“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”
1 Timothy 2:5
There are more than two billion people in the world who claim the name of Jesus as their Saviour, calling themselves Christians. Yet Jesus said that few will be found worthy to go to heaven when He comes back. That is a sad thing to think about. Out of two billion professed Christians, a small amount, only a remnant, will truly, completely follow Him.
Jesus warned Jerusalem and the people of that day that sudden destruction was coming to the city and they would need to flee when they saw the signs. To His disciples He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37)!
Jesus knew that very few would be saved from destruction just years later when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman armies. But for all His true believers and followers, He gave this warning in Matthew 24:13-16: “… Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”
In 70 AD, the Christians who remembered the warning, fled the city when the opportunity was presented, thus escaping the devastation that occurred in Jerusalem. The temple was totally destroyed, with not one stone left on top of another and only a remnant of people were saved. “And the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward” (Isaiah 37:31).
Throughout the history of the world, we have been given warnings of coming destructions, yet we have not understood. The lack of understanding is because we have not truly studied and asked the Lord to help us know His truth. Jesus is our God and Mediator as it says in 1 Timothy 2:5, and He is also our Teacher. He desires every man, woman, and child to be saved. “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3, 4).
The problem God has is convincing His people who claim Him as their Saviour, to “come to the knowledge of the truth.” Jesus has given us an ample amount of evidence of His truth, yet His professed followers do not believe it, and if we do not believe His truth, how can we be saved? Jesus does not want us to be deceived by false teachers or false prophets. He wants us to study for ourselves and find His truth in the word of God. Jesus said to His disciples in John 8:31, 32, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
We must abide or live by the word of God if we are to know and understand the truth. Those who do only a casual reading or none at all, will lose heaven. They will be deceived into believing things that are not true. Peter talks a lot about this in his epistles. He warns us of the deception that was coming even in his time. Now it has been almost 2,000 years later and false teachings are throughout Christendom. Speaking of these teachers, he writes in 2 Peter 2:18, 19: “For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.”
When we talk about false teachers, we are talking about ministers, pastors, priests, Bible workers, or anyone who states something that is not according to the word of God. And the only way we can know if it is true or not is to study the Bible for ourselves and not rely on the interpretation of others. We should do a thorough study of any subject that we hear people talking about. The truth will only set us free if we are studying the truth for ourselves.
Who will be saved? That is a question that has been asked by each person who desires to go to heaven. Jesus told us through His revelation to John that there was a certain criterion to being saved. It was not instantaneous, but rather a commitment. Jesus said, “ ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God’ ” (Revelation 2:7). “ ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death’ ” (Revelation 2:11). “ ‘He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels’ ” (Revelation 3:5).
These are but three of the seven times Jesus encouraged us to follow His example and overcome. What must we overcome? Sin! We are all condemned under the sentence of death because of our sins. In fact, Paul reminds us that every man has sinned, and the punishment for that sin is death. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 3:23; 6:23).
We are all born with a sinful nature. No one can overcome that sinful nature except through Jesus Christ. In order to overcome sin, we must submit to Christ in all things. We must give up the things of this world. This world and the things in it have been contaminated by Satan, and he is now the owner of the worldly attractions, the big cities, the excitements that all lead to sin.
Jesus has come to take us out of that type of living. He says, “Come to Me, all you who … are heavy laden [with sin] and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He will help us overcome every temptation that Satan puts forth to make us fall into sin, but we must ask for that help. Jesus will never force us to do anything that we do not want to do.
However, He will not allow anyone into heaven who has not overcome sin in his life. That is why He sends us the Holy Spirit to help protect and mold our character to learn to hate sin and its consequences. Jesus gave us His gift of grace so that we could be free from the condemnation of sin. Once we accept Jesus as our Saviour, we must overcome sin through His power. “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life” (Romans 6:22).
When we submit our will to the will of Jesus, He frees us from being slaves of sinful acts and gives us the power to resist sin. But be not deceived, if we do not overcome sin, we will be lost. Even though Jesus gave us the gift of His life, which paid for the sins of the world, if we continue in sin, then we have not truly accepted His gracious gift. It would be like saying, “I don’t want it” and throwing it back in His face.
