Monthly Archives: December 2014

Conclusion

What is theology? For most, theology is seen as a dry academic pursuit leading to wordy, intellectually philosophical conclusions which have no impact on real life. However, theology is the study of God, or studying the Word of God.

Let me give you a more easily understood definition of theology. Theology is friendship with God. Everyone, whether or not they admit it, has a relationship with God. Everyone either pursues Him or runs from Him. Everyone has an idea of whom or what God is. Even when people don’t think about God it is because of what they think of God. Christians, those who are identified with God through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the guarantee of the Holy Spirit, spend their lives learning about God.

In Matthew 5 Jesus tells us the only way any become a citizen of the kingdom of heaven is for God to make them one. Our lives become the evidence of God’s work in us. God’s grace makes us a citizen. His grace does not absolve any of the demands and responsibilities of the citizen. We are required and inspired to obey the inner reality of His eternal law in our every action, motivation and attitude.

Grace is misunderstood by many and misapplied by all at some time. Grace is not receiving punishment due for crimes committed but being given eternal life. Eternal life is not earned. With eternal life are privileges and responsibilities. Grace is not being given death which is deserved and being given life which is not deserved.

God places a standard of excellence upon His citizens which reaches far beyond anything recognizable by the world. Though He has covered those who are His with the righteous blood of His Son, viewing us as righteous who are not, He also demands we conform to His standard of excellence. Our conforming to His standard, exemplified in Christ, is unattainable without His strength, direction and grace. At no time during our lives in the world, encumbered with the old, sinful self, does He expect us to attain perfection. He does expect us to work on and reach for holiness.

God expects His citizens to be teachable throughout their time in this world. He uses the world, the tugs and pulls of temptation to prepare us for eternity. If He were not going to use the world in such a way there would be no reason to leave any here. Too many fail, succumbing to the temptations and giving themselves permission to sin. We do not have permission to sin. Not even those who are unsaved have permission to sin.

When Jesus states He has not come to “abolish the Law or the Prophets” He is forcing us to acknowledge God’s Word to us is absolute, unbendable and unbreakable. When He says He has come to “fulfill them” He is stating we cannot, that He is the only One able to keep God’s Word. When He states “heaven and earth” will not “pass away” until “all in accomplished” He is telling us God’s Word is eternal. This Word, the Law and Prophets of God, impact every area, every thought, every emotion, every action, every piece of creation, every molecule of life.

We are made in His image to have a relationship with Him. Thus, obeying Him is never an obligation because it is integral to our deepest being. Being recreated in the likeness of Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit opens the battlefield of our souls to the war between righteousness and unrighteousness, between truth and lie, between purity of holiness and the blackness of sin.

Is it ever appropriate to set aside sound theology for the practical living? “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” [Matthew 5:19 ESV]. Our answer has to be “never.”

Sound theology is practical living according to God’s standards of excellence, not according to the standards of the world in its rebellion against Him. There is a danger. Misinterpreting God’s truth and turning it into a lie and then following that lie which leads deeper into sin and away from truth. We do not have the right to determine our own righteousness. Jesus declares our righteousness must “exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees” or we “will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” There is only one standard we must meet. God’s standard. It is met in Jesus Christ.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 5:17-20 ESV]

 

True or False?

Balaam said to Balak, “Behold, I have come to you! Have I now any power of my own to speak anything? The word that God puts in my mouth, that must I speak.” [Numbers 22:38 ESV]

Balaam, son of Beor, carried the reputation of speaking for the gods. His story is a study in Scriptural contrasts and seeming inconsistencies. A soothsayer, one who was seen as able to predict and manipulate the future he was summoned by Balak to curse Israel. Balak, the king of Moab, had witnessed the destructive power of Israel as they moved into his territory. Israel wanted to pass through peacefully but the kings they encountered insisted on engaging them in combat. Every king who came against Israel was defeated. Barak, seeing combat would fail, tried to buy a curse against Israel from someone he recognized as powerful.

Balaam could do nothing unless God allowed it. He obviously knew about God, as he knew about all of the false gods of the countryside. When summoned by Balak Balaam enquired of God about what he should do.

God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.” [Numbers 22:12 ESV]

Balaam followed God’s instructions and sent the emissaries away. He was not a man after God’s own heart. Yet, he heard God speak and followed His instructions.

