Motives, time & eternity

Motives, time and eternity

Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last. – CT Studd
1      Motives
Jer 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?

In the recent past I’ve become aware how much self-centeredness, self-interest and wrong motives are still present in my heart and mind.

When I pray for the salvation of a well-known South African politician; When I pray for Godly leaders for the country, how much of it has to with how much better the country will be for me to live in?; When I pray for revival – is it only about souls and the glory of God or is it contaminated by how nice it will be to live in a country where there is revival and where godly principles are followed? If you pray for your spouse to change, how much of your motivation is how much better your life will be if he or she does change? [It is not wrong – you can ask God for anything – but it is not a particularly holy motivation either]

Matt 6:31-33:  Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

This is a wonderful exhortation, but when I seek the Kingdom of God, to what extent may it be motivated by me wanting the “things” to be added? I must confess, in my case I do not think I’m completely free of the benefit I expect. [Again, I don’t think it’s a sin to expect a benefit, it’s just not the best and most holy motivation]

Preachers say “Focus on God and not on His blessings” (compare the lepers in Luke 17:11-19) and “Love God for who He is and not for what He can give you”. Very true, but how do you achieve that?

How do we get to loving God unconditionally and completely?

One of my colleagues says it helps to have an eternal perspective, to realise we live in eternity and are just visiting earth. True, but how do you develop that perspective? Somehow for most of us the immediate and what we experience with our senses in the here and now is simply overwhelming.

I absolutely DO NOT believe in “Fake it till you make it”. What are you when you’re faking it? That’s right – a fake. Rather be honest with God, that is what made David a man after God’s own heart.  I know that I cannot work up the love and right motivation in my heart. So, what is the answer then?

There are many promises in both the Old and New Testament that promise victory over sin and promises getting to a clean hart, that God guarantees sanctification on the basis of the completed work of Jesus Christ as applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Let’s look at a few…

Jer 31:33  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

Deu 30:6 And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

Jer 24:7 Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.

Eze 36:26-27 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

1 Thess 3:13  so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.

“… there is a secret root of evil that must be removed. That root is the spirit of bondage, the legal spirit of self-effort that hinders the humble faith that knows that God will work out all and yields to Him to do it” – Andrew Murray

So: Pray for the cleansing of the heart and the purification of motives.

Such a prayer is definitely in line with God’s will, so He WILL do it

One can in faith rely on Him to do the work, just as you rely on Him for salvation.

I said that living this holy life in the love of God is achieved in the same way as salvation, as if everyone knows and agrees what that entails. So let’s look at salvation.
2      Salvation
What are you saved from?

Rev 20:11  Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.

Rev 20:15  And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

These are scary and shocking verses. There was a time when people’s immediate reaction was to ask how they can avoid that fate? How do I get into the Book of Life? Nowadays reaction more often than not center’s on how can I ignore this? How can I pretend it’s not real? I know, I’ll argue about it or simply never touch the subject again!

One of the arguments people like to use is “How can a loving God send people to hell?” The point is that is not what He wants to happen.

Joh 3:16  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Joh 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

The fact that these verses are so well-known does not make them less true.

Joh 3:18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 

The Believer’s Bible commentary says this about John 3:18: “Now all mankind is divided into two classes: either believers or unbelievers. Our eternal destiny is determined by the attitude we take toward the Son of God. The one who trusts the Savior is not condemned, but the one who does not trust Him is condemned already. The Lord Jesus has finished the work of salvation, and now it is up to each individual to decide whether he will accept Him or reject Him. It is a terrible thing to reject such a gift of love. If a man will not believe on the Lord Jesus, God can do nothing else but condemn him.”

2 Pe 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Anybody who wants to can have their name written in the book of life.

Another excuse is: What about those who never heard? One thing we can know without any shadow of a doubt is that God will be fair to them. But you are not in that position! You have heard. So what are you doing with what you’ve heard?

Why should God allow you in heaven?

For many the reasoning is some variation of “I’m really trying hard” or “I’m better than most.”

But that’s not good enough because God has an impossibly high standard.

Mat 5:48  Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

God is not saying I’ll take those who tried really hard, or I’ll take the best 50%. The fact that you have some or even a lot of good mixed in with the bad does not assist you. If you’ve mixed a rotten egg into your scrambled eggs the good eggs are not going to save the dish. Adding a few more good ones is not going to help either.

