Heb 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
The importance of holiness cannot be overstated. Without holiness, you will not see the Lord. Now while it is true that “every eye shall see Him” (Revelation 1:7), it is also true that no one has ever seen God (John 1:18). But Jesus promised that “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). When Jesus returns, He does not return invisibly (as the Jehovah Witnesses mistakenly teach), but most visibly:
Mat 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
All will see Jesus Christ when He returns at His second coming, both saved and unsaved, believer and unbeliever. But seeing Jesus as God in His full glory will be reserved for the “pure in heart,” those who have eagerly pursued holiness (Hebrews 12:14).
I have been expounding or explaining Hebrews 12:14 by means of a much beloved hymn, “Take Time to Be Holy,” and have so far discussed several of its clauses:
Take time to be holy,
Speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always,
And feed on His Word.
(4) Make friends with God’s children;
This is absolutely important, and sometimes sadly lacking in our day. It is essential for all Christians, especially new Christians, to make the right friends. You need Christian friends of all ages. You need Christian friends who will help you grow in your own Christian life.
The right Christian friends will keep you on the right track:
Heb 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
Heb 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Heb 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
True Christian friends will keep track of you, will stay in touch with you, and provide the encouragement and example you need to stay strong in your Christian faith. If you start to slack off in your commitment to Christ, they will lovingly but firmly call you on it.
Note that this process takes place daily, not once a week when you might see them at church. A genuine Christian friend will be there as soon as you need support, encouragement, or correction, before you have had the chance to go too far astray and harden your heart against spiritual things like Christian fellowship, the Bible, and God Himself.
Contrary to those who wrongly teach the false doctrine of “Once saved, always saved,” it is possible for true believers to fail to “hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast to the end” (Hebrews 3:14), a warning against the clear danger of falling into either moral or doctrinal apostasy. Choosing and keeping solid Christian friends and staying in regular contact with them is one way to keep from falling away from your faith in Christ.
Are your closest friends individuals who strengthen your Christian life? If not, and you are a Christian, I suggest that you seek out real Christians, strong Christians, Biblically informed Christians who will be an encouragement to your Christian life. If there are no people like this in your present circle of friends and acquaintances, then I urge you to take the needed steps in your life to find them by going where they are most likely to be found–usually in a strong, vibrant, Bible teaching church which has made the proper provision for Christian fellowship. Unfortunately, most churches do not fit this description. Find one that does.
What if, after a diligent search, and exerting real effort to find such a church, you discover you can find no such church where you live?
I will here directly contradict the assertion of a number of well-known Bible teachers and pastors who claim “There is no such thing as a lone wolf Christian.” Nonsense. Prove to me from the evidence in Scripture that the Ethiopian eunuch who came to firm faith in Christ (Acts 8:37, a verse that might be missing from your Bible). We have no evidence in the Bible or history that he went back home to a vibrant, Bible teaching, Bible believing church that believed in soul winning. That does not mean his spiritual life was doomed to failure. He had a Bible to read and study. And so do you, probably more complete than the one he had at that time. That is all you need. Read and study and obey God’s Word.
Make sure you do not select the wrong friends to be in your life. Wrong friends can do much damage to your life spiritually, emotionally, and even economically.
Paul gave some helpful direction on this theme, but if you, like me, usually read the Bible in the King James Version, you will probably never notice this verse because in the KJV it is poorly translated, at least the KJV English used at 1 Corinthians 15:33 is indecipherable for modern readers. So let me share the verse in modern English:
1Co 15:33 Don’t fool yourselves. Bad friends will destroy you.
That ought to be clear enough!
If you are a Christian and single, having never married, you must take extra care to follow the advice of the Bible and not your emotional attachment or attraction to the wrong kind of friend. You must marry a solid Christian who, if you are a woman, can serve as the spiritual leader in your home. If you are a single Christian man, you must marry a solid Christian woman who shares the positive spiritual values you embrace as a strong believer, and be a strong enough Christian to be the spiritual leader in the home. To fail to follow this advice will stunt the spiritual impact you ought to have on others, and will negatively affect the spiritual lives and destiny of your children as well as generations to follow, to Satan’s delight.
It ought to be obvious just what kinds of friends Christians should make, but just in case you have missed the point, or need more Bible direction and encouragement in this direction, carefully consider Psalm 119:63,
Psa 119:63 I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.
The greatest hindrance to “make friends of God’s children” is the failure of individual Christians and individual church congregations to obey Romans 15:7.
Rom 15:7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.
Rom 15:7 Honor God by accepting each other, as Christ has accepted you. CEV
Rom 15:7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. ESV
Rom 15:7 So then, take one another to your hearts, as Christ took us, to the glory of God. (Bible in Basic English)
Not to receive or welcome or accept one another short-circuits, hinders, the work of God, and will no doubt bring judgment on those who shun others and refuse to make friends of newcomers to their congregation. I would venture to suggest that any church where shunning is practiced is likely a church that is not true to the Bible, and that those who practice this evil are not saved.
Rather, we should “Make friends of God’s children.”