranger or a kind deed from a neighbor. The illness we once had is suddenly gone or our marriage which was headed for disaster is now on the mend. Thank You, my Lord and my God, for never giving up on me even when I was at my worst. Thank You for dying in my place and rising from the dead nearly two thousand years ago. As best I know how, Lord Jesus, I am now trusting in You alone now (not my religion, my prayers, or good life) to forgive all my sins and give me everlasting life. Thank You for the forgiveness and everlasting life I now have. In Your name I pray. Amen.

To help you grow in your new relationship with Jesus, please download our digital discipleship materials (see https://www.seeyouinheaven.life/english-pressing-on/) and go through them with those you care about. If you found this article helpful, please share it with those you want to see in heaven. Thank You and may Jesus richly bless you!

How can I experience security forever? Part 2

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” John 10:27

A second way I can experience security forever is when I BELIEVE IN JESUS ALONE FOR HIS FREE GIFT (John 10:27). Jesus said to His Jewish audience, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27). What characterized those Jesus called “My sheep” was that they listened to His voice. By listening they gave the response of faith to His words and works.

This reminds me of a true story about a man in Australia who was arrested and charged with stealing a sheep. But he claimed emphatically that it was one of his own that had been missing for many days. When the case went to court, the judge was puzzled, not knowing how to decide the matter. At last, he asked that the sheep be brought into the courtroom. Then he ordered the plaintiff to step outside and call the animal. The sheep made no response except to raise its head and look frightened. The judge then instructed the defendant to go to the courtyard and call the sheep. When the accused man began to make his distinctive call, the sheep bounded toward the door. It was obvious that he recognized the familiar voice of his shepherd. “His sheep knows him,” said the judge. “Case dismissed.

Jesus’ sheep are intimately known by their Shepherd. You might have expected Jesus to go on to say, “and they know Me.” But He did not. It is the knowledge that Jesus has of His sheep that is the important thing. Because Jesus knows His sheep they are drawn to Him. They trust the One who cares enough to know them.

When Jesus says, “and they follow Me,”some insist this means if a person truly believes in Christ he perseveres in discipleship or obedience to Christ. They say that a true Christian will continue to obey Jesus the rest of His life. But the context does not support this understanding. Jesus is using the word “follow” as a figure of speech referring to belief. Just as Jesus’ reference to sheep, is a figure of speech, so His reference to following Him is the same. Christ was not talking about literal sheep which physically follow a literal shepherd in this verse. Instead He was illustrating salvation by picturing Himself as the Good Shepherd and believers as His sheep (cf. John 10:1-27).

In the context, Jesus addresses the unbelief of His Jewish audience, who questioned if He was the Messiah (John 10: 24). Jesus replied to them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.” (John 10:25-26). People who are not of His sheep do not believe. What then do His sheep do? They believe He is the Christ – the One who gives eternal life to those who believe in Him. They hear His voice and respond in faith like sheep follow a shepherd (cf. John 10:4-5). They trust Him. So in this context the unbelief of His Jewish audience (John 10:25-26) is set in contrast to His sheep following or believing in Him (John 10:27).

Bob Wilkins writes that “the picture of sheep hearing their shepherd’s voice and following him is a picture of childlike faith. In his book The Gospel Under Siege, Zane Hodges says concerning that illustration, ‘That is to say, they [the sheep] commit their safety and well-being to the Shepherd who has summoned them to do so‘ (p. 44). He goes on to say that this is clearly an act of faith, not discipleship.

“Hodges points out two other points which further prove that the figure refers to faith in Christ: the sequence of the coordinate clauses and the analogy of John 5:24.

“The verses in question have five clauses joined by the word and. A definite progression is evident. The sequence of the clauses shows that ‘following Him’ is the condition—not the consequence—of eternal life. Jesus did not say, ‘I give them eternal life and they follow Me.’ Instead He said, ‘They follow Me and I give them eternal life.’ Since faith in Christ is the sole condition of salvation in Scripture and in John’s Gospel, ‘following Him’ must be a figure for faith in Christ.

“In addition, John 5:24 is parallel to John 10:27-28. Both refer to hearing, believing, the giving of eternal life, the guarantee against eternal judgment, and the promise of the permanence of the relationship. The only difference between the two verses is that in John 10:27 believing is expressed by means of the figure of sheep following a shepherd.” 1

Throughout the gospel of John, figures of speech are used to illustrate saving faith such as receiving (1:12; 5:43; 13:20), looking (3:14-15), drinking (4:14; 7:37), hearing (5:24; 10:16, 27), coming (5:40; 6:35, 37, 44, 65; 7:37), eating bread (6:50, 51, 53, 54, 56, 58), entering (10:9), and following (10:27). Christian author Charlie Bing writes: “These pictures of faith all denote receptivity, agreement, or trust. All are essentially simple activities and essentially passive. None communicates the idea of merit, work, effort, or achievement. Neither do they communicate an exchange of one’s life or the ongoing submission of one’s life to Jesus as Master in order to obtain eternal life.” 2

However, following Christ through obedience is necessary to be a disciple of Christ (Mark 1:17-18; Luke 5:10-11; 9:23), not a possessor of Christ. For example, Jesus did not call His disciples to follow Him as His disciples (Mark 1:14-18) until about a year after they believed in Him (John 1:35-2:11).

When you examine all four gospels, it becomes clear that the disciples whom Jesus called to follow Him in Mark 1:16-18 were already believers. In the Spring of A.D. 26 Peter, John, Philip and Andrew met Jesus for the first time (John 1:35-51) and believed in Him. When Jesus invited Philip to follow Him (John 1:43), He was asking him to accompany Him to Galilee, not make a discipleship commitment. Philip trusted in Christ because of spending time with Him (1:45).

Four days after that first encounter, Jesus’ other disciples believed in Him after He turns water into wine (2:1-11). Several days later during the Passover Feast in Jerusalem, Jesus cleanses the temple (2:13-22). During the next several months, Christ instructs these new believers in the fundamental truths of salvation and assurance as He evangelizes Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, and the city of Sychar (John 3-4). John 4:35 mentions 4 months until harvest. The harvest takes place in the months of April or May. Four months prior would be January or February. Thus, between the mention of the first Passover (John 2:13) which is in April, and the time mentioned here (John 4:35), almost one year has passed. During these months, John the Baptist is evangelizing Judea (John 3:22-36) and baptizing. So, several things have already taken place before we come to Mark 1.

Mark 1:14 informs us that John the Baptist is now in prison.  In John 1-3, John the Baptist is still ministering publicly. Now, we see that he is in prison in Mark 1. So, these disciples have known Jesus for at least a year when Christ approaches them in Mark 1:16. Peter is a believer. He has evangelized the city of Sychar with Christ. But now he is fishing for fish.

The gospel of John distinguishes the freeness of salvation (John 4:10-14) from the costliness of discipleship (John 8:31-32). The only condition for everlasting life is belief in Jesus Christ alone for His free gift (John 3:14-18, 36; 4:10-14; 5:24; 6:40, 47; 7:37-39; 11:25-27; 20:31), but there are many conditions for discipleship including following Christ (John 8:12; 12:24-26; 21:19-22), abiding in Jesus’ word (John 8:31-32), loving one another (John 13:34-35), and bearing fruit (John 15:1-8).  

The apostle John uses the word “believe” ninety-nine times in his gospel. 3  The word “believe” means to be convinced that something is true, and then trust in that something. Trusting in Jesus is like riding on an airplane. When you ride on an airplane, do you need to push the plane to get it off the ground? No, of course not. Do you need to flap your arms to keep the airplane in the air? Absolutely not. All you must do is trust a person, your pilot, to take you to your destination. In the same way, the gospel of John invites non-Christians to trust in Jesus Christ alone through no effort of your own for His gift of everlasting life. The moment you do, Jesus guarantees you have everlasting which can never be lost (John 10:28-29). Your eternal security is not based upon your good works or your faithfulness, but upon Jesus’ finished work on the cross and His faithfulness to His promise. That is security that lasts forever!!!

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, You are the Good Shepherd Who laid down His life for the sheep. Like a sheep that hears the voice of its shepherd and trusts him for its safety and security, so You are my Good Shepherd. The moment I heard Your voice say to me when I was nineteen years of age, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life,” I believed or trusted in You alone to give me Your gift of everlasting life. You guaranteed then that I had everlasting life and that I would never be judged for my sins. My relationship with You is permanent because I had passed from death into life. You gave me security that can never be taken away from me! That security is not based on my faithfulness, but on Yours to keep Your promises to those who believe in You. Thank You so much my Lord and my God. I worship You for Who You are and what You have done for me. In Your name. Amen.   

ENDNOTE:

1. Dr. Bob Wilkin, “Is Following Christ a Condition of Eternal Life?” Grace in Focus (Grace Evangelical Society, April 1990).

2. Dr. Charlie Bing, “The Condition For Salvation In John’s Gospel,” Journal Of The Grace Evangelical Society, Vol. 9:16, (Spring 1996): 31.

3. John 1:7, 12, 50; 2:11, 22, 23; 3:12(2), 15, 16, 18(3), 36(2); 4:21, 39, 41, 42, 48, 50, 53; 5:24, 38, 44, 46(2), 47(2); 6:29, 30, 35, 36, 40, 47, 64(2), 69; 7:5, 31, 38, 39, 48; 8:24, 30, 31, 45, 46; 9:18, 35, 36, 38; 10:25, 26, 37, 38(3), 42; 11:15, 25, 26(2), 27, 42, 45, 48; 12:11, 36, 37, 38, 39, 42, 44(2), 46, 47; 13:19; 14:1(2), 10, 11(2), 12, 29; 16:9, 27, 30, 31; 17:8, 20, 21; 19:35; 20:8, 25, 29(2), 31(2).