Rom 3:23  …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Sin is anything you shouldn’t do, but does and anything you should do but doesn’t. Thinking of a woman (or man) with desire even if you do not do anything about it – see Matt 5:28. So why don’t I simply give up? Now we’re talking!

Here is the good news:

Eph 2:8-9  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

How do you get into heaven?

Joh 10:9  I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

Joh 10:10  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Joh 10:11  I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

Jesus says He is the door to heaven. The only door – there is no back door where you can sneak in. And you cannot climb in through a window. There are burglar bars – and not the kind you can break out with a koevoet.

People want more routes, but the moment you acknowledge that there is God or even the possibility that there may be a God, then per definition it is for that God to decide how you must engage with him and what is necessary to enter heaven. God makes the rules. You may want the rules to be different, but that is irrelevant. There are many decisions I would like the Chinese government to take, but what I want is irrelevant. I have no influence over them; I cannot even vote there. [My only influence is through prayer.] And God decided that there is to be this one route only.

It might be possible to say that this single prescribed route to God and heaven is unfair, if it was a difficult route. But Jesus made the way – He did everything that is required. He did not have to, he chose to go through with it.

Mat 26:53  Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?

And what he did was very hard – not only physically

2 Cor 5:21  For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Isa 53:6  All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

I believe this and not the physical suffering is what made him ask if there is no other way in the Garden of Gethsemane. That he was to be treated by His Father as the perpetrator of every murder, every rape, every case of child molestation ever committed.

Jesus made the way, a way that is not dependent on what you can do. It’s a gift. So why would you even want to take a more difficult route which does not even exist? Just for the heck of it? Usually, it is just pride that people do not want to acknowledge they need Jesus.

Why was it necessary? Why did Jesus have to die?

So that God can forgive in LOVE, while remaining JUST.

God has to punish sin – and the penalty is eternal death.

Exod 34:7  …keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, …

We do not have to spend a lot of time on this because even on earth we feel that the guilty should not go free.

How do you feel if a murderer and rapist goes free because of a technicality? God solved this conundrum through Jesus, fully carrying the penalty for everyone who asks Him to.

How is salvation received?

Through faith

But faith is not just intellectual agreement

The devil and demons know exactly who Jesus is and what he has done.

James 2:19  You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!

Matt 8:29  And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”

Temporary faith where you trust God for a specific thing e.g. healing or solving a financial problem is not saving faith either

Saving faith is Trust in Christ alone – that it is also available for YOU, and that you do not add anything to (e.g. a few good works). The good works will come later from thankfulness and from the Holy Spirit changed heart.

Act 16:31  So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Joh 6:47  Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.

Most of you have heard the salvation story so often that you’ve become deaf to it. You’re so used to it that you no longer ask where do you fall in this. Please understand I’m not saying you should make a new commitment to Christ every Sunday, but at least confess to God if it has become stale to you and ask yourself whether there is a reason you needed to hear this.
3      Time
We know that we will die

How long does this life last compared to eternity?

James 4:14  whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

We all, the saved and unsaved, intellectually know that some day we’re going to die. But somehow that is a can we keep on kicking down the road. We do not live as if we could die at any moment. If you knew for a fact that you were going to die in 30 days, how would you live differently today? If you are a child of God and know you’ll die in 30 days how would you serve him differently? With whom will you make peace? With whom will you share the Gospel? If you can honestly say you are already living like that then good for you – but most people have slightly different priorities.

Compared to eternity this life is immeasurably short. Wouldn’t we live totally differently if that was our perspective? Surely it just makes logical sense to focus on what will have the longest term impact, the forever impact? When you look back from eternity to this life, what will wish that you’ve done differently?

For the person who has not accepted Christ as Lord and Saviour, would you do so if you knew you were going to die tomorrow or next week?

I don’t usually watch rugby, but I did watch the final between the Stormers and Ulster. And that is actually a good illustration that you can simply run out of time. It does not matter that the Stormers were on the attack at the end of the game. The game was over. They ran out of time. If you have not accepted Christ as saviour yet, your eternity is not going to be good. Please do not run out of life before you have done so.