Chapter 1 - It Starts With The Heart


 

 

Chapter One

It Starts With The Heart

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“Jesus said to him, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

Matthew 22:37

 

“And you will seek Me and find Me , when you search for Me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:13

 

“Then I will give them a heart to know Me , that I am the Lord ; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.”  Jeremiah 24:7

 

“These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me .”  

Matthew 15:8

 

 

 

        It starts with the heart.  If yours is not 100% committed to God, you will not find Him .  It is that simple.  For me, this was not an evolutionary process of ever increasing levels of commitment of my heart to God as He challenged me constantly throughout my life to move closer and closer to Him .  That is the stuff of Christian mythology.  Yes, we know that our faith “comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” [Romans 10:17]. We also know that our faith can grow [2 Thessalonians 1:3].  But does our heart fit this type of growth profile according to God’s Word?  I don’t think so.

 

Your heart is either committed to God or it is not. God did not have a portion of my heart starting at some point in time, which I then increasingly gave more of it as time progressed.  No, I was simply not with God growing in faith.  My faith started to grow when I became committed to God.  At the very point I gave my heart to Him .  Before this time, everything was simply only knowledge in my head.  It is true; God had been tugging on me.  Yet, I was simply not listening to Him and He did not have my heart.

 

It was an instantaneous decision for me at a time of an epiphany.  I will talk more about this in the following chapters.  Had a pastor properly trained me in the matters of seeking and finding God, it might have come earlier for me.  Yet, I cannot be sure of this, I can only speculate.  How do you find God?   Have you really found Him ?  Do you know Him ?  What He likes?  Dislikes?  What about you?  Does God know you?  Has your whole heart been given to Him ?  Do you hold your ground for righteousness’ sake?  Would you die on the cross hanging upside down rather than forsake your God?  If not, why?

 

If you don’t have the answers to these questions, you can find them in this book.  That is a bold statement to make; but, as you read on, you will find out that this is a bold book.  It is anointed, ordained and designed by God to awaken His people (Christians, Jews, Muslims and all who sincerely fear Him and who work righteousness) before it is too late.  As will be explained later, many Christians will actually be going to Hell and many non-Christians will actually be going to Heaven.  You say: “How could this be since to get into Heaven requires Jesus?”  What about righteousness?

 

What About Righteousness?

 

“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.  But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him .”

Acts 10:34-35

 

 While this book is God’s message specifically aimed at Christians, people of all faiths will benefit from God’s message in this book.  The message originates in the words of Jesus.  In Matthew, Jesus tells some Christians: “I never knew you!”  

 

“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.  Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!’ ”  Matthew 7:21-23

 

Exactly whom is Jesus referring to?  It is Christians.  How do we know that?  It is simple, by the words spoken in protest at Jesus’ eternal judgment.

 

“Have we not prophesied in your name Jesus ?”

“Have we not cast out demons in your name Jesus ?”

“Have we not done many wonders in your name Jesus ?”

 

Ask yourself this question.  Would a non-believer be doing these types of things?  I.E. Would a non-believer (non-Christian) lay hands on the sick and say: “In the name of Jesus be healed?”  Now think about these questions.  Does it not require a very bold Christian to prophesy?  Does it not require a very bold Christian to cast out demons?  How about doing many wonders?  I was a Christian for almost twenty years before I got bold enough to lay hands on the sick for healing.  The simple facts from Jesus’ words are that we are not talking about some newborn Christians.  

 

 

It is a fact, Jesus is talking about Christian leaders and others in the hierarchy of the Church who have the courage to boldly speak out and use the name of Jesus.  If, what they protest is true, it certainly sounds like some good works to me.  Doesn’t it?  So, what gives?  Why would Jesus reject these Christians into the kingdom of Heaven with his astonishing words?

 

Jesus said: “I never knew you!”  Matthew 7:23

 

        At least in this biblical issue, we do not have to guess or languish about any issues concerning biblical interpretation (hermeneutics).  Jesus gives us the exact reason when he states: “depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!”  That’s right, Christians who practice lawlessness !  What is he talking about?  Didn’t these people profess Jesus as their Lord?  Yes, they did.  Didn’t they go about the business of good works?  Well, it certainly would appear so.  Sounds like some kind of works thing to me.  And what’s up with this? Isn’t it true that all I have to do is claim the name of Jesus?  Do you mean to tell me that I have to actually do something for my salvation?

 

 This book will provide complete answers to these important questions.  It will use as an example of unrighteousness the theft of Solid Rock Church in Elk River, Minnesota.  Please note the city and state and don’t get this particular church confused with the many others who have chosen such a worthy name for their own.  The last time I searched the Internet, there were many churches with this same name: perhaps hundreds around the world. You might have heard: “We are not the tail, we are the head.”  A reference from this and other Christian pulpits to being “front line warriors for God.”  As you read on, we will explore some “front-line” issues involved when such a church practices lawlessness and even steals God’s property.  In the process, we will examine the issue of righteousness and why it is more important to you than the ability to mouth the words “Jesus is my Lord.”

