Some people are transformed when they come to Christ. They go on to change their world as God changes them. Others make a profession of faith and seem to drag themselves through an empty and ineffectual Christian life. This post may give a clue as to why there can be such stark difference between believers.
It’s in the Gospel
A key difference between believers is the “gospel” which they believed. Do you remember what gospel you believed?
The Apostle Paul used the term “another gospel“, thus acknowledging that there are varieties of gospel preached.
“For if he that comes preaches another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit, which you have not received, or another gospel, which you have not accepted, you might well bear with him.” 2Corinthians 11:4
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” Galatians 1:6,7
Gospel is Good News
The word “gospel” means “good news“. It is the good news about Christ and His sacrifice to save us from our sins. It is the news of God’s love and God’s grace made available to us through Jesus Christ. It truly is Good news.
But the good news comes with a claim upon our life. While God is a giving God, he also asks us to respond to His offer with appropriate faith and commitment on our part. It is at the point of commitment that people’s response to the gospel can be very different. And that accounts for the difference in impact the message has on people.
The Easy Gospel
One of my sons attended a huge conference several years ago and was completely unimpressed by the “gospel” message given to the audience. It was, in effect, a call to come and try out Jesus. “Give Jesus a go in your life and see what He can do for you”.
This is what might be called the “easy gospel” because it makes no claims upon the hearer.
We all know that if people get something for nothing of if things come easy people do not value it. They treat it like something that is of no real importance.
The Lordship Issue
Built into the gospel is God’s claim of Lordship over our lives. In order to be saved we must have faith, but we must also put ourselves under the Lordship of Jesus.
“… if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
It is this “Lordship” issue which goes to the heart of why some people do not seem to be changed by the gospel. They do not make Jesus the Lord of their life.
Repent or Assent
The very first sermon Jesus preached was to “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Repent means “turn around”. It demands a change of direction.
The act of repenting, turning away from your old life and living for God, is an act of accepting the Lordship of Jesus. Repentance and Lordship are complementary.
However many people simply give “assent” to Jesus. They believe that He lived, died for them and rose from the dead. That means they believe the right things. But they do not add to their faith the issue of submission to Christ’s lordship over their lives.
Assenting Gospel or Repenting Gospel
When you responded to the gospel and decided to become a Christian, were you presented with an “assenting gospel” or a “repenting gospel“? Did you simply give mental assent to the claims of Christ, or did you fully yield to those claims and make him Lord, by repenting of your old life?
People who add Christ to their life have not repented. People whose new faith has not produced a change in them and their way of life have simply assented to Christ.
Repentance is the first step of change in a person’s new life as a Christian. A person who repents will be different, because the very act of repenting involves change. It involves them turning around and going a different way.
Was Your Salvation Empty Assent?
If your salvation experience did not produce a big change in your life, then you probably accepted an “assenting gospel” and missed out on the important step of repentance. So, what was your salvation experience like? Is it nothing more than empty assent?
If you have an empty salvation then you need to de-throne self. Assent allows “you” to stay on the throne of your life. Repentance means you have stepped off the throne and placed the will of God over your life.
I call you to repent of your independent lifestyle. I call you to humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, so He can exalt you in due time. I call you to lose your life so you can find it.
And please don’t just “assent” to what I am saying. “Repent” and be different from this moment on.