Is it Easier to Be Saved or Lost?

Is it Easier to Be Saved or Lost?

Scripture: Matthew 7:13-14, Mark 13:13, Luke 13:23-24
Date: 03/12/2016 
Is it easier to be saved, or to be lost? God is on your side and wants you to be saved. If you come to Him with a willing heart He will save you.

Assurance: Justification Made Simple (PB) by Doug Batchelor

Assurance: Justification Made Simple (PB) by Doug Batchelor
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A number of years ago Karen and I were at an ASI meeting - I don't remember what city it was because they - it jumps around from, you know, one major city to another - but they'll get the convention center in the city. And after the morning meeting Sabbath morning, everybody then goes from the assembly hall - and there are sometimes thousands that are there - they go to lunch. Well, at this particular location - the place for lunch, everybody had to go up the escalator. Now we were all hungry. The program had gone long. I didn't eat breakfast.

I was very hungry. And, as we came pouring out, hundreds of people - thousands of people - came pouring out of the convention center into this big foyer. We saw an escalator - one escalator - leading up to where lunch would be on the next floor. And there was a bottleneck and all these people were gathered around trying to go single file up the escalator. And I looked at it for just a moment and I said to Karen, 'I think I see a quicker way up.' Nobody was going down - nobody was going up the down escalator.

It was completely open. (Laughter) and I thought, 'I think I can get up there.' so I said, 'I'll meet you at the top.' and I took off and I went to the steps and - now, to know - you can get up the down escalator. Quick quiz: if you stand still on a down escalator, what direction do you go? Down. If you walk up a down escalator where do you go? Same place. Pretty much stationary. How do you get up a down escalator? You run. You've got to boogie. (Laughter)

You've got to - you've got to work at it. And so, I took off and I just went bop-bop-bop-bop-bop-bop-bop-bop - slowly passing the people that are going up next to me - bop-bop-bop-bop - and they're looking at me like I’m crazy - I’m in my Sabbath suit - and then I hear a pitter patter behind me and I look back and Karen is behind me now in her high heels - ba-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta - I started worrying about her. (Laughter)

We made it to the top and people still tell us they'll never forget how hungry we were that day. But straight is the gate and narrow is the way. You've heard that before? And few there be that find it. It's not that it can't be found, but for some reason, a lot of us sort of think in a herd mentality and we just go down the broad road with everybody else. Is it easier to be saved or lost? Well, first, I want to make it clear that good and bad comes to everybody in life. There are struggles for everybody.

We're not talking about is life hard or easy, because life is difficult and there are problems that Jesus said - Matthew 5, verse 45 - "For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." There is going to be rain and there is going to be sunshine - it'll come in cycles - in the life of the good and the bad. Everybody's going to have a little bit of both. Job, when trials came into his life and he was a perfect and upright man. It says, 'Shall we indeed accept good from the Lord and shall we not accept adversity?' You will have good and you will have adversity in your life.

Everybody's going to have some trials. But people are wondering, is it easier to be saved or lost? A lot of folks get discouraged. They say, 'I’d like to be a Christian but it's so hard.' And then you have these statements - are few or many saved? Where's the majority going? Luke 13:23 - they specifically asked the Lord, "Lord, are there few who are saved?" now that's direct and to the point. It can't be misunderstood and Jesus said to them, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able." So here you've got all these people trying to enter and they can't, why? It must be harder.

Then you've got Matthew 7:13 - we alluded to - "Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction; many there be that go in therein. But straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be that find it." Makes it sound like it's harder to be saved than to be lost. Well, certainly, Jesus is clear: the majority will be lost; a minority will be saved. That must mean it's harder to be saved than lost. Or maybe not.

First of all, let's just remember - and I touched on this - there are tribulations in life for everybody. There are trials. There are struggles that come. Acts 14:22 - Paul said "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God." You notice - and this today is not popular because the church at large - many Evangelical churches - teach that God loves us too much to allow us to suffer tribulation.

That, if you have faith, you're going to be healthy and you're going to be wealthy, and you're going to be wise and you won't have any problems and if you do, you just don't have enough faith. And because the Lord loves us, the great tribulation the Bible talks about, we won't experience that. We will all be caught up. If you don't have faith you're left behind. We'll be caught up before the tribulation.

Of course, that's not what the Bible teaches. God doesn't say He saves us from tribulation. Do you notice what Paul said? It is through - now that's the difference between being saved from it and being saved through it. Was Noah saved from the flood or through the flood? Was Daniel saved from the lion's den or through it? Through it. How about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? Did God, because He loved them, save them from the furnace?

