“You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matt. 16:23b)
The concerns of God versus human concerns. As teachers, can there be a more important distinction to make? Of course not! When it comes to fulfilling the Great Commission (to “go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey everything that Jesus commanded us” Matt. 28:19-20), it is worth noting that doing so is completely IMPOSSIBLE if our focus is on the concerns of man rather than on the concerns of God! Well, I ask you, what does the message within the church today focus on… the concerns of God, or man? Effective discipleship is missing from the church today and ultimately the reason why is because the church has lost focus of the concerns of God and turned its focus instead to the concerns of man (salvation). When we err in mistaking the concerns of man for God’s concerns, it is of no small matter. Consider the stern rebuke Jesus gave Peter when he made this very mistake. Please read this scripture… (Matt. 16:21-23).
Do you catch the gravity of this passage? I cannot think of any passage found in scripture that could be of greater value regarding our command to stick to scripture, preach the Word, focus on the concerns of God, and allow Him to handle the rest, than this one. Just imagine, shortly after Jesus announced that Peter was the rock that He would build His church on, Jesus refers to Peter as “Satan,” and claims that Peter is serving as “a stumbling block” to Him. Okay… there’s a lesson to be learned here! And what was it that Peter did that was so offensive to Jesus? Peter wanted to protect Jesus from being crucified, he vowed to never let that happen. Yet, today the church is completely unaware that it is making this very same mistake as the church message attempts to prevent the crucifixion of that which is required to follow Jesus. This speaks to crucifying your sin in the flesh — dying WITH CHRIST to sin — going to the funeral of your own independence! Ahhh… a genuine repentance! And what does Jesus say to any teacher who attempts to sell salvation rather than staying in their lane and focusing on making disciples of Christ? Well, His rebuke to them is no less harsh than it was to Peter. Please read… (Matt. 23:15) Have our pastors taken heed of this warning given to the Jewish teachers? No! Nor have the subjects within the church taken heed of His warning regarding the fact that we must be careful of the deception within their teaching. (Matt. 16:5-12)
The reason that Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples instead of going and preaching salvation is because making a disciple of Christ IS one’s salvation and receiving the gift of salvation is NOT possible if you attempt to reverse this order. Salvation is of the Lord, not of man. When you put the cart before the horse (promise someone salvation then attempt to create in them a disciple of Christ) you cannot accomplish your goal because you have effectively denied the grace and power of God — as well you have removed the fear of God from before believers’ eyes. Don’t get me wrong, I am well aware that the sanctification process (growing, maturing in Christ) is of course referring to the time after one gives their life to Christ — after you choose to follow Jesus, become Christ’s disciple. But watch this, you cannot grow and mature IN Christ when you are not truly IN Christ to begin with! And you are not IN Christ if you have not met the cost to follow Him — GIVEN HIM YOUR LIFE! And therein lies the biggest issue that the church is having with believers today. The church has all these Christians that they have manufactured, but where is the passion for the concerns of God in their lives, where is the fire for living out His Truth in the church today? And need I say, where is the fear of the Lord in these believers’ eyes? Well, believers have been robbed of that key to knowledge and the fire that Truth brings, as the message that they have accepted is only partial truth full of the concerns of man and not of God!
According to the message full of the concerns of man, no longer do believers have to give our lives to Jesus, they simply just have to allow Jesus to forgive them — “accept Christ as your Savior” is the catchphrase commonly used to express the “cost” of salvation today. But can you not see Satan’s deception lying between these two perspectives? One perspective (giving your life to Christ) fits perfectly with the rest of scripture regarding the concerns of God (to live a holy life – reject sin); this is the cost of following Jesus — becoming a disciple of Christ. And the other perspective (accept Christ as your Savior) kinda sorta fits with a few verses taken completely out of context that can be used in an attempt to satisfy the concerns of man (salvation). Yes, there is most certainly something that MUST be accepted if you hope to attain salvation, and that is accepting God’s full message of Truth. And once you accept His full message of Truth, you understand you MUST give your life to Christ to be His disciple. Conveniently, Satan’s partial truth, deceptive message, attempts to remove your responsibility to turn from sin and places the onus on Jesus to forgive you anyway, even while you reject His Truth and accept the enemy’s deception. Believe IN God all you want, but if you claim to believe God then please know that rejecting His Word is rejecting Jesus’ Name, and that carries with it a very frightening eternal reality! Do you fear God?
If one has not actually given their life to Christ yet has been told that they are “saved” because of what they have said and done, attempting to make them into a disciple of Christ will merely have you ‘kicking against the goads’ — it is impossible because it goes against human nature. You cannot live by the spirit when you remain living in the flesh. (Rom. 8:2-13) This is why it is written in scripture that you must first die with Christ before you can be raised with Him in spirit. This is the baptism not done by human hands, but the baptism required to enter the kingdom of God. (John 3:3-8, Rom. 6:1-4, Col. 2:11-12)
The concerns of God are that we live His Truth; that we follow His commandments; that we love Him with ALL our heart; that we love our neighbor; that we earnestly seek Him all our days; that we come to know Him; that we remain faithful to His Word; that we trust in His Word; that we place our hope in Him; that we diligently strive to become like Jesus — grow and mature in Christ; that we fear the consequence of rejecting His Word (Truth); that we hate sin and turn from wickedness; that we know that He sees what is done in secret; that we heed His warning to be on guard and keep watch so as to not fall due to Satan’s deception; that we crucify ourselves to the world and give Him our lives in order to serve His will. And THAT is your salvation!
The concerns of the flesh are self-preservation; to know that “I will be welcomed into His kingdom.” Therefore, our focus, our preoccupation revolves solely around those things that we believe that we can say or do to secure our place within. Therefore, preaching salvation (the concerns of man) breaches out of our lane and steers us in the wrong direction — right into the enemy’s hands! Let us turn our focus rather on God, repent, and desire to please Him instead of preaching on the matters that fall well outside of His commands. Let us focus on teaching the true cost of becoming a disciple of Christ and allow God to change our life from the inside out through the power of His Spirit! For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is true freedom. (2 Cor. 3:17) Amen.
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