4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose:“ He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double- minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. (James 4:4-10 NASB)
7 You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:
8 ‘This people honors ME with their lips,
But their heart is far away from ME.
9 ‘But in vain do they worship ME,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.'” (Matthew 15:7-9 NASB)
What does it mean biblically to draw near to God? Obviously, the Jews our Lord confronted as Matthew recorded in the passage above were not doing so. However Hebrews 10:22 says to those who are truly born again:
22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:22 NASB)
Here is Hebrews 10:22 from the NA28 Greek text, “προσερχώμεθα μετὰ ἀληθινῆς καρδίας ἐν πληροφορίᾳ πίστεως ῥεραντισμένοι τὰς καρδίας ἀπὸ συνειδήσεως πονηρᾶς καὶ λελουσμένοι τὸ σῶμα ὕδατι καθαρῷ·”
The words “let us draw near” translates the verb προσερχώμεθα, which is the Present tense, Subjunctive mood, Middle voice, 1st person, plural of προσέρχομαι or proserchomai, “to approach, accede to.” This verb structure refers to continuous or repeated action, regardless of when the action took place. The subjunctive mood suggests that the action is subject so some condition and the present subjunctive can be used to give exhortation, which is exactly what the writer of Hebrews is doing here.
32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. (Luke 17:32-33 NASB)
Believe it or not, there are parallels of God’s grace in remembering Abraham and thereby saving Lot from destruction and remembering Christ when at the final judgment and thereby saving all those for whom He is their propitiation. In light of this let us look at why so much of what seems so right and innovative in today’s Church is nothing more than possessing heaps of overthrow while those who refuse to compromise in worship, preaching, witnessing, and making disciples are the ones who truly possess the treasure of the Kingdom of God.
19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “ Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “ But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him A drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:19-21 NASB)
It is the duty of all believers to serve the Lord by being good soldiers, ready for battle to stand and contend for His Truth no matter the cost, however, there are right and wrong ways this is done. It is vital for the apologist to know the truth and that is found only in God’s Word. Yes, some godly Christians speak and write truth from God’s Word, but the primary source for us is the Word of God. This is why it is vital that believers sit at the feet of good and godly teachers of God’s truth that they may know and love His pure doctrines. I have seen so many good Christians attempt to stand up to apologists for some man-centered version of our faith, but they are not prepared. This usually ends badly. The reason this happens is that these good people use tactics born in the flesh rather than from the humble, and wise heart that is submitted totally to the will of God. The enemy is an expert at inciting people to react emotionally to what they perceive as wrong and this can lead to snippy arguments that produce only bad fruit.
11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; (Ephesians 4:11-14 NASB)
There is little doubt that there are some in leadership positions in the visible church that are there because of their natural abilities rather than the fact that God has gifted them spiritually to lead His people. If the latter were the case, they would not be leading their followers into apostasy as the passage I placed at the top of this post clearly states. Those gifted by God to be true leaders in His Church have the role and responsibility to do what? They are to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of Got, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Why?
5 For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. (Galatians 5:5-6 NASB)
This Christian walk is fraught with struggle against a deadly enemy. That enemy is the flesh. Our flesh is deceitful and has only one goal, which is, motivated by pride, to drive us to seek fulfillment through channels which will always result in the believer not walking in the Spirit, but according to it. It is very clever and can even conjure up false humility that is really pride in disguise. It can justify all sorts of things that appear to be humble and Christlike, but which are merely screens and bluffs designed to disguise a life of self-gratification. In this walk it is vital that the believer come to terms with the fact that they will have to deal with this monster as long as he or she is in this life and that it is the victory over it which is the wonderful result of the mortification of sin. This humble pursuit is only possible for the believer as he or she learns to walk by faith motivated by God’s love working through them.
38 So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”
40 They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. 41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. (Acts 5:38-41 NASB)
Charles Spurgeon wrote the following devotional during that part of his ministry in which he was dealing with the Great Downgrade Controversy. In this controversy he was maligned and ostracized by most of the Baptist ministries in England because he stood firm and refused to compromise the Gospel in order to do what the majority demanded, which was to change the way the gospel was preached in order to be more inclusive with those forms of Christianity that may not believe the same way. In other words, pluralism was a problem in the 19th Century England as it is in our time.
