Sunday – June 27, 2021 Romans Week 11 Romans 3:1-8 “Condemning Questions”

Sunday – June 27, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 27, 2021

Romans 3:1-2
Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.

It is not difficult to imagine the response of a Jew to Paul’s words in Romans 2. “What good does it do me to be a Jew?” Paul’s response, “Great in every respect”, indicates that there are many benefits of being a Jew, but he wants to draw their attention one particular blessing. The Old Testament Scriptures were given through the Jews and to them. They did not just possess the Scriptures; they were entrusted with them. The truth of God was not given to the Jews to keep for themselves as though they exclusively possessed it. The truth was given to be used and to be shared. The Jews were granted the privilege of receiving God’s Word, of practicing it, and of proclaiming it to the nations.

Our perception of the blessedness of this gift depends upon the value we place upon God’s Word, and ultimately upon our estimation of God Himself. What good is the revelation of a God whom we dislike, whom we have rejected? What good is the revelation of His character and of His standards for our conduct if we esteem God little, and we loathe godliness? God’s Word is a blessing to those who yearn to know more of God and who wish for His Word to search them and to reveal their sins. God’s Word is a privilege to those who would desire to know Him and to be like Him.

If the Old Testament Scriptures were such a privilege and a responsibility for the Jews of that day, how much greater is our privilege and responsibility today? We have God’s full and final revelation; they had only the Old Testament. If we would know the measure of our own appreciation for the privilege of possessing the Scriptures, let us consider how well-worn the pages of our Bibles are. Do we look at the Bible only as a set of do’s and don’ts, or do we look at the Scriptures as the source and sustenance of our lives? Do we study them to know our God better so that we may serve Him more faithfully? I fear that for many of us, the Bible is viewed no differently than the Jews looked at the Scriptures in Paul’s day.

We too have been given the Scriptures as a stewardship. We are not only to possess and to practice His Word, but we are to proclaim it to those who are in bondage to sin. The paradox is this: the more we seek to hoard the Scriptures, and the blessings they offer, the more we forfeit them. The more we seek to share the grace of God with others, the more we experience it ourselves. It is not what we keep that matters so much as what we use and what we give away. The truth of God is a personal blessing, but it brings added responsibility, for “to whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48).

Sunday – June 6, 2021 Romans Week 9 Rom 2:6-16 “How Good is Good Enough”

Sunday – June 6, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – June 6, 2021

Romans 2:12-13
For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.

If you have shared the gospel with people, you’ve heard the question, “Is God fair to judge those who have never heard about Jesus Christ?” Will a person really go to hell because they did not believe in Jesus when they never heard of Him? Another variation of the question is, “Won’t those who have done the best that they could do get into heaven?”

God will judge everyone with perfect justice. Paul establishes this point in verse 11, “For there is no partiality with God.” Paul anticipates our objection because he knows we are predisposed to think more highly of our own sense of morality. We think God will treat us more favorably than others who live just as they please. We are good people who obey the golden rule and they don’t!” Or, perhaps a more agnostic person would object, “It’s not fair for God to judge me for disobeying a standard that I knew nothing about! I’ve done the best that I could with what I knew. God won’t judge me, will He?”

Paul shows that God will impartially judge everyone for sinning against the light that they were given. His line of reasoning goes like this: The Gentile sinned without the Law, so he will perish without the Law. The Jew sinned under the Law and so he will be judged by the Law. In other words, as verse 6 stated, God “will render to each person according to his deeds.” Hearing the Law isn’t good enough; you must be a doer of the Law. Although the Gentiles did not have God’s Law, they all have an inner sense of right and wrong- a conscience. And, although occasionally they may do what is right, they all have sinned against what they know to be right. Their consciences and thoughts convict them of their guilt. But whatever they may think of themselves, the day is coming when God will judge not only outward deeds, but also the secrets of men through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the gospel.

At first glance, this doesn’t sound like good news! But, if there is no judgment for all sin, then there is no need for a Savior and thus no good news. If we do not acknowledge the coming judgment and wrath of God, we do not understand the gospel at all. The gospel does not offer good people the option of going on in our sin or shrugging it off as if it will not come under judgment if we do not repent. We need to understand the bad news of judgment in order to appreciate the good news of salvation through faith in Christ.

