Do you know God? Do you love God? Are you currently seeking Him? Or are you seeking after a religion? Or a church?
Authored by : Brian Hoeck
Is there a difference between seeking God and seeking after a religion or church? Does it make a difference which of these you seek after? Are they the same? And what are you hoping to receive in your search? Good feelings about yourself? A social life? Or the very Truth of God contained in His Holy Bible unto salvation and eternal life?
Take time and carefully consider all these questions. How well do you really know God? What are you really looking for? If you are seeking salvation, will you find it in a religion? Will a church organization grant it to you? My friends, I tell you, no. You MUST be seeking TRUTH. You must be seeking God and His Christ. For there is salvation in no other (Acts 4:10-12). You must set your hearts to receive Their Truth - to willingly accept it - even if it does not agree with the beliefs you may now possess (see Prov 14:12).
In the Gospel according to John, chapter 17, verse 17, Jesus prayed to God the Father saying, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth". His Word - His Truth - is preserved for us: the Holy Bible. II Tim 3:16,17 state "All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine [teaching], for reproof [proof & conviction], for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."
The Bible is indeed the very word of God. Believing this is very important in coming to know Him and to receive the gift of eternal life. For Jesus stated in Matt 4:4, ". . . Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." We have to KNOW God's word in order to live by it and to know it, we must study it. Heartfelt prayer and study of His word helps us to develop and further our relationship with Him.
How does one begin to find God? Proverbs 9:10 states, "The fear [reverence] of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom . . . " (see also Prov 111:10). We are to revere Him - put nothing before Him. Do you put God FIRST in your life? Christ said in Matt 10:37, "He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." Would Christ consider you to be worthy?
Do you believe Jesus and God the Father? Having faith in them is crucial to salvation. You could read numerous verses throughout the Bible stressing this very fact - BUT, is believing in them enough to receive salvation? Turn in your Bible to James 2:19, where it is stated, "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe and tremble." (for examples of this, see Mark 1:23,24; Mk 5:1-13; Luke 8:27,28).
Now does their belief justify them to God? Of course not! Jesus also spoke of believers, men and women, who would not make it in to the Kingdom. Read Matt 7:21-23, "Not everyone that saith unto Me, 'Lord,Lord', shall enter in to the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father Which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied [preached - acted as spokesman] in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works?' And then will I profess unto them, 'I NEVER KNEW YOU: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity' [lawlessness]."
Now why would Jesus tell these people this? After all, they preached and did many wonderful works in His name. Obviously, they believed in Him. But, did they truly know Him? Let's read I John 2:3,4, "And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, 'I know Him' and keepeth not His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him." These people, whom Jesus spoke of, are workers of iniquity (sin). How does your Bible define iniquity/sin? "Whosoever commiteth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." (I John 3:4). SIN IS LAWLESSNESS - it is the BREAKING OF GOD'S COMMANDMENTS. Though these people preach in His name, they "keepeth not His commandments." They "work lawlessness" and therefore, they don't truly know Him, and are not allowed into God's Kingdom.
Most churches today teach that Jesus did away with the law - that He nailed it to the cross. But, is that what Jesus and His apostles taught? Read Matt 5:17,18, "Think NOT that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Til heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled." As you just read, Jesus upheld the writings of Moses (the law) and all the prophets (together called the "Old Testament") as being valid for His followers. It is not a book just for the "Jews". Combined with the New Testament to form the Holy Bible, it is very much part of "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" by which we are to live. Notice also, that He said "Til heaven and earth pass" that not the smallest letter would pass from the Law. Well, has heaven and earth passed away? Neither then has God's Law.
If you read Isaiah 42:21, you'll read of how Christ came to magnify the law, and make it honourable. For examples of this, turn to Matt 5:21-26, where He magnified the sixth commandment, saying unjustified anger is equal to murder. In verses 27-30, He magnified the seventh commandment by saying lust in the mind is equal to adultery. He also magnified the fourth commandment, the Sabbath, and restored its honor. The religious leaders had made the Sabbath a burden, but that's not what God intended it to be (see Isaiah 58:13,14). Christ showed throughout His ministry that it was a day to be called a delight, to find rest and comfort in the Lord, to do good to fellow man - both friend and foe (Mt 12:10-12; Mk 3:4; Luke 13:15,16). He also showed it was for man - ALL MANKIND, not just the "Jews" (Mark 2:27). He proclaimed to be Lord of the Sabbath, showing it (Friday sunset through Saturday sunset) to be the TRUE Lord's day (Matt 12:8; Mark 2:28).
In Matt 19:17, Jesus answered a young man's question regarding how he may receive eternal life, saying, ". . . if thou wilt enter life [eternal life], keep the commandments." And Luke 11:28 records Jesus saying, " . . . blessed are they that hear the word of God and KEEP it." Read also Revelation 14:12, which says, "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus."
Realize though, all the commandment keeping in the world does not save you. I'm in no way implying that we are saved by our law-keeping. "For by grace are ye saved through faith and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." (Eph 2:8). No one (except Jesus) has ever truly kept the whole law without sinning at least once (Rom 3:23; 5:12). All it takes is one sin to be found guilty before God (James 2:10). It is through the shed blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ that we are made whole. His blood covers our transgressions - it does not give us license to practice lawlessness (sin). Why is He called our Saviour? It is because He saves us from the penalty for our sins. The penalty for sin is death (Rom 6:23) and He died in our place - FOR OUR SINS. It is through God's grace (his unmerited favor/gift) that we are cleared of our guilt. His gift was His Son (John 3:16). We are justified through His blood.
When we accept Christ, can we continue in sin? Can we just believe on His name and continue to walk contrary to God's Law? "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid [MAY IT NEVER BE!!]. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Rom 6:1,2). GRACE DOES NOT GIVE US LICENSE TO BREAK THE COMMANDMENTS! Grace covers our shortcomings, making us justified before God. Do you want to be justified by Christ? The apostle Paul explained about who will be justified in his epistle to the Romans, chapter 2, verse 13: "for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the DOERS OF THE LAW SHALL BE JUSTIFIED." (see also James 1:22).
Once again I ask, are you seeking God and His truth? Don't blindly believe any man. You are exhorted by God through the apostle Paul in I Thes 5:21 to "prove all things: hold fast that which is good." Proverbs 14:12 states, "There is a way which SEEMETH RIGHT to a man, BUT the end thereof are the ways of death." This verse is repeated in Proverbs 16:25 to stress the importance of knowing this. The ways of man (including man's religions) are many and all lead to death. There is only ONE way to God and salvation: "Jesus saith . . . 'I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me." (John 14:6).
And again I ask, do you love God the Father and Jesus Christ? In John 14:15, Jesus says, "If you love me, keep my commandments." Will you heed His voice?
STUDY YOUR BIBLE AND PRAY UNCEASINGLY
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