An Immutable Fact

“… in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, …” Titus 1:2

If we begin reading the Bible from this standpoint, “God, who cannot lie,” we would fare much better in understanding God and accepting His word and promises. As children we found it so easy to trust. As the years went by we found that it was naive to blindly trust everyone. Can God be trusted? That is the question that Adam and Eve had to answer. Satan convinced them that God could not be trusted and so they trusted Satan instead. We must also choose but regardless of what we choose the fact that God cannot lie remains.

The writer of Hebrews writes that it is impossible for God to lie (6:18). Paul writes something similar in 2 Timothy 2:13 when he wrote “He [God] cannot deny Himself.” He cannot think, speak or act contrary to His Divine Nature. We see this characteristic in all creation. All creatures act according to their nature.

If we choose not to believe a person we are saying that they are either ignorant on the matter or that they are a liar. When we do not believe God we prove that we are children of Adam and following his trust in Satan.

Repentance for salvation is that act of choosing to cease not believing God and to believe His word. In doing this we reject our allegiance to Adam and attach our allegiance to Jesus Christ (cf. Romans 5).

Sadly, there are some who claim the name of Jesus Christ who do not accept all His words. Such a claim is a deceit and hypocrisy and infers that Jesus is either ignorant or a deceiver. Unbelief may be masked by mishandling the word of God. We can become very adept at twisting another person’s words to suit our cause. Paul writes that elders in the church should be able to express “sound doctrine” (Titus 1:9; 2:1) so that the congregation may become “sound in the faith” (1:13; 2:2) through “sound speech” (2:8). The word of God is the authority that a teacher has. When he speaks the word of God faithfully he has “all authority” (2:15) but the moment he strays he has no authority.

Those who abuse the word of God may “profess to know God, but in works they deny Him” (1:16). Paul’s assessment is that they are, to God, detestable, disobedient and disqualified to serve Christ.

Let us make this an immutable fact in our minds, God does not and cannot lie. That is the foundation of faith in Jesus Christ.

Currying Favour

“And I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” Matthew 7:23

The context of this verse is the latter part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and it is a solemn warning for us to be very careful and very sure that we are doing the will of the Father (v 21). The people Jesus is excluding from His Kingdom will be astonished to discover that when they “prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders (miracles) in Your name” that they were totally in error. Very likely we have all at some time or other done things for which we have thought Jesus would be grateful but such will not be the case. The reason for the exclusion from the kingdom is not what they did but where their heart lay. They were doing it to gain favour with the King but they were not subject to His will.

In 2 Samuel 1 there is the record of an Amalekite who claimed to have killed King Saul. His claim was false (cf. 1 Samuel 31 & 1 Chronicles 10). The reason he lied was that he thought he could gain David’s favour by making the false claim. David didn’t know he was lying at the time and had him executed for killing the Lord’s anointed.

In chapter four of the same book there is the account of the death of Saul’s son, Ishbosheth. Ishbosheth had been at war with David for two years about who would rule Israel. Seeing that they could not win, two of Ishbosheth’s own men came into his room and killed him while he was in bed. They removed his head and took it to David expecting favour for the betrayal of their leader. Like the Amalekite, they were gravely mistaken and were executed.

In both incidents the men thought they were going to please King David. In the ways of men this would usually be an act that would gain favour with a king but they totally lacked God’s perspective. They were not in a personal and intimate relationship with the Lord as David was.

Jesus declares in His Sermon on the Mount that many people throughout the ages, including the church age, will perform many actions that they sincerely believe will gain favour with Him but will in reality be a cause for His wrath.

Jesus said that “He never knew them.” This does not mean that He is ignorant of who they are or what they have done. It means that they were acting out of their own heart and not in obedience to His will. Given the opportunity they might argue that they were acting in accordance with God’s word. After all, what is wrong with preaching the Bible, casting out demons and performing miracles? The problem is not found in what they were doing but why they were doing it. They were not subject to the will of or in obedience to Jesus Christ. They were acting by their own volition in their own authority with a view to gaining favour with Jesus Christ their way.

If we start thinking along the lines of what we can do for Jesus without consulting Him and waiting for an answer we may fall into the same trap. Jesus Christ is Head of His church and it is He alone who chooses how we fit into His church and ministry.