We all like to hear good things said to us or about us. The positive words of encouragement do us a world of good.

I know the words that I’d like to hear God say to me when I stand, or rather, lie prostrate, before Him at the judgment seat. I’m hoping He’ll say Well done, thou good and faithful servant!  These have got to be the sweetest words I’ll ever hear God say and I’m really hoping I’ll hear Him say them to me one day.

Unfortunately, God doesn’t only say good things all the time. He’s got some harsh words to say too. And the scariest of these words that I definitely don’t want to hear Him say to me are, I never knew you. Depart from me, you worker of iniquity! Friends, when you hear God say that to you, you’re as good as toast!

These words of our Lord are taken from His sermon on the mount. Here’s the fuller version of what He said: 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.  (22)  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  (23)  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity, Matthew 7:21-23.

These 3 verses, in my opinion, are the scariest verses for a Christian because they tell us that many professing Christians who believe they’ll go to Heaven when they die will have a rude awakening and the shock of their life when our Lord sends them to hell instead.

Why will the Lord send these Christians to hell? (1) Because they’ve not done the will of God. They lived their lives in disobedience to God and neglected, or refused, to do His will; and (2) they worked iniquity, that is, they continued to live a life of sin, continued to live like the heathen. Instead of quitting sinning, they persisted in sin.


Two things shock and frighten me about the Christians who God will send to hell. (1) These unwary, unsuspecting hell-bound Christians called and considered Jesus their Lord; they worked for the Lord, engaged in Christian ministry or leadership; they prophesied and preached the word of the Lord; they cast out devils; and they did many wonderful works—not just a few or a handful, but many—they performed lots of signs and wonders; they did miracles of healing, deliverance, and who knows what else.

Jesus didn’t deny that they did these things. So what these Christians said and did were true. They did all these things that they said they did. So they were very effective in Christian ministry and many people were saved, healed, and delivered through them.

Most frightening perhaps is the fact that these people did way more for God than most of us have done to date. They did many things that most of us have not done even once as far as healing or casting out demons is concerned. These hell-bound Christians put us to shame by how much they did and how successful they were in their witness and ministry.

Yet, in spite of all they accomplished, they find themselves barred from Heaven because they lived a double life. They worked for the Lord and continued to sin on the side. They professed to be Christians, yet continued to live and act like heathens.

(2) The second thing that really frightens me about these hell-bound Christians is the fact that they are not a handful or an insignificant minority. They are not a few among many. They are not the oddballs or the exceptions to the rule. Jesus said many shall say unto Me. Brethren, there are many among us who will not step on streets of gold, who will not live in heavenly mansions, who will not spend eternity in Heaven.

And if there are many among us, then we must ask ourselves, “Am I one of the many Christians who will end up in hell?” That is truly a scary thought and it ought to motivate us to do everything in our power to make sure we are not one of the many who will be barred from Heaven, but one of the few who find, and walk, the strait and narrow. Jesus said in Matthew 7:14, Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leadeth to life; and few there be that find it.


This stands in stark contrast to the only condition that many Christians believe is the only thing you need to do to be saved and go to Heaven, and that is, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31); whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13); and  whosoever believeth on Jesus shall not perish but shall have life everlasting (John 3:16).

Of course, all these verses are true. Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ will get you saved.

But God couldn’t say everything at one time or in one verse. Believing and receiving Jesus into your heart and life is just the beginning. Salvation isn’t just an act or a conversion experience. It’s a life. And it’s a life that’s lived in obedience to God’s will. These verses that we just read in Matthew 7 bear this truth out.

Here are some of the things God wants all of us to do. These are the things that will get us to Heaven. And failing or refusing to do them will imperil our soul and cause God to utter the scariest words that none of us want to hear God to say to us.

  • Do the will of God. Matthew 7:21, 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.
  • Abstain from sin and iniquity. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10,  Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,  (10)  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
  • Walk the strait and narrow. 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:  (14)  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
  • Don’t believe wrong doctrine. 1 Timothy 4:1, Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.
  • Live a holy life. Hebrews 12:14, Follow peace, and holiness, with all men; without which no man shall see the Lord.
  • Confess the Lord before men and not deny Him. Matthew 10:32-33, Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.  (33)  But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
  • Live the crucified life. Luke 14:27, And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. Galatians 6:7-8,  Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  (8)  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
  • Be spiritually fruitful. John 15:2, Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
  • Persevere or endure to the very end. Matthew 10:22, He that endureth to the end shall be saved.

The point is, many people limit salvation to believing on Christ. And since that’s all they need to do to be saved, then there’s nothing else they need to do to be saved. They’re saved already. They’re going to Heaven. So now they can relax, breathe a sigh of relief that they’ve escaped the fires of hell, then go back to living the heathen lifestyle that they’ve always lived.

