"For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9....."We have taken the infinitely glorious Son of God, who endured the infinitely terrible wrath of God and Who now reigns as the infinitely worthy Lord of all, and reduced Him to a poor, puny Savior Who is just begging for us to accept Him. Accept Him? Do we really think Jesus needs our acceptance? Don't we need Him?....David Platt...."Few think of the Christian as the greatest of miracles, a sinner saved through the blood of Christ, sustained by the bread of Christ, aflame with the heavenly fire." Vance Havner....."The most unpopular word in the Church today is 'holiness.' " Brett McCracken
Sometime ago I saw a quote from Francis Chan where he asked, "Where in the Bible does it say that we simply pray a prayer and then we're 'saved?' " I've a greatly respected pastor friend who during the course of his ministry baptized well over a thousand people. He once told me that of all those he baptized, there were so few who "lived baptized." Another friend who is a leader in a small town church that has seen remarkable growth in its short life with hundreds of professions of faith, notes that in the midst of that growth are large numbers of people who have never left behind their old sinful life patterns. Worse, there is no real confrontation concerning it. Brett McCracken writes that God's love does much more than just comfort us. It confronts us.
I don't think I'm a judgemental man, and I believe that His mercy triumphs over judgement, but can we continue to deny that there is something terribly flawed about our approach to evangelism and "soul winning" in the western church? What are we inviting people into? What are we calling them out from? How can we take the matter of sin so lightly when the Father was willing to sacrifice His own Son in response to His hatred of it? And His desire to offer freedom from it to all who would come to Him in believing, surrendered, life transforming faith? If one is to be saved, don't they need to know what it is they're being saved from, and who alone can save them? We too often offer Christ up as a remedy for life's problems. One who makes improvements upon our lives, but doesn't overly interfere in them. Christ says I aim to come into your heart and life and tear it all down, and make something and someone completely new, and different from before. He doesn't wish to make minor life adjustments in us. He comes to make a complete inner renovation....except we don't get to move out while He does it.
Two great soul winners of their day, Charles Spurgeon and John Wesley, both required of their converts that they exhibit evidence of the inner transformation that they professed. They were not only discipled, they were held accountable as well. They were brought into the life of the Church, but it was expected that they exhibit His Life in the process. Scripture calls it "bringing forth fruit in keeping with their repentance." And maybe that word "repentance" is the key to all of this, because repentance means a complete reversal of the way we have been living in opposition to Him, into a life lived in Him. For Him. With Him. I don't think the element of repentance has any great emphasis in our current message of invitation.
I recently had a Facebook discussion with a very good brother concerning holiness. His thought was that too many churches are putting the emphasis on personal holiness and thus isolating themselves from the lost. I agreed with Him that this might be true of some fellowships with a Pharisee type view of what holiness is; rules, regulations, and a distaste for those trapped in sin. But I don't think the majority of the Church is guilty of this. I don't think we're running from the world and its values. We're running into it and them. True holiness has little to do with what we're "doing." It has everything to do with who we are, and especially who we are in Him. Scripture tells us that His throne is surrounded by cherubim who do nothing but cry out "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty." If we are to embrace Him and His Son, we embrace their holiness as well...and it becomes that which marks our lives. We fall on our knees, and we cry out as well, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord. As Platt says, He is the infinitely glorious and infinitely worthy King of kings, and Lord of lords. He is a Savior yes. Even more, He is Lord. He is holy. And He has come. Do we know Him in this way? Not a watered down version of a savior.....but as Jesus..... Savior.....and Lord over all?