Why should a person become a Christian? Are there any other considerations beyond heaven, that actually can focus a person on this life?

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Why should a person become a Christian? Are there any other considerations beyond heaven, that actually can focus a person on this life?

Post by Admin on Tue Jan 26, 2016 3:41 am

question. The question I asked was, What percentage of the material in those books—the books most closely associated with the Christian life—had to do with prophecy, with looking ahead beyond this life? Here are the results:

The Gospels (the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ):
Matthew: 26% prophecy 81 specific predictions in 278 out of 1,067 verses
Mark: 19% prophecy 50 specific predictions in 125 out of 662 verses
Luke: 22% prophecy 75 specific predictions in 250 out of 1,146 verses
John: 20% prophecy 45 specific predictions in 180 out of 866 verses

The History of the Beginning of the Christian Church:
Acts: 13% prophecy 63 specific predictions in 125 out of 1,003 verses

The Church Letters:
Romans: 21% prophecy 29 specific predictions in 91 out of 433 verses
I Corinthians: 19% prophecy 85 out of 437 verses
II Corinthians: 5% prophecy 7 specific predictions in 12 out of 257 verses
Galatians: 11% prophecy 7 specific predictions in 16 out of 149 verses
Ephesians: 5% prophecy 8 out of 155 verses
Philippians: 10% prophecy 10 out of 104 verses
Colossians: 9% prophecy 9 out of 95 verses
I Thessalonians: 18% prophecy 16 out of 89 verses
II Thessalonians: 40% prophecy 19 out of 47 verses

The Pastoral Letters:
I Timothy: 4% prophecy 2 specific predictions in 5 out of 115 verses
II Timothy: 20% prophecy 17 out of 83 verses
Titus: 2% prophecy 1 out of 46 verses
Philemon: 0% prophecy 0 out of 25 verses

The General Letters:
Hebrews: 45% prophecy 52 specific predictions in 137 out of 303 verses
James: 6% prophecy 7 out of 108 verses
I Peter: 20% prophecy 21 out of 105 verses
II Peter: 41% prophecy 11 specific predictions in 25 out of 61 verses
I John: 6% prophecy 4 specific predictions in 6 out of 105 verses
II John: 15% prophecy 2 out of 13 verses
III John: 0% prophecy 0 out of 14 verses
Jude: 40% prophecy 8 specific predictions in 10 out of 25 verses

