One of the common themes we hear in churches these days is that Jesus is the one who sacrificed so you don’t have to. While it’s 100% true that Jesus fulfilled the law’s requirement for blood sacrifice, so that you could receive eternal salvation for free, just by believing, it’s absolutely not true that this is all that is required to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Before you try to burn me at the steak or call me a heretic, let’s look at what the Bible says. Let’s go to perhaps the most popular verse in the Bible. John 3:16.
‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. ‘John 3:16 NKJV
Seems pretty straightforward right? Just believe and you’re in. Say a little prayer, head to church a few times, whenever you get in a pinch make sure to pray for sure then so God can bail you out, and otherwise live however you want. Pretty nice right? Unfortunately, that’s literally nowhere close to the truth.
How do we know? Well first off, Jesus says this about people who “believe” in him in John 14:12.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. ‘John 14:12 NKJV
So Jesus says that people who believe in him will do the same things that He has done i.e. raise the dead, heal the blind, drive out demons, etc. Not only that, but He says that we’ll do even greater works than He has because He is going to God. So…are you doing the same works or better than Jesus did? If not, then you must not believe at the level that Jesus was talking about in John 3:16 and so maybe you should look a bit deeper.
Now, signs and wonders are something that we’re all warned about that will come from the anti-Christ in the end of days. So there must be more to all of this then just believing Jesus enough to be able to do the works that He has. Let’s see what Jesus has to say about it Himself:
“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!’’Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV
This is covering both bases. The people that call on Jesus’ name and the people who are able to perform the types of miracles Jesus is talking about. Jesus says that even these people will not make it into the Kingdom of Heaven.
So then, who can make it into the Kingdom of Heaven? Well according to 7:21 those are the people who do the will of God in heaven.
How do you determine God’s will for your life? We should probably follow Jesus’ own example in order to fulfill the will of God for our lives. No…I’m not talking about everyone needing to physically die on a cross like Jesus, but we do need to take up our cross and follow Jesus.
The cross was the will of God for Jesus’ life. So Jesus is saying to take up your own sacrifice of your life and walk according to the will of God for your life. Jesus also tells us where he got this from: The Holy Spirit.
‘Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. ‘John 5:19 NKJV
Jesus says here the He did nothing of Himself, but only that which He saw His Father doing…via the Holy Spirit. He also says in a few places that He only speaks via the Holy Spirit John 6:63 and John 12:49-50 (see the latter below).
“For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”John 12:49-50 NKJV
We know that the prophets themselves also were called prophets by speaking the Word of the Lord and it coming to pass. So then we can know that a prophet doesn’t heal or do miracles, but it is God who does miracles through the prophet. Jesus says this himself on multiple occasions two of which were quoted above.
In order to truly follow God, it requires sacrifice. Not doing your own will, but living your life in submission to God’s will. Not praying to God that he’ll give you what you want, but praying to God that you will desire His desires and that He will show you and guide you on His path for your life. It’s dying to yourself.
This Christianese word has been misused for a long time. People say “dying to self” means getting rid of selfish ambition. While that’s one part of it, it really is about following fully God’s will for your life and denying anything else that you may have wanted in lieu of what God has called you to do.
There is not greater calling and it is what we are all called to do by Jesus. So..are you really willing to follow God? Or are you more interested in seeing if God will follow you? It’s your move and your choice about how you want to live. The only thing you can’t control are the consequences of your choices. If you live according to the Spirit, you are free from the law and live in the Kingdom. If you live according to your own desires, then you are under the law of sin and death, as well as the kingdoms of the earth.
God is raising up His remnant now for this season of those who will walk according to the Truth found in the Word of God. You are invited to join and receive of the blessings that we all have had since the beginning and that Jesus gave us a specific path to obtaining via the Holy Spirit. No one is better than anyone else and this isn’t about being righteous or “doing the right thing.” It’s your life, do what you want with it, but just know that you’ll never be able to live the life you were made to live if you choose your own way…so you’ll always be left wondering.