Here is a sobering analysis of the revealed future of those whom God is now calling. WHAT will YOU be doing ONE HUNDRED YEARS from now? Have you realized that you are NOW in the process of determining your eternal destiny?
I know that many of you who have been baptized this past summer — and many of our OLDER BRETHREN as well — are at this moment standing on VERY DANGEROUS GROUND!
You have all taken the first step. You have repented of your past sins, were baptized, and have been blessed with the gift of God's Holy Spirit. But what of the PROPHESIED future for you — and for all who have come to accept God's truth?
Trials Ahead The apostle Peter warned Christians of his day, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the FIERY TRIAL which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings" (I Pet. 4:12-13). God's people are to be tried and tested by PERSECUTION, by TRIBULATION, and by SATAN himself.
Peter went on to show that these trials are part of OUR JUDGMENT. "For the time is come that JUDGMENT must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin in us, what shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God?" (Verse 17). We who have received of God's Spirit are in the Church of God — the HOUSE OF GOD. We are NOW being judged!
Is the trial easy? Peter says, "And if the righteous SCARCELY be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" (Verse 18). The natural tendency after being converted is to BOG DOWN and LOSE your original ZEAL. Do you think you can afford to "rest on your oars" for a while? Peter says that even the righteous will SCARCELY be saved! God tries us to keep us ALIVE and GROWING spiritually.
The church at Thessalonica was told by Paul (II Thes. 1:4-5) that the persecutions and tribulations they endured were a token of God's JUDGMENT.
In Hebrews 12:6-10, we find that God CHASTENS every son He loves so that we might profit thereby and eventually be partakers of God's own holiness. At conversion, we have only STARTED on the road to becoming a BORN son of God. Let us NOT be "puffed up" with the precious knowledge that God is revealing to our church — His church — in these last days. We are only unborn "babes" of God, not yet even born of the Spirit as members of God's family.
Thus, we NEED CHASTENING and many a trial to keep us humble and zealously GROWING as we should. We poor humans are inclined to overlook and justify our sins and faults. Too often we think that we have "arrived" while our lives still contain SIN. We forget that our goal is PERFECTION — to be LIKE GOD!
In I Corinthians 11:20-30, Paul is rebuking the Corinthians for taking the Passover in a careless and licentious manner. Because of this, many of them were weak and sickly — and many had died! The apostle continued, "For IF WE WOULD JUDGE OURSELVES, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world" (Verses 31-32). Because we do not "judge" ourselves as we should and PURGE SIN OUT OF OUR LIVES, God CHASTENS us to wake us up and keep us GROWING spiritually.
How you respond to God's INSTRUCTION — to God's CHASTENING — will determine YOUR FUTURE. Many of you reading this may become spiritually LUKEWARM and finally DEAD unless you heed this warning! It is up to YOU!
What Will Happen The condition any of God's people could fall into is revealed in Matthew 25. Jesus here refers to Christians as "virgins" — those who have kept themselves pure from the spiritual fornication of fellowship with false churches. They ALL repented of the wrong ways of this world and CAME OUT of this world to serve God. They ALL went forth to meet the bridegroom — expecting to receive salvation.
BUT some of them lost the "oil" of God's Spirit. They thought that just knowing the truth, coming out of the world, and fellowshipping with God's church was ENOUGH. They had not GROWN SPIRITUALLY AS HAD THE OTHER virgins. Perhaps they thought that they would just naturally get into God's kingdom because they were in the fellowship and love of the brethren who WERE spiritually alive.
Just knowing the truth and having fellowship with God's Church is NOT ENOUGH!
You are either receiving more of God's Spirit each day through fervent prayer, diligent Bible study, and submitting your will COMPLETELY to God that He may direct your every thought and action, or you are stagnating and spiritually DYING! THERE IS NO MIDDLE GROUND. The door to the kingdom was shut in the face of those who THOUGHT they were "saved," but had not yielded themselves to GROW into more truth and to PRACTICE the truth more perfectly each day of their lives.
Don't let this happen to you!
