Many pastors today are treating the kingdom of heaven more like the Magic Kingdom. Today’s altar call in many ways looks more like a magic show. They call people down to the front of their church after asking who wants to go to heaven. Then they lead them in a prayer and “poof”, they’re heaven bound saying to the newly converted, “You’re saved no matter what you do; no one can pluck you out of God’s hand. You’re now a child of the King, bless God.”
Those pastors aren’t speaking for Jesus. True shepherds should be the voice of the Good Shepherd otherwise they’re nothing but hirelings. Jesus said, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” Luke 13:3. The Greek word for repent is “metanoeo” which means “to change one’s mind for better” or “heartily to amend one’s life with an abhorrence of past sins”.
If getting into the kingdom of heaven was as easy as mouthing a simple prayer, Jesus would have said so. He would have stood on the Mount of Beatitudes and said, “Okay, everyone who wants to go to heaven and not to hell, say this little prayer after me”. He never said anything of the sort but actually said quite the opposite. Luke 17:33, “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.”
If we say a prayer commonly referred to as the “sinner’s prayer” and it isn’t accompanied with a change of heart and mind, a hatred for our past sins, and a determination to leave our sinful life behind us, the prayer is just empty words that mean nothing.
The “sinner’s prayer” or a prayer by a sinner should only verbalize their change of heart.
One of the actions of the Holy Spirit is to “reprove (Gr.”elegcho” meaning to convict or to convince) the world of sin” (John 16:8). Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44). Why would anyone turn from their wicked ways if they’re not convinced they have any? If someone is neither convinced or convicted of their sin, they will never turn from it.
One must be convinced they are a sinner before they will ever repent or turn from their sinful ways, including those who consider themselves as Christians. Many who consider themselves as Christians today believe the prayer they mouthed or the aisle they walked put some sort of “teflon” coating on them from any judgement of God.
The way many Christians live their lives, they act as if not even God himself could send them to hell. If anyone should have had the right to rationalize being “teflon” coated, it would have been the 12 would left all to follow Jesus. But Jesus even told His disciples quite the opposite, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
I saw a vision recently of a narrow road with excavation equipment widening the road. The Lord spoke to me and said, “Pastors had hired the road crew to widen the road in order to make it easier and thus allow more to get into the kingdom.” Then continued, “but sadly those who follow the widened path will fall into the ditch.” As I examined the road widening equipment, the sign on the equipment didn’t read something like “Joe’s Excavation”, it read “Doctrines of Demons”.
Many pastors today are well meaning pastors believing they are doing a good thing making it easier to get into the kingdom of God but in reality they are more focused on increasing their church attendance than they are making disciples.
Jesus said in Matthew 15:14, “they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” What a frightening and sobering thought that the pastors leading their congregation down the widened, easy path to heaven created by the “road widening crew” will end up in the ditch as well.
Jesus made it very clear that entering the kingdom of heaven isn’t as simple as saying a prayer. The words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 7:21 should shake anyone claiming to be a believer to their core. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
When you really examine those words, Jesus was saying not everyone who calls or even considers me Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven but only those who do the will of my Father which is in heaven. If you were to remind many of those claiming to be Christians today that according to Jesus’ own words, only those who do the will of the Heavenly Father will enter the kingdom of heaven. Then ask them what the will of God is for their lives and are they doing it. More than likely you’d receive nothing more than a blank stare on their face.
Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:3, 7). He also said, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Converted comes from the Greek word “strepho” meaning “to turn one’s self from one’s course of conduct”. The change of mind and heart is followed by a total dependence on God as a little child depends upon its mother and father for everything.
This is what begins a new life with Jesus. Any new life can only begin with the end of an old life.
The Lord asked me a question recently, “How can a man be born-again if he’s never died once?” After pondering that question for awhile, a thought came to mind about how a caterpillar must lay down its old life as a worm and become entombed in a chrysalis or cocoon in order to go through the process of metamorphosis and ultimately become a new creation.
In a similar manner, we must lay down the old life to receive a new life. There is no easy way, no short cut.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:13,14 “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat, Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” In order to find something, one must look for something. This would indicate that few who look for the kingdom will actually find it.
Is the message from many of the shepherds today really from the voice of the Good Shepherd? Is the message the same message as Jesus gave? A true shepherd will lay down his life for his sheep because he is an extension of the Good Shepherd, filled and operating in the same motivation, operating in “no greater love”. He realizes his life is no longer his own. He has been bought with a price.
Any other pastor not fitting this description is merely a hireling who will flee as the wolf approaches, fearing for his own life. Having never laid his own life down, he’ll have no choice but to save it.
Jesus is looking for a bride. He’s not marrying anyone still married. We must divorce the world and our worldly ways first before we will ever be considered as His bride. Once we make the decision to divorce the world and commit to be faithful to him, he expects us to remain faithful to our words, “I do, ‘til death do us part”. If we don’t remain faithful, we will be nothing less than an adulterer.
In order to receive the new citizenship, one must renounce the citizenship of his former kingdom, the kingdom of darkness, to become a citizen of a new kingdom, the kingdom of God. There is no dual citizenship in God’s kingdom.
As a new citizen, Jesus will give you a new passport and make you His embassador to the nations. He will fill you with His love; the only love that can truly love your neighbor as yourself. The only love that will give a man the desire to see his neighbor’s soul saved as badly as his own.
This will become the irrefutable evidence that Jesus is truly living on the inside. His desires have become our desires, His passion our passion, and His mission our mission.