DAY 24 - Why Jesus is the Only Way to God

Am I absolutely convinced that Jesus is the only way to heaven and God?

5 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7  If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." 8  Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."  9  Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10  Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.

INSIGHT:  Jesus had just explained that He will be leaving soon (back to heaven) and assuring them that they know the way to where He is going.  Jesus makes it clear that there are not many ways to God.  Even Muslims teach that Jesus was a great prophet, but how can they say that about a man who claimed to be the Son of God and the only way to heaven?  He would have to be a liar or a lunatic if what He was saying about being the Son of God was not true.  Therefore, you cannot disbelieve His claims of being the Son of God and still say He was a great teacher!

TIP: When someone says to you something like, “There just can’t be only one way to heaven…there are many ways and to each his own….”  Say, “Obviously you have a reason for believing that, would you mind if I ask what it is?  In other words, what are they basing their belief on?  Allow them to get it all out.  Then ask them this one question, “How do you know?”  When they answer, ask them again, “But how do you know?” When they start to squirm even more or they just give up and say, “That’s just what I believe”, ask them, “Would you like to know the truth with absolute assurance?  Have you ever heard of Jesus’ challenge in John 7:17?”

DAY 23 - The Requirement of Obedience

Am I intentionally and diligently learning and practicing Christ’s words so I will have eternal life?

51 I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."

INSIGHT:  This is one of many Scriptures, like Luke 6:46, Matthew 7:21, John 8:31-32, John 14:15, John 15:10, where Jesus makes it clear that there is more to being saved than just believing in your mind that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  A true Christian must know and follow Jesus’ words.

Tragically, this sound doctrine has been replaced in the majority of our churches today with a watered-down and false gospel.  The Word of God is not confusing on this issue—false teaching is.  Even demons believe Jesus is the Son of God (James 2:19).  True love for God and Christ, and true saving faith, is evidenced by turning from sin, and obedience to the commands of Christ (Acts 26:20, 2 Tim 2:19).  When you truly understand the work of the cross, and the sacrifice Jesus made for your sins, and the forgiveness He offers you, saving you from hell, and coming to live inside you by His Spirit, it becomes your desire to keep His words. Obedience apart from faith in Christ does not save us.  That is a spirit of religion which attempts to achieve righteousness with God, apart from an actual relationship with Him.  Think about the Pharisees who kept the law to the letter but who had no faith in Christ and no love for Him.  They were too busy trying to earn their right standing before God by carefully following all of his rules, without actually honoring and living for Him in their heart.  That approach is impossible and evil.  In their hearts they boast, “I have kept God’s law and I will be able to boast before Him that I did.”  This is also exactly the way Muslims live.  They are law followers.  
We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (Eph 2:8).  However, sincere faith is always evidenced by obedience. If a person has no desire to obey Christ’s teachings or has no fruit, they would be wise to examine their faith to see if the Spirit of Christ is really in them. (2 Cor 13:5).

DAY 22 - The Work God Requires

Am I wisely focused on work that will last for all of eternity, or work which only yields results in this temporary life?

24  Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus.  25  When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, "Rabbi, when did you get here?" 26  Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.  27  Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."  28  Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" 29  Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

INSIGHT:  Twenty four hours earlier, these people had just witnessed Jesus providing them with a miraculous and delicious meal and they wanted more.  Obviously there is nothing wrong with wanting to eat and to have your basic needs met, but Jesus was trying to get them to understand their need for salvation, not just another temporarily full belly.  

Believe in and obey Jesus as your top priority, and not only will God provide for your temporal needs, but you will inherit eternal blessings as well, which are far more important.  False disciples often come to Jesus for the power, the miracles, the temporary comfort, and the hope of a better life now.  The reality however, is that Jesus primarily came to save us (sinners) from the condemnation that we are all headed for, and instead to prepare us for heaven.  He did not come so that we can just live happy and comfy here.  As Spirit filled believers, we are strangers and pilgrims just passing through. Our real comfort is in His presence, and our real home is in heaven with Jesus.  As you yield to the Spirit in your life and He takes up full residency in your heart, you will think like this more and more.

DAY 21 - The Danger of John 3:16

Have I truly understood that true saving belief in Christ is evidenced by obedience to His words and not just intellectual belief in His name or person?

16  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  18  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. 19   This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."

