For the first 45 years of my life I was a Southern Baptist, a Presbyterian, or a Pentecostal, moving easily and comfortably among those denominations. At the age of 9 I accepted Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth as my Savior, publicly professing my faith in Him as Messiah (Christ) and submitting to water baptism. Today I am Messianic, meaning that I profess faith in Yeshua as Messiah and keep the commandments of the Lord as taught through Moses. Perhaps I could be described as a First Century Believer, or even a Revelation 12:17 believer. That verse says,
So how do we avoid the sin of Cain? We do that by learning what God wants. And where do we learn that? Where else but His Word. That’s why Paul offers this advice:
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (II Timothy 2:15 KJV)
But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance,persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (II Timothy 3:10-17 NKJV) Please click here to continue reading
Hopefully by now you understand that our eternal reward for trusting Jesus is not sitting around in heavenly comfort, but doing something useful for His Kingdom. But there’s more. Do you realize there is a merit system in the Kingdom of Heaven? That might sound wrong to us Americans who think salvation by grace through faith is the whole story. You mean God saves us, but doesn’t guarantee where we stand in the Kingdom? That’s exactly what I mean. Jesus speaks more than once about those who are greatest and least in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:17, 11:11, 18:1-4, 20:20-28, 23:1-12; Mark 9:33-37; Luke 16:9-12, 22:24-30). The work you do in this life doesn’t just put food on the table or good education in your head. It determines where you stand in eternity. And why is that? Because God tests every one of us to see whether we are worthy of His trust (Luke 9:46-48). That’s the whole point of Jesus’ parable about the talents. I encourage you to read that over again. It’s in Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:11-27. Let me summarize it. Please click here to continue reading
Continuing from Fox Byte #2, how do we learn what God’s definition of order is? How do we learn anything? Reading is a good way to learn, but most people I know are not really interested in reading more than they have to. The truth is, the way we learn best is from other people – hanging out with them, watching them, listening to them, trying to imitate them. Do you suppose God designed us to learn that way?
The Bible tells us that God gave human beings a list of rules so we would understand how to relate to Him and how to treat each other (see Matthew 22:34-40, Deuteronomy 6:4-5, and Leviticus 19:18). We call them mitzvot, or commandments. Good things happen when we keep God’s commandments. We call those good things blessings. However, learning about the commandments takes some effort, and living by them takes even more effort. After all, they are not written like a novel. Most of them are in the first five books of the Bible, which Christians call the Pentateuch and Jews call the Torah. Reading them is sometimes like reading a legal document, and sometimes it’s hard to see how these commandments apply to people today. Please click here to continue reading