Revelation: 95% prophecy 383 out of 404 verses

Excepting the final book of Revelation, the verses of the New Testament contain less than 20% prophecy (19.36%, to be precise). Now, while the first four books (the gospels) focus on the life of Christ, a huge amount of that is His teachings—words that still seek to be applied today. So, it is probably fair to say that approximately 70-80% of the New Testament is actually about living out the life of Christ in the here and now—in the places and with the people with which we find ourselves. And, of course, the fact is that, when we actually surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, we are not immediately transported home to heaven. We are still here—remaining here to do what Christ asked us to do with the gifts, talents, strengths and weaknesses with which He created us and placed in us. And among His final words, nothing is stated about our future home with Him, but rather His focus is on our present mission for Him:
(1) “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”—Jesus Christ, Matthew 28:18-20.
(2) “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation—Jesus Christ, Mark 16:15.
(3) “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high”—Jesus Christ, Luke 24:46-49.
(4) “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”—Jesus Christ, Acts 1:7-8.
OK, so that being said, what are some reasons for claiming the Christian life now, in our present lives? Here are three areas for consideration:
(1) We will live our daily lives with His presence right with us, accompanying us through every moment of every day: Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you—Psalm 84:10-12. In other words, we are living in this time and place with His timeless strength, power, wisdom and love alongside us—not simply to inactively watch, but rather to interactively live in and through us.
(2) We can expect answers to our prayers. God answers prayers from within relationship with Him. He deeply desires ongoing communication within that relationship; that’s why Paul urged, [P]ray without ceasing—Paul, I Thessalonians 5:17 (NKJV). And because of prayers given within the context of that relationship, Isaiah painted this incredible picture: Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear—God speaking, Isaiah 65:24. Jesus expressed a similar idea in the Sermon on the Mount, just prior to introducing the Lord’s Prayer: [Y]our Father knows what you need before you ask him—Jesus Christ, the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:8b. And then, within that relationship, God answers: “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver them and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation”—God speaking, Psalm 91:14-16.
(3) He will give us the strength to get through all difficulties—if we trust in Him. As God said through the prophet Isaiah, I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you—God speaking, Isaiah 41:9-13. That is why Paul could celebrate with the knowledge that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me—Paul, Philippians 4:13 (NKJV). In fact, Paul was so profoundly impressed by Jesus Himself when comparing Christ’s strength to His own that he was led to share a very personal moment that had become a great victory for him: I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest in me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong—Paul, II Corinthians 12:7b-10. We can never know when difficulties are going to come against us, but we can know at a very personal, intimate level the Giver of the strength that will get us through that moment. Certainly Moses understood the power of God in all circumstances, which is why he shared with the nation of Israel (later referenced in the New Testament book of Hebrew), Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified . . ., for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you”—Moses, Deuteronomy 31:6. That is why David could celebrate, Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me—David, Psalm 23:4a. Paul realized that, for all the moments in his life, God—through His Son, Jesus Christ—would be with him, to a remarkably intimate degree; as he noted in his letter to the church at Philippi, [F]or it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose—Philippians 2:13. In other words, God’s strength is so completely and intimately flowing through us (remember, it is God in the person of the Holy Spirit who is constantly dwelling within us) that, as the Living Bible states this verse, For God is at work within you, helping you want to obey Him, and then helping you do what He wants—Paul, Philippians 2:13 (LB). And as the apostle John acknowledged to his readers—and to us: [T]he one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world—I John 4:4b.
Finally, what we can never forget is that, while heaven is going to be an incredible place and experience, far beyond anything we can even hope to imagine, heaven is also a place of reward—based on how we have been found to obey our Master in the lives we have lived out here on earth. We go to life in heaven as a reflection of our lives on earth. Therefore, God has given us all He has in terms of talents and abilities and passions so that we could be a part of fulfilling His mission here on earth. Simply put, He has us here because He wants us here—and how to do that has everything to do with living Him out wherever and with whomever He has placed us. We are to be Christ’s witnesses—showing all He can be to others by showing off all He has become for us. As Jesus Himself said so famously, You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven—Jesus Christ, the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:14-16. That’s why we connect with people: so that as they get to know us, they get to see Jesus in us. They get to see firsthand how He works and what is possible, all because they are connected to someone who, through Christ, has had the experience of Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!—Paul, II Corinthians 5:17. That is why God may continue to keep us here: because there is a specific “audience” of people awaiting our testimony, an audience for whom we are the perfect match. And then, beyond all that, God has given us Himself—in the person of His Son and His Holy Spirit—to make our lives here on earth all that they can be. He wants us to live fully for Him on earth, even as we eagerly await the life in heaven that He has promised us. That’s what Paul had in mind when he said, For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain—Paul, Philippians 1:21. What a way to go!

KYLE—The Bible says all those who call on the name of the Lord will be saved (Joel 2:32a, later quoted by Paul in Romans 10:13), and you cannot call Jesus “Lord” without the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:3b), but there’s the part in the Bible where people are talking to Jesus saying, “But Lord, didn’t we prophecy in your name,” and he responds, “Yes, but I never knew you” (Jesus Christ, Matthew 7:23a) So isn’t that a contradiction? Because they could call him “Lord” and obviously knew who he was but he’s saying in that verse that’s not enough.
There is no contradiction. Jesus is speaking of relationship. His phrase, “I never knew you” is clearly referring to something far more than simply knowing a name or being aware of a person. For example, many people today invoke the name of Jesus in supporting same-sex marriage. For those for whom Christianity is just another manmade religion, that may carry some weight but, for genuine slaves of Jesus Christ, it means nothing. And the works being referenced here—prophesying, casting out demons, doing many wonders—are meaningless works without the foundational piece of relationship with Jesus Christ: “first things first.” Jesus Himself pointed out that [E]very good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit—Jesus Christ, the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:17-18. Performed outside of personal surrender and relationship with Jesus Christ, anyone’s works amount to nothing. As Isaiah said so clearly, All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away—Isaiah 64:6. It is only when our works are an outcome of response to Jesus Christ that they mean anything—which is exactly the point that James was trying to make in his letter: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does—James 1:22-25. As he later concluded, Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do—James 2:18b.
We can also never forget that relationship—or the lack of one—reveals who is really behind the works. Jesus told us that Satan was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies—Jesus Christ, John 8:44b. And yet Paul also told us that Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness—Paul, II Corinthians 11:14b-15a. And in the end times, we are told that there will be many amazing “signs and wonders” performed for those remaining on the earth, wonders that will deceive many. But the root of those amazing feats will not be God or His Son Jesus Christ, but Satan. As James so graphically underscored, You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder—James 2:19. Calling God’s name doesn’t necessarily translate God’s presence.

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