It is enough for the disciple to become like his teacher, and the slave like his master.
"I have seen men and women who claim that they have been 'christians' for 20-30 years, and they are STILL continually blown about by worldly troubles and 'every wind of doctrine' - never able to 'get it together' - constantly blaming God, the 'church' or the elders, society, government or their parents for their problems - unable (or unwilling) to do this, that or another thing - never able to 'grow up unto the FULL stature of Christ'. I asked myself, 'WHY??', and the answer came -- they NEVER committed themselves to being DISCIPLES (whole hearted followers of Jesus Christ). God doesn't want 'christians' -- He wants Disciples !!"
This is akin to the mentality that too many have that wants to know, "How much of 'this world' can I have NOW and STILL get Heaven later? How much SIN can I taste and still be a 'christian'? How close to the abyss of hell can I walk without falling in?"
FAR too many today, it seems, fail to realize that we are NOW constructing our "eternal dwelling" -- that what we build TODAY will be with us for ETERNITY (be it good or bad). Our eyes are turned in the WRONG direction. Instead of looking up-and-out, they look down-and-in, being MUCH more concerned about what is achieved during this VERY short walk in the flesh than about what we will be and have when THIS journey is ended !!
Each one must be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than what is being laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, each builder's work will be plainly seen, for the Day will make it clear, because it will be revealed by fire. And the fire will test what kind of work each has done. If what someone has built survives, he will receive a reward. If someone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as through fire. ** 1 Corinthians 3:10-15
The prevailing mentality that has grown up since the 1960's can be summed up by the statement, "I want what I want when I want it -- and I want it NOW" !! Generations past looked to Jesus Christ (primarily) for salvation from SIN. They KNEW that they were not right with God and were seeking a solution. Today, for MANY, God and Jesus are nothing more than senile grandparents, jolly Santas or cosmic psychiatrists -- there to grant peace, good gifts, prosperity, well being and fix their personal problems. They care little for the issue of SIN (liberal thinking has done away with THAT), salvation or eternal life. The "good life" in the "here-and-now is of primary importance. Woe be to all if things don't turn out to THEIR liking. They throw temper fits more befitting a spoiled little child than a Child of God, and loudly declare that God (or the church) lied to them and/or let them down, and they want nothing more to do with either !!
The Apostle Paul is thought to be a deranged fool and a "stark-raving enthusiast" (fanatic) when he declares:
"For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared (are TOO small to even be considered!) to the glory that will be revealed to us." ** Romans 8:18
"I now regardall things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things -- indeed, I regard them as dung! -- that I may gain Christ, and be found in him. My aim is to know him, to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." ** Philippians 3:8-10
"Do you not know that all the runners in a stadium compete, but only one receives the prize? So run to win"." ** 1 Corinthians 9:24
YES, it IS true that Jesus said (and says today still):
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink." ** John 7:37,38 and "Everyone whom the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never send away." ** John 6:37
The REAL question is, however, "WHAT do you DO when you get there??" ALL may be invited to the "wedding feast", but other scriptures CLEARLY indicate that NOT ALL choose to STAY !! Jesus says that He will never SEND anyone away, but he does NOT say that He will keep anyone against their will. We need to be willing to part with ALL of the old, corrupt, sinful life if we wish to "inherit the Kingdom of God".
When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches what was sown in his heart; this is the seed sown along the path. The seed sown on rocky ground is the person who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. However, he has no root in himself and does not endure; when trouble or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the person who hears the word, but worldly cares and the seductiveness of wealth choke the word, so it produces nothing. As for the seed sown on good soil, this is the person who hears the word, understands and bears fruit. ** Math 13:19-23
Jesus says: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me." ** Matt 11:28,29
I was told that, in the days when farm work was done with teams of oxen, that the yoke (the heavy wooden bar that tied them together) was a training tool whereby the younger, inexperienced ox was taught (by his actions being directed through the yoke) by the older, mature ox. Jesus says further in MANY places, "If you TRULY love me, you will keep my commandments (OBEY my Word)" -- in other words, be my DISCIPLES !!
To me, the question IS NOT, "Can a homosexual be a "christian" or "Can an alcoholic be a "christian" or "Can a drug addict be a "christian" or "Can a fornicator or an adulterer be a "christian" ?? The Apostle Paul says:
You (WE) were at one time strangers and enemies in your minds, as expressed through your evil deeds. Now, however, he has reconciled you by his physical body through death to present you holy, without blemish, and blameless before him – if indeed you remain in the faith, established and firm, without shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard." ** Colossians 1:21-23
The point is, it is NOT God's intent to leave ANY of us in this condition. It is His goal that we ALL be transformed unto the image of His beloved Son through the inworking, living Holy Spirit. There are two BIG points to note in the above scripture verses: (1) We were ALL "strangers and enemies" before God reconciled us and (2) We REMAIN reconciled "if indeed you remain in the faith, established and firm".
There does appear to be ONE SIN that God can NOT forgive (at least, not in this or the impending age), and that is the willful rejection of the power and drawing of the Holy Spirit. If a man (or woman) WILLFULLY rejects and refuses the purifying, refining work of the Holy Spirit in their life, then they have rejected God's ability to make them a part of His Kingdom, for ONLY those who have been renewed and transformed can enter (AND REMAIN) in !!
I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. ** Math 12:31,32
As Jesus said to the women who was going to be stoned for her adultery, "You are forgiven -- now go and sin NO MORE" ** John 8:11. Also, as He said to the man who was healed in the temple, "Look, you have become well. Don't sin any more lest anything WORSE happen to you" ** John 5:14.
Among the "loving words" of Jesus that some seem loth to mention are these:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the kingdom of heaven -- only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day, many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many powerful deeds in your name?' Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!' ** Matt 7:21-23
Read also Matthew 22:1-14. For those who seem to specialize in "half-truths", the last verse reads, "For many are called, but few are chosen." How many, in the name of "love and unity", will joyfully embrace the first half while TOTALLY ignoring the second half of the verse ??
Refer also to Matthew 24:36-25:44. I am not concerned HERE with the EXACT meaning of these various parables. Some, I grant, may NOT be EXACTLY germane to the topic under consideration. I present them ONLY to illustrate the fact that Jesus speaks and warns MUCH more about division and EXclusiveness than he does about unity and INclusiveness !! He makes it VERY clear (to those who have eyes that can see, and are WILLING to do so) that there are indeed conditions to be met for entry and inclusion in HIS kingdom, and those who REFUSE to meet them will find themselves EXCLUDED !!
Beware, of those who pick and choose to believe and teach ONLY those parts of Scripture that are to THEIR liking for their OWN ends. Those who have been chosen to be teachers and leaders are God's "watchmen on the walls", and rest assured that God will hold them especially responsible for HOW they exercise their gift. They are in a position to influence the eternal destiny of MANY. The MANY believe the lies and half-truths that they have been told by their "teachers", and think that their souls are saved and secure in the arms of "Holy Mother Church".
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, because you know that we will be judged more strictly. ** James 3:1
For THIS reason, it was the religious leaders that Jesus condemned with the harshest words:
"Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You keep locking people out of the kingdom of heaven! For you neither enter nor permit those trying to enter to go in. Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You cross land and sea to make one convert, and when you get one, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves!" ** Matthew 23:13,15