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It Ain't Necessarily So...

It Ain't Necessarily So...
(by  Bob Pulliam)

How many people, in the history of this world, have been lost and knew it? I'm sure you can figure that there have been very few. This was recognized by Solomon when he wrote, "There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death." (Prov 14:12). Solomon also wrote, "All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the spirits." (Prov 16:2). Very simply put, "it ain't necessarily so". Everyone wants to justify their own way, but their personal self-estimate is of no value where the final judgment is concerned.
Nowhere is this more clearly seen than in Matthew 7:21-23. Here Jesus said,

"Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'"

Certainly these people thought that they would be welcomed as they came before the Lord's judgment bar. They had been very sincere in their efforts to work for the Lord, but they had failed to follow His law. They fully expected eternal life, but were cast out instead.

In this context, Jesus had already said that few were being saved (Mt 7:13f). Many enter the gate of destruction, but few ever find the gate of life. Surely we cannot place the blame on God. It is not that they cannot find the gate. The problem is that they refuse to take the way of life. Satan makes the way of destruction seem more virtuous and noble, luring people to eternal death. The narrow gate seems too restrictive to be the way of a "loving God". They believe God must be saving a majority of people, so they follow the crowd. This is precisely what Satan wants people to believe. When he can convince them of this, he has them in a position of denying scriptures. The scriptures clearly teach that salvation is not the way of the multitude; but they deny that such is the case, and follow the multitude anyway.

Zeal Without Knowledge...

Zeal is another factor (with sincerity) used by people for gauging salvation. The more zealous you are, the more saved you must be. If you are involved in a lot of things for the Lord, then you must really love the Lord and be saved. No thought is given to the question of whether all of those activities are acceptable to the Lord. They have thought of them, are impressed with them, and the Lord must also be impressed.

My friend, the Lord is never impressed with us as we would seem to think He would be. We are only pleasing to the Lord when we do the will of the Father (Mt 7:21). There is nothing impressive about such. We simply obey that which He has already contrived. We must remember that the Lord never put an ad in His word for people to update and improve what He revealed in the New Testament! The best we can do is obey, and that simply makes us obedient to His wisdom and power. Jesus said, "So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.'" (Lk 17:10)

The Jews of Paul's day had a problem of zeal without knowledge. Paul wrote, "For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God." (Rom 10:2f) The will of the father must be known, and then our zeal applied to that knowledge. Later in that same chapter, Paul wrote, "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom 10:17) If it isn't in God's word, then zeal shouldn't be applied to it in serving God.

Conclusion...

The bottom line in all of this is simple. Salvation is not determined by the amount of sincerity and zeal a person has. These things are certainly important, but cannot be made the basis for determining safety. Zeal must be according to knowledge, and sincerity must be based on the will of the Father. These can only be known by what God has revealed in His word.

Many people claim to follow the word of God, and it alone. In the final analysis, when a conflict between their feelings and the word arises, their feelings win out every time. These people are not following the word of God. They only follow the word when it agrees with their feelings, and such is not a following of the word at all. Everything is based on how they feel about a matter.

Do you believe you are saved? Remember that it ain't necessarily so. God determines such, and reveals the criteria for knowing such in His word. It is here that the will of the Father is learned. It is here that knowledge offers proper direction for zeal. Only in the word of God can we trust.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." (Romans 1:16)