Restoring Mankind’s dominion over creation

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him?” Psalm 8:3-4a

King David began this Psalm by focusing on the majesty and splendor of God as Creator (8:1). As he gazed at the night sky, He was reminded of God’s greatness which is seen in “the work of” His “fingers” (8:3). Like a sculptor whose care and skill is seen in the work of his fingers, so God’s care and skill is seen the work of His fingers which placed “the moon and stars” in the sky.  It was as easy for God to create the universe with His fingers, as it is for a sculptor to make something with his fingers. God spoke and brought the universe into existence (cf. Genesis 1:14-19).  

As David looked at the night sky, he was amazed that God would even be “mindful” of insignificant people compared to the vast universe He had created (8:4). God is not some impersonal force who is beyond the reach of His creation. No, He is always thinking of the people He made and is moving toward them. And not only this, God has “crowned” people “with glory and honor” by entrusting them “to have dominion over the works of” His “hands,” including “all sheep and oxen— even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea” (8:5-8). God created people to rule over the animal kingdom, not the other way around. 

Unfortunately, many people value animals more than people. They are trying to raise money to save animals from being killed, yet money is also being sought to murder unborn children in abortion clinics. Tragically, society has lost sight of how valuable people are to our Creator God. 

This reminds us that the first man and woman that God created (i.e. Adam and Eve), failed to do what God created them to do. God placed all living creatures under the control of Adam and Eve before the Fall, and when they disobeyed God, He did not withdraw this privilege (cf. Gen. 9:1-3, 7). But because they sinned, mankind has never been able to fulfill the destiny for which God created him, namely, to be king of the earth (cf. Genesis 3:1-6; Hebrews 2:6-8). Mankind’s responsibility is to rule over creation, not to let it rule over him. People may use any animals, domesticated or wild, for their purposes, including food (Gen. 9:3; 1 Tim. 4:3-5). Human beings have tamed and even domesticated many kinds of animals, but they find it impossible to control themselves without God’s enablement (James 3:7-8). 

The good news is that Jesus Christ, the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45, 47), will fulfill mankind’s destiny when He returns to earth and brings all creation under His rule (1 Cor. 15:27-28; Hebrews 1:8-13; Revelation 20:1-6). Christ is the only One qualified to do this since He “was made a little lower than the angels” in His incarnation so that as God and Man (John 1:1, 14), He could die for mankind, resulting in being “crowned with glory and honor” through his resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God (Hebrews 2:9; cf. Philippians 2:5-11). It was appropriate for Christ to suffer and die for mankind because He would bring “many sons to glory” and be the Captain “of their salvation …through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10). Before Jesus could lead His “many sons” to glory, He had to be made “perfect” for this role “through sufferings.” Since His brethren would have to suffer, He would have to as well in order to give them the kind of help they would need (cf. Hebrews 2:18; 4:14-16). 

This “salvation” in Hebrews 2:10 is the deliverance from the loss of dominion over creation due to the Fall. Man lost his glorious dominion over creation due to the Fall, but now he can regain that“glory” by being faithful to Christ (Hebrews 2:10; cf. 1:8-9; 3:1, 14). So the glory in Hebrews 2:10 is not common to all Christians, but only to those who are faithful to Christ to the end of their lives on earth (cf. Matthew 19:27-29;  Luke 22:28-30; Romans 8:17b; 2 Timothy 2:12; Hebrews 1:8-13; 3:1, 14; 10:35-36; Revelation 2:25-27; 3:21). 

What this means for those who are unsaved, is they must recognize they are sinners who cannot save themselves (Romans 3:23; 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9) and that Christ died in their place and rose from the dead (I Corinthians 15:1-6). Then they are to believe or trust in Christ alone to save them from hell forever and give them everlasting (John 3:16; Acts 16:31). After they believe in Jesus, they can begin to follow Him as His disciple the rest of their lives to be able to rule with Him in His coming Kingdom (cf. Matthew 4:19; 19:27-29; 28:19-20; Luke 22:28-30; Romans 8:17b; 2 Timothy 2:12; Hebrews 1:8-13; 3:1, 14; 10:35-36; Revelation 2:25-27; 3:21). 

What we focus on influences how we live

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” Psalm 1:1

The Psalmist describes two paths of life in this Psalm: the path of the godly and the path of the ungodly or wicked. “Blessed” or “happy” is the godly person who avoids the way of the wicked or ungodly person (1:1). Notice the progression of verbs in this first verse: “walks…stands…sits.” Departing from the Lord begins with casually listening (“walks”) to “the counsel” or wisdom “of the ungodly.” As they are influenced by that counsel, they begin to slow down (“stands”) enough to pay attention to “the path of sinners” who are separated from God. While spending time in the company of sinners (“sits”), they become more deeply involved with “the scornful” who mock God and ridicule what is godly. 