Balak’s emissaries, his own sons, came a second time to ask Balaam to come. They brought more money and larger promises. A second time Balaam told them he could not curse Israel, even if the king gave him all the gold and silver he could muster. But, Balaam asked God a second time what he should do, as if God is one who changes His mind. This time God told Balaam to go with the men but speak only the words He would give him.

Balaam’s oracles concerning Israel are classic blessings of God for His chosen. Those who God blesses are blessed. Those who God curses are cursed. Balaam spoke the words God revealed to him by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

There are many difficulties in this story which may be hard to comprehend and understand. It sounds almost mythical, a story of a story told by generation after generation, subtly changing until the whole story becomes implausible.

At three different times while Balaam was on his way to meet Balak the Angel of the Lord, the pre-incarnate Christ, stood ready to kill him. A donkey saved the man’s life three times. Balaam, angry because his donkey veered of the road, crushed his foot and leg, and finally lay down when it saw the Angel of the Lord, beat it. Then God opened the mouth of the dumb beast so it could speak in a way both Balaam and the donkey could understand. Please note, if God can put words into the mouth of a dumb animal He can put words into the mouth of a godless man. Balaam was not a man who worshipped God even though God obviously spoke through him. God will speak through anyone He wishes without necessarily guaranteeing that person a place in His kingdom. Even a donkey can receive God’s revelation and be inspired to speak the words of God by the Holy Spirit.

Those who claim the position and authority of teacher, showing knowledge and understanding of God and His Word, may teach His Word without knowing Him intimately and without Him knowing them as a child of His. Their desires give them away. Nothing is hidden from God, who knows all even to the depths of the thinking of the hearts and the precise actions of the person’s future.

Balaam was a master of manipulation, knowing the boundaries within which he could move without compromising his worldly reputation. When God would not allow him to curse Israel, only bless His people, he offered a suggestion to Balak, a way to attack and compromise God’s people without engaging them in open combat. “While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab” [Numbers 25:1 ESV].

Nowhere in this story are we told Balaam suggested Moab entice Israel to worship false gods and commit sexual immorality. Jesus tells us in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, when He confronts the Church at Pergamum “but I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality” [Revelations 2:14 ESV].

Teachers who do not teach righteousness according to God’s absolute will are false teachers, sprinkling the Word of God with the thinking and motivations of the world. “They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness” [2 Peter 2:15-16 ESV].  People who give the impression of holiness and righteousness and truth and goodness gain nothing if the thinking of their hearts are not changed by the God who is these characteristics.

Practice What You Preach

A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. [Matthew 10:24-25 ESV]

Jesus has harsh words for hypocritical teachers. “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you – but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice” [Matthew 23:2-3 ESV]. He tells those who listen to recognize the authority of God represented by their position and listen to the words of God taught through them, but to not do what they do. They are hypocrites, not doing what they say should be done and doing what should not be done. Having lied to themselves about their position before the people and assumed authority because they are teachers they believe they are more important than others.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! [Matthew 23:13, 14, 15, 23, 25, 27, 29]

Seven times (and more) Jesus pronounces woe, condemnation, upon them, calling them hypocrites and blind. His words are for everyone so do not think or feel absolved because you do not have the position or consider yourself a teacher. We are all teachers and students.

A hypocrite is an actor, someone who puts on a show for those observing. They are one way when alone or with certain people but a completely different when before an audience. They might consider God their audience and try influencing His thinking about them through their actions and words. They may try to earn their way into His grace, cheapening grace and inviting His disdain. However, most hypocrites act godly and knowledgeable before people to impress them not God. People they can touch and manipulate. God they can neither touch nor manipulate.

Actors are hypocrites, taking upon themselves the characteristics and personality of a fictional person in order to fool or entertain. Trained and experienced actors are believable. So, too, training and experience helps the teacher who wishes to instruct and disciple their pupils. Many teachers have learned to put on a show to empress their students or give them something to remember. Mostly, actors, hypocrites, want their audience to remember them.

We want to believe those who are formal teachers impart instruction from knowledge and righteous motivations. They are teachers by profession or decision and carry the weight of authority behind the knowledge they have gathered, processed and retained. Teachers are smarter than we are, so many think, and their teaching should never be questioned, except by other teachers. Those who belong to a professional association may have academic freedom but are still encouraged to follow the guidelines of their associates. This is important to maintain their professional standing and recognition. So, the scribes and Pharisees belonged to their professional association and dare not think against the standards imposed for fear of being rejected. Nothing has changed.