Jesus is here correcting this mistaken notion of salvation and He’s telling us as clearly as He can that, yes, salvation and Heaven begin with believing. But it doesn’t stop there. You need to mix actions with your faith. You need to act like you believe. You need to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. You need to live your life in obedience to God and do His will.

DISOBEDIENCE IS DAMNABLE.  One act of disobedience may not necessarily be damnable. Just because you sinned once doesn’t mean you’re going to hell. Repentance and forgiveness are God’s provision to save you from hell and avert the hellish consequences of sin and disobedience.

But one continuing act of disobedience—if you spend the rest of your life disobeying God; then that life of disobedience is certainly damnable. And the only thing that will save you from hell—the only life-saving thing you can do for yourself—is give that sin up, turn away from it, then spend the rest of your life in obedience and holiness unto God.

IF YOU PERSIST IN SIN, THAT SIN WILL KILL YOU. And the fact that you consider yourself a believer, the fact that you’re a minister, or a successful Christian worker or an effective witness or evangelist; the fact that you call Jesus your Lord and consider yourself a Christian; the fact that you fully expect to go to Heaven when you die; will not save you from hell. Sin will send you to hell and the only way it won’t is if you give it up, quit doing it, and start obeying God. Sinning might be cool with the crowd you hang around with. But, believe me, you’ll be hot as hell itself when payday comes, as it surely will. YOU JUST CAN’T SPEND YOUR LIFE DISOBEYING GOD AND EXPECT HIM TO BE NICE TO YOU ON JUDGMENT DAY!

So do you want God to say to you on Judgment Day Depart from me, you worker of iniquity? These are definitely the scariest of words to hear when hell is only a judgment sentence of God away. If you don’t want to hear God send you to hell with these words, then do the smart thing and quit sinning. Spend your life serving and obeying God and you’ll definitely not hear God say these scariest words to you on Judgment Day.


In the course of a twenty-four hour period we make gobs of decisions. Some of these we make with a serious amount of forethought and prayer. Others we make spontaneously with little or no thought as to the consequences or impact our decisions will have—not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives are intertwined with ours.

Have you ever thought much about how a single decision can change your life forever? For better or worse?

In these blog posts I’d like to look at the one good decision that some people in the Bible made that changed the course of their life for the better. By looking at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word I hope we’ll all take comfort, courage, and hope in the fact that, despite the mess we’re presently faced with, we can still turn things around. A lousy past or dismal present doesn’t have to give us the same future. By God’s grace, our future and life can be changed for the better…if we only make the right decision today. May God help us do that on a daily basis!


Many of you are familiar with the story of Samuel, the renown prophet, priest, and judge of Old Testament times. He was one of the most important transitional figures in the Bible. Transitional because he was the last of the Judges. After him, and ever afterwards, the nation of Israel would be ruled be Kings.

In fact, when the people asked him if they could have a king to rule over them, Samuel at first objected (1 Samuel 8). He saw it as the people’s rejection of the Lord as their ruler. As far as the prophet was concerned, Israel was asking to be like the rest of the nations of the world. Every other nation had kings and it just seemed natural to the Israelites to have a king also. But to Samuel, Israel wasn’t like the rest of the world. She wasn’t supposed to be like everyone else. She was unique. She alone worshipped the one true God. God was her Ruler. Israel was a theocratic nation and that’s the way Samuel wanted it to remain.

But God intervened and persuaded Samuel to accede to the people’s request. The people wanted a king and that’s exactly what God would give them. So God had Samuel begin the search for the man who would be Israel’s first king. This man, it turned out, would be Saul (1 Samuel 9). He was truly a handsome man. Head and shoulders taller than any man in Israel. He came from a fine stock and was a marvelous specimen of manhood. He would be a good military commander and king. So Samuel summoned the entire nation to Mizpeh, which was the ancient capital of Israel at that time, and there in the sight of the people he anointed Saul to be King over Israel.

Well, Saul was doing great as a King and General of the Army. For a time it seemed as if the nation had done good by getting themselves a king. But the honeymoon would eventually end. It always does when you’re outside of God’s will.

God told the King to utterly destroy the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15). No one was to be spared alive. Not even the women and children. Even the Amalekites’ animals and livestock were to be killed. God wanted that entire race of people to be extinct from off the face of the earth. The Lord’s instruction was pretty clear and straight forward. There was no mistaking the Lord’s order.

But the King failed to obey the Lord. The army wanted to keep some of the spoils of war for themselves. Besides, we could use all these sheep and oxen and sacrifice them to the Lord! We know what we’re doing! Let’s not kill them, Saul. So the King listened to the army. He even went one step farther and saved the King of the Amalekites alive.

