The Motivation of Love

I may be the only one that I know who was made fun of for being “too religious” at a private Christian boarding school. I would sit in the common area of the dormitory, read my Bible or another piece of religious literature, and organize prayer meetings and bible studies. I didn’t have many friends at school, because all I wanted to do was talk about religion. I felt that being “different” was the cross I had to carry to prove my worth as a Christian.

Even though I was doing many of the right things at a young age, I was doing them for the wrong reasons. Not only was I making other people uncomfortable by being judgmental, but I have to admit that I wasn’t all that happy. I sat down one Sabbath afternoon to evaluate my spiritual progress and came to the conclusion that I was serving God out of fear rather than love. I felt that if I didn’t measure up to God’s holy standard that I would be barred from heaven.

That day I made up my mind not to worry about going to heaven. I would simply focus on building positive relationships with God and my fellow human beings. God would decide if I measured up to the standard of holiness that he required. I would simply accept whatever decision He made on the Day of Judgment.

It would take a few more years of Bible study to learn that I could have the assurance of salvation, but at this point in my Christian walk, I found a measure of peace by vowing not to worry about making it into heaven. I would follow my conscience and focus on being a loving person. This decision was one of the biggest turning points in my walk with God.

During this period of my teenage life, I was reminded of 1 John 4:18 (NIV): “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” I vowed in my heart to no longer serve God out of fear of eternal damnation. I would do my best to find peace in knowing and loving Jesus.

I have learned much more about salvation in the twenty-five years since that paradigm shift. I still refuse to even think about the possibility of eternal damnation. However, now I know I will be in heaven as long as I maintain a loving faith in Jesus. My salvation is not dependent on what I do, but rather on what Christ did in bearing the wrath of God for my sins on the cross.

Obedience is no longer a fearful obligation, but a blessing of gratitude. I don’t obey God to avoid being lost. I know I am saved. Now I am happy to receive the rewards attached to being an obedient child. The perfection of Jesus covers my imperfections. I love because He first loved me: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

Charles Spurgeon wrote the following statement:

“For the child of God knows his good works do not make him acceptable to God, for he was acceptable to God by Jesus Christ long before he had any good works; and the fear of hell does not affect him, for he knows that he is delivered from that, and shall never come into condemnation, having passed from death unto life. He acts from pure love and gratitude, and until we come to that state of mind, I do not think there is such a thing as virtue…”

~Stephen Beagles

The Blessing of Obedience

Jesus is our only hope of salvation. But we miss out on many blessings he offers us if we are not attempting to be more obedient to his laws.

Legalism is putting our self-righteousness before the righteousness of Jesus Christ for salvation, but being a mature Christian means that we are willing to conform to his standard of conduct.

Not one of us is perfect, not one of us has any claim to salvation other than through simple faith in Jesus. However, there is a blessing to obeying the laws of God–we are rewarded in heaven according to our works here on earth:

“He will render to each one according to his works” (Romans 2:6, ESV).

“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12, KJV).

Our works will be judged–not to decided our salvation, but to reward us for our obedience to God’s commandments.

Jesus said there will be rewards for people who patiently endure the attacks of Satan against those who are obedient to God’s will:

“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:12).

Jesus also said: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). Obedience to the laws of God do not save us, but there is a blessing to obedience to God’s commands.

God will reward us in heaven according to what we do here on earth.

~Stephen Beagles

The Straight and Narrow Path

When it comes to the Christian faith there is nothing new to be learned about Bible doctrine that hasn’t already been discovered. The goal of reading the Bible is not to unearth something new, but to gain a deeper understanding of what is true.

The truth of the Gospel is a straight and narrow path. If a person is not guided by the Holy Spirit they have no hope of reaching the final destination–eternal life. There is a satanic fury that rises against all who follow this path. However, Jesus can calm any storm that threatens to sink our ship.