Scripture places tremendous responsibility upon teachers. “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” [James 3:1 ESV]. Those who are formal teachers will be judged by a greater standard than those who are not recognized as teachers. But God has made us all teachers and we are all held to a greater standard, God’s standard.

Sin makes us all hypocrites. We all try to show others we are something we are not, hoping they will not see our true selves. We all try to fool God and only fool ourselves, even believing the lie we tell ourselves. Those who think they can earn or buy righteousness have missed the first demand of God, poverty of spirit. God demands, never asks, the sinner recognize and own their sin. He demands, never asks, they realize the consequences of their sin, which is separation from Him. He demands, never asks, they submit to Him unconditionally. Doing these three things will drive a person toward God. They will hunger and thirst for righteousness and will love Him.

Every person, as they live and breathe and act and speak, leaves evidence for what they hunger and thirst. Do they hunger and thirst for righteousness or unrighteousness? Are they self-righteous or given righteousness by God? Those who have studied God and His Word who then refuse to listen to what He is saying and revealing, changing the Word’s meaning and message into something they control, are hypocrites, not students of His, and face His wrath. Conversely, those who submit to Him and listen to Him and obey Him are called His.

Worship

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. [Romans 12:1-2 ESV]

God uses a specific word to describe our relationship with Him.

“Worship.”

Worship is an act of sacrifice designed and implemented to show honor and respect for God. I do not believe this is what God originally intended. God created man in His image so all might naturally serve Him showing their respect and adoration. Enter sin and with it is corruption, like a drop of poison in a gallon of water, every molecule is affected.

In the Hebrew Scripture, in the Mosaic Law, worship was regulated. Acceptable worship was well defined by God when He brought His people out of Egypt, a symbol of the world, into the Promised Land, Israel, a symbol of His kingdom. He gave the Law, the written code, to teach those who claimed to be His about sin and the need for His grace. They were given severe restrictions on appropriate and inappropriate acts of service and sacrifice. Nothing about the Law was designed it give any a means of earning God’s love and affection. Nothing any could do in following the Law would absolve them of the affects sin had upon their complete nature and person.

God looks at the thinking of the heart. Our actions and motivations are revealed in our worship of Him, or lack of worship of Him. Now worship requires sacrifice.

Yet, it was not through the blood of bulls and goats (see Hebrews 10:4) any would be justified or declared righteous in His presence. Only by His grace, His action, His will, would any be freed from the sentence of death demanded as judgment for sin. Only the sacrifice of His Son in our place would payment for the penalty demanded by God’s judgment by satisfied. His sacrifice is an example for us of the type of sacrifice God seeks from those who are His. “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” [1 Peter 2:21 ESV].

Jesus gave everything for us, setting aside His glory and position to become a servant as we are meant to be as a citizen of His kingdom. He demands nothing less than everything from us. This is not a demand issued by a malevolent dictator God upon a subservient, dehumanized people. This is an expectation of a benevolent God for a people made whole and loved by Him who, in turn, loves Him.

Sacrifice given in love defeats the worldly attributes of sin and its demands filled with unreasonable expectations for some assumed return.

We love Him because He loved us first, showing His love through the total giving of Jesus with no demand for payment or earned merit. Our sacrifice for Him, a total giving of self, is done because of the absolute intimacy shared and had with Him.

Intimacy grows the closer two come to each other. We are to test the world around us and ourselves so we might know ourselves, created in His image and remade in the likeness of Christ at rebirth. He changes us as we seek Him out. Our point of view changes as we change, as we confront and reject the lie of sin which surrounds us in the world, which tempts us though those we encounter, which tugs and pulls our very flesh. He changes the thinking of our hearts giving us His truth, driving us away from the world and drawing us toward Him, the source of eternal life.

Here is the downfall of many who think they know God by following perceived rules devoid of grace. They know the rules intellectually but do not know Him intimately, the One who is the rules, the eternal Law. Following the rules steadfastly, or at least a worldly understanding of the rules, gives a sense of control which is a subconscious manipulation of God, with the assumption God will tangibly reward those who keep them. Instead of sacrificing themselves to God, an act of loving worship and service, which results in freedom from the sentence of sin and intimacy with Him, they sacrifice a relationship with Him for control. How easy it is to lose sight of Him by seeing only the words.