Well, it wasn’t long before the man of God came along. The bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the oxen told him the story: the King had disobeyed the Lord’s order. It was this single act of disobedience that spelled the end and downfall of the King. God would henceforth reject him as Israel’s King. So God told  Samuel to go out and search for a new King for Israel.

The prophet’s search ended with David (1 Samuel 16). Of course, you know the rest of the story. The entire nation was changed by David’s Kingship and Israel became a regional superpower.

So, in hindsight, Samuel was a truly pivotal and landmark ruler in Israel during his lifetime—both politically and spiritually. He galvanized the nation behind him. The people looked to him for guidance. And even in an hour when the nation turned its back on God, Samuel continued to serve God’s people and direct them in the knowledge and obedience of God. Israel’s history was forever changed by the lone and solitary voice of God speaking and working through this one man named Samuel.

Like I said at the start, many of you know the story of Samuel. He got his start in the priesthood because his mother, a woman by the name of Hannah, was barren. She was so distraught with her inability to conceive and have children that she finally had a meltdown with God at the Tabernacle in Shiloh (1 Samuel 1). She made a deal with God. God, if you give me a child, a boy, I’ll give him back to you. I’ll bring him back to this Tabernacle and leave him here for you, to serve you all the days of his life. You can have him, dear Lord. Only let me have him first for a few years, then I’ll give him back to you (1 Samuel 1:11).

Well, God heard her anguished cry and gave her a son. She named him Samuel, which means asked of God. Hannah asked. And God gave.

As you can imagine, Hannah cherished every day with her son. Samuel was the answer to her heart’s cry. He filled a void in her life that only a child could fill. She was thankful to God and you can be very sure she savored every moment of every day with her son. She knew a day would come when she would have to give him back to God. After he was weaned (which most scholars believe took place when a boy was 3 to 5 five years old), she’d have to take him to Shiloh and leave him there for the rest of his life—just like she vowed to God.

Samuel is now weaned and it’s time for Hannah to make this dreaded trip to Shiloh. But in the years since her vow, conditions in Israel have deteriorated badly (1 Samuel 2). Eli the High Priest was too old. And inept in the priesthood. His sons, also priests, were sons of Belial. Which is to say, they weren’t the holy men they were supposed to be. They were as heathen as the priests of a false god. They robbed from the people. They even had the audacity to have sex with women at the Tabernacle! Their sins were so flagrant and irreverent that the whole idea of worshipping God was a mockery. Anytime you came to the Tabernacle you’d be raped or robbed. So, quite understandably, you can imagine how God’s people really hated showing up at the Tabernacle at all.

Now, knowing these things and the despicable conditions in the Tabernacle, place yourself in Hannah’s sandals. You made a vow to God to give your son back to Him if He gave you a son. God keeps His part of the bargain. Now it’s time for you to keep yours. But, quite clearly, the Tabernacle is no place to give your son, much less raise him. God, these sons of Belial are going to teach my son to be a rapist and robber. He isn’t going to be priest of God. He’s going to be corrupted. He can’t serve you if I give him over to these wicked, despicable priests!

So what do you do? Do you keep your bargain? Or do you find a way to conveniently postpone or delay it until conditions improve in the Tabernacle? Surely God would understand! He wouldn’t want a boy growing up in that kind of deplorable, immoral environment!

Hannah’s got a choice. She’s got a difficult decision to make. She’s a mother. And a mother, by nature, isn’t wont to hand over her son to immoral men who would only teach her son the ways of sin. What good would that accomplish? So you keep your side of the bargain, but your son doesn’t become the man of God that you always imagined he would become. He’d be a robber and rapist like the rest of them. So what good is a bargain kept if it’ll only result in a godless priest? Hannah doesn’t have it easy. Not by a long shot.

Of course, you know what Hannah ends up doing. She takes her son to Shiloh and, tearfully I’m sure, she leaves him there just as she promised the Lord she would do. Not an easy thing to do, especially when you’ve got pictures of a beloved son becoming a rapist and a disgrace to the family name. Hannah left her son in God’s hands. God gave him to her. He belonged to God. And Hannah somehow must have found the grace, and courage, and faith, to believe that God would watch over her son and keep him in spite of the deplorably sinful condition of the priesthood.

As it turned out, this was Hannah’s best decision ever. She gave her son to the Lord. And in doing so, she gave the nation the hope of change. The nation was changed—and remarkably so—because her son was preserved by the Lord and he cleaned house. He started with the Tabernacle. He restored the true worship of God. Then he ventured forth out of the Tabernacle and went throughout the nation, teaching God’s laws and bringing God’s people back to the worship and obedience of God. Israel was forever changed—all because a mother kept her promise to God.

So you’ve got a thousand and one reasons not to keep your promise to God. You made Him a promise. God kept His end of the bargain. Will you keep yours? Think of Hannah. And let your promise kept be the beginning of a change that will change your life forever and the lives of those around you.