He went through the furnace with them. God said, 'When you pass through the fires, when you go through the waters, I will go with you.' But He doesn't promise that He's going to save us from trouble. Paul said it is through tribulation we enter the kingdom of God. Jesus said, 'He that endures to the end will be saved.' Christ said, Mark 13:13, "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved."

There's endurance that is involved. And John 16:33, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." And so the Lord is making very clear that believers will have tribulation, but cheer up, unbelievers have tribulation too. Life is tough. How many of you have had trials in your life? Anyone trial free? Now I look at the trials some people go through and I think I don't have any problems.

You know, after I come back from one of these trips to India or Africa and you see the shanties and the people sleeping on the street and just living from hand to mouth - and I - then I think about, you know, how a flat tire ruins my day and, in perspective, I think 'Wow, it's really not that bad.' And someone says, 'Oh, I had trials this week. I had a flat tire.' 'Did you have a spare?' 'Yeah, but I had to change my tire.' (Laughter) And so, you know, in our way of thinking, those are trials.

Most of us don't have - some of us have more serious trials. We've got a terminal disease or someone we love has a terminal disease or we're going through terrible health problems or you might have tremendous financial reverses and struggles and stress and - someone you love is lost - there's all kinds of trials. But if you live long enough, you're going to have problems. So the question is not, 'Do the saved have problems and the lost don't?' or 'Do the lost have problems and the saved don't?' Everybody's got problems. But is it easier to be saved than lost? Paul, talking about this in the trials, 2 Corinthians 4:8, "We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed - always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body."

Paul had a tough time. You ever read some of what he says in Galatians? 'I’ve been beaten a hundred times, shipwrecked fifty times' - I’m exaggerating. I mean, but Paul really had - stoned? How many of you have been stoned to death? And he lived through it. Just so, I mean, Paul, he really struggled. Of course, you know, Paul would have never thought twice of going into a Muslim country and preaching Christ, you know, and he just was dealing with a lot of opposition. So, by analogy, is it easier to be saved or lost?

Is it easier to be sick or healthy? That seems like a - it seems like an easy question. Oh, I don't know. To be healthy - does that mean, like, I’ve got to wash my hands every now and then? Does it mean I’ve got to eat right? That's hard. (Laughter) Do I have to exercise to be healthy? That's hard. So which is easier? Being sick - it's easier, just be sick. Well, you know what? We're laughing, but in reality there is a health crisis in North America because people think it's too hard to be healthy. And so, doing the things they need to maintain their health - they say, 'Oh, that's hard.' And so they're sick.

Listen to how Isaiah describes it: "Why should you be stricken again? You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faints. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness [no health] in it, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; they have not been closed or bound up, or soothed with ointment." He said, 'Why will you be sick?' But yet, sometimes we think it's easier to be spiritually sick than to be well. And the devil's deceived people. It's not true. I'll give you a few more verses here before we're done. Is it easier to be lost or to be at home? You ever been lost?

I mean, to find your way home you need to, you know, follow directions, you need to stay on the right road, you've got to pay attention to where you're going. You ever been out in the woods lost? You've got to leave crumbs or something. What about the prodigal son? Luke 15:15 - here's a boy that thought, 'I want to get as far away from home as possible. I want to forget about home. I want to forget about my father. I’m going to do my own thing.' It says he ended up in a country where there was a famine. He had to farm himself out to a pig farmer and he's feeding pigs and he's starving and his clothes have turned to rags and he smells like pigs, and finally he comes to his senses - and this is Luke 15 - he's starving for the food the pigs eat and he says, "How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father," - 'I’m going to go home.

This being lost is tough.' He, at first, thought 'It's hard to serve dad. It's hard to live here on the family farm. I’ve been here - I want to go do something exciting. I’m going to get out there in the world. It'll be easier. I'll be free.' And he finally gets what he wants and what does he discover? 'This isn't so easy. This is hard. Being lost is hard. My father's servants - and I didn't know it until I left home - my father's servants were better off than I was' - no - 'My father's servants are better off than I am now and I was a son!' So, which is easier, being home or being lost? Being home.

Is it easier to win or to lose? Well, how many of you like losing? Jesus asked this question - Matthew 16:26 - "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" I remember reading, back during the stock market crash in - what was it - 1928? Some people - oh, '29 - and they overnight lost their fortunes and it was, I guess, fairly common, day after day, people were - these people who had great wealth lost it all and they were jumping from the windows because they thought that it all - because they'd lost their earthly treasure, they lost everything - they killed themselves, believing their lives had no meaning.

