Do all people who go to church and take part in religious practices have a relationship with Jesus? The relationship is the important one, because life in the eternal kingdom of God depicts Jesus as the Bridegroom with His Bride, the church (those who love and obey Him).
Believers may think if they accepted that Jesus died for their sins they have a relationship with Him and nothing else matters. For the rest they can live as they please. That cannot be true. Why are there then so many commands in the Bible to live a holy life? Jesus said in John 14:23, 'If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.' An easy way to test God's purposes are the following questions and answers:
- Why must we submit to God? He will reign eternally. If we don't submit to His Word here, why will we do it there? God will not allow insurrection, and is weeding out rebels on this side of the grave.
- Why is fidelity in marriage important? The new life will be a marriage, and if we cannot be loyal to our marriage partner here, why should God trust us to be loyal to Him there?
- Why must we live in peace with people around us? If we cannot manage to do it here, why will we be able to do it there?
- Why must we persevere in following God to the end? The coming kingdom is measured in billions of years. If we cannot persevere here, who says we can be trusted to persevere there? Our characters will become 'fixed' when we die, so God will not take the chance to allow a person who could not persevere, there. The seven letters to the congregations all have the same message: 'To him who overcomes ...there is great reward' (Revelation 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12).
- Why are there not many paths to God, but only one Bible and one Holy Spirit? Through the ages, the message has been the same: learn to know and love the Lord Jesus through the one Book and the one Guide. All people have had the same available information and help to do that. There has been no favoritism.
- Why must we endure an enemy, bent on making things difficult for us? If we are able to obey God against the odds we experience here, He can trust us for all eternity.
- Why don't we see Jesus if He rose from the dead and is alive? It would have been easier to believe if we could see Him. Most people of all times did not see Him, but had to believe that He lives. He wants to know who loves Him, even if they have only the testimony of the Holy Spirit and the Bible.
- Why does Jesus say we must make every effort to enter through the narrow door (Luke 13:22-25)? It has to do with love: do we love Him enough to put effort into obeying Him? Many a young man in love overcame obstacles to win his sweetheart. How much will we endure for our big love, Jesus?
What is our message?
The Bible is a logical, precise document, and in the end we will all be judged impartially for our deeds by the words of Jesus written down in the Bible (John 12:47-48). God has to be fair, because the devil still desperately wants to escape hell, so he is always on the look out for inconsistencies in God's dealings with people. It is not enough to be part of church practices only. We have to give careful attention to the relationship that is built on the Scriptures with the help of the Holy Spirit. After death, there is no second chance.