 

His Righteousness

For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 5:20 ESV]

Everyone teaches what they know and believe, or that they can’t don’t know and refuse to believe, about God to everyone around. Our view of God and what we believe about Him is shown in the evidence of our lives, our words and attitudes. Those who watch us, especially God because He sees and knows everything, will see our worldview, the evidence of our lives, and draw a conclusion about our relationship with the One who made us and owns us. What we do will reflect who we are and who we are will influence in some way all with whom we come in contact.

Throughout His public life Jesus confronts the recognized teachers of His time, those who traditionally held authority over the people. He measures them against the standard of His life and God’s righteousness and demands the citizen of the kingdom of heaven surpass their measure of conduct. Their righteousness, which Jesus challenged on every occasion, is judged self-righteous, an attitude and motivation diametrically opposed to those who are poor in spirit.

Being poor in spirit is the first and deciding element in the eternal characteristic of the citizen of the kingdom of heaven. Before anyone becomes a citizen of the kingdom of heaven they must recognize the truth of sin, especially in themselves, and must hate sin. Those who are rich in spirit, motivated by self-righteousness, reject the truth declared by God that all sinned before Him in Adam and are themselves sinful. If the thinking of the heart demands God recognize their individual works as righteous then they do not need the sacrifice of Christ and reject the teachings of Scripture. Citizens of the kingdom of heaven serve God from love not the irrational expectation their works deserve eternal merit.

Jesus, teaching in the Temple during the days just before His crucifixion and resurrection, challenges the people to test the teachings of God and their spiritual leaders. Actually, the spiritual leaders try to test Jesus, to punch holes in His arguments and find flaws in His teachings, setting Him up for criminal charges. Over and again He answers them, finally silencing them. Knowing His time is short He contests their authority and their teaching.

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice.” [Matthew 23:1-3 ESV; read Jesus’ woes from 23:1-36.]

He shows how the Scribes and Pharisees, who sit on Moses’ seat, teach the opposite of what God wants taught. They love the places of honor, are self-righteous not poor in spirit. They seek out converts to Judaism and then teach them to sin against God, to ignore the consequences of sin and self-righteousness. They teach people to not value God and what He is doing instead focusing upon the temporal and worldly, and taking control instead of relinquishing control to God. They hold to the minutia of their interpretations of the law refusing to hunger and thirst after the Lawgiver. They show no mercy, no active love to those with whom God desires an eternal relationship, cleaning the outside of the cup and ignoring the demand for purity on the inside, something only God can give. They follow in the steps of those before who murdered the prophets, those who hate sin and spoke the truth about God to a people who refused to listen, by refusing to listen to God in their presence. They will kill Him like they killed the prophets. But they cannot keep Him dead any more than they can suppress His teaching.

We are faced with Jesus’ most severe warning against self-righteousness. He commands we recognize and embrace our poverty of spirit. Either we are eternal, living for God who is the source of life, in His presence, or away from Him, existing in death away from the source of life.

Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” [Matthew 23:36-39 ESV]

 

Teaching Children

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! [Matthew 18:1-7 ESV]

We are all teachers, by what we do, say, think and feel. Everything we do teaches others about what we think and feel regarding God and His Son. Nothing is hidden from God. Though we are the finest actor who has ever lived, able to fool crowds, even to the point of convincing ourselves we are what we are not, God knows who we truly are.

We want to control God, our world, our relationships our own lives. Anyone who thinks they do not want control is either lying to themselves and others, a self-righteous dishonesty, or deluded. Not only do we want to control God, or at least wrench control from Him, but we want those around us to think well of us, respect us, or fear us.

One of the hazards of teaching is allowing others to put us on a pedestal. Every teachers faces this hazard sometimes succumbing to its subtle influences, which tugs and pulls them into thinking more highly of themselves than they ought. This is a form of control. Remember, everyone is a teacher even if they do not think they are. We teach more by actions and motivations than words.

In Matthew 5:19 Jesus states flatly, without pretense, everyone who teaches about God’s will is either thought of by God as great in the kingdom or is placed as the least in the kingdom. His criteria for judgment is profound.

Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. i [Matthew 5:19 ESV]

“Relaxes” means to loose, melt, or put off. Those who live according to the will of God, to whom they belong, teach others by example how to live with and for Him. Jesus’ words almost imply there are levels in heaven where some can earn greater prestige in this life. We know nothing we do carries merit in God’s eyes. We cannot earn our citizenship or place in eternity. This does not mean God will not lift up those who live righteously. He is preparing us for eternity. This does mean our obedience to Him is important for the here and now and for eternity. We are commanded to live according to truth given to us in nature, the evidence of God’s work, through His Word, Jesus Christ, and through the teaching and direction of the Holy Spirit. We are not partners with Him but obedient servants of His, seen as adopted children.