“Blessed” is the godly person who avoids every form of wickedness in every place the Psalmist says (1:1). Instead of focusing on the way of the wicked person, the godly person focuses (“meditates”) on “the law of the Lord” (God’s Word) throughout all his waking hours (“day and night”) which produces a healthy root system or stability (“planted”) that nourishes (“by the rivers of water”) his spiritual life so that it “brings forth its fruit” at the proper time (“in its season”) and endures (“whose leaf also shall not wither”) times of spiritual dryness (1:2-3a). What we focus on will influence how we live our lives. We can focus on God’s ways and Word which benefits us and others (“whatever he does shall prosper”- 1:3b), or we can focus on the way of the wicked which embraces evil (1:1) and provides temporary pleasure only to be destroyed in judgment (1:4-5, 6). 

Would you like to see the Lord add new believers to your church daily?

“And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:47b

After the apostle Peter preached the gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection to his Jewish audience on the Day of Pentecost (2:1-40), we are told that “three thousand souls were added” to the Jerusalem church that day (2:41). Luke also tells us that “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (2:47b). Would you like to see the Lord add new believers to your church every day of the year?

I would hope all believers would say “Yes!” For this to happen, we must center our churches around the Lord Jesus Christ and His purposes for His church (Matthew 22:37-39; 28:19-20; Philippians 1:21). Those purposes include:

Worship: “46So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47praising God and having favor with all the people”(Acts 2:46-47a; cf. Matthew 22:37; Ps. 149:1). The early church expressed their love for the Lord in worship by meeting in large groups (“in the temple”) and small groups (“house to house”), observing the Lord’s Supper (“breaking bread…they ate their food”) “with gladness and simplicity of heart” (2:46-47a). As a result God gave them “favor with all the people” (2:47a). 

Fellowship: “They continued steadfastly in…fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42; cf. Matthew 22:39; Heb. 10:24). Someone once said that fellowship is like two fellas on a ship. They are spending time together going the same direction as the ship. When believers are going the same direction as the Lord Jesus Christ, they will enjoy intimate fellowship with the Lord and one another as they worship Him together and pray together. 

Discipleship: “They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine…” (Acts 2:42; cf. Matthew 28:20). The “apostles’ doctrine” is the New Testament. Believers in Jesus need more than the commands of Christ. They need to be taught to “observe” or obey the commands of Christ (cf. Matthew 28:20; James 1:22). It is not enough to have Bible information. We must apply the Bible to our daily lives through the power of the Holy Spirit to experience the transformation of our lives into the image of Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18). 

Ministry: “44Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need” (Acts 2:44-45; cf. Matthew 22:39; James 1:27). The early church lovingly ministered to one another’s needs by selling their possessions to give to the needs of their local church (cf. John 13:34-35; I John 3:16-18). These believers were givers, not takers. God wants His people to be the most generous people on earth in view of His great grace toward us through Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:1-9). Why not make this one of the goals of your local church?

Evangelism/Missions: “41Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them…47And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:41, 47b; cf. Matthew 28:19a; Acts 1:8). Healthy churches do not keep the gospel to themselves. They obey Christ’s command to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to everyone” (Mark 16:15; cf. Matthew 28:19a; Acts 1:8). They equip believers to share the gospel of Christ with non-Christians. Do not wait for unbelievers to come to your church. Go where the lost people are and share the gospel with them. 

The Lord loves to add new believers to churches that are centered around the Lord Jesus Christ and His purposes for His church (Matthew 22:37-39; 28:19-20; Philippians 1:21). As we focus on the Lord Jesus Christ and fulfill His purposes of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism /missions, His gospel of grace will spread, and His church will grow and flatten the gates of hell (Matthew 16:18; 28:18-20). 

Must I be baptized with water to go to heaven?

“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38

After preaching Jesus’ death and resurrection to his Jewish audience in Jerusalem (2:22-35), Peter informed them “that God has made this Jesus, whom” they “crucified, both Lord and Christ” (2:36). When these Jews felt sorrow or regret about what they did to their “Lord and Christ,” they asked Peter and the other apostles, “What shall we do?” (2:37). Peter told them to “Repent” (metanoeō) or change their mind about their wrong view of Jesus and then believe in Him for salvation from Hell (2:38a). By calling the people to repent, Peter was commanding them to trust the One whom they had crucified (cf. John 11:25-26; 20:31; I John 5:1). Acts 2:41, 44 confirm this understanding when they say the people “received his word” (2:41) and “all who believed were together” (2:44). 

Acts 3:19-4:4 also supports this usage of the verb “repent.” After Peter and John healed the lame man (3:1-10), Peter preached the death and resurrection of Christ to his Jewish audience (3:11-18) and invites his audience to “repent” or change their view of Christ and see that He is the Messiah. His Jewish audience was thinking, “If Jesus is the Messiah, then where is His Messianic Kingdom?” Peter explains that if they would “repent” and believe in Jesus as the Messiah, His Messianic Kingdom would commence (3:19-26; cf. Mark 1:15). How did these Jews respond? “Many of those who heard the word believed” (Acts 4:4). 

