I blogged today at my home blog about John 5 and the particular nature of Christ’s earthly work in that passage, but that topic always gets me stirred up about the nature of the work of Christ.
Let me give you an example of what I mean, by way of what I do not mean:
How can a person have God's forgiveness, heaven and eternal life, and Jesus as personal Savior and Lord? By trusting in Christ and asking Him for forgiveness. Take the step of faith.That’s an invitation from a church blog which will remain nameless, but it’s a standard invitations which they lifted from one of a library of such invitation provided by their denomination. I have blogged elsewhere about the backwards Gospel, so I won’t get all out of joint here about the mistakes some people make when presenting the Gospel to all people. The point of this example is to show that the major mistake a lot of people make when thinking about Jesus’ work and talking to others about it is that they see Jesus’ work as a consequence of man’s consent.
After you have received Jesus Christ into your life, tell a Christian friend about the important decision you have made. Follow Christ in believer's baptism and church membership. Grow in faith and enjoy new friends in Christ by becoming a part of His church and attending the Sunday School class a church has just for you. You'll find others who will love and support you.
Jesus’ work is not a consequence of anything but God’s intervention to save men who will otherwise be lost. You know: for example, God didn’t give the prophecy of the resurrection in Psalm 16 because he thought it sounded good and let’s see what will happen. God gave that prophecy because it was what He intended to happen in order to demonstrate and reveal the Messiah to men. He wasn’t rubbing heads with David to see what might play well in Jerusalem: He was revealing His eternal plan of salvation.
That’s such a great word! Salvation. Any dictionary you might find says this word means, “deliverance from danger or difficulty” – and think on it: “salvation” is not “making possible the escape from danger or difficulty” but in fact “deliverance”. You are not saved if you can now find your own way: you are saved if you are actually taken out of the way of danger. Standing outside a burning building and shouting the names of those trapped inside does not make one a savior; even running through the halls of that building shouting names and “follow me!” does not make you a savior: going into the flames, and breaking down the doors, and searching under the bed for the scared child who doesn’t know how to save herself, and then carrying her out through the flames makes you a savior. A savior is who who actually saves, who does the saving and has saved someone when it’s all over.
Whoever you are, and wherever you are, Jesus is not waiting for you to make a choice. He’s not a deal-maker. He’s not trying to negotiate a contract with you. Jesus isn’t the one who will call the ambulance if you can only dial the ethereal 9-1-1. Jesus is God Almighty, and if you can hear this word today, Jesus has been made Lord and Christ – Savior!
Jesus Christ saves. Jesus isn’t fretting about the Earth while Satan is like a lion going here and there devouring anyone he wants: Jesus closes the mouth of the lion and snatches the victims of the lion – who put themselves in harm’s way, and will die without Christ’s intervention; people who have placed themselves in danger and deserve the consequences – out of the jaws of death. He saves. He takes us out of harm’s way even if we are too wicked and too conceited to want to be out of harm’s way.
Our faith is not in some consultation with the Holy Spirit which gives us a Ben-Franklinesque list of pros-and-cons from which we can then make a rational choice. It is in the mighty hand of God which reaches down and takes us out of the filth and disease of our choices and washes us clean by the blood of Christ, and dresses us in the blinding white cloth of His righteousness.
Jesus is not waiting for you to make a choice: Jesus is saving right now. The call is not “do you accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior”: the call is “Jesus is Lord and Christ! Be baptized and repent in His name!”
It is a proclamation of fact, not a question to be debated. I cannot trick you into hearing it, either – because a savior is not a trickster or a con-man who makes you think you’re getting cotton candy when in fact you are getting your teeth drilled even if you need your teeth drilled.
Listen to me: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him -- this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, was crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. But God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
This Jesus God raised up, and there are many witnesses of this fact. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.
Let everyone therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus who was crucified. And therefore, repent and be baptized for the sake of your forgiveness!
You! Jesus will not save you because you confess – confess because Jesus is a Savior: admit it! This is the Gospel – the Good News to men!
There will be no organ music during which you can mull this over. You are dismissed. Do the right thing.