There was a man in the news - very wealthy man in charge of an energy company that was indicted and the day after the indictment he drove his car - it was by himself - very quickly into a concrete abutment and, at first, they couldn't say what it was, but they suspect it was suicide. He was waiting to turn himself over to the authorities to be imprisoned and he despaired of life. He had lived a very successful - very popular, very famous, wealthy man - killed himself. So losing can be hard.

Some people take it pretty hard. Matthew 13, "The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it." Because that's profitable - willing to sacrifice everything for that which lasts forever. Now, probably, one of the best analogies if you're trying to decide 'Is it easier to be saved or lost?' is from the story of Israel and the exodus. My question would be is it easier to be a slave or to be free?

People would say, 'Of course it's easier to be free!' Is it? Do you know how you get freedom? Does freedom ever come easy? Do you know why we have what freedom we have left? It's because a lot of people died for it and they spilt their blood and they sacrificed their lives. So, yes, we want to be free, but freedom costs a lot. And as we are willing to sacrifice our freedoms, one by one I think we forget what slavery is. There's a whole nation of slaves called the Israelites and, after being saved from their slavery, they forgot how hard it was and they wanted to go back to Egypt.

It's amazing - 'Oh man, this going through the wilderness with God is tough. I wish I was back in Egypt.' And they forgot, back in Egypt, they're serving a king that hates them, they're working for his glory, they're not getting paid - listen to how Moses describes it - Deuteronomy 26, verse 6, "But the Egyptians mistreated us, afflicted us, and laid hard bondage on us. Then we cried out to the Lord God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and looked on our affliction and our labor and our oppression.

So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders." - and power of God - "He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, 'a land flowing with milk and honey';" So which is easier, being a slave of the pharaoh or being a servant of God? Wouldn't you think - I mean, if you could look at the two options, wouldn't you think it would be easier? 'Well, I’m going to the Promised Land.' But why did they keep wanting to go back?

They said, 'Going through the wilderness is hard.' they had hope. God fed them from heaven. They got hungry before they cried for bread. He gave them water out of a rock. They got thirsty before they got the water. They were attacked by their enemies. He gave them victory over their enemies - the Amalekites. So they did have struggles in the wilderness, but they won. In every case God took care of them. They were on the way to a land that was theirs - to freedom. But in the transition it was hard.

So, would you want to go back to Egypt or would you want to go to the Promised Land? Now, in practical terms for what we're really talking about - we're not talking about whether we're going to move to Egypt. You don't want to go there now. And we're not talking about going on a desert trip, although the men in the church are going to go on a 4-wheeler trip in the desert later this year. We're talking about slavery to sin. Is it harder to be saved or lost? Is it harder to be enslaved to the devil or to serve Jesus?

I’d like to tell you that the Bible, I think, is pretty clear it is much harder - at least from my perspective - to be a slave to the devil than to be a servant of God. Amen. I spent years enslaved - people are enslaved by their habits and their addictions and their problems. Then, when you're finally set free - I know a man - attends here every now and then - alcoholic for years and oh, it must be twenty-five years ago, God gave him victory over alcohol. But he struggled with that slavery for so long that he can't stop praising Jesus for setting him free. You talk to him - even though it's been years - because he hasn't forgotten what it was like.

If you know what slavery is, there's no question it's easier to fight for your freedom. And there might be a fight, but it's worth it, as opposed to being a slave. Amen. Now, that applies to patriotism as well as Christianity. Jesus said - and this was our memory verse - our scripture reading - Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all you who...are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." - as opposed to the serving the pharaoh with rigor - "Take my yoke upon you" - Jesus doesn't say there's no service involved, a yoke is an instrument of burden - "Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." as compared to what? Now there's the question. Jesus says, 'My yoke is easy. My burden is light.' His yoke compared to whose yoke? Satan's. There's only two masters. Jesus said, 'Either you're with Me or you're against Me. It's My yoke or the devil's yoke. It's My service or his service.' And Jesus tells us 'My yoke is easy as compared to his.'

He didn't say there aren't trials - it is easy compared to the devil - 'My burden is light' compared to the devil. And it's either going to be one or the other. Proverbs 13:15, "Good understanding gains favor, but the way of the transgressor is hard." Is it easier to be saved or to be lost? The way of the transgressor is hard. And they may not know it right away because there are pleasures of sin for a season, but you stay in the way of the transgressor and it's going to be tough.

