How Do I Make the Cut?

As part of our current sermon series, The Gospel, I invited our church to read through the gospels over the next 40 days. In today’s reading (Matthew 24-25), Jesus is teaching on His return with vivid imagery and language.

In chapter 24, He describes the suffering and tribulation that will precede His return and reveals the nearness of His return. Then, in chapter 25, He tells a series of parables to encourage His disciples and others to be prepared for His return.

Pretty intense stuff. Someone should write a series of novels about Jesus’ return and then make a movie about it with Kirk Cameron starring. Oh wait… 🙂

For many of us, when we read Jesus’ words here, our panicked thought is, “What must I do so I make the cut when Jesus returns?” At first glance, it appears Jesus answers with increasing clarity in chapter 25.

He starts off talking about virgins and a bridegroom. Most of us say, “Huh?” Then, He talks about servants multiplying their master’s investment in them. Okay. “Still don’t get it,” we say. “Just tell us the answer, Jesus!

Then, it appears He gives us the silver bullet answer. In v. 31-40, it looks like Jesus says, “serve those in need and you’ll make the cut.” Ah ha…that’s it!

  • Feed the hungry
  • Give out bottled water
  • Donate clothes to Goodwill
  • Invite the lonely guy down the street over for dinner
  • Visit prisoners and sick people

So, we get to work. But, it’s not long into doing this work that we miss an opportunity…maybe lots of opportunities. And then we start to worry…“Am I going to make it? If Jesus comes back tonight, will I get in? Have I done enough?”

The good news is, Jesus never said, “Get to work so that when I return, you’ll make the cut.” His point here is the exact opposite: those who will be with Jesus do not get in because of what they have done for Jesus, but because of what Jesus has done for them.

The righteous are not welcomed into God’s kingdom because of their works of compassion; rather, their works of compassion are evidence that their hearts have been and are being transformed by Jesus. The righteous are declared righteous because they have trusted Jesus and His righteous life, wrath-bearing death, and victorious resurrection on their behalf.

As we abide in Jesus and His love for us, His heart, compassion, and life are reproduced in us. We live with compassion for others not so Jesus will accept us, but because we have already been accepted by Him. He lives in us and His life is reflected in our lives.

Those who are welcomed into Jesus’ kingdom are surprised at Jesus’ commendation for their compassion (v. 37ff). Weren’t they keeping score? Weren’t they totaling up all they had done for God so they could show Him they are worthy of Heaven? Nope. They were just living out the new life that comes when Jesus moves in.

I love that Jesus said, “When you served others, even though you didn’t even realize it, you were doing it for Me.” You don’t realize it because you don’t serve to gain God’s approval, but because you already have His approval.

So, how do you make the cut? Repent of your works, good and bad, and believe the gospel of Jesus. Then, rest in His love for you and live out the new heart He has given you knowing you are already accepted, approved, and secure in His kingdom.


Friday Five

Five sort of random but important tidbits for your Friday reading enjoyment…

  1. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to predict that the world would end on a specific date and then spend millions of dollars marketing the date all over the world? Wonder if that guy will have trouble sleeping tonight? In all seriousness, for helpful commentary on how to rightly think about Jesus’ return and what to do with this prediction, check out Dr. Albert Mohler, my seminary President, and his thoughts.
  2. I’m really looking forward to preaching part 4 of the Family Vacation series this Sunday at Awaken. I’m praying that God will use this sermon to radically change the direction of marriages and families – I believe He will. Get there and get your friends there for what promises to be a great day!
  3. You can still sign up to be in a Community Group at Awaken. Groups will begin meeting again in June. Don’t miss this chance to connect with others in Awaken, to grow as a follower of Jesus, and to be on mission together in our city. For more on Community Groups at Awaken and to sign-up for one, visit our website.
  4. We are officially inside of 3 weeks until the arrival of Baby Girl Hardwick #3! Excitement is definitely building in our house as we paint rooms, set-up the nursery, get our 2 daughters adjusted to sharing a room, wash and organize baby stuff, etc. Can’t wait to welcome her to our family! We covet your prayers for LB and this new blessing!
  5. Last but not least…I have a HUGE announcement for Awaken on Sunday that will have a major impact on our immediate future and our ability to make God’s name great through lives changed by the gospel. I can’t wait to share what God has done, the opportunity He has given us, and what we believe He’s going to do!

Do We Really Believe What We Are Saying?

As I thought through a blog post compiling my thoughts and links to others’ thoughts on the gospel, universalism, heaven, hell, & Rob Bell, I saw this video from David Platt. Talk about putting it all in perspective. Man, this video and his thoughts messed me up in a very good way.

Stop whatever you are doing and take 5 minutes to watch this. Then, let’s get to work!

Let’s fight against intellectual AND practical universalism by risking it all to take the gospel to all people in all nations…starting on our street, in our workplace, in our school, and in our families.


God is God, and God is Good

Grab a tissue and watch the story of Zac Smith. Allow God to use Zac’s story and example to teach you how to view suffering and circumstances through the lens of God’s sovereignty and character. And of course, pray boldly and confidently for Zac and his family.

If God chooses to heal me, then God is God, and God is good. If God chooses not to heal me and allows me to die, then God is still God, and God is still good. To God be the glory.” – Zac Smith

*if you cannot see the video in the RSS feed, click through to view it on my blog.


He Was Wounded For Our Transgressions

“For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?

And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring;
he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.”

Isaiah 53:2-11 (ESV)

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)


Good Friday Readings

These are the verses that are on my heart as I reflect on Jesus’ horrific death on the cross to pay for my sin. These verses shed a little light on why today is called Good Friday and not Horrific Friday.

For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and now beauty that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his on way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?

And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” :: Isaiah 53:1-10

But God shows his for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” :: Romans 5:8

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” :: 2 Corinthians 5:21

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” :: Colossians 2:13-15

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” :: 1 John 4:10

Jesus took my place.
Jesus paid my debt.
Jesus bore the wrath was mine to bear.
He did it for you, too.

Because of Your love, my debt is paid. Because of Your cross, my sins are washed away. Now all of my life I freely give. Because of Your love. Because of Your love.” :: Phil Wickham, Because of Your Love