Do Your Part The fearful temptation to "do nothing" is described in Mat. 25:14-30. Jesus portrayed the two faithful servants who had put their talents and resources to WORK in His service, and the servant who had not.
Notice that the two servants who had received the most talents were more eager to use them. IT IS EVEN SO IN GOD'S CHURCH.
Many of YOU feel that because you have no great talents or resources, you can LET DOWN and not do your part with the same ZEAL as others. You are MISTAKEN! This parable shows that you ought to be using your talents just as much as other true Christians. This parable is a warning to BEWARE of such a wrong attitude!
Each one has his part to do in God's work. Perhaps your part is simply to PRAY for God's work and His ministers, to STUDY that you may answer the questions of others, to PAY God's tithe and cheerfully GIVE offerings to His work, and to set a SHINING EXAMPLE of love and service to those about you. But are you doing these things with all your strength?
God's word shows that many of you will become LUKEWARM and will FAIL to carry out YOUR PART in God's work. How can you prevent this?
Your destiny will be determined in a great measure by how well you practice certain virtues in your daily life. The zealous performance or careless omission of these duties is largely a matter of HABIT.
This is a KEY that can BUILD or WRECK your life!
You should get in the HABIT of kneeling down two or three times a day and EARNESTLY PRAYING to God — getting to know Him as your Father. This should be the most important HABIT of your life. Don't let circumstances break this habit!
STUDYING your Bible for a few hours each week is next in importance. Unusual circumstances may necessarily interfere with daily Bible study at times, but you CAN arrange to study the Bible for at least four or five hours each week. And this means the Bible ITSELF — not literature about the Bible. Diligently and prayerfully studying God's word is a habit that will give you the FAITH and UNDERSTANDING you long for. Make it YOUR HABIT!
An important habit which most of you HAVE NOT REALIZED is that of FASTING. When you are faced with a special problem, when you are in a temptation or if you feel you are growing lukewarm, one of the surest remedies is to FAST and PRAY. This subject will be discussed at length in future articles. But zealous Christians SHOULD FAST at least one or two days during each month. This HABIT is VITAL!
Many brethren know it is God's COMMAND that we faithfully render tithes and offerings for His work, but they have not acquired the HABIT of doing this as they should. God loves a CHEERFUL giver (II Cor. 9:7). If you are not in the HABIT, it may be hard for you to give cheerfully to the MOST IMPORTANT WORK ON EARTH. Study the twelfth chapter of Luke. Here Christ is clearly and forcefully showing that your life is not made rich by the things YOU possess. Rather, your true wealth is what is laid up in heaven because your POCKETBOOK as well as your heart has been converted to God's service.
Was Christ mercenary? DECIDEDLY NOT! But He knew that if you weren't trying hard to put more of your material wealth into God's work, your INTEREST and ZEAL would soon DIE OUT. "For where your TREASURE is, there will your HEART be also" (Luke 12:34). I stress this point because I well know that most of you have not been trying to make more money for the PURPOSE of helping God's work. Some of our older brethren who fully understand the significance of this work and the times we are in work EXTRA HOURS in order that they may give MORE toward carrying out the true gospel.
How important is God's work to you? This HABIT which shows God that YOU REALLY MEAN IT!
A Constant Practice The very BASIS of real Christianity that you pattern your life after Jesus Christ. He is our PERFECT example. We need to STUDY God's word continually to know how to follow Christ's example.
A vital HABIT that can aid you marvelously in achieving this is the following: Whenever you are about to do ANYTHING significant, stop and ask yourself, "How would Jesus handle this situation?'' Then ask GOD to guide you in ACTING as Christ would. This can alter the course of your life!
You MUST have studied God's word and Jesus' example for this to help as it should. But even trying this AS YOU LEARN will bring you closer to God EVERY SINGLE DAY.
This habit may be exercised before you walk in a room, before a party, before work, at the start of each new day. Just ask God, "How would Jesus act now?" Then, with God's help — ACT THAT WAY!
If you sow this habit, you should reap ETERNAL LIFE!
YOUR DESTINY is in your OWN hands. Remember that it is largely A MATTER OF HABIT.