Several factors must be taken into consideration to properly understand Acts 2:38: 

1. Throughout the book of Acts we see that salvation is byfaith alone in Christ alone as taught by Philip (8:12, 37), Peter (10:43; 15:7-11), and Paul (13:39, 48; 14:27; 15:1-2; 16:30-31). God’s Word does not contradict itself, so Acts 2:38 must be talking about something more than salvation from hell. 

2. The distinction between regeneration and forgiveness. Regeneration is imparting the very life of God at the moment of faith in Christ to the believer (John 1:12-13; I John 5:1). Therefore, it is judicial and cannot be changed. Forgiveness, on the other hand, involves the restoration of harmony between God and believers (Luke 6:37; 11:4; I John 1:9). 

The Bible speaks of two types of forgiveness: Positional forgiveness involves the pardon of past, present and future sins at the moment of faith in Christ (Acts 10:43; Ephesians 1:7). This is a one-time event and cannot be changed. Fellowship forgiveness involves closeness to God, and it can be lost and restored repeatedly throughout a Christian’s life (Luke 6:37; 11:4; I John 1:9). For example, when you are born into your earthly family you will always be your parents’ child no matter what (regeneration), but closeness with your parents can be broken by your disobedience and restored by confession and forgiveness (fellowship). The same is true in our relationship with God. 

3. The meaning of repent. The word “repent” (metanoeō) means “to change one’s mind.” Whenever this word is used in a salvation context, it means “to change your mind about whatever is keeping you from trusting Christ and then trust Him to save you” (cf. Mark 1:15; Luke 24:47; Acts 17:30; Romans 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). 

4. The book of Acts is dealing with a transitional time in God’s program. The birth of the Church takes place in Acts 2. For a brief period of time after the birth of the Church, people were not baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:13) at the moment of faith in Christ. For example, Samaritan believers (Acts 8:12-17), disciples of John the Baptist (Acts 19:2-6), and Saul (22:1-16) received the Holy Spirit after they were baptized with water. But Cornelius and his family all received the Holy Spirit at the moment of faith in Christ (Acts 10:43-48) which is the normative experience for believers today (cf. Mark 1:8; Acts 10:43-48; 19:5; Romans 8:9; I Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:2, 26-27; Ephesians 1:13-14). Why the difference?

Palestinian Jews who had helped crucify Christ had to be baptized to be placed in the Church and have fellowship with God. That is, in order to enter into closeness with Christ, they had to publicly identify with Him through water baptism because they had earlier rejected Christ publicly when they participated in His crucifixion. This is why Gentiles in Acts 10, who had no part in Christ’s crucifixion, received the Holy Spirit at the moment of faith in Christ and were baptized later. 

So when we come to Acts 2:36-38, Peter says to his Jewish audience, “’36Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.’ 37Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’” (2:36-37). Peter has just preached that Jesus, whom His Jewish audience had personally helped to crucify, was both Lord and Christ (2:22-26). Peter replies, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). By calling the people to repent, Peter was commanding them to trust the One whom they had crucified (cf. John 11:25-26; 20:31; I John 5:1). Acts 2:41, 44 confirm this understanding when they say the people “received his word” (2:41) and “all who believed were together” (2:44). 

The forgiveness spoken of in Acts 2:38 is fellowship forgiveness, just as we see in I John 1:9. For these Jews guilty of crucifying the Messiah, they had to be baptized and receive forgiveness for this sin of rejecting Christ in order to have fellowship with God and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Without water baptism they would still have eternal life because they believed in Jesus (Acts 2:41, 44; 4:4; cf. John 3:16;  I John 5:1), but they would not escape the temporal judgment coming upon their sinful generation for crucifying the Messiah (Acts 2:40). 

Conclusion: Water baptism is not a condition for salvation or going to heaven. Only believing in Jesus Christ who died for our sins and rose from the dead is necessary to go heaven (cf. John 3:15-16, 36; 4:10-14; 5:24; 6:40, 47; 11:25-26; 20:31; Acts 8:12, 37; 10:43; 15:7-11; 13:39, 48; 14:27; 15:1-2; 16:30-31; Romans 4:5; I Corinthians 15:1-6; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; I Timothy 1:16; I John 5:13). However, water baptism is a condition for discipleship (Matthew 28:19) and is to be done as soon as possible after a person believes in Christ for His gift of salvation (cf. Acts 2:41; 8:6-13, 36-38; 10:43-48; 16:31-33; 18:8). When a believer is baptized with water, he is telling God and those who witness his baptism, that he desires to follow Jesus as His disciple no matter what the cost (cf. Matthew 10:16-39; 28:19-20; Luke 9:57-62; 14:25-33; John 8:31-32; 13:34-35; 15:1-8).

