Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ask, Don't Ask, Accept, Don't Accept, Repent or ?

If the title caught your attention then it will definitely confuse you as it is applied to varying ideas of how one enters into salvation with Jesus.  The increase in articles, books, and sermons covering the whole idea (good and bad) about how a person actually enters into a relationship with Jesus Christ can give one a migraine headache of epic size.

Does a person need to ask Jesus into their life and accept Him as Lord?

There is a big difference between the yes answer and the no answer.  Those who hold to the traditional view of salvation would answer yes.  They would acknowledge that a person must make the decision to turn from their sin (repent) and accept Jesus through faith.  The traditionalist people have believed this for years.  You will find this belief in most Evangelical churches and denominations/Associations/Conventions. 

I agree with this understanding of the Biblical teaching about salvation and hold that this is the Gospel.  I believe that God gives every person the opportunity to make the above choice/decision.  He knows that many will not.  He knows that many will.  My key reason for being convinced in my spirit and mind comes straight from the Word of God.

Notice how clearly salvation is explained in the "how" with the words of Paul in writing to Corinth:

2 Cor 7:10
10    For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

In this passage, Paul is discussing his letter written to them and how it affected them.  He chooses to use the analogy of their sorrow to highlight with the gift of salvation just how a person realizes they are a sinner against God, sees they cannot fix the effect of their sin, and through this Godly sorrow are brought into salvation via the act of repentance.  God's Holy Spirit calls, teaches, and convicts.  Each person must make a choice as to what they will do in response to God and His work offered as a gift.

This process should be taken very seriously.  In fact, the Bible is clear on this when when Paul writes to the people at Philipi and says:

Phil 2:12-13
12    Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
13    for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Clearly Paul acknowledges in this verse that salvation is God's gift.  It is God who works in the calling, conviction, and giving the ability to respond.  Yet Paul also acknowledges that each person must "work out" or make sure they have made the choice and live out the reality of that choice.  One does not realize that they are saved.  One is not born as a chosen one while others are born damned for Hell.  One must respond to the work of God and then allow God to work.  Salvation is all of and about the work of God in and through Jesus.  Yet God does not force Himself on anyone.  It is beyond religion and systems of thoughts.  It requires faith in the Grace of God.  It requires one to repent.  It is more than just a simple mental decision.

I am the first to admit that too many people in all walks of Christianity make salvation more about saying yes to heaven and no to hell.  They want to see their children and grandchildren baptized.  I have seen in over 23 years of ministry that repentance can be somewhat downplayed - which I think is totally wrong.  Without repentance, one cannot be saved.  Salvation is serious.  Salvation is the most important thing in life!  We cannot get this wrong!  Salvation does not precede repentance.  It is impossible with the above verse out of 2 Corinthians.  
And I do not think it is lowering or weakening the sovereignty of God to say and believe what I have written for the process is clearly described in God's Word.  

Have you accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life?  Did you repent and acknowledge that you needed the death of Christ as payment for your sins? 


D.R. Randle said...

Tim, you said:

I agree with this understanding of the Biblical teaching about salvation and hold that this is the Gospel. I believe that God gives every person the opportunity to make the above choice/decision.

Do you really believe that? Do you really believe that God gives every person who has ever lived (at least since the time of Christ) the opportunity to make a decision to repent and believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ or to consciously reject him?

Tim G said...

I do believe that is what I wrote. Yep, just checked it again, I did write and I do believe that.

God offers salvation to everyone. Though not everyone will receive it.

Why do you ask?

Scott Gordon said...

"Don't ask. Don't tell"...in that tautology we have that which is truly problematic...hyper-Calvinism.

You're welcome. :-D


Tim G said...

Scott, you crack me up! :)

Tim G said...

Comment update: I have experienced problems with some comments as I am moderating from mobile today. I do apologize if I have lost any.