Can I Make It?
Can I Make It?
As Joshua comes to the conclusion of his farewell speech to the nation of Israel, he says something completely unexpected: “You will not be able to serve the Lord” (24:19). This is in response to the claim made by the people that they will serve the Lord (24:16-18). Such a response is unexpected, especially after he had encouraged the Israelites to serve the Lord. So Joshua is not saying that serving the Lord will be impossible for them, for he has already exhorted them to do such (24:14). Rather, the purpose of the statement is to have them face reality, to count the cost and to realize that faithfulness will involve much more than lip service (Matthew 7:21). “Neither Israel nor the church could hear a more beneficial word than that… The church should note this: Too frequently, the Jesus we present is some variety of prepackaged joy, peace, and provision that works twice as fast as aspirin… One of the healthiest things a Christian can do is to doubt and question his easy expressions of commitment” (Commentary on Joshua, Dale Ralph Davis, pp. 201-202). In like manner, Jesus warned the crowds that were following Him (Luke 14:26ff) of the actual cost. Yes, you can serve Him, but do not be under any false illusions that such service will be effortless.
So Can I Make It?
That is, can I successfully live the Christian life and end up saved and enjoy all the pleasures of being with God in heaven? Before we explore that question more in detail we need to avoid the quick, knee jerk and easy answers that are so frequently given by the world. Often a superficial answer, rather than a Bible answer is given to such a question. In response to such a question people might tell you:
- “You are a good moral person, of course you will make it”
- “Everyone goes to heaven or just about everyone”
- “God loves everyone and so everyone goes to heaven”
- “All religious paths lead to the same place”
- “God’s grace will just cover everything, so there is nothing to worry about”.
Formulating a Bible Answer
- God desires that all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), so ending up saved for anyone must be a real possibility.
- Jesus died for all men (John 3:16), so His blood is available to remove the sins of anyone who believes and is baptized (Acts 2:38).
- God is serious about wanting all men to be saved. God sent His only begotten Son. Jesus died for all. Then the gospel message was to be preached to everyone (Mark 16:15-16). All of this involved a tremendous cost not only to the Father and the Son but to many of those who shared the gospel with the world. People have died and suffered tremendously in order for the Bible to exist, be in your language and be accessible in mass numbers.
- The terms of salvation are conditions that all men or women in any time, age or place can meet (Acts 2:38).
- God commands all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30), so all men must be able to repent if they so desire (2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 2:20).
- The qualities that we are to add to our lives once we become a Christian are qualities that all men are capable of understanding, embracing and living (Galatians 5:22-23).
The Help that God has Provided
- The Bible is streamlined, only contains what we really need to know and is understandable. From the standpoint of the Holy Spirit it is profitable and can prepare, educate, convict, encourage, motivate and correct (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
- The blood of Christ can forgive you of all your sins and is available even after you become a Christian (1 John 1:5-10).
- God hears and answers your prayers (1 John 5:14).
- When you are baptized you are added by the Lord Himself to the church (Acts 2:41). So, you are not left on your own. You are immediately surrounded by a caring family of seasoned and knowledgeable Christians. You are given a community in which to learn and grow and be encouraged. You are surrounded by living and walking examples of how one is to implement the teachings of Jesus.
Inherent Problems with Isolating Yourself
- You ending up believing your own theories instead of Scripture.
- You become more and more like yourself.
- There is no accountability. There is no one to challenge or correct you if you start believing something false (Galatians 2:11ff).
- You do not grow, because there are certain virtues that can only be developed when you are around other people and interacting with them, such as patience and compassion and unselfishness.
- You have no one to help you when you are struggling – and you will struggle from time to time (Ecclesiastes 4)
- You are choosing to attempt to navigate life without asking for counsel, which is really dangerous.
- The Bible says that walking with wise men will lead to wisdom (Proverbs 13:20). I never find it saying, “He who walks alone ends up wise”.
- You end up with an unexamined, untested and unproven life at the end of the day.
A Modern Dangerous Trend
I know that in recent decades it has been popular to claim to be spiritual and arguing that one does not need any sort of church or organized religion or doctrine. What sort of world would it really be if we all said, “I don’t want to belong to anything and I don’t want any responsibilities?” It is equally naïve to say, “Well, I don’t want to belong to any church because of the drama”. Wait a minute. All genuine relationships have the potential for conflict and the need to work things out, manifest maturity and make the relationship work. Family, marriage, being a citizen, living in a neighborhood, being part of the community, etc… all will demand this of us. So I really question the motivation person who says, “I want to avoid the drama”. Is that it? Or do you want to avoid the demands that a real relationship with other people will make upon you?
Just a Heads Up
Over the years many Christians have noticed the same phenomena. The believers that perpetually struggle, who tend not to grow or enjoy their faith all seem to have the same core issues in common.
- They do not read or study their bible much.
- They do not have a consistent prayer life.
- They are not involved as they should be in the life of a local congregation.
So successful living the Christian life is not a matter of luck. Rather, if you work the plan it works. In fact, the Holy Spirit says that: “For as long as you practice such things you will never stumble” (2 Peter 1:11).
- The only way that a sin can dominate and gain control in your life is for you to refuse to own up to it. Owning up is completely in our power.
- Jesus would have never died for you if your salvation was never even a real possibility.
- Look at how far you have already come. Remember what used to enslave you? No longer. Sure, you still have to resist certain temptations, but the actual number of sins that you still have to resist, can probably be written on the palm of your hand.
- Look at the people in the past who changed. Remember Rahab? Zaccheus? The Corinthians? Saul of Tarsus?
- Explore the Bible you will find plenty of people who would argue that they were deeper into sin and depravity when they heard the gospel than when you heard it (1 Timothy 1:13-15).
Mark Dunagan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017