Sunday – May 23, 2021 Romans Week 8 Rom 2:1-5 “Self Righteousness is Unrighteousness”

Sunday – May 23, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 23, 2021

Romans 2:3-4
But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”

Waiting for his first orthodontist appointment, a 12-year-old boy was a bit nervous. He was completing a patient questionnaire and had high hopes of winning the dentist’s favor. In the space marked “Hobbies” he wrote, “Swimming and flossing”. We all want to make a good impression, to portray ourselves to others as better than we really are. But when we do that, we’re forgetting something important, namely, that God knows the very thoughts and intentions of our hearts. As the writer of Hebrews tells us, “all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Heb. 4:13). Someday we will stand before Him to give an account of our lives.

Paul begins to zero in on the moral Gentile or Jew in these opening verses, using the same indirect approach that the prophet Amos (Amos 1 & 2), where he begins by condemning the foreign nations around Israel. Just when the Jews are cheering him on, he moves in to hit them with their sins. Self-righteous people tend to justify themselves by blaming others. Self-righteousness is a very difficult sin to get people to see and condemn in themselves. But it’s a serious sin because it keeps people from seeing their need for the gospel. It believes the lie that we can be good enough in ourselves to qualify for heaven. “Maybe really gross sinners need a Savior. But me? Hey, God wouldn’t judge a good guy like me, would He?” Or, would He?

Paul isn’t condemning the act of judging others per se, in that he expects the moral person to agree with him that the sins of Romans 1 are wrong. The problem with judging others is when you secretly engage in the same behavior that you openly condemn. When a politician postures as standing for family values, but it comes out that he snuck off to visit his mistress in South America, he has condemned himself. Paul is not saying that it is wrong to judge others. Rather, he is saying that it is wrong self-righteously to judge others, while at the same time you’re practicing the sins that you’re judging.

The self-righteous are in error concerning divine judgment. They fail to distinguish between God’s present wrath and His coming (future) wrath. One purpose of God’s present wrath is repentance, leading to salvation. The primary purpose of His future wrath is justice. There is no turning back from this judgment. When we look upon those God has “given over to sin” as eternally doomed, we are just as incorrect as looking upon those who are presently experiencing God’s “kindness” as assured of eternal blessing. For now, both God’s kindness and His severity are directed toward man’s salvation, not his destruction.

Sunday – January 3, 2021 James 5:7-12 “Christian Thinking Durnig COVID 19” Pt 1

Sunday – January 3, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – January 3, 2021

James 5:10-11
Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

Job was a blameless and upright man, who feared God and turned away from evil (Job 1:1). Satan appeared before God and God brought up Job as an example of an upright man. Satan responded that Job only trusted God because He had blessed and protected him. God gave Satan permission to do whatever he chose, as long as he didn’t lay a hand on Job himself to prove that Job was not upright just for the benefits. Satan went out and deprived Job of all his possessions. Worst of all, he sent a powerful wind that knocked down the house where Job’s children were gathered, killing all ten of them.

Job’s remarkable response was to fall before God in worship, saying, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” The author adds (Job 1:22), “Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.” Satan returned to God and gained permission to go farther, as long as he spared Job’s life. So God granted permission to smote him with painful boils from head to toe. At this point, Job’s poor wife had had enough. She advised him to curse God and die. But Job responded (2:10), “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” The author again adds, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

James refers to “the Lord’s dealings” with Job. Although it was Satan who worked behind the scenes, Job affirmed that it was God: “the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21); “Shall we accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10). James says, “the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” If that is the lesson from Job’s sufferings, then it certainly applies to our sufferings as we deal with COVID and its consequences. Against our feelings and against the temptations of the devil, we must affirm by faith, as the psalmist did (Ps. 119:71), “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.”

One of Satan’s earliest ploys was to get Adam and Eve to doubt God’s goodness toward them. He still uses that bait when we go through trials. One reason that we fall prey to doubting God’s goodness is that we think too highly of ourselves and too lowly of God. We mistakenly think that God owes us something good because we deserve it. But even Job, whom God described as the most godly man on earth, did not suffer unjustly in all that he went through. Or, as Paul asks rhetorically (Rom. 11:35), “Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again?” God does not owe us anything. Any blessings that we enjoy are sheer grace!

Sunday – October 25, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 25:1-27 “Israel’s Watergate”

Sunday – October 25, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – October 25, 2020

Acts 25:11
If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!

