AND JESIS ANSWERED AND SAID UNTO THEM, TAKE HEED THAT NO MAN DECEIVE YOU. (Matthew 24:4)
Frequently, in this day and age, we see words such as “take heed", danger, beware, warning, used to tell us of an existing problem that is perilous. It may be a road, or some particular product, or some particular circumstance that either confronts us or will confront us that is dangerous. We may not even be aware of the danger. In Matthew Chapter 24, the Lord Jesus Christ warns His disciples and all believers of a coming danger. Of course, Jesus' disciples had asked Him to tell them of the sign of His coming and of the end of the age. Jesus’ response was, “take heed that no man deceive you". That is his response to the question regarding when shall these things be and what shall be the sign of that coming and of the end of the world? Of course, it has been almost 2000 years since Jesus uttered these words to His disciples. Therefore, the warning is particularly relevant today because there are many professing to be coming in the name of Jesus who are preaching another gospel.
We hear of those who proclaim that Christians and Muslims worship the same god. Not so! We hear reports of those who claim that one can go to heaven, or “be saved", even though they are an atheist. Not so! We also hear of reports of those who proclaim that good Buddhists, good Muslims, and even good atheists go to heaven. Not so!
The Lord God through the Apostle John in his first epistle (1 John 2:18) tells us that we are in the last hour or the last days now. Scripture tells us that the last days are called the entire period between Christ's first and second coming. Nevertheless, the Lord Jesus Christ makes it clear in Matthew 24 that as we draw closer and nearer to his return, and “the end of the age", that we shall see and hear of these deceptions and we are therefore to take heed because “these are the beginning of sorrows" or, “birth pangs". The Lord Jesus tells us plainly that when we hear of wars and rumors of war that the end is not yet but it is the beginning of sorrows. (Matthew 24:8) Thus, He warns us to “take heed that we be not deceived”.
Of course, it goes without saying, that when a woman is in labor and is having labor pains or birth pangs, the birth pangs or labor pains increase in both frequency and intensity as the time of the birth of the child draws increasingly near. A brief look at how to take heed, may help each reader to keep from being deceived.
I. LAST DAYS AND PERILOUS TIMES
As we see in first John 2:18, there can be no doubt for believers in the Lord Jesus Christ that we are, now, in the last hour. Indeed, we find this terminology used in many places in the New Testament. The Lord God, through the writer of the book of Hebrews, states that “God who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He had appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds”. (Hebrews 1:1 – 2) The Lord’s Word from the Apostle Paul in his second letter to Timothy affirms the same thing. There we find that Timothy is told: “this know also that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady,high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away”. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
What a terrible description of men.
Not only does the great Apostle warn of this time of evil that is coming upon all of the earth, but in verse 12 of the 3rd chapter he also says, “yea, and all that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution”.(2 Timothy 3:12) Paul also affirms the fact that “but evil men and seducers (deceivers) shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived." (2 Timothy 3:13) God's Word tells us in 2 Timothy 3 how to stay anchored and to avoid these coming deceptions: “but continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. For all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
Thus, it is the Word of God which makes us wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus that keeps us from this deception.
God's Word through the Apostle Paul also warned the Colossian Church of the danger of philosophy and vain deceit after the traditions of men. This is exactly what we are seeing in our time. Those who are proclaiming that Christians and Muslims all worship the same God are not preaching the Christian Gospel but are preaching philosophy, vain deceit, and the traditions of men. The Colossian heresy was a form of legalism and “works salvation” and not based on the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is God alone who gives salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ that anyone is saved. We are described in the 2nd Chapter of Ephesians in our natural state as being “dead in trespasses and sin”. Philosophy and the traditions of men don’t do a dead person any good. It is only God who can make us alive. We are told in Ephesians Chapter 2 that because of God's great love wherewith He loved us He has made us alive in Christ Jesus by His grace alone. Next, we take a brief look at the fact that salvation is all of Grace.
II. SALVATION IS ALL OF GRACE
God, in causing Paul to write his letter to the Church of Rome stated, “for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16) Thus, we see that God's salvation is all of His sovereign grace. He alone creates! All who have been saved are described as being in Christ Jesus as a “new creation”. “God decreed before the foundation of the world to redeem all who would receive the Lord Jesus Christ and all who believe in Him, who are not born of the blood nor of the will of the flash nor the will of man but of God”. (John 1:12 – 13) We read in Paul's letter to the Church at Rome in the 5th chapter that we are justified by the precious blood of Christ, therefore we shall be saved from wrath in Him. Jesus is described as the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29) He is described as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev. 13:8)
In Paul's letter to the church at Rome in Chapters 5 and 6, Paul sets out a great argument to demonstrate that as we were in Adam, who is our federal head, so are we in Christ who is the second or last Adam. The Lord Jesus Christ is our head, He is our salvation. In Adam, all sin, because of ADAM'S sin. In Christ, all who are in Him are made alive, we are justified, or made righteous, by the blood of Christ and therefore we are saved from wrath, in Him. This is all by the grace of the great and mighty God. We see in these two chapters, as well as in the first chapter of Ephesians that God made these sovereign decisions and sovereign decrees before the foundation of the world, before any of us had been born. Indeed, in Ephesians we see, “blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love”.(Ephesians 1:3 – 4) This great gift of salvation is all from God's hand alone. Before any of us had been born. It is a great motivation to holiness.