15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? ’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from ME, you who practice lawlessness.'”(Matthew 7:15-23 NASB)
Christian authenticity is a set of marks of genuineness. Christ said that we can tell false Christians from real Christians by their fruit. There is fruit that real Christians produce that false Christians cannot. Even those who are in the fires of tribulation, fighting deadly battles against their sin nature will be growing in these areas. Their visible fruit may be small or even embryonic, but it will be there. However, the false believer, since he or she has not the Holy Spirit nor are they regenerate, cannot bear this fruit. It grows only in the hearts of those God has touched with His grace unto the New Birth.
4 I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:4-9 NASB)
A few years ago during some research for a piece I was working on, I found myself on a blog that was most definitely not a friendly place for anyone who holds that God’s Truth is absolute and we can know it by studying His Word. The search that landed me there had to do with Penal Substitution. I never did find out why Google linked to that site, however, as I read the comments in the discussion of the post in question, one seemed to sear itself into my memory. The person who wrote came across as young and angry. He had a huge problem with Paul Washer of Heart Cry Missionary Society. Why? He did not like the fact that when he heard him he felt like Paul was simply manipulating his emotions to make him believe that he was not really saved. He then began ranting about Reformation Theology, calling it “works theology.” Why? Because we teach that proof of the veracity of one’s salvation is proven when the believer perseveres to the end. I asked myself, how that could possibly be seen as works because we do not teach that the believer’s perseverance is accomplished by self-effort.
43 Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘ And they shall all be taught of God. ’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. (John 6:43-46 NASB)
Even those who most ardently proclaim the sovereignty of man’s freewill must honestly deal with passages throughout Sacred Scripture which make it clear that the human will of the natural man is incapable of attaining such a high role. In fact, God’s Word actually makes it clear that the Human Will is simply the faculty of choice with no inherent ability to make a decision on its own. It is the Human Mind that decides while the Will is the “faculty of choice, the immediate cause of all action.”1 Therefore, it is quite incorrect to allocate the sovereignty of choice to a mechanism within each of us, created by God, which enables us to carry out the volition of the mind.
41 Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41 NASB)
38 Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38 NASB)
45 When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, 46 and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:45-46 NASB)
Temptation: Temptation is any thing, state, way or condition that, upon any account whatsoever, has a force or power to seduce, to draw the mind and heart of a man or woman from his or her obedience, which God requires of them, into any sin, in any degree of it whatsoever.
As Jesus agonized in Gethsemane in the hours prior to His trial, torture, and crucifixion, His disciples had a hard time staying awake. He went off by Himself to pray, but asked James, John and Peter to watch and pray. However, each time He came to them, He found them asleep. If we look closely at Mathew 26:41, Mark 14:38, and Luke 22:45-46, we will see the whole of our Lord’s caution to His disciples seems to have been, “Arise, watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation.” Our Lord knew that danger was near. He knew that His disciples would be scattered from Him when He was arrested. However, His concern seems to be on these men that they would not enter into temptation. Notice also that it is the flesh that is weak and it is the watching and praying that keeps them lined up with the spirit that they be one in spirit with Him. If they would do that then they would not enter into temptation.
14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 This I command you, that you love one another.
18 “ If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. (John 15:14-19 NASB)
A careful reading of the book of Acts is very revealing. From it we see the spread of Christianity as the Apostles obediently made disciples wherever they went. This spread was always accompanied by persecution. The hotter the persecution the more encouraged the brethren became. While that is not logical to the fallen mind, that is exactly how God grew His church. In the early 2nd century the bishop of Smyrna, Polycarp who was a disciple of the Apostle John, was brought to the Roman authorities and ordered to confess that Caesar is lord. Polycarp was eighty-six years old at this point. All he had to do was utter that statement as he offered a pinch of incense to Caesar, but he refused. He was martyred by fire.
3 O Lord, do not Your eyes look for truth?
You have smitten them,
But they did not weaken;
You have consumed them,
But they refused to take correction.
They have made their faces harder than rock;
They have refused to repent. (Jeremiah 5:3 NASB)
Obstinate refusal to bow the knee to the Lordship of Christ is not always apparent or observable in professing Christians. Unlike men such as the late George Carlin, their rebellion is often shrouded in ceremonies, religiosity, morality, good works, and the like. They may have been convicted to repent, but instead of doing so they remain turned from God as they pursue their own way of placating their conscience. This is attempting to be a Christian on ones own terms.
