There are many false teachings extant in the world at this time, and many that infect the Church, the followers of Jesus. However, unlike some religious fanatics, Christ-followers do not believe the “cure” is to kill or destroy those who believe what is untrue, but rather to demonstrate the love of Jesus, to reason and show where the errors occur, and trust that the God of all knowledge (Colossians 1:9-12) will open hearts to receive the truth. “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26).
There are two serious concerns in current theology that are worth mentioning because these false teachings have been heard from a couple of reputable sources, including pulpits and in online sermons in the last year:
- “If anyone REALLY sees Jesus for who He is, he/she will WANT Him.”
- “God has forgiven all my sins: past, present and FUTURE.”
Let’s address these, one this Sunday, and the second, next week.
This first false teaching, “If people saw Jesus for who He really is, they would want Him,” is a very attractive proposition. How we wish this, but unfortunately it is simply not true, and the weight of Scripture clearly comes down against it. When we prayerfully meet Father’s heart, our hearts must yearn with His, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). It is this desire that makes one effective in evangelism; it gives life to our spirits, hope to our message, and mercy in our meetings with people who do not yet know Jesus.
Many have been encouraged to make “Impact Lists” on which you name friends or associates that you begin to pray that will accept Jesus as their savior and find eternal life in Him. This is a conspicuously good practice, and you would do well to follow this. Prayerfully select some names of those you know that do not serve God as Christ-followers, make an Impact List and pray daily for those on it, in hopes that you might lead them to Jesus. You can and should pray for opportunities to meet with them, to open discussions about spiritual matters, to ask and answer the Great Questions of Life:
1. Who are you?
2. Why are you here?
3. Where are you going?
4. Is there life after death?
5. If so, how can you prepare for it?
But the reality of Jesus words and the presence of our Enemy show that many will reject Him even when they see Him for who He really is! Lucifer, the Enemy, saw Him and he rejected (Luke 10:18)! His children will certainly do the same (John 8:44). Do not let this slow you down in your quest for the lost who will want Jesus! But prepare your heart so that you will not be discouraged in the face of the genuine evil of selfishness, whether it shows up in the form of pride, lust, envy, hatred, greed, gluttony, or sloth.
Consider Jesus’ own words: “If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’ “ John 15:24-25.
Among Jesus own disciples, men who spent three years with Him, KNEW Him as intimately as any, Judas still chose to betray Him to the religiously serious of the Pharisees and Sanhedrin. And these Sanhedrin members were the ones who recognized His teachings better even than His own disciples! Recall, it was the Sanhedrin that expected a resurrection against which they took steps to secure the tomb. So it is false to claim they did not REALLY see Him for who He is.
Add to this that the prophets gave such a detailed account of Jesus, His birth, death and resurrection that the religious leaders were able to instruct Herod in regard to where He was to be born (Matthew 21:1-6). The blindness and muteness Isaiah spoke of after describing Jesus’ eternal sacrifice was self-imposed; shepherds who lacked understanding because they had turned to their own way and sought their own gain (Isaiah 56:10-11).
This is important because many will get discouraged when we encounter absolute resistance to grace. The balance of this is difficult; on the one hand, we do not want to discourage persistence in prayer, faithfulness in reaching out to the lost, and deep conviction that Jesus can supply every need! On the other hand, sometimes pearls may be cast before swine (Matthew 7:6) and unneeded beatings may occur because someone futilely reaches out to one who has made his/her decision, and it was not for Jesus (Ephesians 4:17-19).
So how do you know if someone is beyond hope? Unless the Spirit of God specifically reveals this to you, we must never assume that anyone is without hope (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). My encouragement is simply to prayerfully consider the balance of these weights. Oh, and did I mention, you should pray!? And when you think you are finished, pray some more! 😉 And The God Who Is There will give you wisdom (James 1:5).