God, It’s All Your Fault! Really?

We all have a tendency to blame other people when things go wrong or when bad things happen. Naturally, there are indeed times when other people are to blame. People make mistakes. And when they do they need to assume responsibility for their decisions and actions, accept the blame, and work to clean up the mess they’ve made. Not everything, I repeat, not everything is our fault!

But when we’re the leading characters in a tragedy, when we’re at the helm of a sinking ship; then passing the buck just isn’t cool. It doesn’t make us look good. We can find creative ways to look at an error or a disaster and make a scapegoat of others. But people aren’t dumb. They can smell a skunk when they see one. And they don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know who shot who when they catch us with a smoking gun in our hand.

In the anger and panic of the moment we seldom take the time to look at ourself and see if we bear any blame for the nightmare that we’re faced with. We’re so busy blaming others because it makes us look good. It makes us look innocent. But are we?

In these series of posts I’d like to step into the sandals of several Biblical characters. They were human like you and me. You can be dead sure they passed the buck, or were tempted to do so, when they found themselves in hot water.

By looking at these familiar Bible figures I’m hoping we’ll learn from the mistakes and examples of our forebears. I hope we’ll learn not to pass the buck, but accept the guilt and blame that are rightfully ours. 

Why is that so important? Because assuming responsibility for our actions is the necessary first step towards fixing the mess we’ve made. We can’t fix something that we’re not willing to fess and face up to. It begins with summoning the courage to be honest with ourselves, with others, and with God. With the help of the Biblical characters I believe we can be honest and say, God, it’s not your fault! It’s mine. And I’m sorry I fingered you for the bed that I made and slept in.


Hi there. My name is Adam. You all know me even if you’ve never met me. I’m the guy who got you into all the mess you find yourselves in as far as sin, suffering, sickness, and death. Sorry about that! I really didn’t mean for it to happen. I had no idea that this is how everything would turn out!

When you live in a perfect, sinless, peachy world like I did, you have no idea how life can possibly be different from the paradise you live in. Once outside of Eden, I learned soon enough how sin was going to make life a deplorable hell. Wow! Am I ever so sorry for what I did!

I wish I could turn the hands of time back and relive that fateful day in the Garden and not make the mistake I ended up making. But it’s too late and there’s no going back.

Honestly, at the start of it all, I didn’t think any of this was my fault. God gave me a woman to wife. She was the most beautiful thing in the world. I would have done anything for her—well, actually I did. She took a bite of the forbidden fruit, then gave it to me to try. In hindsight, I should have never listened to my wife. But when you’re crazy in love you just don’t ever think about crossing your wife. So I took a bite and that was the bite that changed the world and the course of human history.

When God showed up later that same day and asked us if we ate the forbidden fruit, I promptly told Him the truth, Genesis 3:8-12. God, this is all your fault! After all, it was You who gave me the woman to wife. If I didn’t have her around I’d never have taken that bite. I only ate it because she egged me on. So it was her fault. And Yours too! But definitely not mine!

When God questioned my wife about what she’d done, she blamed it on the snake. It’s all the snake’s fault! He fooled me into eating the forbidden fruit!

Well, God promptly pronounced a curse on the snake. Then He told my wife what her punishment would be. I blew a sigh of relief. I thought for sure I was off the hook. But God wasn’t done. He started talking to me and that’s when I knew my world was about to come to an end: Because you gave ear to the voice of your wife and took of the fruit of the tree which I said you were not to take, the earth is cursed on your account; in pain you will get your food from it all your life.  (18)  Thorns and waste plants will come up, and the plants of the field will be your food;  (19)  With the hard work of your hands you will get your bread till you go back to the earth from which you were taken: for dust you are and to the dust you will go back (Genesis 3:17-19).

His tone of voice told me there was no use arguing the point. God had spoken and that’s the way it was going to be. He told me not to eat the fruit (Genesis 2:16-17). I didn’t listen. I ate it. It didn’t matter if my wife, or anyone else for that matter, suckered me into it. I knew I wasn’t supposed to eat it. And when I ate it I disobeyed God. I had never done that before and it was a hard, bitter lesson learned—namely, DISOBEDIENCE HAS CONSEQUENCES AND THE CONSEQUENCES AREN’T PLEASANT. All of history proves it, as you all very well know.

I tried to pin the blame on God. But I found out God’s no fool. He isn’t taking the blame when it’s we who messed up, not Him. Paul puts it this way in Galatians 6:7, Don’t delude yourselves: no one makes a fool of God! A person reaps what he sows. Take it from me because I know what I’m talking about. I blamed God just like you! But God gave me all the time I needed to change my tune and admit the truth. Believe me, God knows how to get even you to change your tune!