But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” – Luke 8:21
Jesus had gone through the regions of Galilee teaching and preaching in their synagogues. He also performed numerous miracles of healing, raising the dead, and setting people free from demonic oppression and possession. On one such day, a crowd had gathered around a house where Jesus had been. The crowd was so heavy that when His mother and family came to look for him, they were prevented from coming near to Him. Then some of those who’d been with Him told Jesus that His family waited for Him outside the house. In reply, Jesus answered that those who hear the Word of God and do it are His family. Jesus didn’t disown Mary and the others; He merely spoke from a greater eternal perspective – those who were chosen to be members of His spiritual family.
In the previous daily wash (which really scoured me with tough abrasives to get me clean), we looked at the message Jesus gave us about our calling Him LORD but doing or not doing what He commands of us. Today’s washing (just as provocative as the previous one) really lathers up the S.O.A.P. and gets to cleansing us and making us like a chaste virgin to be presented to her Husband! Whereas we considered why we call Jesus, LORD, and the tasks He’s given us, now we consider an even more difficult position….Are you really a member of Jesus’ family? OR, do we deceive ourselves into thinking we’ve been adopted into God’s family but really aren’t?
I’m going to step on a lot of religious toes in this devotion and raise a few eyebrows regarding our salvation, but are you willing to join me in introspectively examining our lives and re-evaluating all that we know and thought we knew to be truth? There are many hundreds, thousands, nay millions of people who subscribe to the theological idea and doctrine of once saved, always saved. HOWEVER, our verse of study today in conjunction with others will open our eyes to the Truth. In fact I don’t have to go very far beyond our passage for reading today in the parable of the sower. I will take us to the books of James and Revelation to dispel the myth of once saved, always saved.
Jesus answered those telling Him that family was there to see Him with the words that those who hear and do the Word are His family. Are you being a hearer only and not a doer of the Word? Jesus’ own brother, and apostle, James (of whom is the one who wrote the book by that name) commands us by inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit to be not only hearers of the Word but doers of the Word. Why? Because What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?
Many will call me heretical for this teaching, but hear me out, as well as the words of the Holy Spirit. James does not teach here that doing “works” will save anyone! He states that just as a body without a spirit is DEAD, so faith without works is DEAD! The works DO NOT merit us entry into heaven, but they are, instead, the natural outcome of a life filled with the love of God, their love for God, and the Spirit of God dwelling in that person. If we tell people to have a good life and be safe and eat well and don’t provide for them these basic needs when we are able to do so, then we’ve basically spit in their face and shown them no love of God.
Sure, Paul wrote to the Ephesians and us that we are saved by GRACE through FAITH, the gift of God and NOT OF WORKS to prevent people from bragging about getting into heaven by themselves. Do you notice that it’s God’s grace that saves us and not our faith. To have faith in something or someone means to believe without proof. Yes, God tells us that without faith it’s impossible to please Him, but do you know that even demons have faith in God???? James said, You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! The demons believe that God exists and tremble at the thought! Their problem is that they don’t want to submit to His authority.
But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. (James 2:20-24)
Thus, you claim to be saved because you prayed a simple prayer thinking (not even believing) that everything was going to be all right without a change within you? Think again! Many people think they are saved because of a prayer but continue living as though there had never been anything different in their lives other than that moment the “prayer” was uttered. Look at Jesus’ own words in two intriguing passages. In the same Lucan passage we read for today, Jesus, Himself, said,
The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience. (Luke 8:11-15)
Notice in this parable Jesus points out that some people receive His Word and believe for a time but fall away in times of temptation. Some receive the Word and believe but fall away when the cares, riches, and pleasures of life lead them astray or overwhelm them. It is the last group only that are truly saved. They hear the Word, receive it, keep it (DO WHAT IT SAYS), AND bear fruit with patience. It is not those that just believe the Word. Many do so and FALL AWAY BY JESUS’ OWN ADMISSION!!!!!!!
Now, jump to the book of Revelation. In chapter 3, Jesus speaks to the CHURCH in Sardis. These are people who think they are believers. Many are believers, but are they really members of God’s family???? (NOTE: We should move away from calling ourselves “believers” to “disciples of Jesus.”) Read on.
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,
‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’ (Rev. 3:1-6)
If you think that once saved, always saved, then you’d better reread the short passage above again. Notice that JESUS said that HE’D BLOT OUT the names of those that DO NOT OVERCOME from the Book of Life. Still think I’m making this up on my own, then read another passage from John in his revelation of Jesus. He wrote by Spirit inspiration, that anyone whose name is not found in the Book of Life would be thrown into the lake of fire, which is the second death and where the devil, the beast, and the false prophet end up for eternity in torment, along with demons, death, and hades. Jesus in Revelation 2:11 states that those who OVERCOME will not be hurt by the second death, the lake of fire. What does overcome mean here? It means to get the victory. How do we get the victory? We overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. You see, our testimony is our sharing (a work) how God intervened in our lives and saved us from sin and death and hell and the grave. It’s one of the commands that Jesus told us to do in the Great Commission, be His witnesses in Jerusalem (your town or city), Judea and Samaria (your county and state and nation), and to the uttermost parts of the earth.
Father, I’m beginning to fully realize and understand all that it means to be a part of Your family. It’s not just being “saved” by Your grace. It’s also sharing that same love with others, so they can become converts too. Then, it continues with their water baptism, discipleship, and getting them to lead others to You, as well. You command us to be Your witnesses. Anyone who hoards the loving grace You’ve shown us is guilty of the greatest sin of all – denying others of exposure to Your grace and salvation. You loved us enough to die for us and raise again from the dead to overcome all evil. How can we sit by idly and not get out into the world and share the greatest gift of all – Your love??? Help me to share it more with all in need. I receive my chastening gladly because it will help me to become more like you and because I know You do it out of Your love for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.