No one would argue that these are unusual, fast-paced times in which we live. In fact, everything seems to be accelerated today in our rapidly-changing world. It is difficult to keep up with all that is changing and swirling around us. Maybe it’s because there seems to be so much to keep up with that the time seems to slip away and the days seem to be passing more quickly. Does anyone else think like that, or is it just me? We live in a modern world where everything is more convenient and time-saving, and yet, if you are like me, you often wonder where the time went at the end of each day. We all have the same 24 hours (1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds) to spend every single day.
In Ephesians 5:16, the apostle Paul tells us we ought to be “redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” How do we redeem the time and make the most of each day? Time lost is truly gone forever. It can never be made up. I think, first of all, that we should take a look at Verse 17, “Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” So before we can redeem the time we each have been given, we must know what the will of the Lord is for our lives, so that we can spend our time, our talents, and our energy moving in that direction. We can then prioritize our lives, eliminate distractions, and maintain our focus in order to continually move in the will of the Lord.
This world offers many distractions. But it is up to each of us whether we allow those distractions to consume our time. We often live life as if it is a rehearsal, rather than the main event. Complacency, indifference, and procrastination can cause us to lose our focus. We have a sliver of time left before Jesus returns. It is time for all of us to wake up, spiritually speaking, and stay alert and more aware of the time stealers, the dangers of procrastination, and the focus derailers. We must get on board with what God is doing in these days and do all things according to the pattern He has already given us. If there was ever a time that we as the body of Christ needs to redeem the time, it is NOW! If we do not know what part God is wanting us to play, we must find out quickly.
This is why I wrote This Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal! The urgency of the hour has never been more apparent. Being politically correct is quickly going out of style. Remaining neutral is not an option. The Final Act has already begun to play out. Where do you fit in the last day’s drama? We each must know and as a “living stone” fit into the last days’ army God is raising up.
(Excerpts from This Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal by Patricia Rallo. To order, click here.)
Recently, we were having lunch with a pastor friend of ours and his wife, and I mentioned the fact that some people do not believe that God is good all the time. The pastor then said something I have never been able to forget:
He said there are three irrefutable truths that a new believer must have as his or her foundational doctrine, or they will have a hard time understanding whatever else is built on top of as they mature in Christ. These three things are:
1. God said it. It’s true!
It doesn’t really matter whether we believe it or not. If God said it, it is true whether we ever choose to believe it or not. That’s one of the main reasons why it is so important to get into the Word of God (the Bible) and find out exactly what it is that God has said. Sadly, many believers do not have a clue what is written in His Word. I have yet to meet a strong believer who was not also strong in the Word of God. The Bible is not there just to fill us with knowledge; it was written to strengthen us and transform us into the image of Christ. It is our “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.”
2. God is not our co-pilot.
God is our pilot. We are not even the co-pilot because at no time does He want us to take over and lead. He wants us to always inquire of Him; to always rely on Him. In fact the word “believe” in Romans 10:9 means to “adhere to, trust in, and rely on.” To believe is not just giving mental ascent to something. If we just give mental ascent to something that God speaks, we are not allowing that word to change us and we are basically no different than the one who has never heard the word of truth. On the other hand, if we allow God to lead us, and speak to our hearts in every situation, we will not be led astray. He wants to help us with every choice, every decision, but He is a gentleman. He will not barge in where He is not invited. He will not lead if we do not let Him!
3. God is good.
God is good all the time, not just part of the time. God is good in every situation, not just some situations. There is no darkness in Him. 1 John 1:6 declares, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” He is pure; He is just; He is good; He is love; He is truth. Some have maligned and misrepresented Him, but that doesn’t change who He is. He reveals Himself in His Word.
Evil was not created by God. Evil comes in where God isn’t; evil comes in where God is not allowed; evil comes in through created beings who have rebelled against God and His ways. Evil consequences in our own lives often come through choices that go against God and His Word. If we are a believer, the enemy can only operate through our sin and disobedience, or the sin or disobedience of others.
Lucifer was created perfect (in all his ways) until pride entered his heart, and self-will, rebellion, and violence entered the scene. Then (as Jesus said in Luke) He fell like lightning from heaven. He became known as satan, referred to in the Bible as “the god of this world,” because ever since that time, he has been busy trying to exert his evil influence over each of us. From the garden of Eden ever since, he has been using many of the same tactics. It is his relentless intent to bring evil, harm, and destruction into the lives of people, especially the people of God.
But one of the things I love the most about God is that He is able to take even what the enemy means for our harm and turn it around for our good! God is that good and that able!