Must I lose or hate my life to go to heaven?

“He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:25

After Jesus used a grain of wheat analogy to show that He must die to produce life in many others including both Jews and Gentiles (12:23-24), He then applies this to discipleship when He says, “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (12:25). The issue here is rewards, not salvation from hell. The believer who “loves his life” by selfishly living for him or herself, “will lose” the fullness of that life both now and in eternity in terms of the loss of rewards. Christ goes on to say that “he who hates his life in the world” by making his or her love and loyalty to Christ a priority “will keep it for eternal life,” that is, they will enjoy a deeper and fuller experience of eternal life both now and in eternity. So, the issue is not salvation, but the quality of a believer’s life both now and in the world to come.

When Jesus mentions hating one’s life, He is not talking about self-abuse or mutilation. That would be contrary to His other teachings about loving others “as yourself” (Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; cf. Ephesians 5:29). While self-denial is implied in the phrase, “he who hates his life” (cf. Matthew 16:24-25; Mark 8:34-35; Luke 9:23-24), this does not mean we are to deny our humanity which includes our physical and emotional needs. 

For example, in a helpful article, entitled “Self-care and Self-Denial,” Amie Patrick talks about when we go through stressful seasons of life, we may have a greater need for sleep, nutrition, exercise, and emotional refreshment. Denying self does not mean we overlook these needs. She emphasizes that it is important to accept our God-given limits and receive the Lord’s gifts of rest, food, recreation, and solitude which are also acts of worship and obedience. While Jesus was fully human and fully God—He often set aside time in His ministry to be alone or to enjoy meals with friends (cf. Matthew 11:19; 14:13a; Mark 2:15; 6:31-32; Luke 5:15-16, 29; 7:36; 10:38-42; John 12:1-2). 

The expression “he who hates his life” refers to Jesus being a priority in your life over self and the material things “in this world.” Our devotion to the Lord Jesus makes our interests in the material affairs of this life appear by comparison as hatred. Those who are dedicated to Christ will “keep” or preserve that lifestyle for eternal rewards. Our earthly experience becomes a part of “eternal life” in that it contributes to the quality of our future life in eternity. But if we put our material things and selfish ambitions ahead of Christ, we will decrease the quality of our life in the world to come. 

The Bible teaches that eternal life as a future acquisition is always a reward  that is based upon works (cf. Matthew 19:29-30; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 18:29-30; John 4:36; 12:25; Romans 2:7; Galatians 6:7-9; I Timothy 6:12, 19), but when eternal life is presented as a present possession it is always received as a free gift by faith alone in Christ alone (John 3:16; 4:10-14; 5:24; 6:40, 47; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9; Revelation 22:17). If we die to self and make Jesus a priority in our lives, we can also experience His quality of life now. So, the way to truly live is to die to self and live to Christ.

Jesus explains further what it means to “hate” one’s life when He says, “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor” (12:26). He is referring to self-denying service to Christ. If you want to serve Christ, you must follow Him. He is to be the number one priority in your life. Just as Jesus denied Himself and died for the world (12:27-28a), His disciples are to deny themselves and serve Him. When Christ says, “and where I am, there My servant will be also” in glory and honor is the main idea here as confirmed in the next part of the verse. “If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” The verb “will honor” refers to honoring faithful Christians with rewards. If you serve Jesus, you will receive “honor” or reward from His Father. If you want to be rewarded in the future, you must earn it by serving Christ now. Rewards are not a free gift. We must work for them to receive them in the future.

Jesus chose the way of the cross because of His desire to please His Father (cf. Philippians 2:5-11). Likewise, every follower of Christ must face a similar choice of taking the way of the cross. For example, a woman was told that the baby in her womb would be mentally impaired, but she refused the early abortion recommended by her doctors because she believed this would be wrong. An investment salesman lost his job because he insisted on being honest about the risks. And before the revolution in Romania, a lawyer lost his professional status and had to do menial labor because he openly confessed Christ as his Savior. These three Christians chose to take the way of the cross. They took seriously the words of Jesus, “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me.” These two verbs, “serves” and “follow” are in the present tense and convey the idea of “keep on serving Me” and “keep on following Me.” Disciples of Christ who faithfully serve Him are promised His companionship (“where I am, there My servant will be also”) and those who faithfully serve Him are promised the Father’s “honor.”

We can often be busy “for” the Lord instead of being busy “with” the Lord. Jesus promises that when we serve Him, He will be there with us (John 12:26; cf. Matthew 28:20). When we serve the Lord, not others or ourselves, we are never alone. Christ guarantees “where I am, there My servant will be also” (12:26). 

