A Walk Through Acts
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: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
The great heresy of the "Theology of this Age" and its gospel is that wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to eternal life. In other words, the way to obtain eternal life is easy because the path to take is so wide and roomy to walk upon. You can do just about anything you want, or think just about anything you want to think, to obtain eternal life.
However, scripture is very clear. The instructions on entering and seeing the kingdom of God are quite specific. It involves trust in Jesus Christ and obedience to His commands given through the apostles by the Spirit (Acts 1:2) -- obedience to the commands of the gospel that the apostles preached. This gospel of Jesus Christ is summed up in the three-fold witness that is one act of obedience: Repentance, baptism in the name of Jesus to the forgiveness of sins, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. This is the New Covenant to His church, but it is actually a greater revelation of the components (elements) of the Old Covenant which always included: the blood, the water, and the Spirit (1 John 5:8).
The heresy of this day is that many believe that they are not required to obey these commands of old, given by the apostles. They believe in their own works and their own understandings and they reject the knowledge that is graciously given to them. The sad part is that this heresy has also infiltrated what many popularly call "Christianity" and has caused "Christianity" to leave their first love. Jesus addresses this in Apocalypse (Revelation) 2:4-5 and tells the church of the Ephesians to repent and do the first works. Ohhh, that we would return to our root and the obedience thereof!
Because of this reality, I have come to see that the narrow gate and the narrow way is very, very narrow. It is as narrow as an eye of a needle, so to speak. That’s the bad news, but the good news is that Jesus has made the seemingly impossible, possible for those who will simply trust and obey Him and His gospel.
Hosea 4:6 – My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. [Emphasis added are mine]
Notice that His people are severed from Him for lack of knowledge, but not simply for the lack of knowledge. His people spurned and rejected His knowledge. Though they know His law (teachings or commands) they do not trust and obey the teachings and commands of God. So God spurns them and their sons.
Galatians 5: 5-7 – For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? [Emphasis added are mine]
Why do we not obey the truth? Who hinders us from trusting the simplicity of this gospel?
I Peter 4:17 – For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? [Emphasis added are mine]
It is difficult enough for the just to be saved by trusting & obeying the gospel, but what will be the end to those who disbelieve? To disbelieve the gospel is evidenced by your lack of obedience, because faith and obedience go hand in hand, working together to appropriate the salvation that He has made available to you.
II Thessalonians 1:8,9 – In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; [Emphasis added are mine]
I can’t understand how someone can say they "know" God and still refuse to obey His gospel. Obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is paramount and essential to knowing Him. You come to know Him and His ways by obeying Him. How can you ever come to know God if you distrust him? The scriptures reveal that those who do not obey His gospel have a fiery vengeance awaiting them. Why will men not trust and obey if the gospel is so simple to respond to?
Sadly, men are simply not ready to surrender all and give their life whole-heartedly to Jesus. Make no mistake. That is what is necessary. These men spurn knowledge and walk in their own understanding of God and His requirements. Men think that because they believe He is real and actually the Son of God that they are saved. Men think that if they pray the "sinner's prayer" that they have eternal life and are born again. They believe they are obligated to do nothing because they have "received Jesus in their hearts"... or so they think.
Again, the pattern of recognition of someone being born again, resulting in the receiving the indwelling Spirit of God is unmistakable. All the apostles preached and expected listeners to repent [to turn from their own ways and turn to God]. They expected all those who repented to be baptized in the name of Jesus to the forgiveness of sins. Lastly, they expected them to receive the Spirit as evidenced by them speaking in a previously unknown tongue (read: A Walk Through Acts). This was the evidence that the Spirit (Jesus) now resides in that individual.
It amazes me how so many people will take only one scripture, for instance the most popular verse of scripture John 3:16, and hold to it to explain their salvation. In this instance of John 3:16, however, people conveniently forget what precipitated that verse. Jesus explained to Nicodemus that a man must be born again before seeing the kingdom of God. He then broke it down and said to be born again you must be born of the water and of the Spirit to enter the kingdom of God [read: Receiving the Spirit]. Before you get to John 3:16, you have to look at what Jesus established in the beginning of that chapter as the foundation for saying what He said in John 3:16.
John 17:20-26 – Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. [Emphasis added are mine]
We must understand that Jesus gave commandments to the apostles. During the days of His flesh, He prayed for those who would listen to apostle’s words and trust. He prayed for us (those who would come after the apostles) who would trust in their word so that we would all be one (Ephesians 4:4-6). This the where the term apostolic comes from. Believing in Jesus and the words He spoke through His apostles. Jesus would be in us, to be one in Him... we would have the glory that was given Him, being completed in one; that the love which He was loved would be in us as well.
Look at what Paul said and the authority in which he said it.
I Corinthians 14:37 – If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. [Emphasis added are mine]
If someone is going to say that he himself is a prophet or spiritual in some sense, and if it were true, he is obligated to agree and not contradict what Paul preached and taught. Which is why in Acts 15, you had Paul, Peter and James all agreeing on the issue of the doctrine of salvation. That is what the Spirit does through His people. They are in unity, one mind, and one accord in the trust (faith), especially on an issue that is so crucial and foundational to our walk of faith.