We will often face circumstances that can either be frustrating or fruitful for the Lord, depending on how we handle it. If we see things only from a human perspective, we’ll grow impatient and frustrated as we think, “What a waste of time!” But if we see God’s sovereign hand orchestrating all of our circumstances according to His plan, then we can rest in Him, knowing that He will work it together for good according to His purpose.

Paul easily could have become frustrated while he waited in prison in Caesarea. Felix knew that Paul was innocent, but he kept him in prison, hoping for a bribe from Paul’s wealthy friends until he was recalled back to Rome and a new governor, Festus, was appointed. When Paul found himself standing before the same angry accusers who had tried to get him executed two years earlier, he easily could have become frustrated. It seemed like more of the “same old same old.” These guys just wouldn’t quit! Their charges, which they couldn’t prove, were basically the same as before. Paul could have impatiently thought, “When will this ever end, so that I can get on with the more important task of taking the gospel to the Gentiles who have never heard about Christ?” But Paul didn’t grow frustrated or impatient. Instead, he calmly defended himself before this same angry group of Jews and before the new governor.  Through this, God sovereignly was working to get His apostle to Rome.

From a human standpoint, the events of Paul’s time in Jerusalem could seem like a comedy of errors. His gift to the church at Jerusalem had not been well-received, as he had hoped. Their scheme to go into the Temple had backfired, resulting in the riot and Paul’s arrest. His interviews with Felix had not resulted in Felix’s conversion or in Paul’s release. And now, Festus’ misguided suggestion forced Paul to appeal to Caesar, further delaying his release from custody. But from God’s standpoint, God was working all things together for good for Paul according to His purpose of being glorified through the gospel, before the Gentiles, kings, and the Jewish people. He was working to bring His apostle to Rome, where many in Caesar’s household, and probably even Caesar himself, would hear the gospel.

The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is not a point for theological debate; it is a precious reality that brings great comfort to the believer. Often the greatest opportunities for ministry that God gives us come disguised as frustrating or confusing circumstances, where we seem to be restricted from reaching our goals. It is a most comforting truth that the sovereign God is orchestrating all of the circumstances of our lives, no matter how frustrating or confusing they may seem to us. We can trust Him to work all of the trials together for good for us, because we love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Sunday – October 4, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 22:30 – 23:35 “From the Frying Pan Into the Fire”

Sunday – October 4, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – October 4, 2020

Acts 23:1-3
Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” At this the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth.

How could Paul say that he had lived his life with a pure conscience? Did he not refer to himself as “chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15)? Had he not often spoken, with much regret, of the suffering which he had caused many saints, before his conversion? Are there not some questions that he failed to listen to the words of prophets warning him about coming to Jerusalem earlier in the Book of Acts? And here, before the Sanhedrin, even Paul acknowledges his outburst against the High Priest was a sin. How could his conscience be clear when he had done so much that was wrong?

A devout Jew’s highest efforts at law-keeping might enable him to claim, as Paul did, that he was, as pertains to law-righteousness “blameless” (Philippians 3:6), but he could never stop “looking over his shoulder” with respect to God’s holiness. The Old Testament law never gave men the ability to claim a clear conscience, but grace did, in the Old Testament and the New. This was what Paul had experienced, which he proclaimed, and which the high priest and his associates rejected. No wonder the high priest was so upset! Did this “Paul,” this “law-breaker,” really dare to think of himself as so clean, so righteous? How dare he speak this way, or so Ananias seems to have reasoned.

Much has been written about Paul’s response to the high priest, either condemning him for a brash act of temper, or defending him. Luke does not really indicate the goodness or badness of the act. It does raise a question we must ask of ourselves. Are any of our actions carried out with entirely pure motivation? Is there anything which we do that is not tainted by our own sin? Nothing we do, including our acts of obedience and worship, are entirely pure. Our purity comes from our identification with Him. God’s will is not accomplished because we do the right thing, for all the right reasons. God’s will can be accomplished by evil men, acting out of evil motives, or by good men, acting out of mixed motives.

Paul was once just like these members of the Sanhedrin—an arch enemy of the gospel and a persecutor of the saints. He spoke of himself not only as the one who was formerly “chief of sinners,” but as one who was presently holding the same position (1 Timothy 1:13-15). How is it possible for such a sinner to have a clear conscience? The writer to the Hebrews made that very clear—it is not through one’s own works or righteousness, but through the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and through His sacrificial and substitutionary death, in the sinner’s place (Hebrews 9). Do you have a clear conscience before God? You can, just as Paul did, by personally trusting in Jesus Christ as God’s provision for the cleansing of your sin. This cleansing is not due to any good you have done or will do, but only due to that which Jesus Christ has done.