6 In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. (1 Timothy 4:6 NASB)
From January 1986 until the late fall of 2005 I probably would have, if asked, responded to the question in the title that Christianity is a life or at least a relationship while doctrine, though unnecessary, helps us understand that. I didn’t really believe during that time that doctrine was of any real value. Why? My whole understanding of Christianity is that it is based on my experience. For some odd reason I didn’t think much past that in an attempt to understand why my experience would be so radically different than other Christians’ experience.
18 And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?” 19 They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.” 20 And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “ The Christ of God.” (Luke 9:18-20 NASB)
Who is the Christ of God? Did you notice how confused those outside of Jesus’ circle were about who Jesus really was? However, reading the passable in context (Matthew 16) we find that Peter knew who Jesus really was because it had been revealed to him by the Father. I contend that there is still confusion about who Jesus really is. There has to be because so many so-called Christian leaders are preaching “another Jesus.” Let us look at evidence within God’s Word about who Jesus really is.
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying,
“Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. (Revelation 12:10 NASB)
1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 The Lord said to Satan, “ The Lord rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel. 4 He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, “ Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.” 5 Then I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments, while the angel of the Lord was standing by. (Zechariah 3:1-5 NASB)
In the book of Zechariah we have a wonderful passage that gives us a picture of God’s gracious and merciful work in saving those who deserve nothing but the flames of Hell.
3 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. 4 For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4 NASB)
Every professing Christian, whether he or she is a trained theologian or not, has constructed some kind of Christology in their mind, in their heart. Sadly, with the dearth of clear and correct doctrine being taught in our churches, most seem to believe that whatever their own concept of Christ is it is okay. After all, to have correct doctrine isn’t that important…right? Some think that Jesus came to give His followers a “better life” here and now. This would include becoming prosperous and influential. Others see Jesus as mostly concerned about the environment and that He is the ultimate tree hugger. Still others see Jesus as primarily a teacher of ethics, therefore, He is all about social justice. This same Jesus is concerned with accepting all into His kingdom regardless of whether they have repented of their sins or not. Are any of these examples representative of the Jesus we meet in God’s Word?
30 ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν. (John 10:30 NA28)
30 “I and the Father are one.” John 10:30 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Genuine Christianity, not the false versions of it, is unique when compared to the world’s religions. In fact, those false versions of it are just like the rest of the world’s religions in one regard that makes genuine Christianity absolutely unique. All other “religions” are based upon some form of works based theology and belief system in which some form of justification is made through those works which increase the value of the person in that religion thereby gaining the reward. On the other hand, genuine Christianity is nothing like that at all. Salvation or justification comes as a result of something God has set out to do and has completed. Those who are justified were elected by him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1) based upon no works or deeds or value inherent in them (that none may boast). All of the work to justify these elect was done by God and completed; and he, being sovereign and all-powerful, saves them all as we will see in the short passage we will exegete below. Those who are saved are new creations after their justification because God himself regenerated them so that their dead faith is made alive and they are now able to believe the gospel and be saved (Ephesians 2:1-10; Titus 3:5). Who believes? Who are these Christians?
34 Μὴ νομίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν· οὐκ ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἀλλὰ μάχαιραν. (Matthew 10:34 NA28)
34 Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword. (Matthew 10:34 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
The peace that Christians have because they are in Christ is between them and God and because of that, with each other. However, that does not mean that there will be peace between them and those not in Christ. In fact, these words of our Lord in Matthew 10:34-38 make it clear that those truly in Christ will be so changed by the Gospel, the presence of the Holy Spirit in them, and their new nature that there will be inevitable separation between them and those who are not in Christ. This holds true even within families. This is true because the genuine believer is so changed that no matter what sort of pressure comes to bear on them, they simply cannot be at peace with the ways of the world or the ways of the flesh. Their conscience is bound to Christ and His Word while those not in Christ have consciences bound to the flesh no matter how religious they are.
1 Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, 2 even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. (John 17:1-2 NASB)
In John 17, we have the transition marking the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry and the beginning of His intercessory ministry for all believers (Hebrews 7:25). This has been called “The High Priestly Prayer,” however; it does summarize John’s entire Gospel. For instance, its principal themes include Jesus’ obedience to His Father, the glorification of His Father through His death and exaltation, the revelation of God in Jesus Christ, the choosing of the disciples out of the world, their unity modeled on the unity of the Father and the Son, and the believers final destiny in the presence of the Father and Son. There are three main sections to this prayer. In vv1-5, we have Jesus’ prayer for Himself. In vv 6-19, we have Jesus’ prayer for the apostles. In vv20-26 we have Jesus’ prayer for all New Testament believers who will form the Church.