II Peter 3:1-3 – This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, [Emphasis added are mine]
Now we have Peter saying the same thing Paul said in different words. Remember the words that the prophets and, us, the apostles, have told you to be true and walk in them. Because others will come to deceive - walking, preaching, and teaching after their own lusts.
Galatians 1:8-9 – But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. [Emphasis added are mine]
The issue of the authority of the apostles and trusting in their word as the actual commands of Lord Jesus was so serious that Paul said here, if we or an angel preach anything different to you, consider him accursed. If anyone preaches different than what you previously received from our words, he is cursed. The gospel was uncompromisable in the eyes of the apostles and was a very serious heaven or hell issue. Today, the true gospel should be just as uncompromisable as it was in the past. No changes whatsoever should be accepted. We live in an age, however, where the popular gospel that is preached is far different and more lax than what the apostles preached and many souls are being led astray for that reason. I read a quote recently referring to what a man must do to be saved that asked, "If the question has not changed, why should the answer?" ...a very good question indeed.
II Corinthians 11:4,13-15 – For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. [Emphasis added are mine]
Here, Paul is saying that if someone comes to you and preaches another Jesus or if you receive another spirit (different from the Holy Spirit that we see received in Acts) or if you accept a different gospel than what Paul and the other apostles preached, he is nothing but a pseudo apostle (phony apostle) who works to deceive you. The problem was that the Corinthians were tolerating these phony apostles and their gospel, even after having trusted the true gospel which Paul preached to them. These phony apostles were actually working for satan making themselves to be as angels of light or ministers of justness (righteousness). This is serious business. If anything is preached differently than what the apostles preached, he is nothing but a phony preacher and should not be tolerated in any manner.
II Peter 2:1-3,17 – But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. [Emphasis added are mine]
Peter then takes the opportunity to describe these same people Paul just described. These people who preach contrary to the apostles' original gospel were phony prophets and phony teachers who were introducing destructive heresies, even denying Lord Jesus who purchased them. They blasphemed the way of truth because they altered it. These phonies were waterless fountains (people without the Spirit) trying to instruct the masses. Can you see this happening in the age we live in? I don't know about you, but I see it all around.
Paul truly finalizes this issue in the last chapter of Romans.
Romans 16:17-20;25-27 – Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen. [Emphasis added are mine]
Paul instructs them to watch out for those who cause divisions and scandals among you and avoid them because they teach against what you learned from me. Those who teach against my gospel do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ. They seduce the hearts of the simple. Paul makes a point that their obedience to what he has taught them is what is spreading and setting an example for others. He then prays that the grace of Lord Jesus Christ be with them. This is the prayer that the Holy Spirit remain with them, that their faith would not fail. He is the one that is able to establish them according to the gospel Paul preached of Jesus Christ to the obedience of their trust.
I John 4:6 – We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. [Emphasis added are mine]
John said that we, the apostles, are of God. Whoever knows God hears us and what we have to say [Does Cornelius in Acts 10 come to mind?]. But whoever is not of God doesn’t hear us and doesn’t obey [Remember Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8]. This is how you know the spirit of truth from the spirit of error (seduction). They who hear the words of the apostles and obey are led by the spirit of truth and they who do not hear and obey the apostles are led by the spirit of error.
For those of you who know the scriptures and disagree, I ask of you to be like the Bereans.
Acts 17:11,12 – These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. [Emphasis added are mine]
Search out the scriptures, asking Jesus, if what is said here is true. For those of you who have received the Spirit and disagree, ask Jesus to witness to you of the true roots, origins and history of the church birthed in Acts.
I would never advocate anyone to follow the teaching of any man. I do advocate that men and women follow and seek after Him and His truth. It is very evident, however, that the apostles were given commandments [Acts 1:2] from the Commander in Chief Himself. And much like the prophets before them, they were mouthpieces by Jesus' Spirit sharing God's word to men.
Jesus made it simple. Trust on Him and no one else. Repent, be baptized in His name, Jesus, that your sins may be forgiven, and receive the Holy Spirit. This is the New Covenant and the means whereby which He saves you. Through your trust and obedience to this, He performs a righteous work; A work not on the part of man, but a repentant response to His calling.
Titus 3:5-7 – Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. [Emphasis added are mine]
For those of you that feel that I’m keeping the law or going by the letter of the law, this is what He says about guarding His word:
John 8:51 – Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
John 14:23-24 – Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.
John 15:9-11 – As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. [Emphasis added are mine]
I will obey the commandments of God because I love Him, and not for any other reason. Whether the commands comes from the apostles, the word, or by the Spirit, they originate from the same source – Jesus. For those of you who say that you love Him, then I’m sure you will want to guard His commandments as well. I speak all this to you in love that you may be filled with the Holy Spirit in righteousness, peace, and joy in Him.
But the truth of the matter is, it starts with a decision in your own heart. Whom will you follow?
The Lord Jesus Christ or man?
Luke 13:23-24 – Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. [Emphasis added are mine]
I pray that you strive to enter through the narrow gate. Strive and wrestle to go through the narrow gate. The narrow gate may be the tribulated way, nevertheless, it is the way that leads to eternal life in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Revelation, grace, and peace to you always... in the name of Jesus!
© copyright 2000, revised 2011 Jesus M. Ruiz