In the end-times persecution against the true people of God will increase, while the rest of the world will be attempting to usher in a new world of peace and tolerance. Anyone who dares say that they have the “only truth” will be considered an enemy of the state. They will be subjected to intense pressure to conform to this “new world religion” based on a perversion of Christian values.

Jesus warned: “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.”

This is why it is important for the genuine followers of Christ to learn the truth, to live the truth, and to love the truth of God’s word. Let us not be like the bridesmaids that failed to bring enough oil for their lamps. Be prepared.

~Stephen Beagles

 

The Proper Motivation

Tonight, I was feeling burnt out on ministering to others by sharing the word of God. I was thinking that I was either preaching to the choir or pushing people away. I know these thoughts are not of God, and I asked God for some motivation.

Then the thought came to me that ministry is more than recruiting people to read the Bible and go to church. A minister is helping to save a person’s eternal life.

Not one of us knows when we will breath our last breath. The only thing that matters at that point is our relationship to Jesus. When we win people to Christ, it is not so that the church can claim another member on the books. We give people the information they need to become a son or daughter of God.

Trillions of dollars are spent annually in healthcare to save a person’s physical life. Physicians go through decades of education and training before they are allowed to practice on their own. Ministers are physicians of the soul, and our jobs are infinitely more important. Eternal destinies are hanging in the balance.

Ministers of Christ are called by God to fulfill their tasks, and each minister needs to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit to be effective soul winners. Angels from heaven are at our side to guide us and to protect us from the forces of evil. The God of heaven gives us the strength, the courage, the wisdom, and the words to speak to each individual heart and mind.

If the Bible is true, and Christ is God of the Universe, then Christian ministers have the most important job in the world. Now that is proper motivation!

~Stephen Beagles

Ultimate Reality

One of the most difficult things to accomplish is to bring theology out of the realm of ideas and infuse the truth about God into the practicality of everyday life. It is easy to read the Bible texts about how God interacted with the ancient world of the Israelites. But few people ever stop to meditate on the implications of what those texts mean to the 21st Century.

The human race has learned more about the science of physics and biology in the past 50 years than it has in the entire course of history. We have learned about human DNA and how much information is stored in a single human cell. Satellites circle the globe from above our atmosphere, and telescopes take pictures of deep space. Microcomputers perform calculations in seconds instead of what might have taken months or years a few decades ago.

Modern day technology allows us to study the laws of the universe and to wonder at the mathematical precision of natural laws. From this data we may conclude that God is more intelligent and advanced than human beings can fathom.

Even more amazing to me is that God chose me to speak His words to other human beings. Most of the seven billion people on the planet practice a false religion—Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Modern Judaism, Paganism, etc. Even Christianity has many churches that have been corrupted by spiritualism, health and wealth teachings, corrupt faith healers, new age teachings, legalism, liberalism, universalism, and naturalism. I am honored that God would allow me to be born into a Christian family where I would learn to speak the truth.

One of the biggest problems Christianity faces in modern times is that pastors and teachers rarely preach the pure gospel of Jesus Christ without watering the message down by focusing on human performance. The truth is that we can never be mature Christians without obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel demands that we acknowledge our guilt and accept the free gift of salvation. Obedience to the laws of God are important to show our love for God and our fellow humans, but our best behavior is far from being what the perfect law requires. The only condition for salvation is a loving faith in Jesus.

God has given me a work to accomplish in the generation that may be witness to the second coming of Jesus Christ. This job is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in its purest form. This is not only what God demands of me, but of everyone whose heart is full of love for the truth of God’s word. This will not be easy, and most of the opposition will come from professed Christian people, but it is not a burden to speak of my love for God who has saved my soul from sin and death by offering up His beloved son—Jesus Christ.

It is easy to get caught up in theological debates over minor issues of theology, but our major focus needs to be on the reality of God, the trustworthiness of scriptures, and the final sacrifice of Jesus that paid the ultimate penalty for our sin.

God is real. The Gospel is real. We must preach the reality of God’s word:

“Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” ~ 1 Corinthians 9:16, NIV

~ Stephen Beagles