In Luke chapter 21 we read of our Lord explaining the last days. A very descriptive account of the travail that will come upon the earth. Then in verse 36 He says “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” So clearly the end time people, those living in the last days(our time), must be found worthy.
What does this mean–worthy? We have all heard week after week, – Grace, grace, and more grace. Does not these two words– worthy and grace, seem somewhat contradictory? However, it seems today that the great masses are solidly in the “grace” camp. The leaders and pastors have drilled them again and again , that we really don’t have to worry in our walk–we are covered by grace. Just be kinda good and let all the rest fall unto Jesus. Our Savior is our excuse, our reason why we don’t have to be that careful and obedient, right? Absolutely wrong. Let us see clearly why.
In speaking of ”worthiness” our Lord shows further examples “He who loves His father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matt. 10:37).
In researching for this post I found someone’s comments that I found right on concerning what (Matt 10:38) means “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” In the article, the author says ”(Mt.10:38) has been grossly abused. The phrase, “taking up one’s cross” has become so ubiquitous, that practically any unavoidable difficulty, aggravation, or inconvenience is likely to be piously labeled, “just the cross I have to bear.”
WE NEED TO RECOGNIZE THAT STATEMENT FOR THE BLASPHEMY THAT IT IS!!!
The cross, for Jesus, was NOT an unavoidable inconvenience! Neither was it a case of submission to illness, natural disaster, or insurmountable evil! Jesus was speaking sober truth when he said he could have called upon all the hosts of heaven to rescue him! He CHOSE not to do so, in order to ransom the people of his Kingdom from the domain of death and fear (Heb.2:14-15), by his triumph over both! Cross-bearing entails voluntarily suffering completely undeserved injustice for the sake of the Kingdom of Jesus!”
In other words, to be found “worthy”, we should be taking up the cross and be willing to be, among other things — scorned, murmured against, unpopular among some, ridiculed or a host of other injustices simply for proclaiming God’s truth and walking therein. Just like our Lord. We’re a chip off the ol block as they say.
Ellen White explains, “Satan’s attacks against the advocates of the truth will wax more bitter and determined to the very close of time. As in Christ’s day the chief priests and rulers stirred up the people against Him, so today the religious leaders will excite bitterness and prejudice again the truth for this time.”(Gospel Workers, p.324)
“Satan works at the very ones that do him most harm. God can make them a host against their enemies. Ye give up too quick. Ye let go too soon. That arm, the arm of God is mighty.” (Spalding and Magan Collection, 3:4)
Brother Houteff explains, ” Just as did the Jews of old, thousands today dearly believe that there is a certain saving magic simply in membership in the church, thus letting themselves be brought to prize and depend upon it more than upon the message, which demands repentance of sins and in return lifts the penitent sinner from the dark and miry pit, into the healing, saving light of Present Truth.
Had these worshipers of temples made by hands, lived in the days of Christ, they would have shown their utter ignorance of and disregard for the Truth, by rejecting the respective messages of John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the apostles, in order to maintain their membership in the “synagogue” and to shun the reproach they would otherwise have been called upon to bear. Whereas God’s true people have always bound themselves to new and unpopular truths which, while new, the self-styled men “of experience” have denounced as heresies.” (Tract #7, p.60-61)
So how do we balance grace with worthiness? The answer is that we as His followers are striving with all our hearts to obey Him through His word, as said by the prophets. Then as we become obedient to His messages as sent by the prophets, we can count on His grace to save us. You see, as we strive to be obedient we will sometimes slip and fall, that’s when we can count on His grace. When Paul was striving with all his heart to work for the Lord, being obedient as possible, what did the Lord say in response to his request? ‘My grace is sufficient for thee..” (2 Cor. 12:9). Grace covered a righteous man , not an indifferent, careless man of God.
Grace abuse is described in (Romans 6:1) “What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” Those who repeatedly fall in their walk often think that grace will cover them, leading them in effect to not claim the Lord’s power to help them overcome sin.
But the key is that we are trying very hard and not carelessly neglecting our walk, and then saying ” I’m going to sin and there is nothing I can do about it but He will save me through His grace anyway”. We must decide that we cannot continue in sin( see Hebrews 10:26). With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can ”overcome” our sins.(Rev.21:7)
Yes, we will slip and fall. But as the word says ” For though a righteous man falls seven times, he will rise again..” (Prov. 24:16) The key is to –rise again, meaning we get up and repent and continue on with our walk, being careful not to slip again. It’s all about wanting to do right thing before the Lord.
