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Back in the day, I lived at Whitfield Estates in Sarasota, Florida. Next door to our humble abode lived Dorothy. Dorothy was the wife of an Army General. A woman who had traveled the world and acquired the best the world had to offer. Many times when she would catch me outside doing that which I did least, yard work, she would call me into her home to show all the lovely things that she had gathered from across the globe. Much of it was interesting stuff fit for a museum while most of it held no interest to a sixteen-year-old boy. But being polite, as I was taught to be, looked astonished and amazed with her collection from the world over. The more I was invited into the ritual of her brag, the more I hated the yard work that was always on my list of things to be done. The years past and Dorothy became critically ill and was placed into the hospital. One evening the phone rang and it was the General wanting to speak to my dad. Mrs. Dorothy was near death and wanted my dad to come and pray for her. It was late in the evening and surprisingly I was asked to tag along with my dad.
When we arrived in the hospital room there was Dorothy hooked up to machines that were keeping her stable, so my dad said. It was then that Dorothy asked my dad to pray her into heaven. I was shocked! I didn’t know that my day could even do that. Well my dad couldn’t and he told Dorothy so and she became very upset and began issuing orders like her husband the General often did. My dad who was always patient with people went on to explain the road to salvation through Jesus Christ. When he had finished he asked Dorothy if she believed this. She repeated her command for my dad to pray her into heaven and the one thing I never saw my father do was to argue a useless argument. Dorothy has decided that if she had to do it then it would not be done. I could not appreciate the even temper of my dad.
There are many in the world who see a pastor as another Dorothy did in the mystical land of Oz. In the midst of a storm, she found herself in a far off strange land. She determined to find her way home and went off to the capital city at the direction of the good witch of the west traveled under her supervision. After her extraordinary journey brought her to the great city. There all of her hopes and dreams of going home to Kansas came to naught, the good witch of the west came to her aid. As the witch waved her wand around Dorothy’s head and Dorothy clicked her heels together saying I want to go home, I want to go home, and she was instantly at home. I was amazed that my neighbor Dorothy would believe in this fairy tale and demand the same from my Father. I wonder how many there are in this world that believes in the superstition of magic that will give them entrance into the Kingdom of God. As wild as that thought may seem, I really think there are a surprising number of people who do.
There are some who believe that being mostly good is good enough to gain entrance into the Holy City. It is sad to hear how they rationalize bad behavior to merit their sanctification. They just do not realize that God is a Righteous God and cannot be in the presence of sin. God hates sin. “The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all.” (Psalm 5:5)
There are some who never enter into His courts to praise and worship Him, they just send a check each week to the local Church. They think God who lives in the riches of His glory needs the pittance of this world to provide for His Kingdom business. It reminds me of the Zeppelin song, “She’s buying the stairway to Heaven.” They may buy that stairway but how shocking it will be when they carry all that luggage of sin up those stairs and find that first they had to check those bags at the cross of Calvary. And there are those who think that just doing good deeds will earn them a place at the table of Christ. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) We must work out our salvation through our faith, not by our good works, which are a result of our faith.
It is by our faith in Jesus Christ, the grace of God that we are saved. Without faith in God’s word, we cannot even begin the race. It is our faith, acting on the Word of God, that proves our belief in Him as the way, the truth leads to life. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6) I find it is sad that the best, the purchasers of the blood and the do-gooders of the world have not taken the thought to know who God is and to believe that he is and to trust in Him. If they really knew then when they arose from their knees in the morning they would be able to stand strong in their faith and strive to live a pleasing and acceptable life in the service of the King.
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) We all have faith in some measure. We all place our trust in the things we cannot see. We blindly have faith in the morrow believing that it will come in a burst of sunlight. There are those who place their faith in what they believe the stock markets will develop. But this is not true faith it is wishful thinking. As the old Doris Day song, “Whatever will be will be,” is nothing more than a hope founded on the deception of truth. Real faith is founded on truth. It is not a gamble but the ability to place your faith in something unseen that will be. To know and live as what your faith is it believes that what is promised by God will assuredly happen according to His will. This kind of faith is not blind faith but an action in the trust that God’s Word is true and what He reveals to us will happen. If we do not have the faith to act upon His truth then we cannot please Him. We cannot have this assuring faith unless first, we believe that God is and that His promises are fact. So, who is God?
