Was Your Salvation Just Empty Assent?

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.

Dohnavur Revival Breaks Out In Southern India

This is the day that Revival came to Dohnavur, under the care of Amy Carmichael. It was 1905.

Amy Carmichael’s ministry began in Ireland where she reached out to women working in the factories. She was influenced by the Keswick Movement calling people to enter a deeper life of devotion.

In 1893 she went to Japan at age 25, where she stayed for just over a year. During that time she was challenged about her culture getting in the way of her ministry.

She recounts the experience as follows. “We went to see an old lady who was very ill. She had not heard the Gospel before, but was willing and eager to listen. … She seemed to be just about to turn to Him in faith when she suddenly noticed my hands. It was cold weather and I had on fur gloves. `What are these?’ she asked, stretching out her hand and touching mine. She was old and ill and easily distracted. … I went home, took off my English clothes, put on my Japanese kimono, and never again, I trust, risked so very much for the sake of so little.”

She went to South India because “the Lord told me to follow Him down to Ceylon”. She then spent the rest of her life (57 years) in Dohnavur saving children from temple prostitution. After 12 years she had 130 children under her care. She formed a Protestant religious order called “Sisters of the Common Life”, emphasizing celibacy, mysticism, fellowship, and service. She also wrote 35 books detailing life in India and sharing testimonies about her work. Bishop Houghton was attracted to learn more about her when he discovered that she did not include photographs of herself in her books.

Ten years into her missionary service in India a wonderful revival broke out. Amy Carmichael had spent the previous five years rescuing young girls from a life of misery and shame before the revival fell at Dohnavur.

Dohnavur was a refuge that had previously been set up with funding from a Swedish-Prussian Count Dohna (hence its name in his honour). When Amy Carmichael began rescuing girls she was able to use this refuge as her base.

Child devadasis are literally “female servants/slaves of god”, so they were temple courtesans, dancers and prostitutes. Amy was able to rescue huge numbers of these girls from a life of slavery and degradation.

One Sunday, as the group of children met for worship, revival came. Let us read of the blessing that fell – in Amy’s own words.

“On 22 October, to quote one of the little girls, Jesus came to Dohnavur. He was there before, but on that day He came in so vivid a fashion that we cannot wonder that it struck the child as a new coming.

“It was at the close of the morning service that the break came. The one who was speaking was obliged to stop, overwhelmed by a sudden realization of the inner force of things. It was impossible even to pray. One of the older lads in the boys’ school began to try to pray, but he broke down, then another, then all together, the older lads chiefly at first.

“Soon many among the younger ones began to cry bitterly, and pray for forgiveness. It spread to the women. Our children began, I think, simultaneously with the boys, but it was so startling and so awful, I can use no other word, that the details escape me. Soon the whole upper half of the church was on its face on the floor crying to God, each boy and girl, man and woman, oblivious of all others. The sound was like the sound of waves or strong wind in the trees. No separate voice could be heard … nothing disturbed those who were praying, and that hurricane of prayer continued with one short break of a few minutes for over four hours. They passed like four minutes.”
(From Amy Carmichael, by Bishop F. Houghton).

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.