TWO DIFFERENT RESPONSES TO GOD'S LIGHT
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
God gives light to each of His creatures as He chooses. The light God gives is the revelation of His will for that individual. When we walk in that light (which always is Christ) we have fellowship with God, and the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, purifies us from all sin.
TWO DIFFERENT RESPONSES TO GOD’S LIGHT
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (I John 1:7)
The giving of light, the revelation of His will, always is according to God’s own desires and purposes in Christ. No person can come to Christ except as the Father draws him or her. We did not choose Christ. He chose us.
What we do with the light we are given determines our eternal destiny.
We are not judged according to light we do not have but according to light we do have. To whom much is given, of that person shall much be required.
That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:47,48)
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19)
When God gives us light, and we refuse it, He then does not skip over that part and challenge us with something else. God proceeds in a straight line with us.
For example, Jonah did not obey the light he was given. God did not then change His mind. In order to walk with God, Jonah had to repent and do what he had been told originally.
This is important for us to realize, because Christians often are disobedient and suppose they can disobey God at some point and then continue as though it did not matter.
There are illustrations in the Bible of two different responses to God’s will, both involving kings who governed God’s people. In one instance the response was to disobey God. In the other instance the response was to obey God.
The first episode occurred as Jeremiah sent a scroll to King Jehoiakim, notifying him of the disasters the Lord planned to inflict on Judah.
It was the ninth month and the king was sitting in the winter apartment, with a fire burning in the firepot in front of him. Whenever Jehudi had read three or four columns of the scroll, the king cut them off with a scribe’s knife and threw them into the firepot, until the entire scroll was burned in the fire. The king and all his attendants who heard all these words showed no fear, nor did they tear their clothes. (Jeremiah 36:22-24)
Jehoiakim’s response did not change God’s mind.
After the king burned the scroll containing the words that Baruch had written at Jeremiah’s dictation, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: Take another scroll and write on it all the words that were on the first scroll, which Jehoiakim king of Judah burned up. (Jeremiah 36:27,28)
Like all people who do not walk in the light they are given, Jehoiakim came to a tragic end.
Therefore, this is what the LORD says about Jehoiakim king of Judah: He will have no one to sit on the throne of David; his body will be thrown out and exposed to the heat by day and the frost by night. I will punish him and his children and his attendants for their wickedness; I will bring on them and those living in Jerusalem and the people of Judah every disaster I pronounced against them, because they have not listened.” (Jeremiah 36:30,31)
The second episode occurred when the Book of the Law was found.
Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the LORD.” He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. (II Kings 22:8)
Now we see a totally different response from that of King Jehoiakim.
When the king [Josiah] heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. (II Kings 22:11)
What resulted from the repentant attitude of King Josiah?
Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people, that they would become accursed and laid waste, and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the LORD. Therefore I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.” So they took her answer back to the king. (II Kings 18:20)
Imagine that! Jehoiakim throws the scroll from Jeremiah into the fire. Josiah immediately repents.
So it is with Christians today. When some hear what God is saying to us they ignore it, hoping to be saved “by grace. “Others repent and turn to the Lord for the true grace of God—that which will enable them to do God’s will. Each of these groups determine their eternal destiny by their response to the light they are given.
Today God is telling us to move forward from the traditional membership in a congregation to the role of disciple of the Lord Jesus. To be a disciple of the Lord Jesus we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus.
In addition to becoming an disciple of Jesus we have been charged to become an actual member of the Body of Christ. We accomplish this by seeking God until we discover what our ministry is in the Body of Christ, and then exercise our ministry diligently and consistently.
This is the light being given us today.
We are learning, from the Holy Spirit, that we have been employing an unscriptural definition of “saved.” We have been defining “saved” as escape from Hell and eligibility to enter Heaven when we die.
Now we understand “saved” means we are living in the Presence of God through Jesus Christ, and when the Lord returns we will be filled, body, soul, and spirit, with the fullness of God in Christ.
There is a truly awesome difference between these two definitions of “saved.” If we hold to the traditional definition we continue as a typical member of a Christian congregation, never really becoming a new creation in Christ. If we pursue the current, scriptural definition, we begin to grow in Christ. Every day we fasten our eyes on Jesus, our Master, and become more in His image and enter further into untroubled rest in the God’s Person and will.
One may wonder: “How could it be that the Christian churches have continued to hold an incorrect definition of “saved” for so many hundreds of years, with the resulting spiritual immaturity of the believers?
The answer can be seen in the episode concerning King Josiah. There were many fervent priests and Israelites during that period. Also King Josiah was a true worshiper.
He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left. (II Kings 2:22)
But they all were ignorant of the attitude of the Lord toward them!
This is so difficult to believe—that the king and his court could be so persuaded God was pleased with them, and yet the Lord was ready to destroy Jerusalem at the hand of Nebuchadnezzar!
So it is today. Millions of Christians are pursuing their religious ways, being confident that Christ is pleased with them. But multitudes of them are ignorant of the attitude of the Lord toward them.
How do we find out what God’s attitude really is? In the same manner that Josiah found out. Not by how we feel, or by current practices, but what Christ and His Apostles spoke and wrote.
When we turn to the New Testament we discover that numerous Christian beliefs are not found there.
How about the idea that the Lord is coming to “carry away His waiting bride to Heaven”? There absolutely is no foundation in the New Testament for this commonly held belief.
How about the idea that God sees our behavior through Christ? When we lie God sees truth. When we commit adultery God sees moral purity. When we explode with rage God sees a peaceful, loving nature. When we steal God sees honesty. When we criticize other Christians God sees a generous, forgiving spirit.
This is the opposite of what the New Testament teaches.
What about the idea that gossip, a common Christian practice, is regrettable but not too evil? The New Testament claims that those who gossip are worthy of death.
What about the notion that salvation is a sovereign work of God that operates independently of our behavior? This is unscriptural and destructive of our growth in Christ. A change in our behavior is the only evidence that we are being saved.
What about our teaching that Christ came to save us from Hell and make us eligible for Heaven, even though we have not been transformed morally? This is not scriptural. Christ came to re-create what we are, not to assign us to a certain place independently of our becoming a new righteous creation.
How about the concept of a “state of grace,” an impervious bubble that keeps us in a state of righteousness even though we are not becoming a new creation in Christ? Not found in the New Testament.
How about the doctrine of “salvation by faith alone”? Refuted by the Book of James.
What about the teaching that at any moment we will be caught up to Heaven to escape suffering? Completely contrary to the New Testament.
What about the doctrine that even though we continue to sin we will hear “Well done, good and faithful servant”? Absolutely contrary to the Book of First John.
How about the thought that no Christian believer will be punished at the Judgment Seat of Christ? Absolutely against the teaching of Christ and His Apostles. For example, the parable of the talents.
So we are in a condition very similar to that of King Josiah and the people of Judah. We suppose the Lord is accepting us and our ways and all the while judgment is hovering over us. It is certain those who continue in the typical American Christian tradition will not hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.” If they do, the New Testament does not consist of the faithful and true words of God.
When we discover we are not teaching and practicing what Christ and His Apostles taught, we have two alternatives from which to choose. We can respond like King Jehoiakim and burn up the light in the fire of our headstrong course. Or we can respond like King Josiah and do works of repentance.
We can be like those of Berea and search the New Testament to determine if we have departed from the Scriptures.
Or we can cling to our unscriptural beliefs and practices because we are too busy to take the time to find out what the New Testament actually teaches.
There are specific consequences that follow each of these two responses.
(“Two Different Responses to God’s Light”, 3656-1)