God is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1) God is the only God and there is none other. (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:4) God is light, there is no life without light and we cannot find our way through the darkness of this world without His light. (1 John 1:5) God is love and without God, there is no love. There are many who live in the example of God’s love but it is distorted by the evilness of their intentions. (1 John 4:8,16) God is all-knowing and even as men hide in their darkness God still sees that which they do. If we have the love of God within us His Spirit will lead us to all truth. (1 John 3:19-20) God is ever present. There is nowhere in His creation that His presence is absent from. (Psalm 139:7-8) God is all-powerful. He created the heavens and the earth, the universe, what greater power can there be? What could there be that God cannot accomplish? (Jeremiah 32: 17,27) God is just. He is all-knowing, ever-present throughout all eternity, and all-powerful He is able to judge correctly in the context of His love and light. (Nehemiah 9:33) God is faithful to forgive those who come to Him in confession and repentance. God is merciful to all who call upon Him. (Psalm 86:5)
To the best of us who have lived our lives in the light of His word, yet we too have fallen short of the glory of God. People have a tendency to decide what a serious offense is and what is acceptable. Some have their little secret sins that we deem acceptable in contemporary society. Others have the attitude that God’s Word is a smorgasbord that we can pick and choose what is okay and what is not. Even if it were possible to keep the law of God perfectly we were born into sin. Sin is sin, it is disobedience to God’s Word. There is no measure other than it is a rebellious act against God. Whether you cheat a little on your income tax or murder your brother in your heat it is sin against God and the wage is the same, death. (Romans 6:23) We read in James, "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all." (James 2:10) We all have fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
God in His love for His creation sent His Son that through Him man could be reconciled before God. There was no other way, a man is not able to restore his relationship to God because he is incapable to meet the measure of righteousness. Jesus went to the cross of Calvary bearing the sins of the whole world, past present and future that whoever so will accept His gift of sacrifice in their place could be reconciled unto God. "Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)
Jesus must be the Lord of our life. We must step down from the throne of our life and let Jesus sit on the rightful place of the throne of our heart and guide our steps along the path to our heavenly home. No one can do this for us, no one can pray us into heaven or out of hell. It is a commitment, an act of faith, which we must make while on this side of the river. There is no excuse for anyone to face eternity without the love of God assuring them a place in His Kingdom, as His Son bore the penalty for the sins we have committed. All one must do is call upon His name and accept in faith that He paid the price of our rebellion towards God’s Word. It is an act of God’s love towards us and should be returned to Him who loved while we were yet dead in sin. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Unfortunately, there are those who like Dorothy who does not want to make that change in their life. They love their own way, they love the way of the world that they will not surrender it into the hands of a Savior, Jesus Christ. Before we can be saved from the wrath of God to come we must want to be. When Jesus came to the pool of Bethesda and found a man who has been ill for many years, Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed. At first, I thought this to be a strange question. Of course, he wanted to be healed, as that was why he was at the pool. But that is not necessarily true. There are many people who are satisfied with their present situation. They are getting by, they are comfortable, and at worst they enjoy the pity party that they are in. Not everyone wants to be healed. Not everyone will do that which must be done to be healed. So Jesus asked this question, "When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, "Do you wish to get well?" (John 5:6) One cannot be helped unless he is willing to do that which is helpful. Dorothy wanted my dad to pray her into heaven but she didn’t want to make that walk of faith to get there.
In spite of ourselves, God loves us because we are His creation. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) He has come to lift the burden of our sin off of us and free us in His truth if we would just believe in Him. “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.” (John 14:1) It is not something that we can buy with our treasure. We cannot work our way to the gates of heaven. None of us can live in complete obedience to the Law of God. There is only one way and that is in the power of the name of Jesus Christ. “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) I say be bold and stand up for Jesus, as you are never alone. God the Father is all knowing, all powerful and ever present and He has made the ground of your heart fertile to receive the truth of His word. The Spirit of Truth and the Saints of the Church bid you come and receive God’s free gift of salvation. “The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” (Revelation 22:17) Then you shall be redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ. A peace that passes all understanding will flow through your being and life will have purpose and meaning because there will be hope in your heart. "Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary" (Psalm 107:2
To the Dorothy’s of this world who stand in the midst of a passing world clicking there heals together and saying I want to go home, Glenda the good witch of the west is not the way. The world will try to make salvation an earned rite of passage, a religious ritual of high symbolism that must be followed when all one needs to do is call upon the name of the Lord and follow Him. “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)
Thomas N Kirkpatrick
Whitfield Estates, Sarasota, Florida May 20, 2015
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