7 Minute Read

Be Still

To the best of your ability, get rid of all distractions. Take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply, to quiet yourself in the Lord’s presence. Then, prayerfully ask the Lord to speak to you in this time and let Him know that you will be listening and will make whatever adjustments He will reveal to you.

Today’s Bible Reading:

1 Chronicles 5:18–6:81
Acts 26:1-32
Psalm 6:1-10
Proverbs 18:20-21

Listen to the Lord

Slowly and reflectively read the following verses and listen to what God will say to you through them. Then, consider writing down any insights He reveals to you.

Acts 26:19-20 (NLT): “And so, King Agrippa, I obeyed that vision from heaven. I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do.”

Reflections from Scripture:

Jesus ended what is commonly called The Sermon on the Mount with the following terrifying words.

Matthew 7:21-23 (NLT): “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!’”

Jesus warned that “many” would think that they are headed for Heaven when they are about to be sentenced to an eternal hell. 

Frequently, we assume that this is referring to people “out there.” However, I’m convinced that it is referring to many people “in here” who sit on the pews of the churches across our land.

This is why I have dedicated my ministry to clarifying the true Gospel. I frequently preach on what true saving faith looks like and how it results in a changed life with different desires and behaviors. As the verses I have chosen for today state, someone who has “repent(ed) of their sins and turn(ed) to God” will “prove they have changed by the good things they do.”

In fact, if someone’s “salvation experience” doesn’t produce a desire to obey Jesus and to know and enjoy Him, it isn’t saving faith. Remember, Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:23 are: “I never knew you … you lawbreakers.” Jesus tells those headed for Hell that He never “knew” them, implying that they didn’t want to know Him either. He also says that they are still guilty lawbreakers because He never paid their sin debt on the cross. So, again, if a “salvation experience” doesn’t produce a desire to obey Jesus and to know and enjoy Him, it isn’t saving faith.

I watched a documentary last night with my wife and youngest son. It was over 2 hours long, but it kept up captivated the whole time. It was a very biblical, compelling clarification of the biblical Gospel compared to the Americanized, distorted “gospel” that cannot save anyone. 

The following video is the first 40 minutes of the documentary. Consider carving out an hour of your time today, watch the video below, and then (if you like it) find it online so that you can purchase it and watch the whole thing. Then compare it to Scripture to make sure it is true and make the necessary adjustments in your mind and heart as needed.

Spend Time in Prayer

Lord Jesus, You didn’t simply give us the Gospel. You ARE the Gospel. Trusting in You for eternal life is only secondarily an escape from Hell. First and foremost, it is an invitation into a relationship to know and enjoy You now and forever. To whatever extent I have this wrong, please clarify it to me so that I can live out the Gospel and freely tell others about what You have done for them. I pray this in Your Name, Amen.

Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.