In order to teach truth the person must be filled with truth, understand how truth works and how it affects every facet of life. Learning to recognize truth is more important than recognizing sin, or a lie or ungodliness. This means learning to test all things against truth, even the motivations and attitudes of the heart.

We cannot judge greatness in the kingdom by the standards of the world. Being great in the kingdom of heaven means sacrificing the world’s standards and living according to God’s, even when it brings persecution.

Jesus’ disciples wanted to know who was the greatest in the kingdom, obviously wondering which one of them would fill the spot. How arrogant. They were standing in the presence of God, the King of the kingdom, and they had the audacity to ask such a question. But, Jesus did not come to exalt Himself but to take upon Himself the sentence of death for all. He placed a child in front of them and told them who the greatest was. All who enter the kingdom are the greatest.

Then He warned them. Since all you do, all you think, all you feel, all which motivates you, is taught to all around you, especially children, who by their very innocence (though they are the greatest of sinners) love God, be mindful and aware of how you are living. They will copy you. You will be held accountable. You’re best practice is to know God, not just intellectually but intimately, with your whole person. We are not citizens of the kingdom of the world but of heaven. As His servants we do and by doing teach others to do His will.

Confirming Evidence

Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  [Matthew 5:19-20 ESV]

With these two verses Jesus closes a circle begun with His first statement “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” [Matthew 5:3 ESV]. Within the circle are all of the characteristics God is building into the citizen of the kingdom of heaven. Outside of the circle is eternity. Like God, who transcends space and time, each Christian, as they grow and spiritually mature, will transcend the circle. This does not mean the qualities God is building into those who are His will no longer be necessary, as if anyone can grow out of being poor in spirit or no longer hunger and thirst for righteousness. Once emplaced these characteristics do not change. They do form the eternal foundation, laid in space and time, for the whole person who lives for eternity.

Everyone is a teacher. Everything done reveals what has been taught, what has been learned, and teaches in some way lessons to all with whom we come in contact. Our training is evident, the evidence of our training scattered with every step, gesture, word and thought. From the earliest training given by those who raise us to the right now impacts us for eternity. Our thinking and decisions, what we are right now allowing or giving permission to enter our life, influences who we are and what we will become. God may define who we and direct our development  but we still have  responsibility for our actions and reactions.

You teach others what you believe whether you are aware or care. Those who are poor in spirit have recognized the reality of sin in their lives, the world and those around them. They love the truth and hate sin. They confront sin and the lie behind it as part of their spiritual nature.

Being poor in spirit, with its characteristic and motivations, is only the beginning, the first step, in the call and life of the citizen of God’s kingdom. Each step which follows, each of the characteristics and motivations Jesus describes, He builds into the person making them whole and fitting them for eternity with Him. Though He does this with the individual we are part of a whole, a member of the body of Christ, where one piece influences and affects all others. We do not live independently from Christ or separated from the Church.

We are also His witnesses in this world for His righteousness and goodness. Who we are, what motivates us, all we do, all we are is critical to our witness. As servants, owned by Him, He governs us and gives each a purpose, being salt and light, showing His love, His mercy, purity and peace. What you do reflects who you are and dictates what you will become. How well we learn the lessons taught, conforming to the straightness of His will for us, is seen in the influence we have on those around us.  God is deepening our relationship with Him and strengthening our relationship with others at the same time. Being a citizen of His kingdom is not for the lazy but the diligent. There are no shortcuts.

Midway through His time, as Jesus prepared His disciples before sending them out, His instructions were explicit and definitive. Here are the people you are to teach. Go to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” [Matthew 10:6 EV]. Later, He would send them throughout the world.

Should those of the world accept you, good. Should they reject you “shake the dust from your feet” [Matthew 10:14 ESV] as you leave. People will reject you, persecute and drag you into court, and kill you. Your message is clear. “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” [Matthew 10:7 ESV and many other places]. You are citizens of the kingdom of heaven. Act like citizens of the kingdom of heaven not like citizens of the fallen world. Why? “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master” [Matthew 10:24-25 ESV].

Preparation for eternity is preparation to be like Him for eternity. What we do right now counts.