The way is hard. Ecclesiastes 8:12 - now this is Solomon's observation also - "Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged," - oh, he's been sinning, nothing bad happened. Looked like things are going okay. I mean, they asked this question in the book of Job. Job says, 'Haven't you ever noticed that sometimes you'll see sinners and it looks like their kids are healthy and their flocks are breeding and their crops are full and it seems like everything's fine and they're prospering. But it doesn't stay that way. "Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will He prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God."

You know, in the end of Ecclesiastes he says, 'Let's hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment with every secret thing whether it be good or evil. He said, 'In the end you're going to be better if you fear God and keep His commandments. Romans 8:18 - Paul says, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." So, in the battle between good and evil, and in the battle that you feel in your hearts between Christ and the devil, what's easier?

What's easier, going down or going up? Why don't you crawl instead of walking on two legs? You think crawling would be easier. Well, no, eventually it starts to hurt your knees. It's a lot easier to walk and a lot faster. It's much slower to crawl. Who is stronger? Jesus said - 1 john 4:4 - it's actually the apostle John - "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."

Who's stronger? Jesus. How much stronger? Is it like Jesus represents a hundred percent strength and Satan is ninety percent strength? Is it like Jesus has got, you know, a hundred percent, but the devil is eighty percent? Is, you know, you've got two-thirds good angels - one-third bad angels and so God is two-thirds stronger than the devil? How much stronger is God than Satan? Strong as He needs to be because He's infinite. He is infinitely stronger.

Which is stronger, the creator or the creation? And so, if you think the devil's strong, the Lord can make a good angel ten times stronger than the devil. There's no comparison and we forget that sometimes. It's not only greater is He in you than he that is in the world, He is a lot greater than the one who's in the world. Something else, while we're talking about that, would you pay a great price for something that you never could really possess?

Have you ever been ripped off? Where you bought something and the product was never delivered and you paid dearly for it? And - or you paid too much for it? How many of you want to get decent value when you pay a good price for something? When God paid such a high price that you might be saved, would He have done it if it wasn't possible for you to be saved? If Jesus' sacrifice is adequate to save all of the lost in the world - and did I just say something true? Did He die for the sins of the whole world? Yes.

Did He only die for a few or those who would believe? Or did He die for everybody? He died for the sins of the whole world. Then He made it possible for you to be saved. Amen. How much is possible with God? All things are possible with God. So it's not - we're not even talking about is it possible for you to be saved? Of course it's possible. The question is: is it easier? Well, when the one who's with you is stronger than the one who is against you, yeah, it's easier than - the way of the transgressor is hard.

It's hard being lost. Now Satan's powerful. We all know that. We've seen his enslaving influence that he exercises in the life of the sinner. But when Christ banishes the devil from the sinner's control in the life, the power for good is greater than that of evil. The one who wants His love to save you is stronger than the devil's love to destroy you. So why are so many lost? Why is the majority lost? Moses said, 'Do not follow a multitude to do evil.' People seem to think like lemmings. The devil hypnotizes people into thinking 'We're never going to make it' and those who don't believe they can make it won't make it.

If you believe, you'll make it. It's like the spies that went into the Promised Land and ten of them said, 'Oh man, the problems are too big.' Two of them said, 'Oh, God brought us this far, He can bring us all the way.' The ones who believed made it - Caleb and Joshua - all the way. The ones who didn't believe, they died in the wilderness. So what's easier? I would think living is easier than dying. I would think being saved is easier than being lost - if you believe. You know, I think if we get this message, friends, it'll encourage us.

We've got God on our side. Romans 5:20, "Where sin abounds" - and let's admit it, sin abounds - it abounds in us, it abounds in the world. But wherever it abounds, God's grace much more abounds. That's what Paul says. Now, sometimes they call it the home-court advantage. I guess that's with basketball, but the principle's true probably with football or with baseball. They say that statistically, when your team - this is not advocating for sports, I’m just using an illustration so don't corner me later - when your team is playing on their home turf and they have the majority of their friends cheering for them, statistically they've proven that they will perform better.

They call it the home-court advantage. You all know what I mean? They've got all - they're in their home court. They know the court. They've got all their fans that know them. They're all cheering and the cheers, hopefully, outnumber the boos and it inspires them. And just the morale is higher - they've got the home-court advantage. Who has more angels, God or the devil? God. Whose world is it? This is my Father's world. And Jesus - the devil was the prince of the world, but Christ bought it back. So now, at least from the cross, we have the home-court advantage. So we should be able to win. And who's on our team? Jesus.