 

 Jesus gives us all a clue on righteousness in Matthew 5:20.  It is a minimum righteousness standard that is a requirement to get into Heaven.  Is there more to getting into Heaven than mouthing, “Jesus is my Lord?”  Yes!

 

 

 

A Minimum Righteousness Standard!

 

“For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of Heaven.”  Matthew 5:20

 

 At this point, it would be good to define precisely whom we are talking about when the term Christian is used.  Christians are those people who claim salvation through the blood of God’s only begotten Son — Jesus.  This usually involves accepting Jesus as God’s Son who was “raised from the dead” and then confessing this fact with your mouth and believing it with your heart.  Here is the biblical process as outlined and explained by the Apostle Paul in Romans 10:8-10.

 

“But what does it say?  ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): [v9] that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  [v10] For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

 

        Anything less than this complete two-step process [formula] means that you are not really saved by the blood of Jesus.  It is confessing coupled with believing.  The part left out by most people who call themselves a Christian is: “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness…” Put another way, your belief in God is so strong that you will stand your ground for righteousness.  It means you will stand for truth even in the face of severe persecution.  Does this describe Christianity today?  No, Christians are often the first to turn their backs on the truth.  Why?

 

 Yes, I know the Word: “Whoever calls on his name shall be saved.”  See Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13.  Then take notice that the second reference is located directly at the end of the two-step process.  Take heed.

 

 

 

If you think that being able to mouth the words “Jesus is my savior” means that you are actually saved by Jesus and have assurance of eternal life after you die, think again.  This is simply one of the many Christian myths that are now perpetrated in the church during these last days when apostasy rains rampant.  However, it is written in the book of James —

 

“You believe that there is one God.  You do well.  Even the demons believe and tremble!”  James 2:19

 

        The matter of salvation can certainly get confusing.  Especially within a church that does not speak the truth and the whole truth of God s Holy Word.  For a long time, 1 Corinthians 12:3 seemed to confuse me on this very subject.

 

“Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.”  1 Cor. 12:3

 

 A particular individual close to my heart could mouth the words that Jesus is Lord.  Yet, I often wondered about their salvation because of their behavior.  Reflecting back on my own walk with God, I can tell you that at Confirmation in a Lutheran church in 1959 I uttered, “Jesus is my Lord.”  I can also tell you that in the US Navy in 1963, I signed the Gideon statement in the New Testament to this effect. But I tell you that it wasn’t until May of 1978 that I gave God my heart.  Prior to this time, and for the first 32 years of my life, it was all head knowledge.  I could mouth the words like everyone else.  Very easily too.  Yet, there is no doubt in my mind that I was not saved until the belief moved from my head and down into my heart.

 

 Ask your pastor “Who is a Christian?” and you might get a multitude of answers.  At least one pastor I knew refused to answer the question directly and instead said to me: “Many people believe they are Christian if they get together and worship on Sunday morning.”  If this sounds like your belief in what a Christian is, it is time to wake up before you face the Judge.

 

 

The best definition I have ever heard of a Christian is a person who has developed a personal relationship with God as a result of accepting and knowing His only human begotten Son Jesus Christ.  It is the person who has been led back to God by Jesus.

 

It is God the Father who I call my Friend and worship.  It is the Father whom I ask of and pray to in Jesus name.  It is His Son Jesus who I call my brother and friend.  It is through Jesus that I can step into the Holy of Holies to worship and fellowship with the Father at any time of day or night.  It is through Jesus that the Father pours out upon me His Holy Spirit abundantly, which Jesus refers to as the Spirit of truth.  It is God s Holy Spirit that gives me the strength to stand on truth and righteousness.  And it is through Jesus, that the Father brings His kingdom back down to earth for me in this present earthly life.  Yes, even in the face of earthly trials and obstacles the Father has me living in Eden with Him in perfect unity, peace and joy.  Is this the God you know?  Is it the relationship you have developed with Him ?

 

        With the gift of His precious Son Jesus, God asks us to demonstrate to Him that we are responsible people and that we truly have Him in our hearts.  Think about this for a moment.  Suppose a friend of yours gives you a brand new Cadillac or other luxury car of your choice.  If you are poor, you might be surprised when the gift is complete and comes with a lifetime supply of everything you need (insurance, gas, oil, repairs, maintenance & operational items) absolutely free.  All you have to do is enjoy the gift.  Right?  No!

 

With such a magnificent gift, you now have responsibilities.  A wise man once taught me to watch out for assets, you have to take care of them.  In this case, you have to take care of the new car.  You drive it, park it, shine it, vacuum it, etc.  You keep it in first class shape, don t you?  Isn t this your part of the deal?  How would your friend feel if he came by later only to find junk all over the seats (you let the kids eat in the car and never clean up after them)?  Plus a whole lot of other ugly things like a banged up right front fender you refused to get repaired because you had other more important things to do (like watch television).  Maybe you even refuse to get the oil changed because you don t want the bother of taking the time.  Even though all these things were provided free to you, it didn t really matter.  You simply took things for granted, turned your back on the giver and decided just to run the car into the ground.  So, how do you think your friend will feel about it?  Pretty bad.  Think he will continue to give you gifts?

