Is there a dependable way to tell the difference between truth and falsehood? You certainly cannot trust what people say or what they profess to be. What is the one thing, the only thing that you can depend on more than your senses?
Today there is a belief that everyone in the world eventually will be saved, but nowhere do we find such an assurance in the Bible. In fact, Jesus Christ Himself taught just the opposite. In the Sermon on the Mount, He said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many that go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13, 14. Jesus said that the way that leads to eternal life is narrow and few will go that way, but He is also saying that the majority of people in the world will go down the broad road, which leads to destruction.
Luke 13:24 says, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” The reason is because they cannot take their sinful desires, pleasures, and ambitions with them.
People are in danger of being deceived by teachers of falsehood who are telling them that they don’t need to take such a narrow road, that the broad way will still end up all right. Jesus knew that these deceivers would rise up and seek to draw people away from the narrow path, telling them that they could take the broad road and still have eternal life, so He immediately gave the warning that there are people in this world who intend to deceive: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” Matthew 7:15–20
Notice how we can tell the difference between truth and error: “We are not bidden to prove them [false teachers] by their fair speeches or their exalted professions. They are to be judged by the word of God.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessings, 145. When we read the context of this verse, we find that it is a strict warning against listening to spiritualist manifestations or supernatural apparitions, or people claiming to speak for the dead or being spirits of the dead. But look what Isaiah 8:20 says, “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
So what is the one and only thing we can depend on more than our senses? It is the word of God.
The wise man Solomon said in Proverbs 19:27, “Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.” What message are we listening to? Is it a message that leads us to fear and reverence God, to love Him, and obey His commandments? If we do not feel the weight of the moral law, if we make light of any of God’s precepts, if we break one of the least of His commandments, we will have no place in heaven, and our claims to be religious teachers will be without foundation, because the teachings that encourage disregard and disobedience of God’s law originate with the prince of darkness, the enemy of God.
So, not all who call themselves Christians are actually Christ’s people. “[S]uch are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” 2 Corinthians 11:13–15. Paul is saying here that there are false apostles who pretend to be teachers of righteousness and apostles of Christ, but they actually are serving another master. Jesus says the same thing in Matthew 7:21–23. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ ”
Note, these people call Jesus, “Lord” and themselves His children. These are not people who just come and sit in the pew at church; they are Christian workers. They have “prophesied” in His name and believe they have the Holy Spirit and the gift of prophecy. They have “cast out demons” and worked many miracles in Jesus’ name, and yet He says, “I never knew you.” How can that be?
God’s word, the Bible, tells us that there is a great spiritual battle going on in this world between two supernatural forces. Christ is one of these supernatural forces, but there is another. This force is Satan, and while his methods sadly have met with much success over the millennia, he still has lost battle after battle in this spiritual warfare. Now he has decided to join the winning side and present himself as Christ.
The Biblical word antichrist simply means someone that stands in the place of Christ. Satan is coming to stand in the place of Christ, and anyone serving the antichrist will believe that they are serving Christ. The apostle Paul is very clear on this point, “I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!” 2 Corinthians 11:3, 4
Paul fears that teachers will come teaching a different Jesus than he and others have taught, and as a result, the people would receive a different spirit, all the while believing they were receiving the Holy Spirit. Paul says they will preach a different gospel and they will bring to you a spirit that we did not bring to them. So what is this different gospel?
The gospel as taught by Jesus will set a person free from the power of sin in their life. He that “… commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not remain in the house forever, but the Son remains forever. If therefore the Son shall make you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:34–36, literal translation. The apostles preached this gospel.
We find that Paul preached this gospel in chapters 6 and 8 of Romans. John preached it in 1 John 2:3, 4: “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” John, considered so loveable and so soft-spoken, did not mince words when speaking to those who claim to be a Christian, but choose to live in violation of the law of God. James is just as clear, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble [offend] in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.” James 2:10–12
The people of God in the last days are those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12), but friends, there are many who are in great danger today of thinking that they are Christians while living in sin, and we must be vigilant lest we become like them.