INSIGHT:  John 3:16 is possibly the best and most dangerous verse in the entire Bible because people read it and believe it as a standalone doctrine of faith.  As a stand-alone verse, it has caused many to think they can be saved by intellectual belief alone, apart from actually turning from sin (repenting) and turning to Christ in faith and obedience.  
Even Muslims believe in Jesus, but to truly believe in Him is to also believe His teachings and His Lordship.  Could we imagine getting paid at work simply by believing that our boss existed, apart from actually doing what he tells us to do?   The boss would tell us that our belief was dead, and that we’ll be fired soon if we don’t add some action to it.  
Tragically, based on this poor view of John 3:16, many Christians should even believe the demons will be saved.  After all, they too believe in Jesus and regularly call Him by name when they encounter Him.  So, what’s missing?  Obedience, motivated by the love that comes from being forgiven by God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and received upon true surrender to Jesus as the Lord of your life.

Think of this from heaven’s perspective.  One man professes belief in Christ and gets very active in church and Christian activity.  He tells everyone about his belief in Jesus, but feels no need to diligently learn and practice the teachings of Christ because after all he’s a “believer”. A second man professes belief in Christ, but rather than jumping into the world of church activity or professing his faith all over the place, he quietly sets out to learn and apply the teachings.  Right away he reads Mat 6:14-16 and sees he needs to forgive some people and then he reads Mat 6:24 and realizes he needs to stop serving money, rather than God.  He takes action immediately to comply with the teachings.  From heaven’s perspective, which one is the true believer who will inherit eternal life?

DAY 20 - Entering the Narrow Gate

Am I striving to gain eternal life through the narrow gate of trusting and obeying Christ?

13  "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

INSIGHT:  Hopefully by now, you understand that “easy believeism”, and the idea of going to heaven simply because you have intellectually believed in Jesus, is a false teaching that will end with the shame and destruction of those who believe it. 

In Luke 13:23, someone asked Jesus, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”  In Jn 10:9, Jesus says, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.”  In 1 Pet 4:18, Peter says it is hard even for the righteous to be saved.  In Acts 14:22, the apostles explain that we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.   The reason that entering the narrow gate is so hard is that it costs you everything.  As we have seen by now in the teachings, it requires a full surrender of our life to Jesus, not just intellectual assent.  That is impossible to do, without the grace of God.  He is the one who gives us the ability to even desire this and to actually do it, but only after we surrender to Him as Lord, in faith.  There is no such thing as “Jesus, my Lord or Savior.” It is “Jesus, my Lord and Savior”.  There is no such thing as salvation without surrender (Lk 14:33).  

And, contrary to what we want to believe, Jesus does not just do it all.  Yes, He empowers us by His grace, but we still have an important part to play.  We partner with Him, by His grace, and we make every effort to live godly (2 Pet 3:11), to perfect holiness (2 Cor 7:1), to hold firm to our faith (1 Cor 15:2), to resist the devil (Jam 4:7), to avoid bad company (1 Cor 15:33), to forgive others (Col 3:12),  to live worthy of the call we have received (Eph 4:1) and to love each other (Jn 13:34), among other things.  This is striving to enter the narrow gate and I’m afraid fewer will enter it than I first hoped.

DAY 19 - More Righteous Than Pharisees

Am I truly obeying God from my heart or from external pressure and rule following?

20  For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

INSIGHT:  When I was a child, I could have likely been talked into eating dog poo brownies, faster than I could have been talked into eating bell peppers.  I would get almost nauseated at just the smell of them, but my mother made me try everything and more than once.  As I got older, she would make me try them in small amounts and she would bribe me with things like, being able to sleep in my bed instead of at the kitchen table (I fell asleep many times after refusing to eat my vegetables).  I had no internal desire, but I developed an external willingness, largely so I could get up from the table or even better, have dessert.  But then something happened, and over a few years I started to develop a taste for them, such that now I really enjoy them. Often I pick them up raw, right off the cutting board, and eat them.  I initially agreed to choke them down, to please my mother, but now I have an internal and very natural desire to eat them.  No one has to force feed me or bribe me anymore, and it’s been a long time since I had to count sheep at the kitchen table.  

Churches are filled with people who have essentially been bribed to follow the rules through external pressure rather than an internal desire.  They are doing “Christianity” apart from actually having a dependent relationship with God, empowered by His Spirit.  In fact, they get along just fine without even having to bug Him too much.  How tragic!  Do NOT let this happen to you.  Saving faith is not about “playing the part”; it’s about loving God from the heart.  The obedience I continue to point out in this book should come from your love for God.  If you feel cold in your love for Him, ask Him to help you love Him.  This is the righteousness that surpasses that of the Pharisees and that will open heaven’s gates to you.