Did He ever lose a battle with the devil? So the question is: are we tapping into the power that he's made available? You've read before - looking at the clock I think I have time. Go with me quick to the book of Romans, please - romans chapter 7 and we're going to touch on Romans 8 - and this is where Paul describes the struggle. He says, in verse 18 of Romans 7, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me," - I want to do what's right - "but how to perform what is good I do not find.

For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man." - in my spirit and my mind I delight in the law of God - "but I see another law in my members," - in my flesh - the carnal nature - "warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity" - it's so hard - "to the law of sin which is in my members." Then he declares, "O wretched man that I am!

Who will deliver me from this body of death?" - and that's the end, right? Were there chapters and verses in the Bible or does he answer his own question in the next verse? Chapter 8, verse 1 - first of all, Paul, in what he describes here in chapter 7, is not describing the condition of the saved. Never would Paul say the condition of the saved is 'O wretched man' - a wretched condition - no! Saved a wretch like me - we're not wretches anymore, we're saved from that wretchedness.

He says, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." - the law - the power of Christ in our life changes us. The power of love - it frees us - "For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own son in the likeness" - yes, we're weak - without Christ it's easier to be lost than saved. But through Christ it's easier to be saved than lost. "What the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh," - and in us - "that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh, but those who are living according to the spirit." That's good news.

He describes a struggle but so many Christians stay in that Romans 7 area - 'I do what I don't want to do. I’m just a slave. I’m still a slave. O wretched man.' The sad thing is, I hear more and more pastors saying this is describing the normal Christian experience. The constant wretched enslavement of not doing - just serving God with your mind but the rest of your life you're enslaved. Really? How pathetic. I don't think - that's not been my experience. I think the Lord has saved me from things - and I praise God. These addictions He saves you from - He changes you - He sets you free. And you don't want to go back. And it's so much easier to be free. It is easier to be sober than hung over. Let me tell you right now, friends, if you didn't know that.

It's easier to be healthy than to be sick. It is easier to have a victory and win than defeat and guilt. Ah, but there's more. Luke 11:20, Jesus said, "But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man," - they were accusing Jesus of casting out devils through the devil and He said, 'No, if Satan rises against Satan his house is going to fall. But Jesus - and you listen carefully - be careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit - 'If I’m casting out demons with the finger of God' - when a demon's cast out that means you're set free from the devil - 'If I’m doing it with the finger of God, the kingdom of God has come upon you.

You can experience - you can be a citizen of that kingdom.' - "When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overpowers him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils." We are the spoils of the devil. He has held us captive. The devil is that strong man, but Jesus said, 'I have come because I am stronger than he and I am going to take what was his.' Alright, is it easier to be rich than poor? Now, don't misunderstand this.

This is not really a statement on prosperity, but I just want to give you an illustration. Some people think if you can choose between being rich and being poor, you think, 'Oh man, I’d much rather have money.' I think most of us would say that. But is that where happiness comes from? Notice: Mark 10:27 - Mark 10:20 through 27. This rich young ruler comes to Jesus. He falls down on his knees, he says, 'Lord, what must I do to have eternal life?' and Jesus said, 'Why do you call me good?

There is no one good but one and that's God. But if you would enter into life, keep the commandments.' He says, 'Which ones?' and Jesus begins to recite the Ten Commandments that apply, between man's relationship with his fellow man. So, 'Teacher, I’ve kept these from my youth.' and Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and He said, one thing you lack; go your way, 'Sell whatever you have and give it to the poor. You will have treasure in heaven. You want treasure, you'll have it. You'll have treasure that thieves can't steal. You'll have treasure that'll last forever. Unload.

Take up your cross and follow Me.’ He was inviting him to be an apostle - like Peter and James and John forsook their nets and followed Him. Matthew forsook his cash register and followed Jesus. He says to this young man who He loved, 'You've got a lot of potential, but you're going to have to liquidate if you're going to follow Me because your riches are going to be a distraction. "But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions." now here's the question: when he went away, did he still have great possessions? But was he happy? He was sad.

He was sorrowful. A man's life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses. See, one reason it's hard for us to be saved - or it seems like it - is because we're trying to save the wrong thing. We're thinking our treasures are down here. We're not calculating the treasure that lasts forever. Jesus looked around and He said to the disciples, "How hard it is" - notice who's having a hard time. It's the rich! "'How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!' and the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them again - just in case you misunderstand - "'Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!

