15 Inches from Heaven- Mark 12:28-34
The Pharisees & Herodians had come to Jesus to try to trip him up in his words and cause him embarrassment and grief. They asked him about paying tribute and his classic answer that we should render to Caesar what was Caesars and to God what was God’s shut their mouths. Then the Saducees took their turn with the subject of the Resurrection. They invented a hypothetical situation about 7 brothers who were eventually married to the same woman and asked whose wife she would be in heaven. Of course Jesus again silenced them by making the point that our earthly family relationships will not be exactly the same in heaven; family as we know it is not forever. Now there was a Scribe there who had been listening as Jesus answered the Pharisees & Saducees. He knew they had been deliberately trying to trip him up realized that Jesus had handled himself very well indeed, so he decided to get in on the discussion. He asked Jesus, “Which is the First commandment of all?” In other words, which one is most important and takes precedence over all others? Jesus gave his reply that the greatest commandment of all was to Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and soul, and mind and strength. The Scribe realized that once again Jesus had answered well and he said, “Well, Master thou hast said the truth for there is one God and none other and to love him supremely is more important than all the ceremonial rituals that one can go through”
Mark records that Jesus saw that he had answered “discreetly” ( carefully, judiciously, saying just enough, not too much)
He Admitted the truth of what Jesus said, but did not Commit himself to it.
Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” Think about that for a moment. Just how close was he? Just 15 inches. Just as far as it is from the head to the heart.
John Gill wrote this: Indeed there are some persons, who seem not far from the kingdom of God, who will never enter into it: there are some that seem very devout and religious; hear the word, join themselves with a church, live a moral life and yet are destitute of the grace of God: yea, there are some who make a profession of the Gospel and yet have no experience of the power of it upon their hearts; such are “almost Christians,” but not altogether; they are virgins like those in the parable, but they are foolish ones; they have lamps, but no oil; they come as far as the door, but find that the door is shut upon them.
Oh, the terrible danger of Having the Knowledge of Salvation in your head, but not having it in your heart.
Oh, the terrible danger of having the truth of God’s Word in head, but not in your heart.
Oh, the terrible danger of trying to serve the Lord with the head and not with the heart.
I. Reluctant Rejection.
There are those who know enough about Jesus Christ to be saved. They know about his Birth, Life, Ministry, Death, Resurrection, Ascension. They know enough about the Bible to be saved. They know about need to repent of sin & accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of their life. They know enough about the Christian life to live it. They know about the need to surrender their life to God and about the commitment of holy living. They know about the Godly lifestyle presented in the Bible. BUT its only in their HEAD, but not in their HEART.
Therefore, they do not Hate God or the church; do not hate the preacher & all Christians; do not curse or blaspheme God, they wouldn’t think of doing that. Still, they are not ready to really give their heart and life to the Lord. They practice Reluctant Rejection. “I know I should. I know I need to. I know I ought to. BUT.....
They are like king Agrippa who Knew that he should repent and be saved but he held back and said, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” A Reluctant Rejection.
They are only 15 inches from heaven. They need to get it from their head into their heart.
II. Self Righteous Religion.
Some feel they have it all figured out. There are certain things they should not do and certain things they should do and if they follow that plan then everything must be All Right. But, their life is not committed to God. They are not sold out to the Lord in complete surrender. They constantly try to Reason out their Salvation- Reason out their Devotion- Reason out their Commitment.
If I do this- I’ll still be all right.
If I do that- I’ll still be all right.
As long as I don’t do that- I’ll still be all right.
If no one knows I do that- well, I’ll still be all right.
Sadly, that’s the extent of their church attendance- the extent of their giving- the only purpose in some of their behavior- Rituals they are going through- at least to Appear Religious.
Surprised how many people really think they can make their own way to God and to heaven.
Cain thought he could.
Esau thought he could.
King Saul thought he could.
Pretty well entire Jewish nation thought they could.
Many devoted Catholic’s- Mormons- J W’s- Christian Scientists- Unitarians think they can.
So do some Lutherans- Methodists- Presbyterians- Baptists.
So do some who claim to be Pentecostals.
So do some right in our Holiness Pentecostal Churches.
They have Head Religion but not Heart religion. They think that all is well just because they Know it in their head, but it’s just Self Righteous religion. They are only 15 inches from heaven! They need to get it from their head to their heart.
III. Compromised Convictions.
If you have head religion and not heart religion, you will eventually compromise the convictions you one time claimed to believe. We all know what it is to get pressure about what we believe- why we believe it- how we live- why we live that way- why we do what we do and don’t do- what we wear and don’t wear- where we go and don’t go- what we participate in don’t participate in...
When the pressure comes if it’s only in your head and not in your heart you will cave in and surrender to the pressure. When the ridicule comes- when the arguments come- when those so called “christians” try to persuade you that your convictions are not necessary, If it’s only in your head you will compromise.
That’s why some Christian men have given in to viewing pornography and some to drinking alcohol.
That’s why some Christian women have given in to wearing immodest clothing and are decorating themselves with jewelry.
They are caving in to the pressure of the world around them: co-workers, fellow students, business associates, friends and even family members.
You need to have your Salvation experience in Your Heart!
You need to have your Christian life settled in your Heart!
You need to have your Convictions rooted in your heart!
Hear me today, there are No Shortcuts to Heaven!
We are all going to have to be Born Again to go to heaven.
We all must have our Hearts cleansed by the Blood of Jesus. Our heart, our spirit, must be Saved, Regenerated, Cleansed from Sin.
We must hide God’s Word in heart so that we do not sin against God.
We must love God with ALL our heart, soul, mind & strength.
We must have Holiness in our heart so that we are living a holy life to PLEASE the LORD and to be Ready for Rapture.
Paul spoke in Romans 1 of those who “KNEW GOD- but glorified him not as God- became vain in their imaginations and their foolish heart was darkened.”
James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
Mat. 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
Eph 6:6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.
Are you just 15 inches from Heaven to day? Does the experience you have exist only in your head and not in your heart?
Bro. Dwain Galiher
Pastor of JHPC