If someone were to follow your example, would they go to Heaven?
The question is not as far fetched as you might think. The fact of the matter is that we are always following or setting examples in the lives of other people. This is a good thing as long as the example is good.
Paul urged the Corinthians to “imitate me, as I imitate Christ” and to the Philippians he added “and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” (Phil 3:17) It wasn’t just Paul’s life but the life of those who followed Paul’s example that the Philippians were to follow.
I know someone who as a young child would imitate the song leader at home. He would sing songs and keep time with his hand just like John did. “I’m John!” he would say. When it came time to go to bed however, he refused (or tried to) insisting that “John doesn’t go to bed, I’m John.” Well, he was right….John never went to bed early or late….he worked a graveyard shift and so this young boy wanted to imitate John’s song leading AND bedtime habits.
Young children are known for being impressionable but they are not the only ones so our example in our life should always be one we want others to follow.
David shows both a bad and a good example in the sin with Bathsheba. While it is true that he admitted his sin when confronted (and that is the good thing), his example of sin was so bad that God’s name was blasphemed among the nations.
2 Samuel 12:14 MKJV Only, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of Jehovah to blaspheme, this child born to you shall surely die.
It is not that the enemies of God used His name with profanity but rather that they would speak less of the God of Israel because David, the king of God’s people, had done such a horrible act. Because of that, they were less likely to honor God.
Peter urges Christians to leave the ways of the world behind. This leaving of the ways of the world would be so noticeable that the non believers would take note.
1 Peter 4:3-4 ESV For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. (4) With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you;
Earlier he had said:
1 Peter 2:12 ESV Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
And to the wives of non believers he says:
1 Peter 3:1-2 ESV Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, (2) when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
We can not be sure that if we live a good life before God and show the unbeliever (and believer alike) the proper way to serve God that they will follow our example and go to Heaven. However, we can be sure that if they do not see a good example, that they will not know the way.
So again, I ask the question: If someone followed your example, would they go to Heaven?
Genesis 8 shows Noah still in the ark and water is not just over his head, it is over the mountains. It takes a long time for the waters to start to recede from the earth and one might wonder what would happen to Noah during that time. A wonderful thing did happen:
God remembered Noah
Oh, to be remembered by God. If you have every had a friend who forgot about you, you can understand the pain of that loss, especially if they were a good friend, or perhaps even “more than friends.”
God knows all of us but it is the remembering that indicates a care and concern for us which Noah received in Genesis 8.
Genesis 8:1 ESV But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.
Of course, God was also concerned about the beasts and livestock too. Still, as Jesus will teach in Matthew 6, while God does take care of them,”we” are of greater value. God will take care of us.
Matthew 6:26 ESV Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
A more important question is “Do we remember God?”
God makes a covenant
At the end of the chapter God makes a covenant with Noah:
Genesis 8:22 ESV While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
This should be of great comfort to us because we know that, although the world will end someday, it will not end before God is ready to end it.
When I was growing up, among the big fears was Nuclear war. Post Nuclear war movies like Planet of the Apes, Damnation Alley, etc spoke of the horrors of the world “ending” with a Nuclear war. (Not that it actually “ended” it was just very hard living.) Even today movies show the world ending in terrible ways.
What God said, and I believe, is that the world will end when GOD says it ends and until then, we will still have seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night!
This is not to say that we should be care free with how we use the resources God gave us in our world but neither should we be overly concerned when those that do not honor God do things to that appear to destroy the world as if they will actually succeed!
Three things have been “end of the world calamities” in my life: Nuclear war, Global cooling, and Global warming. So far none of it has stopped seed time, harvest, heat, cold, summer, winter, day, or night! So do not be anxious, God is in control. In the end, we will all die so we need to live to God and be sure we are going to be in Heaven with Him.
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If I were to ask you to describe the activities of a good Christian, you would no doubt mention actions such as praying and reading the Bible often. Of course, often for some people is every day, others several times a week, others read a chapter or two a day.
