There are 2 essential spiritual disciplines that every Christ-follower needs to practice on a consistent basis: Bible intake & prayer. One of the things that’s important when we are reading the Bible each day is that we make sure that we get the CONTEXT of the verses. Here’s a statement about that from a good article I found (I encourage you to read the whole article, too):
● “Context. You can answer 75 percent of your questions about a passage when you read the text. Reading the text involves looking at the near context (the verse immediately before and after) as well as the far context (the paragraph or the chapter that precedes and/or follows the passage you’re studying).” (http://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/tips/3-simple-steps-for-studying-the-bible.html)
For instance, in a reading plan that our church is doing right now called READ-PRAY-OBEY, the verses for today are Matthew 10:32-33. These are pretty familiar words of Jesus that say, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” Let’s think about those verses in context. We see that the context is that of Jesus sending out His 12 disciples to do His work, & the fact that they were going to experience persecution & difficulty in their lives as they served Him. We have to keep that in mind as we are interpreting these verses.
The context tells us that Jesus is not talking about a person’s salvation here. I’ve heard pastors & evangelists (I hope I haven’t said it!) use these verses to say something like, “You need to walk that aisle & come down here & be saved, b/c Jesus said, ‘Whoever denies me before men, I will deny him before my Father,’ & you don’t want Jesus to do that to YOU! So walk that aisle so He won’t deny you before the Father.”
That’s NOT what Jesus is talking about here. If He was saying that our salvation hinges on our confessing Him before men & not denying Him, then I guess Peter didn’t make it to heaven! (Remember Peter denying Jesus 3 times during Jesus’ arrest & trial?) Jesus was saying that if our confession (homologeo – to say the same thing; to agree) of Him is true & strong, then we will confess Him before others, even when the persecution is strong – i.e., our walk will match our talk.
- We will show to others that we are His disciples, just as these guys in this passage were showing that they were His disciples (remember – CONTEXT!).
- We won’t be afraid b/c He has already said that we don’t need to fear b/c our Father will take care of us.
- We won’t be ashamed of Him & draw back from telling others about Him when we have the opportunity.
- It’s an issue of discipleship & rewards, not salvation & eternal life. We are saved & receive the gift of eternal life when we believe on Christ alone for our salvation (there are a TON of verses that speak to that truth!). We receive our rewards in heaven for living for Him, confessing & acknowledging Him before men as much as possible.
David Nasser once said, “Every moment, every word, every choice is a deposit either heavenly or earthly.” When we are faithfully living for Christ out of our love for Him & our desire to honor & glorify Him, we are making some serious deposits in our heavenly rewards account!