One source of Bethlehem's intensity is the deep conviction that spiritual vigilance is necessary for perseverance. And perseverance is necessary for final salvation. “He who endures to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13).
Our earnestness comes from the conviction that the shadow of the cross only falls on the footsteps of Jesus. If we follow another leader, it is presumption to claim to be covered by the blood of Jesus. (1 John 1:7)
Here is why we believe this.
1) “Do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father'; for I tell you God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.” (Matthew 3:9)
God is never cornered by human presumption. If we think we have him over a barrel, we may be sure it will crash upon our own heads. The Pharisees said to John, “Your threats do not apply to us. We are Jews. Jews are heirs of the promise.” John said, “The axe is laid to the root of your presumptuous tree.”
2) “Strive for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. . . See to it that no root of bitterness spring up.” (Hebrews 12:14-15)
What is this dangerous root of bitterness? Deuteronomy 29:18-19 gives the answer:
Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, one who, when he bears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, 'I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of heart.'
The root of bitterness is presumption. It says, “I shall be safe though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.”
3) “ We must not put the Lord to the test, as some of the Israelites did and were destroyed by serpents. . . Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:9, 12).
Moral and spiritual vigilance is God's appointed way to glory. Self satisfied presumption will fall.
Life is very serious. “Serious” is the opposite of trivial not happy. In fact what makes us so serious about life is that there is nothing in all the universe that we want more than to be happy in God for ever and ever.