Sunday – May 24, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 12:1-25 “Death and Deliverance”

Sunday – May 24, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 24, 2020

Acts 12:1-2
It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3 When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also.

There are times when evil seems to be winning the day. Wicked men get away with murder and their popularity goes up, not down. Throughout the world, the saints of God are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ and the righteous suffer terribly. Their loved ones are bereaved. It’s easy at such times to wonder, “Where is God in all of this? Why did He allow this to happen? How can any good come out of such awful wickedness?”

Peter, James and John had been close. James and John had asked to be given privileged positions, above the other disciples, by allowing them to sit at the right and left hand of the Lord in His kingdom. Instead of talking about these honored positions, Jesus turned the subject to His “baptism,” His suffering and death. He asked Peter and John if they were able to drink the cup which He was to drink. Ignorantly, they assured Jesus that they were able. Jesus responded by telling them that they would indeed drink of that cup, the cup of death. Little did either James or John realize how soon it would be before James would drink of that cup. They had spent three years in close contact with Jesus. But now, James was suddenly gone and Peter was awaiting execution. John was left wondering, “Why?”

What a commentary Acts 12 provides us on the words of John, recorded in the last chapter of his gospel. Peter, James, and John were all present when Jesus appeared to them. Peter was asked the three-fold question (“Do you love Me …”), and was given a three-fold command (“Feed My sheep.”). He was also given the command to follow Christ, with a specific reference to his death. And yet Peter wanted to know about John’s death, about what God had purposed for John. Here were Peter and John, thinking of their deaths, and now we see that in God’s plan and purpose it was neither of them who would be honored by the privilege of dying first. That privilege was saved for James.

There is nothing mechanical about the Christian life. God is not obliged to treat all Christians alike, and the record of the Bible is that God deals differently with each individual. Summed up in one word, God is sovereign. He works all things according to His own good pleasure. Men cannot and do not manipulate God; God manipulates men, for His glory and for their glory and good. How evident this is in the lives of these three men, all of whom experienced such different fates, all of whom served God in such different ways.

Sunday – May 17, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 11:20-33 “One Step Back to Move Forward” Pt 2

Sunday – May 17, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 17, 2020

Acts 11:22-24
News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.

Most people in the world would say, “The way to get into heaven is to be a good person.” Again, the definition of “good” in the minds of those who say this is so vague and broad that almost everyone qualifies. If you’ve ever done a good deed for someone, even if it was to earn your Boy Scout badge, you’re in! But the Bible teaches that no amount of human goodness can qualify a person for heaven, because God is absolutely good and He cannot and will not allow even a single sin into His perfect heaven. Thus the apostle Paul builds his argument that “there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Rom. 3:12), because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

In light of this, when the Bible calls a man “a good man,” we should sit up and take notice. Although it is speaking relatively, not perfectly, here is a man whose life we should study and learn from. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Luke says that Barnabas “was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (Acts 11:24). The description starts on the surface and works inward. He was a good man—how so? He was full of the Holy Spirit. How so? By being a man of faith. By studying Barnabas’ life, we will look at what a good person is, namely, a person who loves God and others (the two great commandments).

When we first meet Barnabas, he is selling his property to lay the proceeds at the apostles’ feet to meet the needs of the early church in Jerusalem (4:36-37). Years later, the apostle Paul referred to Barnabas as one, like him, who labored with his own hands to support himself in the ministry of the gospel (1 Cor. 9:6). Barnabas’ generosity toward those in need took precedence over his thinking about his own future. Later, when the famine threatened not only Judea, but also Antioch, the church in Antioch gave to help the needy saints in Judea. Although the text does not say, I’m sure that Barnabas contributed to that gift, and he gave his time to deliver it to Jerusalem. The church could trust him with the money, because he was a generous man, free from greed and obedient to God.