In this world, we are accustomed to doing things mostly right or just right enough to get by, but that is not God’s way. Remember what we found in James 2? “Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” A person cannot be a New Testament Christian unless they follow Jesus all the way. Jesus says in Luke 14:33, “[W]hoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” We cannot take any of the riches or material things of this world into the kingdom of heaven. Only one thing can be taken from this life to the next and that is our character. Everything else we possess here will be burned up. God will create a new world for His children to live in.
New Testament Christianity gives a person victory over their besetting sins and the power to live a new life. So, a person who claims to be a Christian, but is living a life of sin, is in reality a lawbreaker. These are the people who believe they are Christians and are following Jesus, and yet believe they can break God’s law. They will expectantly come to Jesus believing that they are saved, waiting to hear the words “Well done,” but instead they will hear, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” Matthew 7:23, last part
They believe they are serving Christ and have the Holy Spirit, and that they are following the gospel, but imagine what a terrible shock it then will be to hear Jesus say He doesn’t know them, because they have instead been serving another Jesus, following a different gospel, being led by some other spirit. There are many people today, as there were when Jesus first spoke these words, who want eternal life, but to them, the price seems too great. Obeying Jesus in everything will cause them to suffer some kind of a loss in this world. We find this described in the story of the rich, young ruler (Mark 10:17–22).
As Jesus closed the Sermon on the Mount, He gave a forceful illustration describing the future destiny of all. “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” Matthew 7:24–27
Do you see the difference? Does your life conform to what Jesus has said or not? Seven hundred years before Jesus came to this world, Isaiah said “The word of our God shall stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8. And many years after the Sermon on the Mount was preached, Peter quotes these words from Isaiah: “But the word of the Lord endures forever. This is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.” 1 Peter 1:25
When you receive the gospel, you are building on the sure foundation that will last forever, the one and only thing you can depend on, the word of God. This is what the world needs. Whoever builds on it is building upon Christ, and in receiving His word, we receive Christ, the only steadfast and sure foundation. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” Matthew 24:35. The great principles of the law of God, the very nature of God Himself, are enshrouded in the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:11, “No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” And Peter said in Acts 4:12, “[T]here is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” This is the only foundation upon which we can securely build. Building on Christ is obeying His word. He says that if we obey Him, we will be like the man who built his house on the rock, and when the storm came the house did not fall. But if we hear what He says to do, and do not obey, then we will be like the man who built his house on the sand and when the storm came, his house was utterly destroyed.
Holiness is the result of surrendering all to God and doing His will. Jesus places the salvation of man, not upon profession merely, but upon faith that is made manifest by works of righteousness. Doing, not merely saying, is required and expected of the followers of Christ. It is through action that character is built (James 1:22–25).
There are many people today who want to be followers of Jesus Christ, but they don’t know how to start. They know very little about the Bible. There is darkness all around them, and they do not know how to find the light. No matter how little a person may understand about God’s word, it is necessary only to ask for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. We must choose to obey and follow Him. We must set our hearts to obey Jesus Christ and acknowledge Him as the Lord of our lives. The more we follow Him, even if we only know a little, the more light will come. As we build on God’s word, our characters will be made after the similitude of the character of Christ. The path of the righteous, the path of the just, is like a shining light that shines more and more unto the perfect day.
Jesus is the living Stone, the sure Foundation. His life is imparted to all who build upon Him and do His words. Peter said, “[Y]ou also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house … .” 1 Peter 2:5. And Paul said, “[I]n whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” Ephesians 2:21. The living stones become one with the Foundation because a common life dwells in all. That building cannot be overthrown. Every other building built on any other foundation will fall. If we build our characters on human ideas, opinions, forms, and ceremonies, then our building will be destroyed by the fierce tempests of temptation.
But right now, today, before the tempest comes that will end this world’s history, the Lord says, “As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn, from your evil ways! For why will you die?” Ezekiel 33:11.
Do you desire to be a follower of Jesus? The Lord wants to save us and He will save us if we are willing to turn to Him and follow Him with all our heart.
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.