Recently I’ve been learning some things about following God’s will. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens, I’ve been learning about them through my own mistakes.
The crucial principle I’ve been learning is that there should never be a major decision that we make without consulting God’s guidance. There should never be any area of our life that is a “no-go” when it comes to God speaking to us.
Let me unpack that. In life, we have many decisions to make, some of them bigger than others.
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. Hebrews 12:15-16
Charismatic “inner healing” teaching majors on this “bitter root” doctrine. Typically, it’s said that the “seed of bitterness” is sown when some hurt happens to you, and instead of forgiving, you allow resentment to take hold in your heart.
Hebrews 11 continues and develops the argument of chapter 10. In chapter 10, we are told not to give up, but to press forward in faith. Hebrews 11 describes what that faith looks like, how persevering faith that doesn’t give up and receives the reward has expressed itself in the lives of great men and women of God.
Hebrews 10 contains a pretty terrifying warning that has scared a lot of people, myself included:
Recently I’ve pretty much stopped using Facebook. One event was the tipping point, but the truth is, I’d been increasingly disenchanted with it for some time before that.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14
Given its eternal consequences, understanding what salvation means is absolutely crucial.
Jesus said that those who will be saved are few. Why? Because true salvation means walking a difficult path that few are willing to take.
What are the narrow door and hard way, and the wide gate and easy way?
Many nominal or liberal Christians say that they believe in Jesus, but reject the Old Testament, saying it is not inspired by God. Or non-Christians say they like Jesus, but they can’t be a Christian because of the OT. In their view, the God of the Old Testament is intolerable. He judges people, throws down nations, sends his people to war, and makes laws that seem barbaric. He can’t be the same God as loving, peaceful, forgiving Jesus.
There’s a particular view of Jesus I’ve noticed which is prevalent among non-Christians, but is held by nominal or liberal Christians as well.
In this view, Jesus is a sort of all-loving, all-accepting, nice guy who came to earth to be everyone’s buddy. He doesn’t challenge anyone’s sin, except for the uptight religious guys whom nobody likes anyway. He won’t tell you anything except that God loves and accepts you, whoever you are.
Note: this is much longer than the usual blog post. Also, keep in mind it was originally written as a response to a non-Christian friend. Finally, it's being published quite a bit later than the post it's responding to, but I still think it's worth putting out there.
Recently I’ve been reading the book of Hebrews. It’s an immense and encouraging blessing.
Hebrews is written to people who are feeling discouraged in their newfound faith, and are tempted to leave Jesus and return to Judaism in order to avoid persecution. The writer of Hebrews encourages them to persevere, have faith, and not give up, because Jesus and this salvation they have received are so much better than the law and the old priestly system.
This isn’t the space for a detailed commentary on Hebrews. But one verse in particular really struck me: