People of Principle

Part 1

Monday, October 19, 2020

How many of you would agree with me that today we live in a society that predominantly bases its decisions on feelings or emotions? Some of the most important choices that people will make in their lifetime are being made on whether it feels good or not. A few examples of this may be, ‘I don’t feel happy in my marriage, I’ll get a divorce.’ or ‘I like this car, I know I shouldn’t buy it, I can’t really afford it: but I want it…’ or ‘I am going to sleep with this person because the moment feels right.’  


Unfortunately, some level of this mentality has even crept into the church. You see it where people do or don’t do things in the church based on whether or not they ‘feel’ like doing it - even to the point of leaving and finding another church that makes them ‘feel’ better.

We all know that it is hard to make the right choice in the heat of the moment. Now, I am not going to sit here and say that emotions and feelings are from the devil. The truth of the matter is, we were created to have them, enjoy them. We are emotional beings because we are made in the image and likeness of God – Who is an emotional being. Emotions truly enrich the human experience.

 

Having said that we are not to be governed by our feelings; we are to be people of principle. Emotions change, principles don’t!

In our Bible passage for today, we will meet up with Abraham after he has just experienced the fulfillment of a long-awaited promise. Abraham and Sarah were finally given a son, their first and only son, Isaac, as God had promised them so many years earlier. Being a dad, I know that Abraham’s love for Isaac would have grown with each and every passing day of Isaac’s life. It was under these circumstances, of great joy and overwhelming emotion, that God chooses to test the principles of His friend (Isaiah 41:8). Would Abraham still choose to act on his principles, or on his feelings? What would you have done in Abraham’s situation? Let’s take a look at Genesis 22.

Genesis 22:1 – 19 “After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here am I, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide;” as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” 

15 And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” 19 So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba. And Abraham lived at Beersheba” ESV.

 

Continued tomorrow

 

people of Principle

part 2

Tuesday, October 20 , 2020

Principle of Trust – Genesis 22:1-2
It’s interesting to me, that the Bible says that God was “testing” Abraham. (You may remember we did a two-part series on the tests God gives us just a month or so ago.) Even though Abraham had done so many things already and had proven himself faithful to God, God still was stretching and molding him.

 

I think this should help us understand that we never arrive in our faith journey; we must keep pressing in. Why? because the tests of our faith and trust in God continue to come at us, in every level of our faith journey.

Suppose God comes to you and asks you to give back to Him this one prized possession that you had waited so long for. “Take your son, your only son – yes, Isaac, whom you love so much – and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering…” 

 

Let’s be honest: there was nothing reasonable or logical about this request, except the fact that it is coming from God. In Abraham’s eyes, that was enough, no matter what was asked for. There was a trust there that God knew what He was doing, even though Abraham couldn’t possibly have understood why.

Imagine that God asked you to give Him the thing you love the most. Some will say, “Take anything God, but not this!” This is the exact place where our emotions and our principles always come into conflict with each other. We know what we want to do in the flesh, but, in principle, we know we should trust God, and we know that He knows better than us in every situation because He is a wonderful and sovereign God.

 

It’s easy to hear someone tell us, “Just trust God.” But when they add, “trust God with everything,” well, that’s a whole new ballgame, isn’t it?!? And yet, that is what God asks us to do: trust Him with everything.

We must trust that God’s plans will always come to pass precisely when and how He intends them to, without reservation. If God can hold the universe in place, then He can certainly hold your life together. But more than that, He has a greater purpose that we, more often than not, cannot see. Friends, the difficult truth of the matter – for our human, emotional lives – is that God can be trusted with our families, our lives our futures and our hearts. The principle of trust and trusting God will always be your best choice.

 

So, the question is, “Do you trust Him?”

Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” 

Proverbs 34:8 “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”

 

Continued tomorrow

 

People of Principle

part 3

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Principle of Obedience – Genesis 22:3-6
Now of course we all understand that to say you trust God with everything is only part of the equation because the very next thing you have to do is act on that trust in obedience.  We need to take note that our Bible passage doesn’t say Abraham went away for a few months and prayed about what God had said. Furthermore, it doesn’t say Abraham went away and asked for the advice of his friends. It simply says, “... the next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son Isaac” (verse 3). (Imagine having to go home that night and explain to Sarah what God wanted him to do!)

There was nothing else for Abraham to do other than to obey as soon as possible, no matter how difficult it would have been for him. Talk about a tough “10 Second Rule”!  God wanted to see if Abraham would keep being a man of principle even after receiving the incredible blessings that come with ongoing relationship with God.

Without action, our words mean little. This is exactly where the principle of obedience is tested. Are we ready to actually go through with what God calls us to do, no matter how difficult? Regardless whether it makes sense or we can fully wrap our understanding around it? Again, emotions would tempt us to do what is easy and selfish. 

A number of years ago now, the Reeds were preparing to leave their families and their church family, headed for full time missions work in Ukraine. While they were at the Minneapolis airport waiting to board the plane, I can assure you they were experiencing emotions they had never experienced before. Those emotions were even different than what they experienced when Phil quit his job and they listed their house for sale and began traveling to raise funds. The temptation would have been to great to tear up the tickets and stay with their family, with us here in Waseca/Owatonna. However, God was asking them to trust Him - and more than that, to be obedient.  

We must respond in obedience without wavering, regardless of our emotions, reason and logic. Acting in obedience is how we put legs on our beliefs, and it is the only way to see God truly at work in your life.

 

Continued tomorrow

 

People of Principle

part 4

Thursday, October 22, 2020

1 Samuel 15:22 – 23 “And Samuel said, ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king’” ESV. Disobedience is the same as rebellion. To say yes to God, to say you trust Him, but then to not act in obedience is to rebel against Him. 

Philippians 2:8 says of Jesus, “And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” ESV. 
 

Principle of Faith – Genesis 22:7-10

Abraham didn’t only have trust in the fact that God knew what He was doing. He immediately obeyed because he understood that God deserves our obedience.

 

What we see is Abraham tying his trust and obedience together through an unwavering faith. His faith led him to believe that God would have some greater purpose in doing all of this and that it would somehow, someway end well. Abraham had faith that God would be good on His promises, just as He had always been in the past. Abraham was fully ready to sacrifice his son and he would have done it if God hadn’t stopped him.

 

I believe that Abraham, in faith, knew that God would provide the sacrifice, just as He had provided him with a son. Genesis 22:5 “Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” VS 7-8 “Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” Imagine your son asking you that question: “We have the wood and the fire,” said the boy, “but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?” What a lesson to his son! We will trust in God’s wisdom, we will obey God’s direction and we will have faith to believe in God’s plans.

 

Continued tomorrow

 

People of Principle

part 5

Friday, October 23, 2020

Hebrews 11:17 – 19 “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death” NIV. In the process of Abraham doing this with his son, it was his faith in God that gave him the strength to complete the task. Emotions could have gotten the best of Abraham in this trying moment, but he stuck to his principles and had faith in his God.


How many of us have such faith: to believe the goodness of God, even to the point of sacrificing everything? The principle of faith is tested when we actually lay it all on the line and believe God for the best. We don’t know how it will work out, but God will always be faithful, and on that, we can count! It will be your faith that will carry you through while being obedient.

When situations arise like this in your life it will be your faith, not your emotional strength that will get you through. With a whole heart we must believe in faith that God has our best interests at heart. We must also believe in faith that He will always come through on His promises (Genesis 22:11-13). 2 Timothy 2:11 – 13 “Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with Him. If we disown Him, He will also disown us; 13 if we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself” NIV.

I have been challenged in my heart as of late about whether I have built my life on my emotions or on Biblical principles. So often we make decisions in the heat of the moment, instead of taking even a few minutes to pray, and then choosing based on principles of trust, obedience, and faith. 

Jesus was the perfect example of what it means to live this kind of life, even though it meant Him giving His own life for ours. What tests has God brought into your life where He is challenging your principles? We are blessed and fortunate, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t still going to stretch us. We will never reach perfection until heaven (Abraham wasn’t perfect either), so God will always test us through the circumstances of life. 

Will you be governed by often-volatile and ever-changing emotions, or will you be people of principle? Are you basing your choices this morning on your feeling or on the Bible?  END

 

The Narrow Gate

Part 1

Monday, October 12, 2020

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate.”

 

When I was a kid, one of my friends had one of those garage doors that was solid. It didn’t go up in increments; it went up as one big, two car wide, piece. They didn’t have a garage door opener and since his mom always wanted us boys to use the door going from the garage to the kitchen instead of the front door, we found ourselves always opening that big, heavy, garage door. So my friend’s dad came up with a solution. He cut out a small door within the big door.

Matthew 7:14 “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

As I was researching this verse, I found out that what my friend’s dad did was actually Biblical. This verse starts off talking about the small gate. The Greek word for small gate is “Stenee” (Sten-ee) “pulee” (poo'-lay), which translates to “a little door in a large gate.”

The Gate, among the Jews, metaphorically signifies the entrance, the introduction, or means of acquiring anything. So they talk of the gate of repentance, the gate of prayers, and the gate of tears. When God, shut the gate of paradise against Adam, He opened to him the gate of repentance. So it’s almost as though there is a large opening into heaven but because of sin that large entrance has been reduced down to a narrow gate. Currently the only working gate into heaven is through repentance.  

The traditional way of looking at the narrow gate is of course to look at it as Jesus. Jesus is the narrow way to heaven. That part is obviously true: there is no other way to heaven than through our Lord. And, further, there is no other way to Jesus than through repentance. It seems that humans are so wedded to their own passions, and so determined to follow the imaginations of their own hearts, that it may still be said that only a few find the way to heaven.   

The big gate would be filled with good works, and yet when we talk to people about what the Bible really says about how to get to heaven, and that Jesus is the only way, and all the good works they are depending upon to get them there will not do it, they call us the fools. They seem fully convinced in their own minds that they can tell God what His standards should be. Can we tell God how it should be? or does God tell us?     
 

The Kingdom of Heaven

I want to shift our focus for a moment regarding the Kingdom of heaven. I believe there are two applications of the narrow gate. There is certainly the primary one which says that Jesus is the only way to the Kingdom of heaven. But then there is the Kingdom of heaven as it applies to you and me today as believers. In fact, that is probably more true to the text than anything else.

 

Continued tomorrow

The NArrow Gate

Part 2

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Matthew chapter seven is the final chapter of what is commonly called “The Sermon on the Mount.” It begins chapter five. When Jesus begins His discourse in chapter five, these are the very first words out of His mouth as He begins His public ministry. The first thing He does is to describe what it will mean to have the Spirit of God dwelling in the heart of man.

 

What Jesus was trying to get across to the people is that the Kingdom of God they were expecting the Messiah to establish, was going to look a lot different than what they expected. They were looking for the Messiah to show up, put down their enemies, build a huge temple, and establish Himself as the supreme ruler.

Jesus comes along and says, “Really the Kingdom of God is going to be spiritual, and it’s going to dwell in the hearts of people. And when the Spirit of God dwells in the heart of a person, it will change them into what God wants them to be.”

 

So there is this parallel use of the term, “Kingdom of God.” It can mean heaven but it can also mean what God intended for His people to experience while living this life - and that is the Kingdom I’m going to refer to during this week’s study.  

I think that, as Christians, we get just as mixed up in our understanding of how to enter into the life God has for us today as non-Christians do about getting into heaven. In both cases, we think it is by doing good works. The non-Christian believes with their whole heart that being good will get them to heaven; the Christian wholeheartedly believes that doing good deeds will help us enter into the fullness of the life God has for us today. Wrong! and Wrong!

Our salvation is based on relationship more-so than anything else. When we surrender our hearts to God, we are expressing our desire to enter into a relationship with Him. There will be no going to heaven without a right relationship with Jesus and there will be no heaven on earth without right relationships with our fellowman.

Matthew 7:12 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” This, of course, is the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is also the verse that introduces the idea of the narrow gate, which we see in the very next verse, verse 13.  

Here is what I want us to grasp about the narrow gate when it comes to the Kingdom of heaven on earth: in order to go through that gate and actually enter into what God has for us today, we must live according to the Golden Rule because without right relationships with others, we cannot experience all that God has for us.   

The interesting thing about a narrow door is that you cannot take any big items in with you. When I think back to the narrow door in my friend’s garage door, if they ever wanted to take anything big into the house, they had to open the whole thing. In other words, there is no way to go through the narrow way with a lot of baggage - and baggage can be defined as the things in our life that hinder right relationships.

 

The closer you get to the entrance the narrower it gets. On the other side of that opening is all the fullness of God. It’s all the things that are meant to be ours as the children of God, but we can’t get through it if we have a bunch of junk in our lives that hinders relationships.  

Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Judgmental-ism is a huge bag on your back that certainly won’t fit through the narrow gate. We don’t want to be judged by another man do we? So live by the Golden Rule: if you don’t want to be judged by others, then don’t judge them - and that huge piece of baggage will be taken from you, making it easier for you to go through the narrow gate.

Matthew 7:3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” A critical spirit is another huge piece of baggage that will not allow us to enter in. Do you want others to nit-pick about the little things in your life that need adjustment? If not, then live by the Golden Rule and stop criticizing others so that you will not be criticized.

 

Someone might say, “I love to nit-pick, it’s my ‘ministry.’” That’s fine – you can keep that piece of baggage (and it is NOT a ministry!) as long as you realize that you can’t get through the narrow gate with it so you will actually live outside of all the best that God has for you until you choose to drop it.   

 

Continued tomorrow

The Narrow Gate

part 3

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” This bag is big – if not the biggest of them all.  You cannot get through the narrow gate with the heavy weight of unforgiveness upon you. Unforgiveness will not make it through the narrow way. How could a person enter into all that God has for them in this life if they harbor hatred for one of God’s children?

How close would you let me get to you if I hated your kids? Unforgiveness is hatred; it is a desire to see and/or allow someone go to hell. If I said to you, “I like you. My wife and I would really like to get to know you and your wife. But we hate your kids, so could we develop a relationship that does not include your kids in any way?” Just think of how powerful the golden rule is here! “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” would be like saying, “God, since I won’t forgive them, You don’t have to forgive me.” 

Matthew 5:44-45 “I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” We have been commanded by our Heavenly Father to pray for those who hate us and persecute us. How is a man going to make it through the narrow passageway with the refusal to pray for his/her enemies on her/his back?

Matthew 6:1 “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:44 telling us to pray, and this verse telling us not to do our acts of righteousness just to be seen by men, are critical verses.  

All the verses we have been looking at have to do with a right relationship with our fellowman.  
 

The Work of the Church

Watchman Nee stated in one of his writings that prayer is the work of the church and nothing else. Nee believes that all the other functions of the church flow out of prayer. Evangelism, discipleship, teaching, preaching, witnessing… all of them are all be by-products of the prayer life. Here is what Nee proposed: “Prayer is the work of the church. Every other action outside of prayer is merely legalism.” Our attempts to get through the narrow gate - evangelism, teaching, preaching, helping the poor, etc. etc. - are nothing more than good works until they are bathed in prayer.  

The work of the church is prayer. The only thing Jesus called the House of God was the “House of Prayer.” In Matthew 21:13 He said, “My house shall be called a house of prayer,” and in so doing He made prayer preeminent. Jesus said that prayer should stand over and above all other things in the House of God.

 

The only thing ever recorded that the disciples asked Jesus to teach them, was how to pray. “Teach us to pray” they said to Him, and He taught them the Lord’s Prayer.  

We are talking about getting through the narrow gate in order to enter into all the fullness God has for us. Prayer primarily relates to relationship. Evangelism does not relate to relationship; evangelism is a work we do for Jesus. Teaching does not relate to relationship; it, too, is a work.  

Here is my point: without a right relationship, all the other activities of the church are meaningless and merely our futile attempt to enter into what God has for us. Jesus warned us not to be like the Pharisees whose lives were filled with acts of righteousness which accomplished nothing - because they lacked a right relationship with Him.

 

Continued tomorrow

The Narrow Gate

part 4

Thursday, October 15, 2020

It’s the same spirit that the non-Christian has regarding their salvation. They believe they do not need to live according to the Word of God and yet by doing things their way - they will still be able to make it to heaven. There is no way to develop intimacy with the Lord without a deep prayer life and without intimacy we will never enter through that narrow passage way into the life He has for us today, as we live in this world.    
 

An Ongoing Love Affair

I tried to think of a good way to illustrate this and the only thing I could come up with is something God often said about Israel whenever she had other loves. 1 Chronicles 5:25 “And they transgressed against the God of their fathers, and went a whoring after the gods of the people of the land, whom God destroyed before them.” KJV

I’m not making any comments on the text here. I just wanted you to see how God refers to those who have loves in their life other than God Himself. The King James Version uses the word “whoring.” The New International Version uses the word “prostitution,” they both mean the same thing. If we have other loves in our life, because of the intimacy we have with them, we are not allowed intimacy with God. 

Let’s bring this down to earth even a little more, using marriage as our example. The Bible calls the husband and wife a parallel to Christ and the Church, so marriage makes a great example. A Christian who does not pray and yet cannot figure out why his life is not experiencing all that God has for them would be like a man who is having an affair but cannot figure out why that bothers his wife. We might say – who could be that stupid? The answer is, any Christian who has knowledge of the standards of God’s Word and yet lives in willful disobedience to them.  

Keep in mind, I’m not talking about a person’s salvation. I’m talking about us living in the fullness of what God has for us in this life, today. God has made it quite clear that the way to a more full life with Him is narrow and yet we insist on the wide path.  

I don’t think we understand the seriousness of our situation spiritually. God calls our lack of intimacy with Him as prostituting ourselves with the world. Typically, the lack of intimacy with God i.e. having a vibrant prayer life; is because we have other things that replace Him (taking priority over Him). God sees those other things as us having another love.

Remember I am talking about us coming into the fullness of life today. One day I wonder if we will look back at our lives and ask ourselves why we were so determined to allow ourselves to get so taken up with things that did nothing to develop our spirituality. 

Look at this little scenario. The wife is on the other side of the narrow gate and the husband is trying to get there. “Hi honey, I sent you some flowers today!” “That’s nice. Have you left that other woman yet?” “No, but I’m sending you even more flowers tomorrow!” “Just leave the other woman!” She replied. He said, “I read the note you sent me, over and over. Does that help?” “None of those things mean anything to me as long as the other woman is in your life,” she said. He responds, “Why can’t I come and see you?” Exasperated she replies, “Because you and the other woman cannot make it through the narrow gate together. You must abandon her, you can only enter through repentance.”

This is what I meant earlier when I said that everything we do for the Lord – outside of prayer - is works. The man was hoping that by sending flowers and reading her notes, he could gain access to her. This is like us doing nice things, and reading our Bible at least occasionally, but not spending time in prayer - and yet we still expect to receive all God has for us. We don’t fully understand how serious God sees our lack of prayer. He sees the reason for our lack of intimacy with Him as us having other loves in our life – and us and our other loves will never fit through the narrow gate. 

 

Continued tomorrow

The Narrow Gate

Part 5

Friday, October 16, 2020

Even our evangelistic efforts, our helps ministry, or our benevolence fund means nothing to the Lord unless prayer is the basis for them. Without intimacy, it is all works. It all comes back to relationships. 


Suppose the woman would have accepted his works. Suppose she would have said, “OK since you sent me a lot of flowers I will accept you into my presence.” Then when he shows up he brings the other woman with him. Do you see what I mean? Works alone won’t resolve relationship issues.  

A couple of years ago in the fall of the year, Evangelist Dean Niforatos and Pastor Ron Auch were with us for a few days of ministry. As Dean taught on discipleship, he made this statement: “The work of the church is prayer. The reward we get for doing the work is ministry. And the ministry of the church is saving souls, which includes discipleship.”

We’ve already been talking about the work of the church. Now let’s talk about the ministry aspect of that work. The reward of prayer is ministry. We tend to put ministry before the work. We like to boast of our ministry because they highlight our giftings. However, giftings prove nothing spiritually. Fruit proves everything. I have often said that ministry is merely the fruit of discipline. And the discipline is prayer.

Works do not produce fruit. Fruit produces works, and fruit is what ministers to others. When we go out in the Name of Jesus – it’s the character of Jesus within us that actually ministers to others. The effectiveness of our ministry comes from fruit, which comes from the time we spend in the presence of God.  

Matthew 7:15-16 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them.” Here we have some false prophets and the distinguishing factor is fruit. By their fruit you will recognize them, not by their ministry.   

Matthew 7:21-22 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name, and in Your Name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’” 

Here we have them trying to enter into the fullness of the Lord – the Kingdom of heaven based on their ministry. Look at what they refer to as to why they should get in. They refer to what we would call ministry. They prophesied, they drove out demons, and did miracles. 

Matthew 7:23 “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!’”  

“I never knew you, you had no prayer life, and subsequently we had no relationship.” The evil they did was not the things they did. There is nothing wrong with prophesying, or driving out demons, or performing miracles. The evil was not seated in the doing – it was seated in the lack of proper fruit. They were doing things in the Name of Jesus without truly being able to emulate His character.

So the work of the church is prayer and the reward we received for doing the work is ministry. And the ministry of the church is saving souls, which includes discipleship. That’s what this is all about. Everything we do needs to have one of two goals: it’s either bringing people into their salvation or it’s teaching them how to pray and study the Word of God.  END