It is easier'" - notice the words 'hard' and 'easier' - "'It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.' and they were greatly astonished, saying...'Who then can be saved?'" - and He said, 'Well, with man it's impossible, but with God, all things are possible.' Now riches are not a curse in and of themselves. Proverbs has some - both sides of the equation here. It says in Proverbs 10:22, "The blessing of the Lord makes one rich and He adds no sorrow with it."

In the blessing of God you can have riches as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and Job and you can be blessed. Proverbs 11:28, "He who trusts in riches will fall," - a lot of us trust if we get them. Proverbs 13:7, "There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; and one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches." This rich young ruler, if he had made himself poor for Christ, he would have had great riches. But instead, he held onto his earthly riches and he made himself poor and he was sad. And then Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 5, 'The abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep.'

So here you've got a man who's sad and he can't sleep. Why? Because he's worried about his stuff. If you don't have anything, you can sleep like a baby because you don't have to worry about a thief breaking in. There's nothing to steal. We used to sing a song when I was a hippie - 'Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose'. That Kris Kristofferson told the truth there. You don't have much - and I’ve been there before - you don't worry about 'Will they steal my stuff?' because you don't have anything.

There's a peace there. So who has peace? Isaiah 48:22, "'There is no peace,' says the Lord, 'for the wicked.'" I saw a bumper sticker one time and it said, 'N-o God N-o Peace' - 'No God No Peace'. And then, underneath it, it said, 'K-n-o-w God K-n-o-w Peace'. If you have no God you have no peace, but if you know you will know or experience peace. There is no peace to the wicked. Isaiah 57:18, "'I have seen his way, and will heal him; I will also lead him, and restore comforts to him and to his mourners.

I create the fruit of the lips: peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near,' says the Lord, 'and I will heal him.' But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. 'There is no peace,' says my God, 'for the wicked.'" So you got it at least twice there. You remember when Paul was running from God? He's fighting Christians - he's fighting his conscience, really.

Finally Jesus appears to him - you remember what Jesus said to Paul? He said, 'I’m Jesus who you're persecuting. Is it hard for you to kick against the goads?' You know, you probably don't see it very much; it's more common in other countries that when they're - poor people are kind of moving their oxen, their cattle along, they'll have a sharp prod - it might have one or two prongs on the end of it and - now they use electric hot shots to move the cows.

They jump pretty good when touch them. But they had these poking sticks and sometimes, the horse or the cow or whatever it was would kick against the prod and they would just cut themselves because it was sharp. And if they would just go the way that the owner was directing them, it would be easy, but they're kicking against the goads. I think it says in the King James, 'Kicking against the pricks'. And this is what Paul was doing as he was fighting God and Jesus said, 'how's it going Paul?' he was miserable.

He said, 'isn't it hard?' - Jesus said, 'isn't it hard fighting your conscience and fighting the Lord and serving the devil?' and finally Paul surrendered and when he fell in love with Jesus, the world was never the same. He said, 'Woe unto me if I preach not Christ.' There's no peace for the wicked. Now there are battles in life and sometimes we struggle. Now look at the terminology that is used - Ephesians 6:12, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."

There are titanic battles with the devil that you're going to fight. The Bible says we need to put on armor. When do you put on armor? Because there's a war. 1 Corinthians 9:26, "Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." - or be a castaway. Paul said there are struggles.

There's effort involved, there's no question. Here's some of the words that are used: we war, wrestle, fight, run, strive, press on, labor. There are those who say, you know, they preach a Christianity where there's no effort involved - they're lying to people. But you know what? It's tough to be a real Christian. It's a lot tougher to be lost. And sometimes it is so hard to hold on, we feel like in our own strength we just can't do it.

I remember when I was very young, my father taught me to water ski and - right out of our back door. My dad had a home on the bay - Biscayne Bay - we had a ski boat and he took me out. I was like eight years old and I remember he'd take us skiing early in the morning - the water was like glass. Before we went to school he'd wake us up. I hated it.

He'd wake us up - it was extra early – “Come on, we're gonna go skiing!' and he'd take us out - the water was all glassy. It was before he went to work - before we went to school - and I remember he was trying to teach me to ski and - and I’d see my brothers get up. They were all older and they'd ski - two skis - and my father put me in the water and he put the life belt on me - it was just a belt back then. They didn't have the whole vest thing.