Ellen White speaks about worthiness, ” I was shown that fathers and mothers have departed from their simplicity and neglected the holy calling of the gospel. The Lord has admonished them not to corrupt themselves by adopting the customs and maxims of the world. Christ would have given them the unsearchable riches of His grace freely and abundantly, but they prove themselves unworthy.” (Test. for the Church, p.74)
Last year we did a post on backsliding call ‘Recovering from backsliding”. In it I pointed out that we all succumb to temptation now and then. As I mentioned last year I had fallen back for a few days into my old sinful behavior. The devils are particularly hovering around those who are proclaiming God’s truth. We are viewed as their number one adversaries.
As the devils know a wide range of tactics, one of them is the old trick of “over-worthiness”. They tell us, ”You’re a hard worker for God, you deserve a little something now and them”. I fell for it and went back to some espressos and even a few beers after work for a few days. Thinking that I had somehow earned these “treats”. But I was jolted to reality a few days later! Repentance was deep and I was received my Lord’s words, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten..” (Rev.3:19). It was quite scary to be honest, a real jolt of reality set in.
In further illuminating the cost of being found worthy, Ellen White says, “God will test and prove his people. One sacred truth after another will be brought to bear upon their hearts, close and cutting, until their faith will be purified and tried like gold, until all their dross will be purged away, and Jesus will present them unto his Father without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. We must overcome through trials and sufferings as Jesus overcame. We must not shun the cross or the suffering part of religion. The language of the heart should be, let me know the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ. Let me suffer with Him that I may reign with Him.(Review and herald, Sept.16,1862)
Let’s look at our prophetess’ words concerning the struggles of those who are taking part in our last days work of the Lord.
“I saw some, with strong faith and agonizing cries, pleading with God. Their countenances were pale and marked with deep anxiety, expressive of their internal struggle. Firmness and great earnestness was expressed in their countenances; large drops of perspiration fell from their foreheads. Now and then their faces would light up with the marks of God’s approbation, and again the same solemn, earnest, anxious look would settle upon them.
Evil angels crowded around, pressing darkness upon them to shut out Jesus from their view, that their eyes might be drawn to the darkness that surrounded them, and thus they be led to distrust God and murmur against Him. Their only safety was in keeping their eyes directed upward. Angels of God had charge over His people, and as the poisonous atmosphere of evil angels was pressed around these anxious ones, the heavenly angels were continually wafting their wings over them to scatter the thick darkness.
As the praying ones continued their earnest cries, at times a ray of light from Jesus came to them, to encourage their hearts and light up their countenances. Some, I saw, did not participate in this work of agonizing and pleading. They seemed indifferent and careless. They were not resisting the darkness around them, and it shut them in like a thick cloud. The angels of God left these and went to the aid of the earnest, praying ones.” (Early Writings, p.269-270)
What I found interesting is that those who “participated” in the agonizing and pleading of God’s work and their own spiritual condition, were the ones involved in the dark struggle. The careless and indifferent ones, meaning those who don’t participate in the work of His present truth for this time and who also don’t plead with the Lord to help them overcome their sins. Darkness “shuts them in” and the Angels have “left them”. This vision is prophetic about what is going on right now. The true workers of God are in an internal struggle, complacency is the farthest thing from their mind. At times they feel the heat in other words!
Let us never forget that we as the Laodicean church have the strictest reprimand from the Lord. We are warned not to be lukewarm. Is lukewarmness a sin? Absolutely. The 11th hour message we are called to give–the Elijah message – is our test today. Ellen White says, ” God means that testing truth shall be brought to the front and become a subject of examination and discussion, even if it is through the contempt placed upon it. The minds of the people must be agitated. Every controversy, every reproach, every slander, will be God’s means of provoking inquiry and awakening minds that otherwise would slumber.” (Test. for the Church, Vol. 5, p.453).
To sum up our post, we ask the following– ” Must we be found worthy to inherit the kingdom of God?” For sure. “How do we know we can be found worthy?” By taking up His cross (standing up for His truth today). “And what can we expect once we decide to take up His cross?” The devil attacks, but we can then say and believe -”Greater is He who is in us, than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
Let us close with the beautiful words of the Lord through his prophet Isaiah. ” Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near, let the wicked forsake His way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6-7)
May our Lord give us wisdom for these last days, to be counted as worthy, amen.