~ Unredeemed Believer ~
Two types of people are serious threats to the mission and spiritual integrity of our churches and the Body of Christ. The first group knows what they are about and what they are doing. The second, sadly, will be taken by surprise in that Day of our Lord.
Jesus predicted the rise of the first group: "False messiahs and false prophets will come and work great miracles and signs. They will even try to fool God's chosen ones. But I have warned you ahead of time." (Matthew 24:24-25) The apostle Paul spoke of impostor church leaders: "They only pretend to be apostles of Christ. And it is no wonder. Even Satan tries to make himself look like an angel of light. So why does it seem strange for Satan's servants to pretend to do what is right?" (2 Corinthians 11:13b-15)
Three examples of God's prophets calling fire down from the sky are found in Leviticus 9:24, 1 Kings 18:38, and 2 Chronicles 7:1. We can read in Luke 9:54 how the apostles asked Jesus for permission to do the same. However, God's servants aren't the only ones able to rain fire. A servant of Job announced that "God sent down a fire that killed your sheep and your servants." (Job 1:16b) But he was one of many people throughout history that mistook satan for God, since it was satan that brought that destructive fire. (See Job 1:12) Even Job didn't see the true picture and declared something that has become a saying to this day, often used in a feeble attempt to bring comfort: "The Lord gives and the Lord takes." (Job 1:21b) The fallacy too often unrecognized here is that it was not God who was doing the taking, but satan.
The antichrist of the tribulation days will also successfully imitate God's works: "It (the beast) worked mighty miracles, and while people watched, it even made fire come down from the sky." (Revelations 13:13) "Signs and wonders" that intrigue people are not necessarily validations of God's presence. And the confession of belief in Christ as Lord and Savior isn't necessarily indicative of someone being a child of God and citizen of the heavenly kingdom. This is most obvious in the demonic realm: "You surely believe there is only one God. That's fine. Even demons believe this, and it makes them shake with fear." (James 2:19) "...an evil spirit said to them, 'I know Jesus! And I heard about Paul. But who are you?'" (Acts 19:15) "There in the Jewish meeting place was a man with an evil spirit. He yelled out, 'Hey, Jesus of Nazareth, what do you want with us? Are you here to get rid of us? I know who you are! You are God's Holy One.' ...Demons went out of many people and shouted, 'You are the Son of God!' But Jesus ordered the demons not to speak because they knew He was the Messiah." (Luke 4:33-34, 41) Ironically, some of the greatest affirmations of Christ's divinity came from the servants of evil. And they are quite sincere, strong believers, and unredeemed.
There is a class of strong believers that are unredeemed among humans as well. They make great Sunday school teachers, moral parents and even fine pastors. But they are not redeemed and are not heirs to the heavenly kingdom. Scriptural knowledge, believing in the church's creed and biblical gospel, does not merit someone the redemptive grace and gift of salvation. Jesus taught, "The kingdom of Heaven is like what happened one night when ten girls took their oil lamps and went to a wedding to meet the groom." (Matthew 25:1) All ten of this bridal party had the same knowledge, but five of them were diligent and wise enough to prepare for the wedding. To the others, the groom said, "I don't even know you!" (Matthew 25:12)
Preparation and obedience is faith in action, and without faith there is no redemption. "Then the people will ask, 'Lord, when did we fail to help you when you were hungry or thirsty, or a stranger or naked or sick or in jail?' The king will say to them, 'Whenever you failed to help any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do it for me.' ...the ones who pleased God (are in His will) will have eternal life.'" (Matthew 25:44-46) "Not everyone who calls me their Lord will get into the kingdom of Heaven... they will say, 'We preached in your name, and in your name we forced out demons and worked many miracles.' But I will tell them, 'I will have nothing to do with you! Get out of my sight, you evil people!'" (Matthew 7:21-23) These are harsh and terrible words for people who were doing great things in Christ's name but not living in His will. To live outside of His will is to live outside of His kingdom.
God's will is for us to trust in, surrender to, completely depend upon Him, which is the correct translation of the word "believe" in John 3:16 and the central theme and message throughout the entire Bible. Our motive is love, "because He first loved us." In the twenty-first chapter of John's book, Jesus just asked Peter if he loved Him, then Jesus instructed Him to "take care of my sheep." Jesus didn't ask him if he liked keeping sheep. It didn't matter if Peter did or not. Jesus isn't asking us if we like to teach, write, heal, pray, visit, clothe, feed, or care at all for the least of His followers. It doesn't matter whether we do or not. It doesn't even matter if we believe in Him or not. Jesus' question is, "Do you love me?" If the answer is "no" or "I don't really know, but I believe you are the Messiah, God's Holy One" then we are in the company of the servants of satan who declare the same thing, for what that's worth. If we say "yes," then much follows from there, including obedience (John 14:15) and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. (John 14:16) "What God has planned for people who love him is more than eyes have seen or ears have heard. It has never even entered our minds!" (1 Corinthians 2:9)
(Click here for the Sequel to Unredeemed Believer)
John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Spiritual Resource Services
Weekly Reflections © February 24, 2001
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