Last week I clicked on the link to read Susanne Maynes’ latest blog posting (you can read it on her blog here). Susanne is one of my blogging friends whose articles are thoughtfully written and rich with truth. I respect Susanne’s writing so much I asked her a few months ago if she would read and write a review of my book, Brokenness to Beauty, which she kindly did. You can read it on Amazon reviews (click here to read her review).
After I read one of Susanne’s postings, I often leave a comment, letting her know how much I appreciated what she wrote, how it encouraged me in some way. It’s sort of like a verbal “high five,” digitally sent hundreds of miles from my computer to to hers.
This time I read Susanne’s blog post and not only thanked her for saying so well what I believe and have tried to live, but told her I wanted to repost her blog post. She enthusiastically gave her assent. Thanks, Susanne!
Below is what Susanne had to say about a very important issue for us today:
Why It’s Not About “Accepting Christ”
Have you ever read through the whole Bible chronologically just to get a feel for the over-arching story of God? If so, you may have noticed the same phrase which stood out to me this time around.
In my read-through for 2016, I was struck by the New Testament theme of “Obey the gospel.”
Nowhere did I read, “Accept Jesus as your Savior.” Nowhere did I see an invitation to “ask Jesus into your heart.” No, the call of the gospel is to die to the old, selfish way of life and rise to an entirely new life in Christ.
How do we do this? By means of obedience.
Please hear me out before your “legalism” trigger goes off.
It bothers me — nay, troubles me deeply — that the Church has reacted against rule-keeping to the point where we no longer talk about obeying the commands of Jesus.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” — John 14:15
Real faith is more than just accepting an offer for forgiveness. That’s the starting point, but it’s our obedience to Christ that demonstrates a changed life.
However, we’ve allowed pop psychology to worm its way into our thinking. We’ve bought the notion that Christianity is a self-improvement plan, the ultimate 12-step program, a way to feel better about ourselves and to fulfill our potential.
So we advertise a gospel that is really only half the story.
We talk about a Savior who has mercy on us and died so our sins could be forgiven. This is wonderful news — but there’s another dimension to it!
Jesus doesn’t just forgive us. He empowers us to live a different life. A holy life. A life that spreads the fragrance of his beautiful name in the earth.
God’s goal for us is not to make us comfortable and happy, but rather to transform us into the image of Christ (see Romans 12:2 and Corinthians 3:18).
Going back to my New Testament reading, I’ve placed our theme in italics here:
- Romans 10:16 refers to the importance of preaching the gospel, and says, “But they have not all obeyed the gospel…”
- 2 Thes. 1:8 refers to the second coming of Christ and God’s judgment on “…those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”
- I Peter 4:17 refers to God’s judgment beginning with believers, and “…if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
That’s just a smattering of references to this idea, but do you sense the seriousness of the apostles on this topic? They’re telling us that some people will not obey the gospel — and that’s bad.
Did you catch the wording? It’s not that some will not “accept” the gospel. It’s that they won’t obey it.
One comedian describes how, as a boy, he would whine endlessly about a toy he wanted until his mom relented — whereupon all his pleading and grousing quickly turned into a flippant, “Thanks, Babe!” as he ran out to play.
Too often, we demonstrate a “Thanks, Babe!” attitude towards the Lord Jesus. Problem is, we can be guilty of inviting unbelievers into a flippant, shallow faith — a faith that fails to produce change.
Paul writes this to the believers in Corinth so they will follow up on their promise to send a generous gift to another church:
“…others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ… —2 Corinthians 9:13
Wow! I want obedience to accompany my confession of faith. I don’t want to be a “Thanks, Babe” kind of believer.
Visit Susanne’s blog at Susanne Maynes: Unleashing Your Courageous Compassion. Check out her website. She has good things to say, and write.
Leave me a comment; go to Susanne’s website and leave her a constructive comment about this post. Share it with others. This is a message we need to hear.