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Cost of Obedience

Scripture: 1 John 5:19, Luke 21:34-36, John 1:11
Though sin has created a difficult predicament for people, Jesus is coming soon and will set us free. If we have a saving faith to believe in all of the Bible, we will do everything we can to follow God in obedience.
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Mark Twain once wrote a story entitled, "The Terrible Catastrophe." As the story progresses, the characters become so involved in a predicament that, regardless of what any one of them does, they will all be destroyed. At this juncture, Twain concludes his story by writing, "I have worked these characters into such a fix that I cannot get them out. If anyone thinks he can, he is welcome to try."

Admittedly, this is a unique literary approach for concluding a story. But don't you see a striking analogy here? The Bible declares that "The whole world lieth in wickedness." 1 John 5:19. There is one who is responsible for this dilemma, and I can almost hear him taunting God to His face, saying, "I have worked these characters into such a fix that no one can get them out. If anyone thinks he can, let him try." Well, somebody answered that challenge of Satan, and He's coming soon to this earth to settle the terrible mess which sin has produced.

Jesus said, "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of man." Do you know what that means? We are nearing the end of all things and the glorious second coming of Jesus. We are nearer now than ever before. There isn't any question in the minds of millions of thoughtful students of Scripture that the end of this present world is at hand. Jesus will come very soon to take home with Him those that have prepared themselves for that glorious occasion. Every Bible prophecy concerning the last days points graphically to our time. Those few prophecies which remain to be fulfilled before Christ returns have their credibility established by the fact that all the other events which have been prophesied in Scripture have already happened or are happening now in our world. Christ's coming is so clearly at hand that His sobering words of admonition to all believers take on a special urgency in our time. "And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things, and to stand before the Son of Man." Luke 21:34-36.

Jesus said that the "everlasting gospel" in the last days will be set before all of the world for a witness unto all nations and then the world would come to an end. He says that in Matthew 24:14 and Revelation 14:6,7. I am just one of thousands who is preaching the identical message in every nation and almost in every language. Hundreds and hundreds of languages are being used to send forth this message so that all of the world shall hear it and be prepared to make a decision for or against Christ. Every day there are people in every part of the earth making decisions for Christ or against Christ, for life or death, for heaven or for hell. Now millions in the world today believe that Jesus is coming again. There isn't any question about it in their minds. They have heard the prophecies preached. They know the message of God. They are sure about the coming of Jesus, and they believe He is coming soon.

But it is not enough to believe that He is coming and to give assent to it. It is not enough to be willing to tell others that Jesus is coming soon! The Scriptures tell us that the devils believe and tremble. It takes more than belief. We must act upon our beliefs. We must be willing to go forth and give a demonstration in our lives that we really believe that Jesus is coming. The only way I know to do that is to accept Jesus Christ and follow Him, really follow Him! One who wants to be saved will do that. It won't make any difference what the requirement is or what the consequences might be. A person who really believes and has saving faith, Bible faith, will accept all the teachings of God's Word and follow them and trust God for the outcome.

There are a great many people, who when you confront them with questions like this, "What are you doing about Christ and His will for your life?" or, "What decision have you made with reference to following Him, and accepting this truth, and doing something about His doctrine and teaching?" they will say, "Well, it would be wonderful to be saved, but...."

Let me give you an illustration. Supposing a real estate company in this city would make some kind of offer like this: "A beautiful ranch home with acreage, worth $1 million will be given away." Upon further investigation we find that there is a 20-acre plot of ground with orange groves, tangerines, and grapefruit all over the lot. Then let's suppose that all the individuals accepting the offer were to be down at the train depot at 10:00 o'clock a week from today, to be ready to take the train to go down to Florida to claim their ranch home and their 20 acres of fruit trees. Let's say that many people heard about this and that one fellow by the name of Jones heard about it, too. Jones is a poor man, in so far as this world is concerned. He has a large family, and coincidentally, he is out of a job. Jones is clear about the offer, and more than that, he is excited about the prospect of moving to Florida and becoming the owner of a large estate. He tells his neighbors all about it and enthuses the entire community! One of his closest friends is discussing the prospect with him: "Well, Mr. Jones," he says, "this is certainly a good opportunity for you. I expect you will be ready to take advantage of it when the train leaves next Sunday, won't you?"

Jones answers, "Well, you know it is the most wonderful thing that I ever heard of in my life." He goes on, "Just think of it! It is all free, the beautiful home, the land, and all those fruit trees!" The neighbor interrupts him and says, "Of course you are going to be there to take your share, your home and all, aren't you, Mr. Jones?" Jones goes on, "You know, I just thrill when I think of it all. When that real estate man repeats the glory of it all, the beauty of the estate, the house, the weather, and all that is available, I just thrill! I can just see those fruit trees!"

Once again the neighbor interrupts him and says, "Of course. But listen, Mr. Jones. You haven't answered my question. You are going to be down there next Sunday morning at 10:00 to board the train, aren't you?" Mr. Jones replies, "Well, I hope so. I have just revelled as that man has told about it. I can just smell those blossoms on the fruit trees! I have been really just dreaming about this kind of thing."

