Take This, Not That

If you were ever stranded on a deserted island, what would be the essentials you would want to have with you? In an article on MentalFloss.com, survival expert Tony Nestor says these are the essentials: a machete, a cell phone, a mirror, a hammock, and a family photo.

The Christian life is a long journey, not a short sprint. Imagine the Christian life to be a trip to a distant place in which you could only carry a few essential things. What would those things be?

In this message I share 6 essentials for the Christian life while also encouraging you to leave some things behind. Take this, not that!

In this message I also share 4 questions you can ask in Bible study that will help you get great application from any passage.

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Overbooking Heaven

If you do not believe in purgatory you have obviously never flown out of Atlanta! The airport code ATL should be changed to HEL as a means to better describe the experience. I digress. One of my many blessed experiences in the ATL/HEL is well documented in the post, Delta Abandoned Me.

But if you have ever flown out of HEL you understand the devilish trials of delays, gate changes, and the ole sit on the runway trick. All of these blessings occur only after you have just stood nearly pantsless in the security line behind the guy who suddenly forgot the meaning of the word “liquid.” Search him – that Dasani could explode!

One of the airline industry’s favorite stupid human tricks is overbooking. Overbooking is when some brilliant higher up mathematician at X airline decides that he will book 15 more butts than there are seats – and you’re going to love it! Overbooking means someone either gets to hang on to a wing at 537 MPH. If wing surfing is not allowed he or she will then receive the rich blessing of being left behind to stand there on standby (which should more appropriately be named standBYE as the plane pulls away from the gate).

I believe there is a sense in which we are overbooking Heaven. Much like the airline industry promises people seats that do not actually exist, many false prophets of cultural Christianity have promised people a place in Heaven that isn’t actually theirs. This “overbooking” of Heaven comes from our twisting of Scripture both in it being misunderstood by readers and misrepresented by preachers. A simple survey of key Biblical texts should clarify confusion and bring us to true repentance and faith in Jesus. So who is it that is overbooked for Heaven?

Passengers Shallow and Worldly (Matthew 13:1-23)

Ironically one of Jesus’ most misrepresented parables is one of the few that He actually took time to explain. In this parable a sower sows seed that falls on various types of soil. The seed represents the Word of God and the soil represents the heart with which a person receives the Word of God.

Those who would overbook Heaven believe that the central soils of the parable; the shallow, rocky soil and the unkept soil of thorns and weeds, represent those unfortunate cases of cultural Christians who at first favorably received the gospel, but for one reason or another they no longer serious about their faith. Those who overbook would call these Christians shallow or worldly. The problem is Jesus would not consider them Christians at all. When the “roll is called up yonder” they will not be there.

If you rightly read the parable you will see that the master is pleased only with one soil. It is the soil that receives the seed and the seed bears fruit (Matthew 13:23). No farmer in his right mind would make an investment of time and seed into a field that results in scorched rock or thorny weeds and claim that it is a success! Shallow and worldly may have had a great youth camp back in ’93 or may have really been moved at a Christian concert in 2012, but if they are not living for Jesus current day – they need to check the soil – Heaven is overbooked.

Passenger Struggle (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21, Revelation 21:8)

Jesus clearly calls those who would enter the Kingdom of Heaven to repent (Matthew 3:2). And while ceasing from sin is not easy and sanctification is an ongoing struggle, there is a sense within those indwelt by the Holy Spirit that sin is not right and staying in it is not satisfying.

What baffles me are those who dwell in an ongoing activity that the Bible clearly calls sin, but they excuse it as a “struggle.” But be sure, it is no struggle – IF THERE IS NO STRUGGLE AGAINST IT. Because you do it, and do it, and do it – constantly giving in to it – that is not a struggle. That is what we call lifestyle.

Swimming upstream is a struggle. Running UP a hill is a struggle. Struggle means that you are going against something, not that you are doing something! But yet there are many that foolishly convince themselves that what is off the sin list of the culture has somehow also been erased from the Bible. Read these texts – if you mindlessly repeat but do not repent – Heaven is overbooked! You are not on the list.

Passengers No Follow and No Suffer (Luke 14:25-35)

Jesus uses the word “believe” to quantify faith (John 3:16). But what does it mean to “believe?” Another word Jesus used to quantify faith was the word “follow.” As Jesus called his first disciples he did not invite them to believe in him. Instead, He invited them to “follow” Him. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men (Mark 1:6).”

Both “follow” and “believe” are necessary words for a proper definition of saving faith. To believe in the sense of to know, or to agree, or even to approve without following is NOT saving faith. James 2:19 tells us that if we merely believe in Jesus that we have do little more than agree with demons.

In Luke 14 Jesus makes it very clear, without follow there is nothing but failure. No Follow and No Suffer are not even on standby when it comes to saving faith.

Passenger Any Way (John 14:6)

Perhaps the most offensive facet of Biblical Christianity is its exclusivity. Exclusivity does not bode well with a pluralistic culture. From college tuition, to wealth, to tolerance , to religion – postmodernism believes everyone deserves a seat on any and every flight on which they want to sit.

The problem is that the King of Heaven Himself has said He is the way, the truth, and the life. Just in case you missed the implications of this, he also adds, “No man comes to the Father, but by me.” There is no standby list for Heaven. It is NOT overbooked!

Salvation is not sincerity. It is not being nice. It is not even being loved. Salvation is surrender in repentance and faith to Jesus Christ as the King of kings and the Lord of lords. If you are under any delusion that the gates of Heaven stand wide open for everyone and anyone who wishes to enter by any other way – do not listen to yourself. Don’t even listen to a preacher. Read the Biblical text for yourself. Jesus offers great salvation for all, but it is only effective for those who come to Him in repentance and faith.

Heaven is not overbooked.

(Photo by Anugrah Lohiya from Pexels)