Having considered Barnabas, can it be said of you, as it is said of Barnabas, that you are a good man or woman, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith? Is your love for God vital and growing? Is your love for people becoming more tender and compassionate? Do you seek to help others grow in their faith? Do you ask God to use you to reach the lost for Christ? Are you aware daily of your need to depend on the Holy Spirit to produce His fruit of goodness in your life? When you do stumble, do you turn from it and go on with the Lord? That is how you can become a truly good person before God.

Sunday – April 26, 2020 Book of Acts – Acts 10:34-48 “What a Difference a New Menu Makes”

Sunday – April 26, 2020

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Word On Worship – Sunday – April 26, 2020

Acts 10:42-43
And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”

Since life is short and uncertain and eternity is forever, the most important question anyone can answer is, “How can I be saved?” How can I know for certain that I am right with God? Sadly, even among Christians there are myriads of answers to that crucial question.  Many think that if a person is sincere, it really doesn’t matter what he believes. Another common belief is we must be good people to be saved. If we try to do our best, if we don’t hurt anyone, if we help others, then we will get into heaven. Often faith in Christ is combined with good works. If we believe in Jesus and do the best we can, the combination will somehow get us into heaven.

Peter and the other apostles knew that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not by our good works or efforts. But practically speaking, up till now they also believed that to be right with God, a pagan Gentile had to become a Jew in the sense of obeying the Jewish laws regarding circumcision and ceremonial issues. The thought of a Gentile getting saved without coming through the door of Judaism was foreign to them. But God has been breaking down Peter’s Jewish prejudices on this matter. Now they are all swept away in an instant, as the Gentiles in Cornelius’ house clearly get saved and receive the Holy Spirit in the same manner as the Jews had on the Day of Pentecost.

Even though Cornelius was a good man- even a God-fearing man, he still needed to hear about Jesus Christ and to put his trust in Him. As Peter proclaimed in Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” This means that there is no salvation for good people apart from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no salvation for good Americans who live in a supposedly “Christian” nation, apart from personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But there is salvation for everyone who believes in Him.

Believing in the name of Jesus does not refer to a general, vague sort of belief. Instead, it is specific and personal. To believe in Jesus means that I believe He is the Lord who gave Himself on the cross for my sins. I believe the promise of God, that whoever believes on Him receives eternal life as God’s gift, not based on any human merit, but only on God’s free grace. To believe in Jesus means I no longer rely on anything in myself to make me worthy in the eyes God. Rather, I trust only in what Jesus did on the cross as my hope for forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

Sunday – May 26, 2019 Gospel of Luke – Luke 18: 31 to 19: 10 “Jesus Treed a Tax Collector”

Sunday – May 26, 2019

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Word On Worship – Sunday – May 26, 2019

Luke 18:18-20
A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good — except God alone.

If Jesus had taken an evangelism training course, He would have dealt differently with the rich young ruler. From an evangelist’s point of view, this guy was a piece of cake. His eagerness is evident from the fact that (Mark 10:17 reports) he ran, not walked, up to Jesus. He even knelt down before Jesus, right in front of others, and asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus didn’t even have to figure out how to turn the conversation to spiritual things! What an opportunity! Shouldn’t be too hard to get a decision!

And the man was a choice prospect. Matthew tells us that he was young. He still had most of his adult life ahead of him. He was in a place of influence in spite of his youthfulness. He didn’t have any serious problems to overcome—no drugs or alcohol, no history of trouble with the law. From his youth, he had tried to keep the Ten Commandments, and he had done a pretty good job of it. He was a fine young man, the kind that any church would lift up as an example. And, he was extremely rich, with just a tithe, he could have bankrolled Jesus’ mission for years to come. What a key person! But Jesus let him walk away.

There’s another possibility, of course. If it seems to us that Jesus blew a choice opportunity and that He did not share the gospel clearly with this eager young man (if it had been anyone other than Jesus who had taken this approach, we all would say that he blew it), then perhaps Jesus has something to teach us about the gospel message and how to share it. In particular, He teaches us how to share the gospel with good people—those who believe in God and have lived decent lives.

Perhaps you are a good person today. You’ve assumed that your good deeds will get you into heaven. But you must see that your own goodness can never save you. You must see the awful sins of your heart as God sees them. Perhaps there is one sin that you refuse to let go. The Lord is saying, “Let it go! Sell all that you possess, and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Turn from your sin and trust in Christ alone who can save. Even though this rich young ruler went away sorrowful and unsaved, Jesus knew what He was doing as an evangelist. I pray your response will not be like that of this young man.