The world says to put your material things or earthly life and self, first. It says, “There’s no need to take God seriously.” But if you don’t take God seriously, then there’s no need to take your marriage seriously, or the rearing of your children seriously, or such character traits as submission, faithfulness, sexual purity, humility, repentance, and honesty seriously either. If we don’t take God seriously, if we don’t make Jesus Christ our #1 priority now, it will cost us in the future. Oh, we will go to heaven, but the quality of our life there will be less than it could have been if we took Christ seriously. You see, the things we do now will prepare us for what we do in eternity. How I live on earth now will contribute to the quality of my life in heaven. If I live for Christ now by His grace, death will not interrupt that lifestyle. It will continue in eternity without interruption. 

First John 2:17says, “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” John reminds us that the world is passing away and therefore, it is a totally unworthy object of our sinful lusts and longings. If I am a laborer on earth, an architect, a musician, a secretary, a farmer, a teacher, a scientist, a physician – however skilled I may be at any of these activities – none of these designations will survive the present age. The term “abides” (2:17) is a fellowship term. The believer who is doing God’s will possesses a lifestyle that will not be interrupted by the passing away of this world. He experiences uninterrupted fellowship with God. He will experience “boldness” at the Judgment Seat of Christ (I John 2:28; 4:17) where the eternal worth of his earthly Christian life will be evaluated (I Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10). But the believer who lives out of fellowship with the Lord does not “abide” forever in that his worldly lifestyle will be radically interrupted when he goes to heaven. His worldly lifestyle will not abide forever. It stops at heaven’s gates. But a dedicated lifestyle to Christ really has no ending.  

Conclusion: Must I lose or hate my life to go to heaven? Absolutely not! The only condition for going to heaven is believing in Christ alone for His free gift of everlasting life (John 3:15-16, 36; 4:10-14; 5:24; 6:40, 47; 11:25-26; 20:31; Acts 16:31; Romans 4:5; Ephesians 2:8-9; I Timothy 1:16; I John 5:1, 13; et al.). But to experience eternal life as a reward in a deeper and richer way both now and in the future, I must faithfully and sacrificially serve Christ as His disciple (John 12:24-26; cf. Matthew 19:29-30; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 18:29-30; John 4:36; Romans 2:7; Galatians 6:7-9; I Timothy 6:12, 19). Such a Christ-centered lifestyle will be richly rewarded by Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Matthew 25:20-23; I Corinthians 3:12-14; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10; 2 Peter 1:5-11 ).

Are we mentoring others to follow our example?

“And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, ‘My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!’ So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces.” 2 Kings 2:12

Elisha was anointed and mentored by the prophet Elijah to take Elijah’s place as God’s prophet to Israel (I Kings 19:16-21). “When the Lord was about to take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind… Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal” (2 Kings 2:1). Elijah asked Elisha three times to stay behind to test Elisha’s commitment to him and to his calling as Elijah’s successor and each time Elisha responded, “I will not leave you” (2:2-6). When Elijah asked Elisha what he may do for him, Elisha replied, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me” (2:9). Elisha’s request was not for more of the Holy Spirit’s power or for a greater ministry than Elijah’s, but for a greater degree of the inner spirit that motivated Elijah. He wanted the same attitude that Elijah had that enabled him to touch peoples’ lives so deeply. Elijah focused on God’s mission for his life, not his abilities or charisma. Both of these men humbly served the Lord and provided a great model for ministry. 

Elijah told Elisha that he had “asked a hard thing,” but if he sees Elijah taken away, it would be done for him (2:10). “Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2:11). As Elisha watched Elijah’s departure, he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen” (2:12)! When Elisha refers to Elijah as his “father,” he is expressing his sadness as he watches his mentor and dear friend leave him.

Christians need to ask themselves, “Whom am I discipling or mentoring to follow me?” Like Elijah did with Elisha, we must pass on what the Lord has taught us to faithful believers so they can disciple others long after we are gone (cf. 2 Tim. 2:2). 

Following Christ

The New Testament emphasizes that the only condition for receiving eternal life is believing in Jesus Christ (John 3:15-16, 18, 36; 5:24; 6:47; 11:25-26; 20:31; Acts. 13:48; I Timothy 1:16; I John 5:13). Salvation is absolutely free of charge and is a one-time event. However, the New Testament also teaches  that discipleship is costly and is a life-long process (Luke 14:25-33; John 8:31-32; Rev. 2:10, 25-27).

About a year after Jesus’ disciples believed in Him for eternal life (John 1:35-51; 2:11), Jesus called them to follow Him (Matt. 4:18-22). Peter, Andrew, James and John left their nets and followed Christ. From all four Gospels, we know that they had been familiar with Jesus’ ministry for some time and were willing to identify with His cause. This is a beautiful picture of discipleship when they left everything to have this intimate association with Jesus. In Matthew 9:9, Matthew, the tax collector is sitting at his office and Christ comes to him and says, “Follow Me.” Matthew gets up and leaves everything behind and begins to follow Christ. When Matthew left his post as a tax collector, he could not come back to it later like the fisherman who could always return to their father’s business. When Matthew left, there was no coming back. Following Christ is another condition for discipleship.