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows:when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:18-21 NASB)
In the passage above, the word “sins” translates the noun ἁμαρτιῶν, which is the Genitive, Plural of ἁμαρτία or hamartia, from the verb ἁμαρτάνω or hamartanō, which means, “to miss the mark.” The word group from which these two words belong gives the sense of missing the mark, losing, or falling short of a goal (particularly a spiritual one), as in Romans 3:23, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” The noun form, ἁμαρτία, typically refers to the transgression of the law, for example, 1 John 3:4, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” Therefore, ἁμαρτία is used to denote our sin against God. Apart from the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, ἁμαρτία results in death, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord ” (Romans 6:23).
38 You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent. (John 5:38 NASB)
In John 5:30-47 the apostle gives us several witnesses to establish the truthfulness and genuiness of Jesus Christ and His ministry. Our Lord Jesus presented these witnesses who testified to His identity as the Son to those who opposed Him. The first witness given is John the Baptist in vv32-35. The second witness is our Lord’s own words in vv 35, 36. The third witness is the Father in vv 37, 38. The fourth witness is the Old Testament Scriptures in vv 39-47. However, as is the case from this point to the end of John, those who most vehemently opposed our Lord and His ministry, refused to believe.
22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:22-23 NASB)
22 καὶ πάντα ὑπέταξεν ὑπὸ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ καὶ αὐτὸν ἔδωκεν κεφαλὴν ὑπὲρ πάντα τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ, 23 ἥτις ἐστὶν τὸ σῶμα αὐτοῦ, τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ τὰ πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν πληρουμένου. (Ephesians 1:22-23 NA28)
What is “fullness?” In the passage above the NASB translates πλήρωμα as “fullness.” In this form it refers to “that which is filled.” It was used of a ship being filled with sailors, rowers, soldiers, and even cargo. The verb form, πληρουμένου, is found later in the same verse. The tense of the verb is a present participle, showing continuous action. What does this mean? Christ fills the church with His own life.
18 The Jews then said to Him, “ What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “ Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It took forty- six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken. (John 2:18-22 NASB)
My wife and I just got home from the theater. After I got off work today we went to see the movie Risen.
I was quite surprised at how Biblically accurate it was. It is a look at our Lord’s crucifixion, resurrection and ascension from the eyes of an unbeliever, at least at the beginning. I don’t want to spoil it for you. After coming home I wanted to post something about our Lord’s resurrection so…
Without the resurrection of Christ, Christianity is just another religion based on ancient teachings of Men. It was the reality of Jesus’ bodily resurrection that God used in light of the teachings from Scripture to bring Jesus’ disciples into belief. His resurrection is what God uses in the Gospel to make it real in the hearts of those whom He effectually calls and regenerates. In other words saving faith’s reality is the risen Christ.
1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. 2 For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:1-4 NASB)
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 NASB)
I am sure when our Lord told His disciples on the Mount of Olives that they were the light of the world that there were some who were getting the idea that the way of our Lord was some form of works righteousness that was at a higher, but better level than that of the Scribes and Pharisees who were all about legalism. Some today still have that idea. However, He followed that statement with the following:
17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20 “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20 NASB)
So, what was our Lord teaching here? He wasn’t teaching us to follow legalism, that is, that our righteousness is somehow obtained by a strict adherence to the Law of Moses was He? Paul was very clear in the book of Galatians that no one ever obtained the righteousness of God that way.
18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. (Philippians 3:18-19 NASB)
When Christians understand their proper role in their relationship with their Saviour as that of a δοῦλος (slave) of the Κύριον ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν (Lord Jesus Christ) then they must also have a clear understanding of the fact this does include everyone. Those whom He saves are His δοῦλοί and their responsibility is to serve Him according to His will for the rest of their lives. However, as the passage above reads, this does not include everyone, far from it. There are enemies of the cross of Christ. While these δοῦλοι of the Κύριον ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν will spend eternity with Him, these enemies have an end that Paul calls “destruction.”