Through the Wilderness
Through the Wilderness
"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 ESV
Path to the Narrow Gate
Path to the Narrow Gate
May 12, 2017
The path to the narrow gate is truly a difficult one. You see, it takes more than words and piety to find it. It also takes dedication and sacrifice. God clearly states the condition for finding Him in the book of Jeremiah:
"You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:13 ESV
The quest to find God requires a complete commitment. We must be absolutely determined to find Him. We must put this quest above all else and be willing to do anything to find Him. The Bible says that no man seeks after God unless the Spirit of God draws him in. So when we say we are seeking God, it's really Him who is seeking us. God isn't lost, we are. When He draws us in, He will ask us to take steps of faith. These steps of faith lead us to where He is. Once we arrive, He will reveal Himself and we will know who He really is. Walking by faith is a difficult task as it requires us to make decisions that are contrary to human wisdom. This process is explained in Proverbs:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."
Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
We see here that the Lord must lead us on our journey if we desire a straight path. Too often we take control and lead ourselves, which causes our path to be crooked. The reason we do this varies, but the underlying cause is unbelief. We don't believe God will come through for us so we deviate from the path He has set before us. This will eventually lead to disaster, because the Devil is also trying to lead you to himself so that he may destroy you. Does this mean the straight path is free from obstacles? Absolutely not. On the contrary, it is laced with them. You see, as the Devil throws grenades on our path, God uses them for His purpose. He is refining us and molding us through the difficult times, perfecting our faith. He is teaching us to trust Him. Too often the burden is too much for someone to bear and they abandon the path. That person will enter the wide gate. Jesus said the one who endures to the end will be saved, so no matter the trials we are facing, we must remember they are only temporary and are meant for our good. Peter had some things to say regarding trials and tribulation:
"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though some strange thing happened to you. But rejoice insofar as you share in Christ’s sufferings, so that you may rejoice and be glad also in the revelation of His glory. If you are reproached because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. Let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or an evildoer, or even as a busybody. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God because of it. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God, and if it begins first with us, what shall the end be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” So then, let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good."
1 Peter 4:12-19 MEV
We are called to suffer with joy and continue doing good. An impossibility for those without the Spirit of God, but we are not without. We are promised in Isaiah that if we will keep our minds stayed on God, He will keep us in perfect peace. This glorifies God and establishes our faith so that we may proceed walking by faith without fear. This is an order too tall for most people, but we are not most people. We are chosen and empowered by God to do the impossible.
"When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all."
Psalms 34:17-19 ESV
Beware of the Leaven
May 12, 2017
"..Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."
Luke 12:1 KJV
Jesus had no small qualm with the religious faculty of His day. In fact, the only people in scripture we see Him contend with are the Pharisees, who were the hyper-religious people of the day:
"You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
Matthew 15:7-9 ESV
Unfortunately, this level of hypocrisy is still prevalent today. We see institutions claiming to be founded by the Bible, but are surely founded by men:
“Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God."
Matthew 15:2-6 ESV
We see here that the Pharisees held their own customs, desires, and traditions in a higher esteem than the Word of God. The same is true of the Catholic Church. This will no doubt offend many, but "Better is open rebuke than hidden love" (Proverbs 27:5 ESV). My love for Christ and His Church compels me to speak the Truth, no matter popular opinion. The Catholic Church and their blatant disregard for the commands of God have bound and led people astray from the very inception. They trample Christ underfoot, offering penance for themselves, thinking their self-righteousness earns them right-standing with God. This is contrary to scripture. They pray to mere people and view the Pope as being the authority of God. The Pope is in no wise worthy of any calling or any merit from our Father in heaven. He is selected and praised by men to lead the Church, but has missed the calling to nail his own righteousness to the cross and submit to God's righteousness, which comes through faith in Christ alone. As it is written:
"What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: 'None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.'"
Romans 3:9-12 ESV
Do not be fooled, there is no difference between you and any priest. You have no need for them to pray for your sins to be forgiven. They certainly have no authority of their own to absolve you. On the contrary, if you believe on Christ, He has wiped away all of your sin. Indeed, He has wiped away sin entirely for any who call on His name and any who call on His name have direct access to the Father Himself:
"He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."
1 John 2:2 ESV
"Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV
"For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified."
Hebrews 10:14 KJV
The Pope himself is every bit as unworthy as anyone else:
"But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.."
Romans 3:21-23 ESV
God places men in positions of authority in the Church, and they are to be respected as those in authority, if it so be that they rightly teach the Truth. You will not find the Truth in the Catholic Church. It is filled with blasphemies and false teachings. Run away from them.
"Then the disciples came and said to him, 'Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?' He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”"
Matthew 15:12-14 ESV
The Cost of Discipleship
The Cost of Discipleship
May 12, 2017
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple. For who among you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost to see whether he has resources to complete it? Otherwise, perhaps, after he has laid the foundation and is not able to complete it, all who see it will begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to complete it.’ Or what king, going to wage war against another king, does not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Otherwise, while the other is yet at a distance, he sends a delegation and requests conditions of peace. So likewise, any of you who does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple."
Luke 14:26-33 MEV