Tuesday, 16 January 2018
One of the greatest problems and tragedies we could ever do is hinder another's salvation in Christ. Yet, this is what Jesus challenges those Pharisees, the hypocrites with in the first of seven woes here.
"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from men; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows' houses, even while for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you shall receive greater condemnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves."
This provides the question: Are you hindering people's salvation? This is what Jesus is condeming them for. They were single handledly keeping people out of heaven. Yet, before you throw stones at them and forget yourself, notice how sincere they were in doing it. They were willing to travel many miles and great distances, giving their time and lives to spread the message, but in the process were only glorifying themselves and hindering other's from true salvation. Surely we do not do this still today!? Do we? Two ways are possible:
One, we hinder salvation through deceiving potential disciples of Jesus. Since the Pharisees didn't believe Jesus was the Messiah, they certainly were not going to allow others to either. False teachers are all over the New Testament and for all of church history. Every false teacher deceives. All prosperity gospel preaching, all health and well preaching falsely teaches the true salvation in Christ. Jesus does not give you salvation in order to make you healthy and rich. Instead, true salvation could cost you your life, literally. To trust in the the eternal salvation of Jesus is to forsake all of this world for the all that Jesus has. This is real salvation. If you hold to some belief in Jesus for personal gain, for some easy-believism, just to prop up your own evangelism merit, then you are deceiving disciples of Jesus and hindering true salvation.
Two, we hinder salvation through creating virtual disciples of ourselves. Yes, if the scribes and Pharisees were leading others down a road of legalistic self-exaltation, then we could do that too. We are not called to make disciples that duplicate us. We are called to make disciples that duplicate Christ. We do not need everyone to follow our same rules, live their life like we do in all things, make them feel they are not saved or Christian if they don't do as you do. Unless you are perfect and named Jesus Christ, you are not to be their prime example. That being said, it is important that you do provide a good example. The example is on how you walk in fellowship with God, how you obey his commands, how you show the spiritual fruit in your life. You don't do this to have a following that will think and do like everything you do. You do this to let others see Jesus and His power in you. Each one must choose their path. The right path is only to Jesus and for Jesus. We all have different skills, gifts, talents, character traits, and struggles. We don't need carbon copies, we need Godly examples. We need more of Jesus in our hearts and lives. If we are after pleasing Jesus alone and not ourselves or our own self-righteousness then we will not hinder other's from knowing and coming to Him.
May we do nothing, I repeat nothing, to hinder or halt, or harm someone's understanding of Jesus, coming to Jesus, or calling on Jesus in salvation! Just be Jesus and He will do the rest!