 

        Well, that is exactly how God feels about all those people who call themselves a Christian and who keep on willfully sinning.  God didn t provide you with salvation through His Son free without any responsibility on your part.   He expects to fill you with His Holy Spirit and dwell with you back in Eden (on earth in the here and now to accomplish His Will).  Just like it was in the beginning with Adam & Eve.  Still, maybe you ve brought into the Christian myth that all your sins were forgiven forever with the blood of Jesus and now you ve got it all in the bank (salvation for eternity).  

 

Let me tell you the truth about Jesus.  God s gift of His Son is more about a return to fellowship than about giving you salvation.  Salvation is already provided for the righteous and we’ll talk more about this later.  For now, let’s go to the book of Hebrews chapter 10.  If you think you have a right to sin after claiming Jesus as your savior, it is only an indication that you may be one of those Christians Jesus is talking about in Matthew 7.  You have been taught and have bought Christian mythology.  In Hebrews:

 

“For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.  Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.”

 

“Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?  For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine , I will repay,’ says the Lord .  And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  Hebrews 10:26-31

 

 What?  I can’t sin?  Well, what we are taught is that we cannot continue to willfully sin.  There is a difference between willfully sinning and falling short.  Sometimes we wind up sinning and we don’t have a clue as to how we got there.  Jesus will fill the gap in your righteousness.  He’s just not a replacement for a lifestyle of wickedness (doing things abhorrent to God).

 

Yes, Christians can lose their salvation through a willful lifestyle of sin abhorrent to God.  A lifestyle that treats the “blood of Jesus as a common thing.”  A lifestyle that insults God.  A lifestyle that crucifies Christ again on the cross.  How do you know you are on track as a Christian?  Start checking yourself to see how often and why you stand your ground on the truth.  Turn your back lately on a friend who needed your testimony of the truth?  Fail to tell the truth because you didn’t want to get involved?  If so, brother or sister — you are indeed in trouble with God.  

 

Remember those who really have Jesus have given their hearts to God and He has given them His Spirit of truth.  If the truth is not in you, your business, the church or the situation, then God is not a part of it.  If you have to pray about doing the right thing (practicing righteousness), God is not a serious part of your life.

 

 Still, many Christians are under the erroneous idea that they should let God take care of it.  Let Go & Let God is a popular idea.  Don’t tell the truth, it only complicates matters and spreads the misery.  Let God take care of it.  This is the spiritual thing to do?  When confronted with evil, God commands and demands that you take a stand for truth and righteousness.  Even if you suffer.  More about this later.  Suffice to say that many people who call themselves Christians are in trouble with God.  Perhaps as many as 50% of all who call themselves Christians are really headed for Hell.  More on the words of Jesus and his astonishing 50% factor later.  So, if you call yourself a Christian, where do you stand in regards to truth and righteousness?

 

Righteous People Belong To God!

 

 If you are not a Christian, are you a righteous person?  If so, you are already in God’s hands even if you don’t realize it.  The righteous are God’s!

“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”  1 Peter 3:12

 

People who call themselves Christians split 50/50 in recent elections. 1   Half of them voted for the Democratic Party that currently supports abortion, a ban on prayer in schools, homosexuality and a whole list of other things that God finds offensive.  

 

It is estimated that 90% of all black voters voted for this party.  Is the Bible really silent on the political and religious issues of our day?  Do they really matter to God?  If so, why?  The biblical answers may shock and even surprise a lot of Christians.

 

        A counselor once asked my teenaged son.  “So, on a scale of 1-10, where is God in your life at this time.”  Not fully understanding the question, the counselor said: “Is God just fire insurance for you or is He really a serious part of your everyday life?”  Before my son spoke, I already knew what his answer would be.  I am happy to say that his answer as an adult would be quite different today.  What would your answer be?

 

        If God is just fire insurance for you, it may surprise you to learn that your fire insurance policy may have expired.  In fact, it may be time for you and your family to re-examine your fire insurance policy (Jesus).  It is a simple fact that your actions or lack of actions will betray your heart to the eternal God of salvation.  The Father has some minimum requirements of us in spite of what you’ve been taught.  That is why John the Baptist taught in Matthew 3:8 that you need to bear fruits worthy of repentance.  That is why Jesus taught in Matthew 7:16 that you will know people by their fruits.  Put another way, exactly what is your fruit basket filled with these days?

 

“You Will Know Them By Their Fruits!”

 “Therefore, Bear Fruits Worthy Of Repentance!”

It Starts With The Heart



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© Rev. Edward Palmer 2013