In Ephesians Chapter 2, not only is the state of every person apart from the Lord Jesus Christ described as being “dead in trespasses and sin,” but in Ephesians 2 verse 1, we are called to “....remember, that you being in times past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncircumcision by that which is called the circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."
It is in the preceding verses, Ephesians 2:8 – 10, that we are told, “for by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them”. (Ephesians 2:8 – 10) Indeed, at the conclusion of the 6th chapter in his letter to the Church at Rome, Paul concludes by saying, “for the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23) Therefore, while men work to go to hell (the wages of sin is death and men work for their wages), salvation and to be with God throughout eternity is a sheer gift. This is a great part of the deception implicit in philosophy and the traditions of men and vain deceit that we are seeing in our world today. The implication that one can go to heaven by being a “good atheist", or a “good Muslim", or anything else other than by the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, means that one is working to get there. The wages of work also involves sin and the wages of sin is death. In first Corinthians 1:30 and 31, the Lord God through the Apostle Paul tells us that “… Of Him (God) are you in Christ Jesus, who is made unto us wisdom from God and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption. That, as it is written, he whom glories, let him glory in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:30 and 31) Therefore, we see these and many scriptures that tell us that salvation is entirely of God through, or in, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thus, take heed, that no man deceive you with vain words after the traditions of men!
III. CHARLES SPURGEON COMMENTS ON SALVATION ALL OF GRACE
On August 4, 1872, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, spoke on this great truth of salvation being all of grace. I commend that entire sermon to you which can be found yet even today. However, what follows is just a few of the brief points which Charles Haddon Spurgeon had to say about this great doctrine of salvation by grace alone:
A. If salvation be by grace alone, said Spurgeon, it should be an inspiration to all sinners for no one can say it is impossible for me to be saved. Spurgeon stated that if salvation be all of grace then sin is not an impediment to our salvation. Because it is of God's grace, therefore, it presupposes sin. Indeed, God's word says, “in due time, while we were yet without strength, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6) Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, therefore there is no sin too great and no sins too many for God to save because it is of His sovereign Grace. Because the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin, there is therefore no circumstance that can shut us out of hope when we seek forgiveness through the Savior's blood.
B. Because salvation is all of God's free and sovereign grace alone, we must confess our sin and ask for God's grace, therefore this great doctrine tells us how to pray. Jesus has said, “him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out" and therefore we should plead his word to Him. We should tell him that his word says, “this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” and confess our sin and cast ourselves on Him and on Him alone. Jesus says, “come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest, take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart and you shall find rest unto your souls for my yoke is easy and My burden is light”.
C. Spurgeon also said that this doctrine is a powerful motive for holy living. Because God of his free favor and sovereign grace has blotted out all my sin, then “oh how I love Him. Then, my soul is knit to him forever”. “The Lord has had mercy on me; wonder of wonders, He has had mercy upon me!” This should result in each soul desiring to put away anything and everything that would displease Him. Spurgeon said, “away ye sins, away ye sins; how can I defile myself with you again”. There are none that love God like those who are saved by grace. One who thinks to save himself by works does not love God at all he loves himself and the wages of sin is death.
Finally, Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to the China Inland Mission had a verse that he prayed every morning for himself every day of his life:
“Lord Jesus, make thyself to me, a living bright reality; more present to faith’s vision keen than any outward object seen; more dear, more intimately nigh, than e’en the sweetest earthly tie.”
We can and must take heed by being in the Lord Jesus Christ. He and He alone is our salvation. We are saved by God alone by His grace through faith as a sheer gift. It is by this precious blood of Jesus that we are justified and therefore are saved from wrath in Him. Rejoice and be glad for He has loved us with an everlasting love. Pray for all of those who you believe do not know Him and ask the Lord God to have mercy on each one. Pray for all who do know Him that we would live as becomes the Gospel of Christ. Tell all that you know, the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). Tell them that the Lord Jesus Christ came into this world to seek and to save that which was lost, (we who were sinners) and to give His life a ransom for many. We are saved and justified by the blood of Christ alone which cleanses us from all sin. Tell all that you know.
“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen (Jude 1:24-25)
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