Today, and ever since the Gutenberg press was invented, we have truly been living in an age of feasting, if only we would come to the meal. The Bible is there and it is available for us to read, to meditate upon and to nourish us. There are many proverbial reasons that can be given to encourage us to read daily but what does the Bible say?
I will list 7 scriptures but want to hear from you what your favorite passages are.
- 2 Timothy 3:14-17 Scriptures serves many purposes in our lives: Reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness but at the end of it, the man of God is thoroughly equipped for every good work by the Scriptures. Don’t be ill-equipped, Read!
- Deuteronomy 17:18-20 The King of Israel was instructed not just to write himself a copy of the law but to read from it every day. Leaders (ministers, elders, etc.) especially need the promise of this passage. Reading God’s word will keep us oriented, on the right path, and most of all, Humble!
- Amos 8:11 God warned of a famine of His word among His people. He would take away the prophets and His words because they wouldn’t listen to Him. Today, we have great access to God’s word. If you don’t read it, you create your own famine. Who is worse off? The person who can read and doesn’t or the person who can’t read at all?
- Psalms 1 More than just reading God’s word, meditating on it is important. If you don’t wrestle with the application of it in your life, you may just think “Mmmm, nice thought” and go on with your life unchanged. Meditate and prosper!
- Acts 17:11 The process of learning is also a process of searching the Scriptures. We have so many people who will tell us what God wants of us but until we begin the process of examining their (teaching/motto/philosophy) with God’s word, we won’t be able to know if it is Godly or only sounds Godly.
- Psalms 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to God’s word. When we pray “lead us not into temptation” many times God is saying ” I am trying to tell you but you won’t listen”. Reading God’s word instructs in both the ways of righteousness and the ways of error.
- Psalm 19:10-11 They are more valuable than gold and silver. When we truly bring the world of God into our lives and allow it to be written on our hearts, we find true wealth and contentment beyond the rat race of this world and its egotistical purposes.
So much more could be said on each of these passages. They are worthy of a blog post all their own and may yet get them.
Question: What Bible verse(s) help you draw the conclusion that Christians ought to read God’s word often…or even every day?
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Heb 5:12-14 ESV)
And so it was in the garden of Eden that Eve was tempted by the serpent to eat from the tree that she was not supposed to eat from. Do you remember how that tree was described or named? It was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. For whatever reason (and we could explore those) God did not think that mankind needed to have that particular knowledge while in the Garden. While in the stage of innocence Adam enjoyed a great deal of communication with God and I am sure the communion with Him was wonderful. So it was truly a sad day when Adam and Eve did what God did not want them to do.
Sadder still is that today, we also do not do what God wants us to do in relationship to “good and evil.” In the Garden we were directed away from it, but today we are directed towards it. We seem to resist that call however. We just do not want to grow up.
The Hebrew writer pointed out to the Christians to whom he wrote that being in Christ should lead to growth. When he says “ought” as in “ought to be teachers” he is bringing out a moral “should” not just an idea or suggestion (e.g. Well, it would be nice if you made it to that level).
He also points out that they are also regressing in their knowledge. Whereas, they ought to be teachers they need to be students and relearn things that ought to already know. After reaching a certain point in school, a student should be able to ‘teach’ a younger sibling to read. How sad to have that older child revert back so far that he would need to learn the alphabet.
Finally, he points out in this passage that one of the characteristics of mature Christians is that we will, with practice, be able to distinguish between good and evil. We begin to understand the wiles of Satan and find ourselves less fooled by his schemes. We also, with maturity, are able to teach others so that they too can avoid his temptations and traps.
The benefit in maturing in Christ is not just for our own good but for the good of others who do not know the difference between good and evil.
Question: What are the spiritual areas in which you need to mature? Which areas, if any, have you regressed?
Photo attribution: Fort Rucker