These three irrefutable truths about God are a solid foundation upon which we can build. They must be written on our hearts in order to keep us from getting derailed. They will help to keep us steadfast and to stay on course as we navigate through this life.
There are two ways that you can know God: casually or intimately. You can know about God, or you can know God. To know about God is to know His works. To know God intimately is to know His ways. If you’re born again, a child of the Heavenly Father, you should come to know Him intimately. You should come to know what things please Him, how to love Him, what things displease him.
When you learn of these things, then work on having a right relationship with Him. To do the right thing in God’s eyes is to practice righteousness. 1 John 3:7 tells us “Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.” V. 6 tells us that “Whoever abides in Him does not sin.”
Moses asked to know Father God intimately. Have you asked the Heavenly Father to open your eyes unto the truth of who He really is? Some people, including Christians, only know the works of God. They know what God does, but they don’t know the ways of God. Not everyone, even those who claim to be saved, knows God intimately—who God really is.
How sad it will be in the resurrection to meet a God face to face that we have not known heart to heart. Could this be why Jesus said that He will say to many in that day, “Depart from Me, I never knew you”? (Matt. 7:23 & Luke 13:27 paraphrased)
As you go through your day, ask God to show you His ways and to reveal to you things he would have you to know. He is revealed through His Word and by His Spirit. If it doesn’t go from your head to your heart, chances are, you may never know Him intimately.
It’s not too late to get to know Him face to face. James 4:8 tells us to “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” In Jeremiah 29:13, God says to His people, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” These are both conditional promises—conditional on us doing our part.
When we were pondering many of the teachings of Charles Finney, Andrew Murray, R. A. Torrey, A. B. Simpson, Smith Wigglesworth, and D. L. Moody recently, we wondered, Where did we get some of the traditions that we practice today? Have we ever questioned “WHY” we do things different today than in years gone by? Where did we get the method of leading people to salvation that is predominantly used today?
When we were researching and writing our recent book, Heaven Bound, we was shocked to hear what Billy Graham and two former presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention had to say:
“Up to 90% of our church members are not born again!”
If that is true in the Baptist church, could it also be true in the charismatic, Pentecostal, and other evangelical churches? The more we researched, the more we realized that there has been a radical departure from elementary, foundational truths!
First, we asked the question concerning the “sinner’s prayer,” which is more often than not used in churches, on street corners, and elsewhere, and repeated by millions of people to supposedly get people born again. The origination of this type of prayer is attributed to D. L. Moody, primarily to count the number of “decisions for Christ.”
In the past 60 or 70 years, evangelists (and many others) have used a similar prayer that they often take people through and then they are considered “saved,” or essentially, on their way to heaven. Unfortunately, a “sinner’s prayer” is found nowhere in the Bible and just saying a simple prayer of this nature does not guarantee any of us that we are heaven bound.
Jesus told us in Matthew 28:19 to “make disciples.” We were never told to take people through a sinner’s prayer and then add up the numbers and count them as converts. Some who say the sinner’s prayer do end up becoming disciples of Christ, but certainly not everyone. Some simply go on sinning as if nothing had changed in their life. Jesus said, “Follow Me.” We cannot walk in darkness and follow Jesus at the same time!
It is doing people a disservice to lead them to believe they are born again if all they did is say a short prayer. It is deceiving people to lead them to believe they are heaven bound when they are not following and obeying Jesus’ commandments. Many in the church today are deceived into thinking they are okay and on their way, when according to the Word of God, they are not!
The apostle Peter put it like this: “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now if the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” – 1 Peter 4:17-18
This is why our recent release, Heaven Bound, was written—to expose several of the misconceptions that have been perpetuated in the church today. Many believe that once they say the sinner’s prayer, nothing can keep them out of heaven, no matter what kind of lifestyle they lead. It is one of the biggest lies the enemy has told the people of God. There is much more we could say here to refute this deception, but we encourage you instead to get a copy of Heaven Bound for yourself.
Jesus said in Matthew 24:13, “He who endures to the end shall be saved.” He requires faithfulness and obedience.
How do we know that? Because Jesus also said in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My father in heaven.”
If you once said the “sinner’s prayer,” but you have never followed through with following Jesus (giving your life fully to the Lord,) it is not too late. If you pray in your own words (from the heart) a prayer of repentance today, the Lord will meet you where you are, and will lead and guide you as you determine in your heart to follow Him, to obey Him, and to “endure to the end,” as He gives you the grace to do so.