Saturday, June 3, 2017

Jesus won't commit to a marriage unless he knows it's going to last.

The Word for today:
Acts 8:26-40
I don't relish writing what I'm going to write today. But I must write it. Read it very carefully, and if it prompts you into some deep soul-searching, then you're the one I'm writing to.
Do you believe in Jesus? Yes or No? If "No," then there's no time like now to repent of your unbelief and turn in faith to him. Just say this prayer: "I have decided to follow Jesus"--and let God take care of the rest.
If "Yes," then I must ask a further question: Does Jesus believe in you?
You may be scratching your head, wondering what in tarnation that has to do with anything. Listen very soberly and carefully:
Salvation is a marriage; trust has to come from both sides in order for the marriage to be authentic.
We read today of a sorcerer, Simon. He was amazed at the miracles--physical healing and authority over demons--which accompanied the preaching of Philip. And so, we read, Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. (Acts 8:13)
He believed and was baptized. Did he? Was he?
Let's look down the page a few paragraphs. Simon, still obsessed with the miracles he was seeing, offered money for the power to confer the Holy Spirit. So Peter rebuked him:
"May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin." (Acts 8:20-23)
This is a clear case of a false profession of faith. Peter knew that Simon's profession of faith had not been genuine. And Simon himself sensed that his prayer would not be heard by God, so he asked Peter to do his praying for him:
Then Simon answered, "Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me." (Acts 8:24)
Jesus had encountered the same phenomenon--a profession of faith in his miracles, but not in him:
Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name.
But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men.

He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in man. 
(John 2:23-25)
They professed belief in him, but Jesus knew it wasn't him they were believing--it wasn't his message, his word, his heart, his truth, his cross, his salvation.
It was the show he was putting on--the miracles, "signs," and wonders. And he knew enough about man to know that when the show left town, their superficial "faith" in him would fade. So he would not wholeheartedly "entrust" or "commit" himself to them.
Is it his word, his heart, his cross that you believe in? Or is your "faith" in something superficial? Is it all about your glitzy megachurch and the amplified sound pumped out by the worship band as they mouth the gospel songs? What if the plug were pulled? Would you return next week for the unadorned Light of the World and the quiet sustaining power of the Holy Spirit?
Is your "faith" in reaction to a charismatic preacher who sends a tingle down your spine on Sundays? But has his eloquence created any hunger for the Word of God during the remainder of the week?
Are you sitting in a pew on Sunday because it appeases your wife? Or because the kids should get a smattering of 'religion?'  
Does it all make you feel, you know, moral somehow? Or do you feel that you owe the church thing to "God," whoever he is?
If it's Jesus you believe in, then the Bible says he'll entrust himself to you. But if it's really something else you're after, then Jesus will send some pest, like Peter or me, to remind you that while you may have "gone to the altar," you've never married. Jesus won't commit to a marriage unless he knows it's going to last.

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