Not a day goes by when I don't give thanks, from the very depths of my being, in which I don’t KNOW that CHRIST THE KING is MY LORD, period! I am His bond slave (doulos) and He is my Master!
A few years ago, I was standing feet away from popular Christian singer Natalie Grant when she practically yelled "I am sick and tired of people who say 'YOU'RE GOING TO HELL IF YOU DON'T REPENT'"!!
Those were the saddest words I ever heard. Yet, this is not only the pervasive view of most evangelical churches, but the limp-wristed Emerging church of Rob Bell, Brian MacLaren, Doug Kimball and Solomon's Porch Paggett, at the other extreme as well. This is the doctrine of "Easy Believism"....the belief that costs you nothing.
"BUT WAIT - isn't SALVATION a FREE GIFT, you pinhead Bernie"? Er...YES!! But it cost my Lord Jesus everything! AND even a proud Seminary dropout like me knows what Mark 1:15c ESV means!!! It says "...Repent and believe in the Gospel"!!! I didn't say that, JESUS DID, Natalie! Before that, in the same verse He said "The Kingdom of God is at hand"!
THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS AT HAND
The Kingdom is at hand and many have let it slip from their fingers into eternity by following a belief system which bears no fruit...or hardly even shows it. It matters not to me that seminarians from a super rich place say that all you have to do is “Believe” therefore things "like Fruit and Repentance" are actually "GOOD WORKS"...and "you know who does good works to get into heaven…don’t you"??!!
Holy cow, Batman! From my teen years to now, I walked and talked with God. He never talked back to me for a lot of those years, because I know now, that I was never saved. When He DID LITERALLY SPEAK TO ME on August 16, 1988 at 4am, I knew EXACTLY WHO He was/is! I had made a Decision a month earlier, at age 32 and He called me to work for Him.
From then until September 2001, while I was serving, teaching Bible in an Inner City Church (Hartford, Ct.) for almost 3 years with my wife Vicki and involved in Men's ministry in Springfield, Il...it was not until 2001, when I surrendered at the Altar, that I began the most exciting, spirit-filled and Jesus-high octane-powered journey of my life!!! (By the way, if you or you over there, have or run a ministry, and you think YOU made it happen….you may wish to reconsider!)
You see, what God is looking for are men and women who are totally SOLD OUT to His Son, the Lord Jesus the Christ...a George Mueller or a William Carey or the Moravians of the 100 Year Prayer Meeting. These are His “doulos”, His bond slaves.
A bond slave or slave is the accurate translation of the Biblical word "Doulos" which almost EVERY English Bible incorrectly uses as Bondservant, to be politically correct! A slave depends on his master for everything. A slave's life and livelihood depends on his master. If his master is the Creator of the Universe, what could be better?
But you see, not many people in this world, especially in the West, would allow Christ to rule their lives like this. Sure they mouth the words while talking to others in the Church, but would never consider walking it out. The more I meet powerful men and women, who are bold and fearless and used mightily by God, the more they will tell you that their POWER derives from their complete commitment to Jesus, as Lord of All!!
HE MUST BE LORD
He must be Lord of your home, your marriage and children. He must be Lord of all from the minute you wake up to going down of the sun. He must be because He is. When He speaks, it's not an option. It's the Final Word.
I have never met a Christian, in ministry, who did not have the same story. They had to surrender it all to the Lord of all things. It was only when they came to the end of themselves and gave up, that He was able to show His power through them. You see the TRUE spirit-led life, is one where His Spirit has been given free rein to accomplish the Work He has called us to do.
If a person is truly saved, he/she is called to an assignment, not to sit on his/her blessed assurance waiting for Jesus to return. To all my friends and even Natalie Grant, who condemn Repentance and Fruit as Good Works, I urge you to reconsider in light of the following two verses:
A. Matthew 7: 19-20 (ESV) “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits"…Jesus said this.
B. Romans 10:9 (ESV): "because, 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".
You MUST be aware of bearing good Fruit, accepting the Gift of Repentance and seeing the Fruits of Repentance where the calling, confession and confirming of the fact lead to THIS: Jesus is the Lord of your life - NOW...not after we die - but NOW!
Therefore, it is my contention we need to do three things right off the bat…to PROVE He is your LORD, not to yourself…but in order to prove His Love lives inside of you. Again, this is not good works unto Salvation. This is good works BECAUSE of Salvation!
First, when we witness to and evangelize or visit the lost, lonely and dying, the first question HAS to be "have you made peace with God"....that is - have you repented of and confessed your sins to God...and then sought His forgiveness?
Forgiveness is where the rubber meets the road, because if that party does not seek that reconciliation with Abba Father, an eternal fiery hell awaits them - all because of a lack of Repentance.
Secondly, EVERY REAL Christian should show fruit in their walk. For some reason, a massive majority of people in our churches think it is somebody else's job to evangelize, feed the homeless, reach the lost...or for goodness sake - even pray for somebody else!! Faith without works is DEAD, DEAD, DEAD....this is not preaching good works...it's preaching Love in Action....because it is BECAUSE of one's Faith that we should want to minister to someone else!
Third and last but more importantly, if we just say a prayer, say we trust and believe, BUT DON'T CONFESS HE IS LORD, well He will NOT confess you before the Father on that day!
This is serious business, friends! Do NOT mess around with your eternity and salvation...or allow your family and friends to go around building their hope in Heaven on the lie of Easy Believism. The Free Gift of Eternal life is arrived at by specific ways LAID out the Full Counsel of God...not just the book of John. You either believe ALL OF THE BIBLE OR NONE OF IT, period.
The last word comes from Romans 10 and rounds off this amazing journey of Faith of which it is my privilege to be a part.....Romans 10: 10-13 ESV " For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Just a final thought about all of the above: do not be caught up with those who want to get into discussions about a pejorative called "LORDSHIP SALVATION" (more on that in the future) or some such thing. The folks, some of them well-meaning, who talk about these things, also think Repentance for salvation is "good works". Again, what did Jesus say in Mark 1:15 (see first paragraph)?!
When a person calls upon the Name of Jesus as in Romans 10:13, the original language implies there is a request being made, where the process was already gone through to get to that point. That process is confession and turning away from the way of the world. That turning away is repentance - a true gift from God, intended for use by us, to make ourselves right with Him. Amen.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
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