[forthright] Trick or Treat!

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2006 15:26:30 -0600
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross


COLUMN: Square One

Trick or Treat!
by Richard Mansel

On Halloween night children go door-to-door
crying, "Trick or treat!" The resident of the home
distributes candy, thus saving their belongings
from mischief.

With Halloween here, the phrase can be borrowed
and application can be made to people's use of
Scripture. What will they find when they come to
the judgment day?

Jesus offers an abundant life (John 10:10) while
Satan offers an eternity in hell (Matthew 25:41).
Satan will say and do anything to pull people away
from God (1 John 2:15,16; Ephesians 6:10-17).

One of Satan's most successful ploys is to
convince men that false doctrines are actually
correct (cf. Genesis 3:2-6). His persuasive nature
leads them to be completely faithful to these
false doctrines. When they come to the throne of
judgment, will they find they have been faithful
and receive the treat of heaven or realize they
have been tricked?

Consider the following doctrines.

First, many believe that faith alone will save
them. They claim that any action (work) on their
part will condemn their souls. We are indeed saved
by grace (Ephesians 2:8,9). Yet, obedience is a
necessary part of discipleship (Ephesians 2:10).
Obedience cannot save us, but its absence will
condemn us.

We only read once in Scripture of "faith alone,"
and it is condemning the belief (James 2:14). We
will be judged on the last day by our works
(Revelation 20:11-15). So when we come before the
throne of God with "faith only," will we find a
treat or that we have been tricked?

Second, many believe that we cannot all understand
the Bible alike. They say that we all have our own
opinions of Scripture and they are all equally
valid. Jesus said, "You shall know the truth and
the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32, NKJV).

Jesus said that we would be judged by his words
(John 12:48). Scripture provides all that we need
for doctrine and salvation (2 Timothy 3:16,17).
This doctrine insinuates that God was not smart
enough to provide an understandable book. So when
we come before the throne of God with this
doctrine, will we find a treat or a trick? Will we
find Satan laughing or the angels rejoicing?

Third, God will understand how busy I am. God will
understand I was too busy to worship or serve him.
He will understand that I had to attend with my
relatives at their denomination. He will
understand I could not give because I had so many
"important" things to buy. He will understand that
I had to have that person despite it destroying my
marriage. And on and on it goes. In order to find
peace in their hearts, men will rationalize and
justify their behavior until they feel right.

Jesus said, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let
him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow
Me" (Mark 8:34). He will accept no excuses (Luke
14:16-24). When we come before the throne of God
with our excuses, will we find a treat or realize
we have been tricked?

Fourth, there is enough time to make things right.
Our lives are as tenuous as the shroud of morning
fog and the dew on the grass (James 4:14). Psalm
90:9 says, "We finish our years like a sigh." We
do not have the luxury of time to make things
right. Death can come at any moment (Hebrews 9:27;
2 Corinthians 6:2). So, if the judgment day comes
before we have made things right with God, will we
find a treat or that we have been tricked?

The treat of heaven comes from the God who cannot
lie and is perfectly good (Titus 1:2; Exodus 34:6;
1 John 1:5). And the tricks come from Satan, the
"father of lies" (John 8:44). How surprising is
that?

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