A. Brother
©2009 Narrowgate Publishing

            “This is the message you heard from the beginning:  We should love one another…We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers….This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.  If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”                       --1 John 3:11,14,16,17

          “This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us….”   
                                                                  --1 John 3:19

          “Jesus looked at him and loved him.  ‘One thing you lack,’ He said.  ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then, come, follow Me.’”                            --Mark 10:21

          “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.  Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High…Give and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.”                 
                                                                  --Luke 6:35,38

          “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to see Me’…’I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’”         --Matt 25:34-36,40

            With very good reason, many of us who claim Christ are continually searching for assurance of our salvation.  We want proof, solid evidence that we are saved, that Christ is in us, that all the Bible says is true, and that we will meet Jesus in heaven.
            In actual fact, it is an epidemic of hearts sick with fear.  Book after book, song after song, sermon after sermon throughout the land tries without great success to assure those who call themselves Christians of the love of God, rock-solid proof of salvation, and comfort in the storms of life.  We hunger and thirst after evidence that we are truly God’s children.  Our churches trumpet warm, comforting messages.  Our pulpits spend thousands of hours talking endlessly about salvation, and repentance from dead works, and grace through faith, and Christ’s sacrifice for us.  Yet the crowds hunger still, and the assurance is tenuous at best, and when the storms come, or the temptations come, or the ridicule and persecution come, we fall by the wayside like so many unproductive seeds.

          We don’t have assurance of salvation, because many of us are not in truth disciples of Jesus.  God will not tell us a lie.  Our hearts are condemning us, yet we want to be assured of what we don’t have.  So we struggle and fail to find comfort from the Holy Spirit.

          Read carefully several times each of the Scriptures plainly spoken at the beginning of this teaching.
            Are we so deaf and blind (yes) that we miss the clear truth here?
            Fall on your knees, brother or sister, and ask the Lord to take the scales from your eyes so that you might see the clarion call of God.  It is literally, for you and me, a life or death matter.
            Many of us have been taught that belief alone is salvation.  Wrong, wrong and wrong again.  It is belief coupled with obedience that matters.  Jesus said it continually, over and over, and the apostles and early disciples trumpeted it loudly throughout the New Testament.  The Old Testament, just as surely the Word of God, declares faith accompanied by works.  It is not just James, but John, Paul, Peter, and the writer of Hebrews who declare that faith without works is dead.  And dead faith is no faith at all. 
            So why are we asking for assurance of salvation, when true faith, “saving faith”, as James says, has eluded us?

            “What good is it, my brethren, if a man claims to have faith, but has no deeds?  Can such faith save him?    Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?”  
                                                                   --James 2:14,15

          Don’t we hear this?
            God is saying to us that we are not saved if we don’t take care of our brothers.
            Want assurance of salvation?  Then obey Jesus in His most basic commands. 
            That’s what the Apostle John reminds us continually.  In his first letter he reminds us over and over that LOVE is the first obedience.  And that a man cannot say he loves God without proving it by loving his brothers in practical ways.
            Our love for God is proven by our love for the brethren.  If you don’t love the brethren, you don’t love God.  How else can it be said???  What spirit of disobedience possesses us that we do not hear this?
            Our disobedience is the same disobedience Jesus hated in the religious Jews of his time.  They figured every way they could around the simple commands of Scripture, in order to do all the little things they wanted to do.  They created traditions that countered the very Word of God, and then expected God’s blessings! 

            The churches today tell us that to be a disciple of Jesus means “accepting Christ as your personal Savior”, and then living a life that consists of church attendance at least once a week, tithing 10% of your income to the church, and perhaps some daily Bible study and prayer. 
            And with this weak, sickly, powerless religion we are supposed to have assurance of God’s salvation.
            Brethren, I declare again the ageless Word that was given us from the beginning, as the prophets gave it, and Jesus fulfilled in His life on earth, and the early Church learned it.
            The man who comes to Christ must “walk as Jesus did.”  --1 John 2:6
          How did Jesus walk?  I would say that is the most important question we’ll ever ask.  It should be our constant study, our prayer, our devotion every moment every day.  To learn to walk as Jesus did.  To follow His commands, which are simple, and not burdensome.
            The reason we don’t have assurance of our salvation is this:  Many of us who claim to be Christians are not. 
            We are not obeying the Lord Jesus, and we have settled for some traditional form of “Christianity” that denies the very essence of sacrifice, love, and the power of God in which Jesus walked.  We do not have saving faith.  We have a “belief system” plus a man-made system of religious rituals that we follow, thinking that through them we will be saved.
            Jesus calls us to obedience, which means death to ourselves, and His life lived through us.  Paul talks about it constantly in his letters.  We cannot serve both God and ourselves.  If we do, we are not being saved.
            This is the Narrow Gate: Christ.  He is the Way.  His life becomes ours.  Our life becomes His.
            There is no such thing as “the Christian life” or a life lived by “Christian principles”.  These are phrases that deny the truth, and allow us to live lives of unbelief, patterned after the world.
            True discipleship to Jesus is complete self-denial and requires living a life of love and self-sacrifice as He did. 
            Do you and I have the love of God within us?  If we do, we will live a life that is right-side up--meaning a radical, completely committed life that reflects the Lord Jesus and His interests, and is a beacon of love and light in the darkness.  We will stand against the forces of religion every day, to walk as Jesus walked.


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