He said, 'Put your knees up. Aim your ski tips up. Put the rope in.' and he'd say, 'Now hang on.' He thought the rope's going to pop out of my hands when he tries to pull me up. He says, 'Don't let go. Hang on.' That was the last thing he said, 'Hang on.' So as soon as I started going up, my skis parted like that and I went forward. But I hung on. And I got - I can hold my breath pretty well. And my father had gunned the boat and he told my brother to watch me. Now, my brother's a spotter. My brother didn't say anything to my father about “Doug's down”. He thought this would interesting.

So he's just watching and I’m holding on. My dad is going like you would go when you're pulling a skier and I guess I have a pretty good grip because I held on and it was going faster and faster and all these bubbles and roars going by me and water's going in my ears and up my nose and around behind my eyeballs. And I’m trying to hang on. I’m doing - I was like a torpedo. I’m going underneath the water and up above the water and finally, when I realized my bathing suit was around my knees (Laughter) I let go of the rope. I couldn't hold on anymore, my knuckles were so sore. And - but, you know, when the Lord is telling us to hold on, it's different than you holding on with your strength.

He is holding onto you. You can read about this here. Can we trust Jesus? John 6:37, "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will by no means cast out." John 6:39, "This is the will of my Father who sent me, that of all He has given me I should lose nothing," - He'll hang onto you - "But should raise it up at the last day." Philippians 1:6, "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it [will perform it] until the day of Jesus Christ." Hebrews 12:2, "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher" - notice the words of completion there.

He will complete it. He's "the author and the finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross," - would you let go of something you paid so much - you gave your life to save? God is going to do everything He can do to hang onto you. He's on your side, if you're willing to be willing. And if you've just come to the Lord - and if you fall, you tell Him. Say, 'Lord, I’ve just given you my life. Do whatever you've got to do to change me.' He will work in your life. He works out your salvation.

Is it easier to go up or down? There are Christian battles. You know, when - we just came back from South Africa with the Rosses and had a great time. Karen and I and Pastor Ross and Ruth and Pastor Ross was preaching in another church this morning. I think I see Ruth is still here and some of the kids. We went up together to Table Mountain, which is several thousand feet above Cape Town - one of the most beautiful cities because it's right there.

You can look off from that bluff and you can see the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean and just some spectacular vistas of the city and the port. And several thousand feet up - we found a perfect day - it was a beautiful day and we went up there and you take a cable car up because it's so high.

So we rode up in the cable car and I don't know what came over him, but Pastor Ross, you know, he was born in Cape Town, and as we're hiking up on this big mesa, miles long and beautiful views and he said, 'You know, when I was a kid I used to hike down this gorge here called Skeleton Gorge.' he said, 'Shall we hike down?' Well, right away that name didn't sound good. (Laughter) and so there was a long discussion about 'Shall we go?' and I could tell, Pastor Ross, he's a go-getter, he's going, 'Yeah, sure, we can make it down.' And we're going, 'You know, I don't know about this.' And I looked from the top and I used to live in hills like this and that was a long, steep, rugged climb and we still, I don't think, had fully recovered from jet lag and so finally, when the dust settled, Jëan says, 'I really want to go.' and I said, 'I’m not letting you go by yourself. I'll go.'

So the girls said, 'Look, we paid for our tram ride back down the mountain. We're taking the tram.’ And so I took off following Pastor Ross and then I realized I had sandals on and I thought, 'This may not be a good idea.' and as we're starting down, it starts - this is actually a picture they took of the two of us going down.

Karen, I think, took this shot. Then it turns into a 50-degree 3-mile trail. 50-degree of from rock to rock to - going down. And, as we're going down, you know, you're doing all this? Except we weren't going down one set, we're going - just big jumps. Well, when you're 59-years-old you don't have as much lubrication and - as I had when I lived in the cave. At first I thought, 'Oh, this'll be a breeze.' and I took off - running downhill.

Then I felt - 'Oh, that's sore.' Matter of fact, it's sore from doing that just now. And it's three miles of almost vertical uphill and as we were going down - we had only gone about ten or fifteen minutes - we ran into a young couple from Germany going up and they said, 'Are you going down?' and we said, 'Yeah.' they said, 'It's a lot harder going down than going up.' And we said, 'How long will this take?' 'Oh, hour and a half.' And Jëan said, 'We don't want the girls to beat us to the bottom.'

We knew they were going to, you know, they were going to see a few more sights up there and take some pictures so they weren't running to the tram to go down. But he said, 'You know, we can't let them beat us.' And so Jëan took off and I thought, 'I used to live in these kind of mountains. I can't let him beat me.' (Laughter) And so he and I are kind of doing a man thing, racing each other down the hill.