The neighbor breaks in once more. "But Mr. Jones, are you going to be down at the train depot on Sunday morning?" Mr. Jones concludes, "I hope to. I really hope to."

Well, you know that is the way with a great many people who hear about heaven and the second coming of Christ. They go forth and say, "I never heard such things. It thrills me as I hear that man preach the Bible." So we go on and we preach God's Word. We give the invitations to come and accept Christ and be ready to receive something of infinitely more value than a ranch home worth $1 million and a few acres of fruit trees. Then we confront people and ask, "Well, what are you going to do about it?" And they say, "It is wonderful, I love to hear about it." But many of them will go on dreaming, and according to the third chapter of Joel, they will still be in the valley of decision, thinking that it is wonderful until the day of salvation is past. They will be like the man I described in my illustration who sat around dreaming all week, and when the following Sunday came, the train whistled, and his dreams were interrupted. He got in his old broken down car and raced to the train depot just in time to see the train pulling out and rounding the bend. There he stood, dazed! Slowly he gets in his old jalopy and drives back to his shack.

"Today, if ye hear His voice, harden not your hearts." Anything that God would require us to surrender in this life will be a million-fold compensated for in the kingdom of God. If we had to give up everything we possess, if we had to give up a job, and our homes, and even become martyrs because we starved to death, one day we will say it was worth it all. Just to look into the face of Jesus will make any sacrifice seem so small. Why do folk put off accepting him?

When Jesus came the first time to this earth, people knew that He was coming. The prophecies foretold it. They even knew the city in which He was to be born. They knew all about these things, but did they accept Jesus Christ when He came? Did they? No, they surely did not. "He came unto His own and His own received Him not." John 1:11. Why didn't they accept Jesus Christ? They were not ready for His first coming. Do you think that people will be any more ready for His second coming than they were the first coming? He came unto His own and His own received Him not when He came the first time. The prophecies were there. Even after He came and walked in and out among the people, they rejected Him. They were so caught up in the trend of popular thinking that they completely missed recognizing the Son of God.

Do you think that the situation has gotten any better since that day? I would be of the opinion that it has probably worsened, if anything. Some people think they would have recognized Him as the Messiah. Perhaps, but what are we doing about His message that He is revealing to us right now? Are we accepting His truth? Are we keeping stride with the message that is coming to us? What we are doing with Jesus right now is a fair sample of what we would have done with Him if we would have lived back there when He came the first time to this earth.

In John 9:22 there is a statement that can help us to know just exactly what we would have done with Jesus. "These words spake His parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews agreed already, that if any man did confess that He was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue." Anybody who accepted Jesus Christ back in His day was thrown out of the church. Not only was he thrown out of the church, but he was boycotted. He was practically an outcast from the nation. You think that it was an easy thing to accept Him when He was here the first time?

Those that accepted Him were practically men without a country, and the going was not very easy in that day. People make the same excuses today that they made back when Jesus was here the first time, too. In this same chapter we get a little reaction of that. "Then they reviled him." This chapter is dealing with the man who was born blind and that Jesus healed. "Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art His disciple; but we are Moses' disciples." John 9:28. Notice: They told this man that was healed, "Thou art Christ's disciple, but we are Moses' disciples. We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is." Note the idea they were expressing. They were willing to go along with mother and dad and grandmother and grandfather, and that is essentially what they said. They said in effect, "The religion of our parents is good enough for us. We agree to stay by that," and in the process of doing so they rejected Jesus Christ.

The same excuses are given today. Do you know that it is possible to hold onto some traditional doctrine, some sentimental way and reject Jesus Christ in the process of doing that? People are saying today, "Well, the religion of mother and dad is good enough. Our church is a good church..." or something to that effect. That doesn't have anything to do with salvation. Salvation is a personal matter. We can't hide behind mother and dad, or hide behind a church, anybody's church, and expect to get by, for thus we might reject Jesus Christ.

Christ said to the religious leaders of His day that they mourned profusely over the death of the prophets martyred by their forefathers. They made decorated national shrines of the prophets' tombs. But Jesus, who reads hearts with unerring accuracy, told these pious mourners that they too would have slaughtered the prophets if they had lived in their day. They proved His words true by soon thereafter slaying Christ, the Lord of prophecy.

Something for us to think about today! It never pays to say that we would have done thus and so, in that day, and go right on disobeying God's Word today. We can judge by what we are doing right today with the message of Jesus and get a clue as to what we would have done if we had lived back in that day.

In James 4:17, it says, "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." When we have been shown a way and then we are unwilling to do it, the text tells us in what category God places us. "Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God...and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" Hebrews 10:29. How does one do that? Verse 26 reads, "If we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth..." we tread underfoot the Son of God. Truth becomes a very vital consideration for thinking men and women who are making provision in their plans for a place in the kingdom of God. I don't know of any more thoughtful and important consideration that we could have today.

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