Truth seems to be a fleeting thing these days. Everyone has their own definition of truth. Most “truth” that you see in the newspapers or on television, and especially on the Internet, is “truth with a twist,” spun to promote Satan’s agenda.
Jesus, however, can be trusted to give the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. He has only one agenda and that is to save mankind from Satan’s rule. Jesus states His truth clearly and without compromise. The truth of Jesus is not of this world, and His truth has nothing to do with any worldly agenda. His truth is centered on how to live a life that will be accepted in heaven. So how do we become acceptable in God’s sight?
“Our Saviour, during all His sojourn on earth, shared the lot of the poor and lowly. Self-denial and sacrifice characterized His life. All the favors and blessings we enjoy are alone from Him. We are stewards of His grace and of His temporal gifts. The smallest talent and the humblest service may be offered to Jesus as a consecrated gift, and with the fragrance of His own merits He will present it to the Father. If the best we have is presented with a sincere heart, in love to God, from a longing desire to do service to Jesus, the gift is wholly acceptable.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 11, 280.
We must first accept Christ as our Saviour and Mediator and turn away from our sins. We can only do this through love for Him. We love Him because He first loved us, and through that love we submit our will to Him. Next, we must learn what it means to love. Love for God is obeying all that He asks of us. Understanding His truth starts with keeping God’s commandments. Jesus says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
If we are going to keep the commandments of God, then we must love each other. The apostle John writes, “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us the commandment” (1 John 3:23). Jesus gave the same commandment in John 15:12: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
Some believe this means just to love your friends, and possibly some of your church members. But Jesus made it clear we are to love everyone as He loves them. He went around doing good to people who never accepted Him as their Saviour. He fed them with fishes and bread, He told us that if a man requires our cloak, we are also to give him our shirt (Luke 6:29). He said when we feed or clothe the poor, visit those in prison, giving them the words of Life, it is the same as if we were doing it to Him (Matthew 25:34–45). Paul said to live a peaceful life and obey the government and laws of the land. “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves” (Romans 13:1, 2).
Obviously, if the governments of the world require us to break God’s law, then we have to make the choice to follow God rather than man. Peter and John had to make that choice when they were told not to preach in the name of Jesus. They followed Jesus and gave the gospel to the world anyway, even under torture. (Read Acts 4 and 5.) It is notable that they disobeyed to preach the word of God. God says to obey those He has set up over the nations unless to do so breaks one of His ten commandments. His commandments are clear and to the point. He does not ask us to add to them or take away from them to support our own ideas. In fact, He offers a curse on those who do. “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32).
If we are to know His truth, we will be seeking to understand what is written in His word. We will not be deceived by idol worship because the Bible plainly says not to worship or even bow down in front of any object (Exodus 20:4, 5). We will know that dead loved ones cannot visit us, and they are not in heaven today, because the Bible clearly says that they are in the grave and have no consciousness (Ecclesiastes 9:5). As we study, we will see that God has a better plan for our lives. He does not torture non-believers in a fiery place to burn forever, but will utterly destroy all who will not follow Him (Malachi 4:1). We will know that the Bible shows that the Sabbath is a special time that God has made to spend with each of us and will keep it even when the new earth is created (Isaiah 66:22, 23).
To be acceptable to God, we have a work to do. Our work will be more precious than gold and silver. We will become transformed into a different type of person. Paul writes, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). This “living sacrifice” is a daily submission to God for holiness and service to others. Our thoughts should be contemplating Jesus all day long. We should not let the things of this world influence our thoughts, but our thoughts must dwell continually on doing the work of God.
“To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice” (Proverbs 21:3). This is the definition of a full submission to Jesus. Paul sums up what it means to be accepted by God in Ephesians 5:8–10: “… (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.” I pray we are all striving to find out what is acceptable to Jesus and our Father in heaven so that we can spend eternity with Them and the unfallen worlds.
Michael C. Wells is director of Anointing Oil Ministries.