Tuesday, October 10, 2006

the Wimpy Gospel

the Wimpy Gospel

When did our society transform the Gospel of Christ into such an impotent, non-life-changing message? “Ask Jesus into your heart”; “invite Christ into your life”; “accept Jesus as your personal Savior”; “make a decision for Christ.” They sound great, but are they biblical? The call of Christ is one of discipleship, a call to obedience, not merely a call to make a decision for, or to pray a prayer to Him. It is a call that demands repentance in the life of a sinner. This offer of amazing grace is tempered with warnings to those who lived outwardly religious lives, without an inward change associated with true righteousness (Matthew 7:13-23).

“Contemporary Christians have been conditioned to believe that because they recited a prayer, signed on a dotted line, walked an aisle, or had some other experience, they are saved and should never question their salvation. I have attended evangelism training seminars where counselors were taught to tell ‘converts’ that any doubt about their salvation is satanic and should be dismissed. It is a widely held misconception that anyone who questions whether he or she is saved is challenging the integrity of God’s Word.” [The Gospel According to Jesus, by John F. Macarthur, page 29]

Although the Bible calls believers to have confidence in their justification, many churches have distorted this exhortation, basing the confidence instead on the extra-biblical philosophies of man, noted in the above paragraph. This has led many to falsely trust in an eternal justification before God that simply is not there. After “signing the dotted line,” or “praying the sinner’s prayer” at the request of their pastor, they continue about their daily lives without evidence of a changed life. In their eyes, the offer of grace is viewed as an eternal insurance policy, rather than as an instrument intended to lead them to repentance (Romans 2:4). In writing all of this, I do not mean to imply that we cannot be certain of our salvation, because the Bible emphatically says, both directly and indirectly, that we can be, in numerous verses (Nehemiah 9:16-19; Psalm 31:23; Jeremiah 32:38-42; John 6:37-40; John 17:11; Ephesians 1:11-14; Philippians 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5; 2 Timothy 1:12; Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 10:14; 1 Peter 1:3-5).

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

Luke 6:44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.

1 John 3:10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

James 2:14-17 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

1 John 2:4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him…

“The Lord will not save those whom He cannot command. He will not divide His offices. You cannot believe on half-Christ. We take Him for what He is—the anointed Savior and Lord who is King of kings and Lord of all lords! He would not be Who He is if He saved us and called us and chose us without the understanding that He can also guide and control our lives.” [I Call it Heresy, by A.W. Tozer, pages 18-19].

Concerning the theology that attempts to separate salvation from discipleship, James Boice writes, “This [theology] is a common defect in times of prosperity. In days of hardship, particularly persecution, those who are in the process of becoming Christians count the cost of discipleship carefully before taking up the cross of the Nazarene. Preachers do not beguile them with false promises of an easy life or indulgence of sins. But in good times, the cost does not seem so high, and people take the name of Christ without undergoing the radical transformation of life that true conversion implies.” [Christ’s Call to Discipleship, page 14).

Ephesians 2:10 says that we were created for good works, which the Lord prepared beforehand. As part of the saving work that the Lord does within each true believer, He will produce: repentance, faith, sanctification, and obedience. Since the Lord is not dependent on humans to produce these fruits, any “salvation” experience that lacks them cannot be the saving work of God.

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