“Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.” (John 4:34-38)
There is a salvation that is too easy. It is the salvation that is by faith, but there is no evidence of that faith. It is a salvation that says, “I am saved, and I don’t need to worry. I don’t even need to act upon my faith. I am secure, because God saves me.” This is deceptive salvation, my friend. It is salvation that, in the end, will bite you like a viper and sting like a bee. It is not the type of salvation that you want to embrace. But rather, the type of salvation that you want to embrace is that which says, “I know I am saved, because I love the Lord, I love to repent, I love to do good deeds in his name, I love to proclaim him to everyone I meet (when given the opportunity), and I love to serve, serve, serve the Lord!” Can you say that this characterizes your beliefs? Are you an “on fire” Christian? Are you saved by a faith in a God that doesn’t care about your works, or a faith in a God who deeply cares about your works, and will reward all those who serve him in sincerity and truth? Herein lies the difference between many so-called Christians, and Christians indeed.
One of the last statements of the Lord Jesus Christ recorded in the Bible is found in Revelation 22:12 where Jesus says, “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” It is a statement that should make us all think. While we are not saved by our works, yet this statement alone should make us think. Here Jesus puts a supreme emphasis on works. He is saying, “Get with it. Get into action. Arm yourselves. Do battle in my name.” Again, while it is true that Scripture teaches that we are saved on account of our faith alone in God (Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5), yet Jesus again puts a supreme emphasis on the need to deny ourselves and serve God from a truly humble and contrite spirit, being willing to spare nothing to serve him. In fact, Jesus says that those who are not willing to take up their crosses and follow him are not worthy to be called his disciples: “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27) Remember, in Jesus’s day, the cross was not a neck ornament, but an instrument of execution. Jesus is speaking “death” terms here – death to self, death to those things that are fleshly, death to those things which hinder us from serving him fully — and truly a desire to put all into serving him and him alone, for he is Master and Lord.
Was the Christian life meant to be easy? No. Does God promises you riches and treasures here on this earth? Certainly not on the terms that some people seem to be suggesting. Jesus said, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20b) Since we are called to be like him, we should not be surprised if we find ourselves without a pillow every once in a while! (Even Jacob slept used a rock as a pillow if you will recall.) Note that this was voluntary on Jesus’s part. Jesus could have had a “pillow” all the time, if he had wanted to. The point is that he chose to suffer so that others would be blessed, and we are called to do the same. In other words, our choice to serve him by denying ourselves must be just that: our choice. Not of compulsion, but willingly, as it were, even if we are “forced” to have to do it sometimes (those times when we have no other choice).
Of the apostle Paul, Jesus said, “For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” (Acts 9:16) What was Paul’s response to this? “For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21:13b) No wonder Paul could write the following, emblazened words at the close of his life on earth: “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8)
Praise the Lord! Paul was a disciple indeed! Are we willing to suffer like that? Have we given our all to the Lord and laid down our lives yet, so that we might truly serve him right now where we are? At the close of our lives, will we be able to say, like the apostle Paul did, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith?” (verse 7) Notice, that it is because of this that Paul can then say in the very next sentence, “Henceforth …”. Henceforth what? “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (verse 8)
Do you love the Lord? Are you looking forward to his appearing, as Paul talks about in this passage? Do you believe that he is even coming back? If you do, there has never been a better time than today to put your faith into action, to demonstrate that you really do take the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ seriously. It’s now, my friends. For tomorrow may soon be gone!