1998-02-06 - Who Let Them In??
Jesus' Difficult Teachings Series, Part 4
(Mat 21:31-32 NASB) "Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The latter." Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you. 32 "For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax-gatherers and harlots did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him."
Sometimes we think we know who is going to Heaven and who is not. But don't be too sure. We can be sure of our own salvation, but only God and that other person know for sure whether he or she is saved. Our place isn't to try to figure that out - I have read the Bible in its entirety and have never seen a verse that supports that. Instead, our place is to make sure we do our part to see that everyone hears the Gospel.
(John 21:21-22 NASB) "Peter therefore seeing him said to Jesus, "Lord, and what about this man?" 22 Jesus said to him, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!""
Sometimes the most pious life -- can be hiding a bitter, hateful heart. We can speak eloquently from a pulpit, yet be far from God's heart - if for example we consider hurting members to be nuisances that interrupt our day. Don't get me wrong - I know very gifted pastors who also "walk the walk." But as the saying goes, "Don't judge a book by its cover." Some of us would like to pretend this passage is not in the Bible, that Christ did not really say that prostitutes -- those we would shun and look down on -- would end up in Heaven before those of us who consider ourselves to be upstanding Christians. But He did say it. See, God goes past the surfaces. God sees into our hearts -- scary thought, eh? ; ) And He hates the hypocrisy He sometimes sees there.
(1 Sam 16:7 NASB) "But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
Christ had a lot to say about hypocrisy - Matthew records 13 instances of His mentioning it.
(Mat 23:27-28 NASB) "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. 28 "Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."
God is not impressed by our good deeds if we do the good deeds begrudgingly or our hearts are hard toward the hurting.
(Mat 9:11-13 NASB) "And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, "Why is your Teacher eating with the tax-gatherers and sinners?" 12 But when He heard this, He said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. 13 "But go and learn what this means, 'I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
When we see this verse we may want to say, "Who let them in!" But a prostitute with a soft heart is more pleasing to God than I am if I am unkind.
Dear Lord, please help us to have the Christlike hearts You want us to have. Help us to be humble, and to live lives pleasing to You. In Jesus' name, amen.