Well, after about a half an hour I said, 'Well, am I the only -' - I didn't want to - you know, you never want to admit, when you're doing something tough with another guy, that you're starting to feel it. You're waiting for him to admit it first. I said, 'Oh, so I’m starting to feel it in my legs.' he says, 'Oh yeah, me too. Man,' He said, 'My legs are starting to feel like Jell-o.' And then we slowed down a little bit and we made it down in an hour, where it normally takes an hour and a half, but we got to the bottom and we started walking on the road - we did, actually, beat the girls down.

They were doing some shopping at the gift store. And we started walking on the road and we're like this walking on the road. (Laughter) and for the next week in South Africa, we couldn't - we'd get up off the platform to preach we'd go, 'Oh ugh!' (Laughter) If we had been going uphill it would have been much easier. In the Bible it talks about two disciples the afternoon after the resurrection. They didn't believe Jesus had risen and they were walking from Jerusalem down to Emmaus - the word 'Emmaus' means 'hot water' - and Jesus drew near and He talked to them. And He said, 'What manner of communication is this that you have one with another as you walk and are sad.'

They're sad. It says they didn't know Him and they were sad. Well, He opened the scriptures to them along the way and began to show them that Jesus was supposed to suffer, that the Messiah was supposed to go through all He went through and their hearts were just thrilled by what He was saying. They invited Him in and said, 'Why don't You have a blessing. Have a meal with us.' and Jesus prays over the food and after He says the prayer, it's like the scales had fallen from their eyes. Suddenly they recognize it's Jesus and they go, 'Jesus!' and He disappeared. Now they know he's alive. The sun has gone down - you know the story? They invited him in - they said, 'It's almost dark.'

They've gone seven miles downhill. But they've got friends up in Jerusalem that think Jesus is dead, that are discouraged, they're scared - they gathered for fear of the Jews. And they said, 'Hey man, we've got good news.' It doesn't even say they ate their sandwich. Like the woman at the well, when she met Jesus she left her water pot. These guys turn around that same hour in the dark and they start up a hill in the dark. Now they can't see Jesus but He's still with them. And they go and they tell their friends in the upper room he's alive. Now here's a question: where were they happier?

Going downhill in the daytime when they didn't even know who Jesus was? Or when Jesus revealed himself and they knew he was alive and they're going uphill to tell others, in the dark? They were happier going uphill in the dark knowing Jesus was alive, because what's going on in your heart makes all the difference on how easy or hard something is. It's hard to serve someone you hate. It is easy to serve someone you love.

It's hard to serve someone that's dead. It's easy to serve someone that's alive. You know, a lot of religions are serving a dead god and we serve a living God. So is it easier to be saved or to be lost? Well, friends, I think if you trust in Jesus it's easier. He's got good news for us. Let me read a statement to you. This is from the book Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing - and then we'll close. "Yet do not therefore conclude that the upward path is the hard and the downward road is the easy way.

All along the road that leads to death there are pains and penalties. There are sorrows and disappointments. There are warnings not to go on. God's love has made it hard for the heedless and the headstrong to destroy themselves. If we take Christ for our guide, He will lead us to safety. The veriest sinner need not miss his way. Not one trembling seeker need fail of walking in pure and holy light. Though the path is narrow, so holy that sin cannot be tolerated therein, yet access has been secured for all.

Not one doubting, trembling soul need say, 'God doesn't care for me.' With Christ as our guide, we will not fail reaching the desired haven." You hear that? With Christ as our guide we will not fail of reaching the desired haven. "Christ Himself has trodden the rough way before us and has smoothed the path for our feet." It is easier to follow Jesus towards the kingdom than to follow the devil towards destruction. The problem is most people don't believe and they follow the crowd. 2 Timothy 1:12, "For this is the reason I suffer these things: nevertheless; I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to him until that day."

Do you believe that if you commit your life to Jesus He is able to save you? Would He give all that He gave for you to be saved if it wasn't possible for you to be saved? Of course it is, friends. Don't let the devil make you think the Christian life is a hard life. Serving him is the hard life. Serving Jesus - He says, 'My burden is easy - My yoke is easy, My burden is light.' Do you believe that? Can't get enough Amazing Facts Bible study? You don't have to wait until next week to enjoy more truth-filled programming, visit the Amazing Facts Media Library at 'AFTV.org'. At 'AFTV.org' you can enjoy video and audio presentations as well as printed material all free of charge, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, right from your computer or mobile device. Visit 'AFTV.org'. (Music)

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