After Jesus and His disciples were rejected by a village of the Samaritans (9:51-53), Jesus clarifies the cost of discipleship in Luke 9:57-62. In these verses we discover the meaning of following Christ as His disciple.

1. FOLLOWING CHRIST MAY INVOLVE HOMELESSNESS, PHYSICAL DISCOMFORT AND REJECTION (9:57b-58). 

“Someone said to Him, ‘Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head’” (Luke 9:57b-58). 

Jesus’ disciples had experienced these things while following Christ through Samaria (9:51-56). Are you willing to endure these things in order to follow Christ? How much of your security is based upon the things you possess?  Would you be willing to give up a comfortable home and salary and live on less in order to follow Jesus Christ? 

2. FOLLOWING CHRIST IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN FULFILLING CUSTOMARY FAMILY OBLIGATIONS (59-60). 

“Then He said to another, ‘Follow Me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:59-60). 

It is not known whether this man’s father had already died or was dying. It is possible that this man’s father was still living since in Israel people were usually buried the same day they died. But what is clear is that this man wanted Jesus to approve the postponement of his obedience for an indefinite period of time. Christ’s reference to letting “the dead bury their own dead” refers to those who are spiritually dead (because they had not believed in Jesus) burying the physically dead. Following Christ requires immediate obedience to Him. Are you willing to put Christ ahead of family obligations? 

3. FOLLOWING CHRIST REQUIRES SACRIFICE AND HARD WORK (61-62) similar to plowing. 

“And another also said, ‘Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:61-62). 

Saying good-bye to family would only take a matter of minutes, yet Jesus’ comments suggest that a disciple with divided loyalties is not fit for His Kingdom work. Just as a farmer who does not concentrate on his work is unfit for farming, so a disciple who allows himself to be distracted from following Christ is unfit for His Kingdom work. What are the biggest distractions in your life which keep you from being fully devoted to Christ? What will you do about this?

Do our Priorities reflect God’s?

“But to the tribe of Levi Moses had given no inheritance; the Lord God of Israel was their inheritance, as He had said to them.” Joshua 13:33

When Joshua prepared to divide the land of Canaan that they had already conquered among the tribes of Israel, he writes, “But to the tribe of Levi Moses had given no inheritance; the Lord God of Israel was their inheritance, as He had said to them” (13:33). The tribe of Levi would receive no specific land inheritance as did the other tribes because “The Lord…was their inheritance.” (cf. Num. 18:20). However, this did include the sacrifices or offerings for food (13:14), the priesthood (18:7), and the Lord Himself (13:33)! Could there be a greater inheritance than God!?!

As Christians, we can place a lot of emphasis on material possessions, including the purchasing of land or the building of buildings. Churches can preoccupy themselves with buying land on which to construct a building. While there is nothing inherently wrong with owning land or building a building, do we think we are lacking if we have no land or building to call our own? The truth is since we are believer-priests in Christ (I Pet. 2:9), the Lord is our inheritance and we are also His inheritance (cf. Rom. 8:17a; Ephes. 1:11, 14, 18). No amount of land or buildings can compare to Him! Jesus Christ is eternal and unchanging (cf. Heb. 13:8), but buildings and lands are changing and temporary. Natural catastrophes can wipe them out in an instant. While we cannot lose our relationship with Christ once we believe in Him (cf. John 3:16; 10:28-29; Heb. 13:5), we can lose land or buildings in a moment of time. In fact, the Bible tells us that in the future all earthly things will be destroyed by fire (cf. 2 Peter 3:10). 

Knowing this should cause us to invest more of our time, talents, and treasures in what is eternal, not that which is temporary (cf. Matt. 6:19-20). Our hearts will follow what we value“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). The more we invest in temporary material possessions, the more our hearts will focus on them. But the more we invest in the Lord and His work (Mark 16:15; Matt. 28:19-20), the more our hearts will focus on what is eternal.

For example, I have observed churches in America spend millions of dollars to purchase land and build buildings, and that becomes their primary focus because they are investing their treasures in those things. Their prayers, their meetings, their conversations, activities, and giving revolve around the purchasing of land and the building of buildings. There is no outreach or disciple-making taking place. However, I have also observed churches who invest the majority of their money in the Lord and His work. As a result, their hearts are more focused on the things of the Lord. Their prayers, conversations, activities, and giving revolve around who the Lord Jesus is and leading people to faith in Him, discipling or equipping them, and starting churches. They also send missionaries to other parts of the world to make disciples of Christ. Yes, they have land and buildings, but those temporary things are used to enhance their primary mission (making disciples), not detract them from it. 

Where we invest our treasure influences where we focus our hearts. Do our priorities reflect this biblical truth? Does the way we manage the money God has given us reflect that the Lord and His work are our inheritance?